Sept-Dec Activity Report
December 1-5, 2005
written by Jason Lowrey
AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters and AHAN Mexico Aikido,Take Musu Aiki (www.aikidomexico.com.mx) co-sponsored this third-annual fundraising seminar for children with cancer in Mexico. The seminar was held again this year at the Tecnologico de Monterrey (Technical University of Monterrey). AHAN Mexico Aikido has taken a very active and positive role as leaders in AHAN not only in Mexico but also as coordinators for AHAN Central America supporting projects in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
At this seminar in Mexico City over 100 students were in attendance under the instruction of Homma Kancho and Fernando Roman Sensei. Homma Kancho focused his teaching on the relationship between open-hand and weapon movement. This teaching was developed by Homma Kancho and is part of the foundation of Nippon Kan Aikido. Homma Kancho’s taught in a manner that was easily understood by all in attendance. Fernando Roman Sensei was also highlighted as an instructor at this seminar in support of his position as leader of AHAN in Mexico and Central America.
This year the seminar was structured simply and was well organized. The theme this year was to concentrate on the instruction and on raising funds for the Casa de la Amistad Foundation. In keeping with this theme, Homma Kancho stayed at the dojo with other students who had traveled to Mexico City to attend the seminar. Everyone slept together and ate meals together which enriched communication between students and instructors.
|Even during breaks at the seminar Homma Kancho engaged in friendly conversation.||Enjoying a simple breakfast with students.|
On the last day, the Founder of the Casa de la Amistad, Dr. Kunitake Tanaka and his wife Yoko, together with Foundation Director General Etelvina Garciduenas came to the seminar to participate in the closing ceremonies and to receive the donation of funds raised by the seminar. Dr. Kunitake and his wife Yoko have dedicated their lives to maintaining the Casa de la Amistad facility and caring for children with cancer in Mexico and their families. $2000.00 was raised by seminar participants and $1000.00 was also contributed by AHAN General Headquarters. The total amount was given to the representatives of the Casa de la Amistad to help support operations for the assistance of sick children in Mexico.
This contribution was made possible by the generosity and support of all attending students, the organization of AHAN Mexico Aikido Take Musu Aiki and AHAN General Headquarters who provided financing for airfare for Homma Kancho and his assistant. Homma Kancho also donated all of his teaching fees to this cause. Meetings were held with leaders of AHAN Mexico and other instructors to discuss future plans for AHAN activities in Central America, and guidelines for insuring stability and growth in these regions. Plans generated from these meetings will soon be announced.
A long time uchideshi and dojo assistant at Mexico Aikido, Take Musu Aiki, is Ponce. Ponce has a brother that happens to be quite famous in Mexico. His name is Aleks Syntek, and he is a popular singer somewhat similar in style as America’s John Denver. After the seminar, Mr. Syntek invited Homma Kancho to his home for a tour of his studio. He showed Homma Kancho how recordings were made with synthesized instruments and demonstrated a variety of musical techniques. During their time together, Mr. Syntek promised his support for future AHAN projects in Mexico, pledging to help in any way he might be able to. Before we left, Mr. Syntek delighted everyone with a preview of his latest CD which he was dedicating to his new born daughter. The CD is scheduled for release in May of 2006.
Homma Kancho with Aleks
in his recording studio.
With the seminar successfully drawn to a close, plans turned to the next adventure in Mexico; a caravan tour of dojos in Mexico to raise awareness for AHAN with Homma Kancho’s teaching. Schedules for this tour will be announced soon.
This was my first experience traveling abroad with Homma Kancho as his otomo (assistant). I want to thank everyone at AHAN Mexico Aikido for a wonderful experience. I also want to offer special thanks to Ponce and Senior Jose for all of their help!
Sept 15-18th 2005
Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarter IISA (Instructors in Support of AHAN) Instructor, Bolivar Ramirez Sensei of Shushinkan Dojo hosted this AHAN seminar in support of Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. The seminar was held at the Puerto Rico University Mayaguez Campus Gymnasium.
This was Homma Kancho’s second visit to Puerto Rico, and he was accompanied on this trip by Nippon Kan Assistant Instructor Michael Barrera who served as translator as well as assistant for this fundraising event.
Shushinkan Dojo is approximately two hours from the capitol city of San Juan in the coastal town of Mayaguez. Shushinkan dojo is home to about thirty students who practice Aikido under the supervision of Bolivar Ramirez Sensei. Homma Kancho received word from Bolivar Sensei about his plans for a promotion seminar to support of Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. Homma Kancho agreed to lend a hand in this effort to support children in need in Puerto Rico.
Homma Kancho remarked about the event, “It does not matter if a seminar is large or small. If a leader of an Aikido community understands the concepts of AHAN and my philosophy about building relationships between our dojos and surrounding communities then it is my duty to show my support as well.
After we return from this trip to Puerto Rico, I am scheduled to go to Istanbul, Turkey and the nearby country of Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan I will be introducing Aikido to the Azerbaijan National Police Academy where they have never practiced Aikido before. This will be a big challenge, so this trip to Puerto Rico to visit with Bolivar Sensei and his young and energetic students is a great chance to enjoy practice together and work on the curriculum for Turkey and Azerbaijan as well.”
Ramirez Sensei and Homma Kancho.
Mr. Manuel de J Ayala and his associate from Shriner’s Children’s hospital came to seminar closing on Sunday to accept the donation generated by the seminar. Ramirez Sensei was also given a plaque awarding him with official recognition as an IISA Instructor. We look forward to seeing the projects that Ramirez Sensei and his students become involved in within their community in the times to come.
Travel expenses for Homma Kancho and his assistant were provided by AHAN and Nippon Kan General Headquarters, who sponsored Homma Kancho’s participation in this community service event.
|Assistant Michael Barerra
looks ready for anything!
Sept 24th-25th, 2005
Written by Seha Iscan
International Ali San Dojo Federation (Aikikai) in Istanbul, Turkey sponsored this seminar held September 24th-25th in support of the Turkey Kidney Foundation. As a member of AHAN, as an IISA Instructor Ali San Uludag Sensei, Founder and Chief Instructor of Ali San Dojo Federation asked Homma Kancho to instruct at this special event. In attendance with Homma Kancho was Nippon Kan Instructor, Rick Thompson.
The seminar was held at a gymnasium in Istanbul and over 100 aikidoists from fifteen different dojos came together to attend this seminar to raise support for this important cause in their community.
|Ali San Sensei with Homma Kancho.||Practice at the seminar.|
|Discussing ideas together.||Homma Kancho with children at the seminar.|
Ali San Uludag Sensei visited Nippon Kan General Headquarters in Denver, Colorado this past summer at the invitation of Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan. This visit was an AHAN’s IISA (Aikido Humanitarian Active Network’s Instructors in Support of AHAN) training activity meant to promote cultural understanding among IISA Instructors. Uludag Sensei came to Nippon Kan to learn about AHAN activities while sharing with us his dynamic Aikido teaching style.
This seminar in support of the Turkey Kidney Foundation was a direct result of the exchange between Nippon Kan students and staff and Ali San Sensei and his assistant during their visit to Denver. Ali San Sensei successfully took the philosophy of AHAN back to his homeland to facilitate in helping others in his own community.
In Turkey, for a martial art community to come together in support of community charities is an extremely rare and new event; one we hope will bloom and grow in the times to come. So rare was this event that the seminar was well covered by local television and newspapers.
|Television reporters visit the dojo.||Second from left: Dr. Osman Akali of the Turkey Kidney Foundation|
After the conclusion of the seminar, Homma Kancho and Ali San Sensei visited the Turkey Kidney Foundation’s Hizmet Hastanesi Hospital with the guidance of Dr. Osmond Akali. They learned from Dr. Akali that the foundations number one challenge in fighting kidney disease is not as much financial as it is a problem of education. Educating the general public about the need for kidney transplants and other new medical treatments is very high on the foundations agenda for the future. Having a group of healthy martial artists hold an awareness event for the Kidney Foundation was a positive communication tool with the greater community. Follow up seminars and other fundraising events are planned by Ali San Sensei to further support of this foundation.
The second scheduled visit of the day was to the Turkey branch dojo of Traditional Dento Iwama Ryu Aikido, run by Mehmet Dogu Sensei. Dogu Sensei was an uchideshi in Iwama, Japan under the late Morihiro Saito 9th dan (Aikikai). Homma Kancho and Dogu Sensei have met before in Istanbul, and also been in acquaintance through association with Dento Iwama Ryu Aikido’s Hitohiro Saito Jukucho.
|Dento Iwama Ryu Dojo in Istanbul.||Center: Dogu Sensei.|
Homma Kancho also visited my uncle, the former Turkish ambassador to Japan, Mr. Yaman Baskut and his wife Filiz. Mr. Baskut had many valuable memories of Japan and spent a good deal of time talking to Homma Kancho about Sumo wrestling, Japanese food and other stories of Japan. Homma Kancho asked Mr. Baskut if he might be able to assist in future AHAN projects in Turkey with his council and advice. Mr. Baskut graciously agreed to lend a hand in future AHAN efforts in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey.
Former Turkish Ambassador to Japan,
Mr. Yaman Baskut with Homma Kancho.
The following day Homma Kancho and Ali San Sensei headed by bus to the capitol city of Ankara for another scheduled seminar hosted by one of Ali San Sensei’s senior students. Many of Ali San Sensei’s students in Ankara not only practice Aikido but also study the Japanese language at the Tonichi Kyokai or Turkey Japan Association. Homma Kancho visited the Tonichi Kyokai and met briefly with Junko Sugiyama Sensei who teaches Japanese language there. Together they discussed the possibility of future cultural projects at the center.
|Homma Kancho and Ali San Sensei at the Attaturk Memorial in Ankara.||In front of Tonichi Kyokai center with Sugiyama Sensei.|
|Welcome party with Ankara students.||Turkish people love to dance!!|
|Gaku Homma Dojo in Ankara.||With Ankara dojo students.|
That evening Homma Kancho taught classes at Ali San Dojo Federation’s Gaku Homma dojo. The classes were organized by Instructor Banu Aliversieis who accompanied Ali San Sensei to Nippon Kan General Headquarters in Denver this past summer.
After class, a welcome party was given for Homma Kancho where he saw first hand just how much Turkish people love to dance!
Note from editor: To learn more about traveling to Turkey for business or pleasure contact Seha Iscan at Bora Tur www.boratour.com. Seha is Ali San Uludag Sensei’s chief coordinator and holds the rank of Aikikai Sandan. Seha is fluent in English and his tourism office is conveniently located in central Istanbul.
Oct 7-9, 2005
With the support of Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters in Denver, AHAN Costa Rica held their first official seminar hosted by Aikido Zanshin Dojo’s AHAN Costa Rica coordinator Marcos Gonzales. The seminar was instructed by AHAN Central America Headquarters, IISA Instructor Fernando Roman Sensei of AHAN Mexico Aikido Takemusu Aiki www.mexicoaikido.com.mx. Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters supported this even by financing the travel arrangements for Roman Sensei who flew to Costa Rica during the beginnings of a hurricane!
This seminar was a milestone event for many different reasons. For one, it was the first Aikido seminar held in Costa Rica where participants raised funds and awareness for a local community support organization. This seminar focused on Aldeas S.O.S, a foundation that works to place orphaned children in Costa Rica in family homes. It was also an important event in the sense that different aikido groups joined together for this community cause.
The seminar was good training for Marco Gonzales and his students in learning to organize and execute seminar planning. This is also a goal for Nippon Kan AHAN headquarters as a way to develop organizational skills in local dojos for future events on a continual basis.
Currently AHAN activities and events are ongoing all over the world. It is not feasible for Nippon Kan AHAN Headquarter staff to organize each event. This type of ongoing training for IISA Instructors prepares local dojos to organize projects on their own. We look forward with great anticipation to a future where our friends in AHAN develop series of projects for their own communities all on their own.
Sept 28-29th, 2005
written by Nejef Hasanov
After his visit to Turkey had come to an end, Homma Kancho and Ali San Sensei left for the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan. They had been invited to come to Azerbaijan by a local television station in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capitol. The station was interested in putting together an hour and a half documentary on the introduction of Aikido to the Azerbaijan Police Academy.
|Television film crew at the seminar.||Officers and senior cadets
observing the seminar.
As Homma Kancho entered the National Police Academy martial art gymnasium, there were over eighty cadets clad in fresh new karate uniforms lined up, standing at attention on the floor. 150 uniformed senior cadets and instructors were also in attendance, watching attentively from the sidelines. The atmosphere was tense as the seminar began; this was the Academy’s first introduction to Aikido.
Homma Kancho began by demonstrating techniques that the cadets had never seen before, and it was an eye opening experience for all them. Homma Kancho then invited everyone to learn the basics of these techniques themselves which broke some of the tension in the room. Soon, Homma Kancho’s teaching style soon put everyone at ease, and even the language barrier and lack of familiarity with Aikido did not keep everyone from having a great time.
|After practice, everyone had questions for Homma Kancho.||Center: National Police Academy Captain Merdekan, right: Ali San Sensei, left: Homma Kancho.|
After the conclusion of a successful demonstration seminar at the Police Academy, Homma Kancho and Ali San Sensei paid a visit to the Azerbaijan Aikido Federation, instructed by Farhad Alekserow Sensei. About fifty students gathered for practice with Homma Kancho. After practice Homma Kancho spent an interesting time with students over dinner.
Alekserow Sensei began his study of Aikido at a university in Moscow. He returned from Moscow to Azerbaijan in 1995 where he started the Azerbaijan Aikido Federation.
Homma Kancho was the first Japanese Aikido instructor to visit the interior of Azerbaijan. Homma Kancho visited Azerbaijan as part of his own personal study of Aikido and how it is practiced in other parts of the world. It also was a research mission for possible future AHAN activities.
|Practice at the Azerbaijan Aikido Federation.||With aikidoists in Azerbaijain.|
A critical principle of AHAN is to nurture seeds once they have been planted. It is a goal of AHAN Headquarters in Denver to support local leaders in independent AHAN projects of their own choosing. Financial support is sometimes provided, but more often advice, encouragement and step by step project planning is offered to any AHAN leader who requests it. This month we have received progress reports from both AHAN Mongolia and AHAN Nepal.
From Nepal, we received word from Puja Rai who is busy preparing for an AHAN delegation’s visit to Nepal in January 2006 led by Homma Kancho. Puja has been coordinating support for the Choeling Monastery School for children by AHAN. Click here for related articles on AHAN in Nepal.
Recently Puja published
an article in the Himalayan Times
www.thehimalayantimes.com excerpts of which are written below:
MIDWAY: Poles Apart By Puja Rai
Our college arranged a Bal Bhojan programme on December 29. We reached the venue near Basantapur at 9 am. I could see a shabby building. As we went inside, I saw small rooms and children in tattered clothes. But what was remarkable was that they all seemed to be quite happy and content.
I learnt that these deprived children were fed twice a day by various charitable organisations. The meal was simple dal, bhat and tarkari. I soon started chatting with a boy named Bijay Rai. He didn’t like tarkari so he ate dal-bhat. How these children relished the daal-bhat was quite amazing. Bai Bhojan was within the reach of only those children staying in this particular building. My mind was flooded with questions like: What about the numerous street children who had no shelter or food? How can they improve their future? What has Nepal to offer? Who is responsible for their condition?
In sharp contrast to Bal Bhojan, I had an opportunity to attend a gala at Soaltee Crown Plaza on December 31. Though the ticket was priced at Rs. 5,000 I did not have to buy it as I happened to be a guest. The fabulous lights, decorations, beautiful ladies, their glittering dresses and expensive cars transported me to an entirely different world. When I entered the palatial dinner hall, the cuisine confused me. I could not decide which one to choose from the vast variety – Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Indian, BBQ, among others. People were enjoying themselves-singing, dancing, eating till night and wishing each other Happy New Year 2006.
Within a short span of time I had experienced two different worlds. One dealt with deprived children while the other consisted of wealthy people. I am confused about the different lifestyles people are leading in our country. I wonder at the materialistic world, and compare it to the Marxist theory of haves and have-nots. Deep down my heart I feel a sense of injustice.
I also feel guilty of not being able to make any difference in their lives. I wish I could do something for those street children and motivate them to study and improve their lot. I wish I could feed all of them. I wish such thoughts of mine could also inspire the others to bring about a change collectively and individually.
Thank you letter from Gandan Temple.
From Mongolia, we received word from Mongolia Aikido Nippon Kan Advisor Bold Tumenjargal and Mr. Ganzorig Dashdorj who have worked hard together to open their own Aikido dojo in Ulaanbaatar. Mr. Dashdorj is the owner of a very successful security company and trains his many employees in many of the martial arts, which now includes Aikido. AHAN Mongolia staff members are also working to coordinate the delivery of the next shipment of thirty refurbished computers from AHAN General Headquarters in Denver, Colorado to the Gandan Monastery Temple in Ulaanbaatar. The Gandan Temple is the largest Tibetian Buddhist Temple complex in Mongolia.
Besides Homma Kancho’s planned visit to Nepal in January of 2006, he is also planning to visit India, Bangladesh, Japan and Mongolia to teach Aikido and promote awareness for AHAN. In Mongolia Homma Kancho will personally check on the next computer delivery and also check on another AHAN project in Mongolia; The School Named Hope. (click here for related articles)
Crowds of over 2000 go wild in Brazil!
October 19-27, 2005
One of Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters most interesting and successful sponsored activities in 2005 was the Matsukawa Taiko Drummers World Tour 2005 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 2000 people in Brazil were thrilled and delighted by the drummers in the series of concerts they played October 19-27, 2005.
The Matsukawa Kyogaku Taiko Drummers are a world-class drumming troupe that lives in the village of Matsukawa high in the mountainous Nagano Prefecture of Japan. The drummers have performed all over the world, including six concert tours in the United States. Last year, Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters sponsored a series of concerts held in Denver, Colorado to raise awareness and funds for AHAN’s computer redistribution program to Mongolia and other countries in need.
The Matsukawa drummers know of AHAN’s philosophy of community service and of AHAN’s many humanitarian and cultural awareness projects world-wide. The group readily agreed to join Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters in supporting an awareness raising campaign for AHAN Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This was the main focus of this tour and to that end; the tour was an overwhelming success.
Drummers pay their respects to the Consul General of Japan at Rio de Janeiro. Center: Consul General Takeshi Kamitani Right: Deputy Consul General Toshio Ikeda.
After finally landing in Rio after two days of travel from Japan, the drummers paid a visit to the Consul General of Japan at Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Takeshi Kamitani. The Consul General provided a tremendous amount of support in assisting the drummers with their travel documentation and the requirements for entry into Brazil. The drummer’s leader, Mr Eitaro Chino thanked the Consul General officially for the group. Mr. Kamitani replied with a wish for success for the days of concerts to come.
With this official blessing the drummers headed for Copacabana Beach and the Baden Powell Theater where the first concert of the series was to be held. On what was to be a whirl-wind week of activity, the next concerts were held at the Japanese Brazilian Center (Nikkei Kaikan). This concert was followed by concerts at the Moacir Bastos University followed by two concerts in the city of Buzios, a well known sea-side resort outside of Rio. Five concerts in all were held, each playing to crowds that were thrilled and awed by the drummer’s powerful performances. The drummers deeply touched the hearts and souls of the Brazilian people, and the audiences danced and cheered to the beat of the native music of Japan.
|The powerful performance of the drummers.||In front of the Baden Powell Theater|
The drummers took the rigorous schedule in stride, finding time between performances to visit with Japanese Brazilian immigrants who had settled in this land decades ago. One group of immigrants in particular came all the way from Sao Paulo on the night bus to see the drummers from their native land perform. This group of immigrants had originally come from the same village as the drummers and it was a touching meeting of the two generations that were now separated not only time but by great distance. The Matsukawa drummers were joined at the Nikkei Kaikan concert (concert for the Japanese Brazilian community) by the local Rio de Janeiro Japanese Brazilian Taiko drumming group. It was quite heartening to see the two drumming troupes playing together, communicating with each other across the miles that separated their lives through the beating of their drums.
It had been planned that the concert at the Moacir Bastos College was to be held at an indoor gymnasium. The college organizers underestimated the power of the drums however and it soon became quite apparent that the acoustics in the gymnasium were inadequate. The drummers and members of the audience together moved the performance outside, moving equipment and chairs together. After relocating the concert outside, the drummers put on a powerful performance that delighted all in attendance.
There were two concerts held in the city of Buzios , the first held for 350 children at the Buzios elementary school. The second outdoor concert was sponsored by the City of Buzios, and held in the center square. Buzios being a popular resort, over 700 tourists and locals gathered in the square for the final concert of the tour. The drummers outdid themselves for this final performance, bringing the crowds to their feet in a roar of applause that echoed well into the night.
|Visiting with the Mayor of Buzios.|
|The beach at Buzios.||Looking down at the Copacabana beach.|
Buzios was once a favorite place of actress Bridget Bardot, who spent a great deal of time in this quaint and peaceful setting. There is even a statue of her sitting on a park bench on the beach which is a favorite spot for photographs by tourists from Europe and other countries of South America. Buzios is also now the home for AHAN Rio de Janeiro headquarters.
Between performances, the drummers did get a chance to do a little sightseeing, climbing up to the infamous statue of Christ Corcovado, and taking the tram up Sugarloaf Mountain. With such a tight schedule, and the challenges of traffic in Rio, we did not have enough time to show the drummers all of the sights there are to see in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. Hopefully next time there will be a little more time to play and to sample the wonderful foods and beverages of this exotic country as well.
The success of this concert tour was due in large part to the talents and hearts of the sixteen drummers from Matsukawa, and we all sincerely thank them for their efforts. This success was also due however to the united efforts of many volunteers in Japan, Brazil and the United States together.
We also owe many thanks to the Consul General and Deputy Consul General of Japan at Rio de Janeiro who gave a tremendous amount of support, advice and assistance to the drummers, from before they left Japan, through the entire journey and until their safe return home. Important to mention as well was the assistance provided by Consul staff member Mr. Yoshida.
Homma Kancho, chief coordinator for this project has written an article about this adventure titled The Sixteen Drummers from Matsukawa which explores in more detail about the tour, its meaning and the effect the drummers had on everyone they met. Click here to read The Sixteen Drummers from Matsukawa.
If your Japanese is up to speed, we also have a report by the leader of the Matsukawa Drummers, Mr. Eitaro Chino available here.
October 30, 2005
After bidding the drummers farewell, Homma Kancho taught a special one day Aikido seminar October 29th, at the Brazilian Army Copacabana Beach Training Center for aikidoists in and around the Rio de Janeiro area.
The next day Homma Kancho and Luc Leoni Sensei went to check on the Okaeri Dojo garden project in the mountain town of Santo Aleizo outside of Rio. A meeting was held to determine the scope Phase III this project would have. Phase III is scheduled to begin in April, 2006 after the summer season has ended in Brazil. Recently a test program for raising farm bred fish and chickens for eggs for market had been introduced at Okaeri dojo, and new procedures were discussed to fine tune this program.
|Cleaning the mats before practice.||Practice.|
|Checking the koi (carp) in the Okaeri dojo garden pond.||Homma Kancho and Luc Leoni Sensei discuss future plans on site.|
With Mr. Seed who maintains the
garden at Okaeri dojo.
Every weekend, Okaeri dojo becomes a destination retreat for Aikido instructors and students from the Rio de Janeiro area as a place to come and practice Aikido and relax in the beauty of the new Okaeri gardens. AHAN general headquarters has supported the development of Okaeri dojo as just such a place for instructors and students of all styles and backgrounds to communicate and learn from one another.
October 14-18, 2005
Armando (far left) and his family.
Nippon Kan Instructor, Dr. Ray Howe was asked by AHAN General Headquarters to go to Nicaragua to assist in the diagnosis and care of AHAN Nicaragua student Armando Lopez. Armando, a young man of twenty, has already lost one leg above the knee to cancer. Armando’s answer to the cancer that took his leg was to enroll in the Nicaragua University to study law, and to begin the practice of Aikido. Two years ago, Homma Kancho met Armando while visiting Nicaragua. He was impressed not only by Armando’s physical mastery of practicing aikido with a prosthesis, but also by his strong spirit and enthusiasm for Aikido and for life. Armando’s dream he told Homma Kancho was to visit Nippon Kan in Denver and see snow for the first time.
This past spring AHAN General Headquarters arranged for Armando to visit Nippon Kan, and raised support for this trip with a fund-raising t-shirt sale among Nippon Kan students.
Just before Armando was to leave for Denver, it was discovered that Armando’s cancer had returned, and that he needed to undergo immediate emergency surgery.
Nippon Kan and AHAN’s support then turned to one of spiritual and emotional support for Armando. Seeking to arrange for a support system for Armando, Homma Kancho asked Nippon Kan Instructor Dr. Ray Howe to go to Nicaragua personally to check on Armando’s diagnosis and progress. Dr. Howe agreed and left his busy practice in Denver for a long weekend in Nicaragua October 14th-18th, 2005.
Dr. Howe met with Armando and his family and visited the local hospital to check on Armando’s recovery process. He also spent time with AHAN Nicaragua students teaching and practicing Aikido with them.
Armando and Dr. Howe.
|Signing Armando’s memory book.|
|Examing Armandos x rays.||Meeting with Aikidoists in Nicaragua.|
Dr. Howe presented the following message in person to Armnado from Homma Kancho.
October 13, 2005
Is is supposed to be you that you are a healthy young man, but illness has befallen you.
Sometime it seems like the acts of God are unfair.
But thinking deeply about your situation, one very good thing has come to pass.
You have awoken your fighting spirit against this illness, and this special spirit within you has touched my heart and many of your friends here in Denver. Your spirit is so strong it has touched many people close to you and also so far away.
This illness is in your body, it is not in your spirit, and for this we must say thanks to God.
Through this illness in your body your spirit has touched many and has awoken in them their spirit of compassion.
This is Gods gift to you and also, God has given you a mission You must complete your mission from God, day by day by fighting with your strong spirit, and sharing your spirit not only with those close around you but also those you have touched so far away.
In trying to see what we can do best for you, we at Nippon Kan and AHAN have asked Dr. Howe to come to visit you for all of us.
I am always with you Armando, every day I am at your side, as well as the American friends you have made here with your story.
Don’t be worried or nervous; use your strong spirit to see you through this physical fight.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Editor’s note: This article has been written with Armando’s permission and certain details about Armando’s condition have not been released to protect his privacy.
November 7th, 2005
Samuel Onofri Sensei, coordinator for AHAN Italy and chief instructor at Kihon Dojo reported to Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters about recent activities in Italy. This past spring Homma Kancho visited Onofri Sensei to conduct a seminar in support of the Naturalment Centro-Sociale O.N.L.U.S. Center for young adults with mental disabilities. Samuel Sensei reported that funds raised through the seminar last spring have allowed the center to make repairs on the school’s bus which was in dire need of repair. We also received a package of drawings done by some of the residents of the center that we plan to use to make future AHAN International greeting cards. For more information about AHAN Italy click here.
Dec 30, 2005 – Jan 4th 2006
Nippon Kan’s annual end-of-year activities are a yearly tradition. A summary of this years events are chronicled below:
|After Keiko Osame everyone gathers to share in a special meal.|
|Waiting for Toshi Koshi Keiko.|
|Decorations ready for Keiko Hajime.|
|A potluck of plenty; everyone pitches in!|
|The young and the old, everyone had a great time!|
|A Polka band adds to the festivity.|
|Plenty of sushi at the sushi bar!|
Dec 30th, 2005 Keiko Osame (Last Practice of the Year).
The dojo was full of students who came to Nippon Kan for the last practice of 2005. After practice everyone gathered in a circle on the mat to eat, drink and reminisce about practice and events of the year now passing.
Dec 31st, 2005 Susu Harai (End of Year Dojo Cleaning).
Homma Kancho led the crew of uchideshi in cleaning the dojo from top to bottom and decorating Nippon Kan in traditional red and white for the New Year. At 11:00 pm. Homma Kancho performed Toshi Koshi Keiko (Practice from the Old Year to the New) in a private ceremony.
Jan 3rd, 2006 Nippon Kan Annual New Year Party.
Over 250 students, family members and friends came to the dojo to welcome in the New Year with a festive potluck party complete with a live Polka band! The party was also catered by Domo Restaurant and had an open sushi bar. Over 1,200 pieces of sushi and 100 sushi rolls disappeared quickly as party-goers enjoyed all of the delicacies of the evening.
Jan 4th, 2006 Keiko Hajime (Opening Practice of the Year)
Most all of Nippon Kan students were present for this special ceremony and opening class. Senior advisors imparted words of wisdom to students for the coming year before promotions and staff positions were awarded. Homma Kancho inspired everyone present with his New Years speech, “Walking Firmly on the Ground”, link here.
Congratulations to the graduating uchideshi!
At Keiko Hajime, Jason Lowrey’s graduation from Nippon Kan’s uchideshi program ended with 100 ukemi falls! Nippon Kan usually has three to five uchideshi (live-in students) living at Nippon Kan at any given time. The motto for these hard working students is Uchideshi 24-7 which accurately describes their practice on and off the mat.
Uchideshi life in basic ways is not any different than living outside of the dojo. There is laundry to do, cleaning, shopping, cooking, maintenance chores, gardening etc. If a person cannot take care of these simple daily tasks for themselves in the outside world, then they will not be able to succeed as an uchideshi. This is just common sense.
The uchideshi program is for students who already have learned to take care of themselves and their own daily responsibilities. Sometimes people misunderstand, and think that everything will be taught to them. This is not true. Uchideshi candidates that lack common sense and the ability to take care of their surroundings will not succeed in the program. In the academic world if a student does not know his or her a,b,c’s, they cannot study at a university. There must be a basic foundation in place before the subject of practice can begin. A true uchideshi experience is not like “Karate Kid”; this is not the movies.
One characteristic of a successful uchideshi is
to be able to recognize shortcomings and areas in one self that
need developing. Actually this is a big part of the uchideshi
experience; to learn how to assess oneself honestly and humbly.
Some uchideshi blame the dojo or others for personal shortcomings
which denies them the chance to learn and grown. A person with
this kind of attitude will not succeed in the uchideshi program.
|100 throws from sempai- Jason on the right.||Jason demonstrating for an elementary school fieldtrip.|
|Jason singing at the Mexico seminar party. Ole!||Thomas cleaning toilets. He will be graduating soon as well.|
At Nippon Kan, one uchideshi term of study is three months. We have had uchideshi students who have completed one, two, three, even four terms before moving on to the next stage of their lives. We have also had uchideshi students who did not make it through their first day, or their first week, or their first term. Every student is different, and not all uchideshi candidates have the determination and patience to complete the program.
Jason graduated at the beginning of January 2006 after a five month term and will now begin medical school. Thomas will be graduating soon and will return to his studies at the university near his home in Germany. Both Jason and Thomas will be traveling with Homma Kancho to India and Nepal to assist as interns in AHAN international project development.
In the hallway leading to the dojo at Nippon Kan we have a special plaque board reserved for graduates of the uchideshi program. It is indeed an honor and an accomplishment to have ones name on the uchideshi alumni board. Many alumni uchideshi return from time to time to say hello, and recently we had two graduate alumni uchideshi that stopped by to introduce Homma Kancho to the newest members of their families!
Recommended reading for anyone interested in becoming
a Nippon Kan uchideshi!
Jason Lowrey’s article as a Nippon Kan uchideshi link here.
Thomas Fenderl’s article as a Nippon Kan uchideshi link here.
|For Charles, I promised you I would put your picture on our website!|
This past June, Nippon Kan celebrated fifteen years of service and 40,000 meals served to the homeless in Denver at the Denver Rescue Mission. In 2005 alone over 3000 meals were served, and on December 18, 2005 the last meal service of the year was held. It is a tradition at Nippon Kan to include a small gift along with the meal at this end-of-year service and this year we supplied gloves to the 250 guests who attended the dinner. Early that morning of the 18th, about twenty five students stayed after morning practice to help prepare the foods for dinner. Twelve student volunteers came to the mission to serve the evening meal.
Since it has been fifteen years since we been serving meals at the mission it is not unusual for us to occasionally bump into former residents of the mission that have now reintegrated themselves back into society. One such gentleman is Mr. Charles, who suffered severely from a spinal injury he received in an automobile accident years ago. After the accident he could not work, and eventually became homeless. He entered the Denver Rescue Missions residency program and worked very hard to overcome his personal obstacles. Today, although his injuries will never completely heal, he lives on his own, and serves as a counselor to others at the mission who have fallen on hard times. He gives to others, as others gave to him in his time of need.
This year many students and friends helped support this meal service to the homeless project in Denver and to every one we wish to thank sincerely. Next year, the first meal service for the homeless in Denver begins on January 15th 2006. As a new year begins, so does our service to our community begin again.
Program Year-End Promotions.
December 10th, 2005
For the last thirty years at Nippon Kan, classes geared toward our younger members, age seven to fifteen have been called “children’s classes”. We have two “children’s” classes currently, one for general children members and one advanced class for our more experienced young members.
Recently Homma Kancho was in the dojo during the time that the advanced class was being held. After watching for a moment, he turned to Tom Dammen Sensei, and said, “You know, I feel a little bad for these older students who are twelve, thirteen, even fifteen years old. They are too mature to be called “children”. I bet they are not thrilled about that name either at that age”. The instructors thought about it for a moment and decided to break a thirty year tradition by changing the name of these classes to Nippon Kan’s Youth Program instead of children’s classes.
December 10th, 2005, marked the end of the second term for 2005 and was celebrated with demonstrations and promotions. All qualifying young members received a promotion that day, and there was a feeling of excitement and joy in the air. Since the day Nippon Kan opened until today, it has been strict policy never to have examinations or examination fees. Attendance, hard work and participation in Nippon Kan community activities is taken into consideration as promotions are decided upon by the Youth Program Instructors and Assistant Instructors committee.
Demonstrations were performed this day for gathered family members and friends, put on by the Youth Program advanced class members, live-in students (uchideshi) and other regular adult members.
Youth Program Chief Instructor Thomas Dammen Sensei
has written his thoughts of this day in his Promotion
Day Report (link here).
November 15-17, 2005
Shudo Maruyama Sensei, accompanied by seven of his students from the East Coast, visited Nippon Kan this past November 15-17th, 2005. Over 100 students from Nippon Kan attended the one evening clinic taught by Maruyama Sensei on November 16th. To experience Maruyama Sensei’s unique teaching method was an interesting experience for Nippon Kan students, and everyone enjoyed the experience very much.
|Maruyama Sensei demonstrating||Maruyama Sensei and Homma Kancho enjoying each others company|
Collecting antiques is a passion of Maruyama Sensei’s, and Homma Kancho spent the day with Maruyama Sensei roaming through the many antique stores in Denver. Homma Kancho also took the occasion to interview Maruyama Sensei about the history of Aikido in the United States in the 1960’s for an article he has been researching. Maruyama Sensei was a wealth of information on the subject which will be an important resource for Homma Kancho’s upcoming article.
Click here for other articles written by Homma
Kancho about Maruyama Sensei:
With Shudo Maruyama Sensei. Cold Sake and Sensei’s Lessons.
The Silent Pioneer: Shudo Maruyama Sensei, Kokikai Founder.
Nov 8, 2005
Every year Nippon Kan in Denver has thirty six sessions of beginner’s classes. This last beginner’s class for 2005 had twenty five new beginning students enrolled. This high attendance was a little surprising to staff since this last class of the years begins so late in the year and runs close to the holiday season. The staff joked “There must have been a new Aikido hero movie released”!!
This particular class we call the late class, and each session is held from 7:45 pm. to 9:00 pm. Tuesday and Thursday evenings for a six week period. We also have beginner’s sessions earlier in the evenings and on weekend mornings.
This year Nippon Kan had over 500 beginning students attend beginner classes throughout the year. Over the past ten years attendance has been very consistent, with a slight increase most years. It is our hope that Nippon Kan’s involvement in community service, humanitarian and cultural exchange projects in Denver has been one of the reasons for this level of consistency in our beginning student attendance.
In Colorado, Nippon Kan does not have any satellite or branch dojos with the exception of associated Yama dojo, instructed by Nippon Kan Instructor Rick Thompson. Yama Dojo is located in the mountain town of Telluride, Colorado, and is about a five hour drive from Denver. Homma Kancho considers his visits to see Instructor Rick Thompson and Yama dojo, as a retreat and part of his personal practice. Instructor Rick Thompson often accompanies Homma Kancho on his travels to other countries to teach and to promote AHAN.
Oct 15th, 2005
On October 15th, Nippon Kan staff, students, families and friends spent the day at our 15th annual community service project “Put the Beds to Bed”. This project is part of a city-wide program adopted by the Denver Parks and Recreation department that originated at Nippon Kan. This year was the fifteenth year that Nippon Kan students have gathered to turn the flower beds for winter in Civic Center Park, a historical park located between the State Capitol building and the City and County building downtown. About 80 students along with friends and family made quick work of the project, having all of the flower beds turned before noon!
|Staff arriving soon after sunrise.||The marigolds too need to be turned for next season.|
|In the background the Denver Art Museum.||In the background the State Capitol.|
|In the background City and County Building.||Like father like son, everyone pitching in!|
Nippon Kan students have a nickname along with a reputation at the Denver Parks Department. Our nickname is the “Nippon Kan Army” and our reputation with the Parks Department is one of a group that works hard, fast, and with incredible teamwork and spirit. This year is actually took the “Nippon Kan Army” less than three hours to turn all of the flower beds. All of our volunteers worked hard to beat our record time from last year, and we beat the record we did!
Homma Kancho said about the project, “The practice of Aikido does not have tournaments so if a dojo becomes large in size, there are not a lot of opportunities for instructors and students and their families and friends to communicate with one another. Having parties is one solution, but working on community projects together is a healthier, more productive way to spend time together outside of training.
This idea has been applied to Nippon Kan General Headquarters operations, and has provided avenues for Nippon Kan to grow and develop in a healthy way. It has been good for Nippon Kan students as well as the community who have benefited directly from the many service projects Nippon Kan is involved with.
This idea of service to the community has become a fundamental part of Nippon Kan, and is part of the foundation for AHAN, the Aikido Humanitarian Active Network and its many community projects around the world.
As part of our service to our own community, today we turn the flower beds with the Parks Department and tomorrow is the day for our monthly meal service for the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Motion and sweat…this is Nippon Kan style. Always, do something!”
- Recognition from the Turkey Kidney Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey for the awareness support seminar held September 24th -25th, 2005.
- Recognition from the Mayor of Matsukawa Village, Nagano Prefecture Japan for cultural promotion with the Kyogaku Drummers tour to Brazil October 19th -27th, 2005.
- Recognition from the Colorado Mongolian Association, Denver, Colorado for support of the Mongolian community of Denver. October 12th, 2005.
- Recognition from the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, for the support seminar held 15th-18th, 2005