The Winds of Mongolia Fundraising Concert
By Gaku Homma
Nippon Kan Kancho
On March 21st, 2002 over 500 people gathered to raise funds for orphaned children in Mongolia. The event, sponsored by Nippon Kan and AHAN (the Aikido Humanitarian Active Network), was a Mongolian Folk Singing Concert. The concert was performed by the Winds of Mongolia Ensemble, a world renowned folk singing group from Ulaanbaatar Mongolia. I am very happy with the turn out the concert received and deeply appreciate the efforts of so many that helped make it a great success.
If you were to search on the web for martial art dojos, I think only Nippon Kans site would feature articles on Mongolia and Mongolian folk singers. For me however it is not a surprise or unusual; a project like this lies in complete accord with the Aikido philosophy of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba as I see it.
Lets go back to the beginning of the underlying principles of the Founders philosophy.
Over centuries, human beings have created the martial arts; martial arts have not created human beings. Still today there is no finite definition of what Aikido is or can be. For any skill or art form, from Aikido to basketball to ballet, painting and music, it is the artists who make the expression of their art valuable. Sheet music is just pieces of paper, and brushes and ink are just implements it takes the artist to make a masterpiece with the tools of his or her trade.
As Aikidoists, we practice Aikido. There is no real concrete evidence that what we practice is a benefit to us or a good way of life. It would be so simple, if just by joining together for practice, we as people can develop in a positive direction.
If we are to truly understand completely the Aikido we practice, and to practice correctly, we need correct guidance. For a train to travel, it needs two things. One it needs the tracks to run on, and an engine for power. If we are to practice correctly we need positive energy to empower us like the engine of the train and tracks for guidance. The tracks and the engine of the train can be metaphors for the Aikido dojo and instructor.
The life of a dojo depends on trueness of its tracks and the power of its engine. If two dojos open, one may attract more students than the other; depending on the tracks and engines of each dojo.
As Founder of Nippon Kan, it is my position to live a positive lifestyle as an example of living and working in harmony with the community. I feel it is my personal obligation as part of being a member in the community I live in. It is not enough for me just to write articles or make nice speeches. I must stand up in front of everyone and lead the challenge with my students. It is my job to instill pride in being part of Nippon Kan and confidence in our path.
I have discovered that by looking outward through community and cross cultural exchange activities, we can discover more about Aikido. It is another angle of looking at our practice. Not looking through Aikido at the world, but looking through the world at Aikido. Practicing beyond the mat. This is a concept that I have discovered was very integral to the way the Founder looked at his world.
With this concept in mind, it might make sense why Nippon Kan and AHAN have sponsored this concert event. By taking on the task of producing this concert, all of those involved learned many things. Not only did the Mongolian children benefit from this concert, but all of us were enriched by the experience. One of my greatest satisfactions is in completing projects such as this.
On March 21st, 2002 over 500 people shared an incredible experience that made all of us at Nippon Kan very proud. We were not in the dojo, there was no mat, no one wore a keiko-gi or held a bokken and jo. Yet we all shared the spirit of Aikido of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba with the Denver community.
Many thanks for the support of Nippon Kan members, the Art Institute of Colorado and the Denver Center for Performing Arts.
Nippon Kan Founder