Aikido 360°


This is the Aikido that Homma Kancho wants to teach his students. Being an Uchi Deshi in Nippon Kan, which signify inside students, those not only mean practice Aikido Monday to Sunday each week. The Uchi Deshi Project is more than this. Of course the hours of practice are an essential element in a common day, but I think this is only the first step.

Almost 3 years passed since my first day as Uchi Deshi in Nippon Kan:
The first part of my dream came true.

I have been practicing Aikido for seven years and this is for me a wonderful trip, which will have no end. Just after two years of practice, considering that I had no idea about this program and that I had never heard about it before, the idea of becoming inside student was growing inside me. I didn’t know how this could be named in Japanese and I didn’t know if similar programs could exist, but the only think clear for me was that I would have liked to practice close to a Master of Aikido.

The normal weekly trainings are very important for a constant development in Martial Arts, but sometimes I felt that they were not enough for me. I would have liked to spend more time practicing and learn from the Sensei.

But this was only a dream.

I was spending the first years of practice by making my first experience with different Master in Italy, and each time when I could watch Master with many years of experience, and practice with different people, this was for me a big emotion.The more stage I was attending the more my passion was growing.

I never spoke to anybody about my dream because I was aware of the fact that I was young and with few years of experience and I didn’t wont to be considered fanatic if I had told somebody that I would have liked to practice and live in a Dojo.

The first time that I realize that my dream could came true was when I spoke to my Master in Italy he told me that he went to Japan as Uchi Deshi to study with Morihiro Saito Sensei, and that followed Him in several stages around Europe. I tried therefore to inform myself and make some researches.

I got the chance to study as Inside Student in France. I was not sure if I would have been able to stand an intensive practice. I was happy to challenge my self, so in that year I spent my summer holiday as Uchi Deshi in France for 3 weeks. I was pleased with myself because I had been able to carry out my first project but at the same time I started to ask myself how the Aikido that I was practicing on the mat could be used in my every days life.

I would have liked to be able to help someone through the Aikido but this was another dream. I went on with my researches till the day when, surfing on internet I opened a web page of an Aikido Dojo in Denver.

I was impressed and surprised at the same time when I saw that instead of the usual photo of student practicing spectacular ukemi, the first page showed some photos of orphan children in different developing countries.

The Founder, Gaku Homma Kancho, was student and Uchi Deshi of the Founder of Aikido, O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, and his project did not only concern in the teaching of Martial Art. At first sight it seemed to me that practicing Aikido on the mat was not the priority but was like an Aikido in life.

I spent several days looking through these pages, reading about the travel of Homma Kancho and his activity for the third world, from South America to the region of the East such as Nepal, the Philippines and Myanmar.
Was I could only image as a dream was there, in front of me: Someone, on the other side of the World had been using his energy, not only to teach Aikido, but especially to help unlucky people wherever they were.

It was exactly in that Dojo, that the Sensei had been organizing for years programs for Uchi Deshi. I could not be indifferent to all these things. It was not easy for me but I made my decision, I quit my job and for the first time I took a fly to United States but my purpose was not to visit New York, Miami or Los Angeles but I wanted to go to Denver in a Traditional Dojo of Aikido.

These tree months were not easy for me, my body was exhausted because of the several hours of training and my mind was sometime tired, sometime confused.
But, the more I was there, the more I could realize what was happening inside this structure and understand that the Bolivian guy, who was there like me to follow the project, was becoming a friend of mine.
The more time I was spending there, the more I was conscious of my body and my actions.
Without realizing it, I was not only training my Aikido technique but the most challenging training was the one inside me.

The tree months of the project were almost over, and my departure, the only moment which I was waiting for during my first days in the Dojo, was now reason of sadness.

I have been thinking about that experience everyday since the day I came back to Italy.
I started working again and I spent my summer and winter holidays in the Dojo of Homma Kancho but it was not the same as before. In only two weeks my body could not even accustom to the changed that it was time for me to go back home. I needed more time.

I also wanted to do something to help Homma Kancho in his project, and at the same time I wanted to thank Him for all the things He did for me and a phone call or a letter ware not enough. For this reason I decided to quit again my job, because I wanted to go back to Denver and fallow there a training for more than tree months.

Since my arrival I felt as if I had came back home: I could walk in the Dojo even in the dark, I thought to know this place better than my own bedroom. The six month that I spent there has been precious for me, especially when I got the chance to go in Guatemala for a Stage and I could see with my eyes the children who would have received the profit of the Stage.

In August Homma Kancho spent all the days organizing and teaching a Marathon of Aikido.
Several Uchi Deshi came back to take part to this event and I will never forget the moment of hard work, training and fun, spent together. We were all from different countries: Japan, Italy, Turkey, Bolivia, Mexico, United States and even though we had never met before, in few days we became a real team.

My project in Nippon Kan was not finished, in January Sensei give me the chance to go back like an Uchi Deshi and study at the same time, now three months goes very fast and before I can understand it was time for go back another time.

Now from my house I steel thinking at this beautiful experience that for me will never ending, and for this reason I want to thank Homma Kancho, who made my dream true, all the students that were Uchi Deshi like me, all Instructors, all the people who helped me, and the class of Children.

Michele Zanrei