Kancho Visits Iwama, Japan
Aikikai Hombu Shihan Mastake Fujita Shihan
Gaku Homma Nippon Kan Kancho’s 40th Year of the Practice of Aikido Commemoration
UPDATES from AHAN International
Morin Hur Presentation Ceremony in Mongolia.May 27th, 2004
Updates from AHAN Rio and Okaeri Dojo in Brazil May 30th, 2004
Istanbul Turkey, Children with Leukemia Foundation Fundraising Seminar
Homma Kancho Visits Iwama, Japan-April 25th-May 7th 2004
Homma Kancho traveled to Iwama, Japan this past April 25-May 7, to pay his respects and to attend the Aiki Shrine Yearly Festival. This visit is covered in length in Homma Kancho’s new article “Pathway Closed”
April 26th, 2004
Aikido Shihan, The Late Morihiro Saito 9th Dan, Memorial Remembrance Ceremony at Shinshin Aiki Shuren Kai Tanren Kan Dojo Iwama, Japan.
April 29th, 2004
Aiki Jinja Tai Sai–Aiki Shrine Yearly Festival at Aikikai Ibaragi dojo Iwama, Japan.
Aikikai Hombu Shihan Mastake Fujita Shihan
May 7-9, 2004
Aikikai Hombu Technical Shihan, Masatake Fujita Shihan 8th Dan, came to Denver this past May 7-9th to teach at Nippon Kan for the second consecutive year. Fujita Shihan began the seminar by teaching kihonwaza or basic techniques regularly practiced at Hombu Dojo followed by oyowaza. His classes were attended by over 130 students over the three day weekend.
Practice under Fujita Shihan.
Fujita Shihan kindly teaching beginners.
Fujita Shihan not only taught techniques at this seminar but also focused on principals that all Aikidoka could benefit by following. They included:
Mixing the teaching of these concepts with techniques made for a very enjoyable seminar!
After practice, Fujita Shihan delighted students by spending time talking with them about Aikido. His visit also coincided with a Denver Public School Fieldtrip that was scheduled at Nippon Kan. Fujita Shihan agreed to participate in the tour and gave a wonderful demonstration to the over 150 children that came for the fieldtrip that day. After the Aikido demonstration, he helped show these American kids how to play the Japanese game of kendama, a very popular game with children in Japan.
Our improvised band at the Welcome Party!
Fujita Shihan…always with a smile.
Fujita Shihan engulfed by
children visiting Nippon Kan.
Playing with a volunteer from the audience.
“I used to be able to do this very well…”
Fujita Shihan’s father was a direct student of the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Other students who studied with the Founder at that time was the famous Sumo Wrestler Mr. Tenru and the Founder of Tomiki Aikido, Mr. Kenji Tomiki. All of these people were students of the Founder while he lived in Manchuria.
Fujita Shihan first visited Hombu dojo in 1956. He arrived with an introduction from his father, which allowed him to meet the Founder personally. The very next day he joined Aikikai. Over the next few years, Fujita Shihan developed a special relationship with the Founder, who treated him like a grandson. In 1967 Fujita Shihan began working in the Aikikai office and became personal secretary to the Founder and overseer of his private life for the two years before his death. Fujita Shihan also worked under Kishomaru Ueshiba in the Aikikai office as Chief of General Affairs. Currently he is advisor and council to the current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba.
During his younger years as uchideshi, while other young Hombu Instructors were attending school at Waseda and Keio Universities, Fujita Shihan graduated from Takushoku University with a degree in Political Science and Economics. Takushoku University is still known in Japan as being very right wing in it’s political orientation.
The Founder used to council his staff that the work of the office was very important to the organization. Fujita Shihan played a very important role in the Aikikai organization at the time when Aikido was gaining popularity and growing world wide. Fujita Shihan had a reputation at the time for being able to execute the skills he had learned at the university in a calm and organized manner.
During his visit, Fujita Shihan talked about the days at Aikikai when the office could not yet afford their own copy machine. One of his duties was to take paperwork to be copied to a tea house near by that allowed customers to use their copy machine while drinking their tea! With so many stories, Fujita Shihan is a very valuable living testimonial to the early years in Aikikai history.
For the last ten years, Fujita Shihan has spent much of his time teaching outside of Japan. He travels frequently to teach, especially in countries in Eastern Europe. In the past few years, he has visited 47 different countries. At the same time, he is also a member of the Japan Martial Arts Board of Directors, Japan World Games Association Board of Directors, and a member of the Technical Board for JICA, the Japanese International Corporation Agency.
Accompanying Fujita Shihan on this trip to Denver was the son of Akita Aikido Prefecture Branch Director, the Late Shigeru Kawabe Shihan; Ryusaku Kawabe. Ryusaku is now the new successor of his father in Akita as dojo cho of his Akita branch dojo. The Late Kawabe Shihan visited Denver five times at Nippon Kan’s invitation. It was unanimously decided that it was time to renew this tradition with an invitation to Kawabe Shihan’s son Ryusaku. Fujita Shihan was gracious enough to allow Ryusaku to teach one class during this seminar which gave him valuable seminar instructing experience.
Also in attendance was Teppei Maekawa JICA Insructor, who has just returned from a two year assignment teaching Aikido in Mongolia. This project was sponsored by JICA Volunteer Services. Instructor Maekawa was invited by Homma Kancho during his last visit to Mongolia this past February. (click here for more information on Homma Kancho’s most recent visit to Mongolia).
Fujita Shihan (center) Teppei Maekawa (right) Ryusaku Kawabe (left).
Teppei Maekawa JICA Instructor.
Ryusaku Kawabe Dojo Cho.
Even with his busy schedule, Fujita Shihan was
able to stay in Denver for a few days following the seminar to
enjoy some of sights in the Rocky Mountains.
An admirer of Harley Davidson motorcycles since he was a young man,
Homma Kancho arranged to have Nippon Kan senior member Wade Eldridge
give Fujita Shihan
a ride through the foothills on his Harley! They ended their journey
at a real-live biker bar, where we all met for a cold Coors beer
brewed only a mile or so
from the inn! (Coors Brewery is located in Golden, Colorado in the
foothills west of Denver).
If the smile on his face was any indication, I think that day was a dream come true for Fujita Shihan. All of the Nippon Kan Staff were very impressed with Fujita Shihan’s positive attitude and adventurous spirit!
Checking out real dinosaur tracks
west of Denver.
Gaku Homma Nippon Kan Kancho’s 40th Year of the Practice of Aikido Commemoration.
May 8th, 2004
Nippon Kan Founder Gaku Homma Kancho celebrated his 40th year of the practice of Aikido this year. This milestone was honored with a presentation of a silver tray engraved with messages of congratulations from all Nippon Kan members, Colorado Japanese Martial Art Shihan Kai, Japanese Shihan in Japan and Instructors and friends from around the world. Homma Kancho was presented this silver tray by Fujita Shihan during the seminar he instructed at Nippon Kan May 7-9.
Homma Kancho receiving the tray from Fujita Shihan.
Reading the accompanying card.
Homma Kancho has dedicated much of his time in the past few years to humanitarian projects through the organization of which he is Founder, AHAN (the Aikido Humanitarian Ative Network). In 2004 alone he has traveled to, or is scheduled to travel to over ten countries, teaching a total of fourteen seminars this year. One of the main criteria for Homma Sensei’s AHAN seminars is that any instructors fees, traveling and lodging expense, and a portion of any revenues generated by the seminars he teaches be donated back to a community service or charity project in the community of the host dojo. Requests for seminar appearances have been many, and Homma Kancho jokes that he had better go to the farthest places now while he is still young! His out-of-country schedule has kept him from accepting many invitations, many domestically in the United States. Homma Kancho’s motto currently for his life’s work is “How to integrate Aikido into the community through positive action”.
Locally, Homma Kancho’s community service has been acknowledged with three resolutions by the Denver City Council, and received many commendations from the Mayor’s office in Denver. June 27, 1996 was declared “Gaku Homma Day” by Wellington Webb, Denver’s Mayor at that time. He has also received recognition from private organizations such as the Minoru Yasui Society for contributions to the community in 1996, and again most recently in 2004. Many thanks to the following list of contributors to Homma Sensei’s commemorative silver tray.
Doug Kelly Nippon Kan President
Emily Busch Nippon Kan Vice President
James Looney Nippon Kan Secretary/Treas.
All Nippon Kan Students
Denver Mayor John Hickenlouper
Deborah Ortega, Denver City Council 1987-2003 Denver, Colorado
Shihan Masatake Fujita, Akikai Foundation, Aikido World Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Hitohiro Saito Sensei, Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai Dojo, Iwama, Japan
Shuji Maruyama Shihan, Kokikai President and Founder Nagoya, Japan
Yutaka Yaguchi Sensei, 8th Dan Vice Chairman, International Shotokan Karate Federation Denver, Colorado
Joko Ninomiya Shihan, Enshin Karate Denver, Colorado
Sadaharu Kurobane Sensei, J.K.F Wadokai Denver, Colorado
Hideharu Igaki Sensei, USA National Karate-Do Federation (Member US Olympic Committee) and USA National Karate Team Head Coach Colorado Springs, Colorado
Luc Leoni Sensei AHAN Rio Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
UPDATES from AHAN International
Morin Hur Presentation Ceremony in Mongolia.
May 27th, 2004
In February of 2004 AHAN began a new Mongolian support campaign. The main focus of this campaign this year is a school named Hope.
In February, Homma Kancho ordered the making of ten Morin Huur (a Mongolian string instrument similar to a cello) from the Morin Huur Preservation Association as part of a new cultural awareness program for the children at the school named Hope.
Centrally located in the City of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is the Nairamdal Peace Park where the Traditional Arts Theater Tumen Eh is located. The Tumen Eh Theater dedicates its performances to the arts of Mongolian music and dance. On this day in May, students from the school named Hope, accompanied by their teacher Ajaja went to the Tumen Eh Theatre to receive the ten Morin Huur that had been made by the Morin Huur Preservation Association. In attendance to present this special gift was Morin Huur Association leader Mr. Proofu, AHAN Mongolia staff representative Alima and the master craftsman Mr. Ulambayaara who personally handcrafted the Morin Huur for the children. The Morin Huur Preservation Association also pledged to have an instructor visit the school to teach the children how to play their new instruments on a regular basis.
As part of this years campaign, AHAN is planning to send ten used computers and five sewing machines to the school named Hope this summer. On July 7-9, 2004, a AHAN Fundraising Seminar will be held in Aspen Colorado to help achieve these goals.
Report and Photos by Alima Mongolia AHAN staff representative.
Updates from AHAN Rio and Okaeri Dojo in Brazil
May 30th, 2004
Nestled deep in the mountains outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is Okaeri dojo, run by members of AHAN Rio, Brazil. The following is a report we received from AHAN Rio written by Luc Leoni Sensei.
Under Homma Kancho’s direction, the outside weapons training area at Okaeri dojo was completed this month of May. On the weekend of May 7-9, AHAN Rio members, and students and instructors from other dojos in the Rio de Janeiro area gathered at Okaeri dojo to celebrate Homma Kancho’s 40th year anniversary of practice.
The name for this dojo, “Okaeri”, was given to us by Homma Kancho during one of his earlier visits. In Japanese, the word Okaeri means “welcome home” and the phrase is said to anyone returning to their home as they enter. It was with this concept in mind that Homma Kancho gave this dojo it’s name, Okaeri dojo.
Like the gift of this name, whenever Homma Kancho visits us in Brazil he brings with him not only his dynamic style of techniques, but also lessons in dojo organization, how to integrate our dojos into the local communities, and other lessons in dojo survival. Okaeri dojo is now in the process of growing, and with the addition of this new outdoor weapon training area it has become a place where many instructors and students from the Rio area come to practice.
Homma Kancho helped us design a weapons training area that includes an uchiuma, tachiki, tsuriki, and tanrenuchi. With this course set, everyone joined in enthusiastically to try out the new training area. Although a little dusty and very sweaty by the end of the day, everyone seemed quite pleased with the new area and the practice it offered.
Homma Kancho has always told us that it is not necessary to buy expensive bokken and jo for daily practice. “Branches from a tree are good enough” he has said, “Just find one that is comfortable for you and make it your own!” “In Kenjutsu, using the shinogi (the side line running the length of the bokken on both sides) is most important. A bokken is not an ax and should not be used for chopping. If a bokken breaks as you practice on the training course, there is a 99% chance that it is because the bokken was used incorrectly, not that the bokken was defective. When you use your bokken to block a strike with another bokken, flexibility and responsiveness is important. You need to “field” the strike, not resist it. When you are cutting with the bokken however, make it feel as if you are cutting all the way through your opponent to the ground.”
With Homma Kancho’s philosophy in mind, we set about making our own sets of weapons to be used for kumitachi practice, (partnered practice, not striking practice on the uchiuma, tachiki, tsuriki, and tanrenuchi).
On the dojo front altar is a bokken that was made here at Okaeri dojo as a gift for Homma Kancho. He used this bokken in the Aiki Expo 2003 demonstrations held last year in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the demonstration, this bokken was reinforced with about two pounds of metal rebar for strength and balance. Homma Kancho returned the bokken to Okaeri dojo during his visit last November, where it is being kept in a place of honor.
This coming fall, Homma Kancho is planning to visit Okaeri dojo to help lay the foundations for Japanese gardens there. The long term goal of this project is to open the gardens to the public as a rest and retreat spot for travelers and guests, and as a vehicle for promoting and supporting operations of Okaeri dojo.
AHAN Rio de Janeiro
Luc Leoni Sensei
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|New outdoor training course at Okaeri dojo.|
Making bokken and jo.
Istanbul Turkey, Children with Leukemia Foundation Fundraising Seminar.
May 19-25th, 2004
Homma Kancho traveled to Turkey this past May 19th-25th, 2004 to teach a fundraising seminar for the Losev Foundation for Children with Leukemia.
Poster of the Losev Foundation
for Children with Leukemia.
After the seminar Homma Sensei and his party traveled to the coastal town of Izmir and practiced our cross-cultural communication through Aikido with the Izmir Aikido group led by Bazar Omarou Sensei. Izmir was a charming town, where we learned the fine arts of Turkish bargaining at the markets and bazaars!
On this trip, Homma Kancho was accompanied by Emily Busch, AHAN President, Rick Thompson, Nippon Kan Instructor and Scott Roney, Nippon Kan uchideshi who served as interpreter and guide for this trip.
Homma Kancho has written his thoughts on his travels to Turkey in his newest article Aikido in Turkey, Journey from a small book.
Practice at the seminar.
Explaining about AHAN activities.