by Jorge Gibbons
For three days in Mexico City, from November 7-9, 2003, I had the opportunity to participate in an Aikido seminar whose purpose and direction embodied many of the tenets that practitioners in general usually neglect: community, service and interdependence.
The spirit of Aikido was masterfully displayed in the concrete acts of the event’s organization, the compassion exhibited in the purpose of the event, which was to support a children-with-cancer organization in Mexico, and the graceful technique displayed by Homma Sensei as he sought to impart not only his vast knowledge of Aikido, but also his life history with Aikido and how it can play a part in creating community in our everyday lives.
While hosting a seminar of this magnitude is not an easy task, our hosts were impeccable in their commitment, timing, skillful organization, and generosity. Eager volunteers kept the different stations flowing and enabled the transformation of vision into reality. The setup of the practice area and the altar were similar to those that Nippon-Kan displayed in past seminars. The inspired Mexican organizers implemented one of the tenants of our Aikido practice: learn what is good, adopt it and translate it to your own vision and understanding.
After the formal introduction on the first day of all parties involved in the first Mexican International Aikido seminar conducted with communitarian ends, we enjoyed a group of young dancers performing several typical folkloric dances. The attitude, balance and grace were a continuing theme throughout the seminar. Homma Sensei exhibited one of his strengths traveling far beyond proper technique and soft landings relating daily and seemingly unconnected activities to the art of Aikido.
As official translator for Homma Sensei during the seminar, I had the opportunity to assess the incredible quantity of energy needed to teach and perform at very high levels.
At the end of my participation in the seminar, a little boy of no more than ten or eleven years old thanked me for helping with translating Homma Sensei, and asked me to convey a very important message to him: “Please tell Homma Sensei that Andre says hi, and tell him that I was greatly impacted by him in his last visit and that he transformed my understanding and practice of Aikido”. Touching lives on and off the mat seems to be the driving force behind Homma Sensei and AHAN, the organization that he created to bring Aikido practitioners independent of schools and affiliations to create a better world. Utopist? Naïve?, not for Homma Sensei, not for the children that receive the donation from the seminar and certainly not for the participants that undoubtedly took with them much more that Aikido techniques.