December 4th-11th, 2008
Homma Kancho’s first stop on this trip to Italy was the city of Parma where he taught a seminar hosted by the FESIK (www.fesik.org) Italian Sport Karate Federation and Aikido Insieme http://www.aikidoinsieme.it/ instructed by Nehme Michel Sensei and organized by Furlanetto Massimiliano Sensei. The sports complex where the seminar was held was large enough to lay 600 tatami mats where over 200 Aikidoka came to practice. Aikido Insieme is a non-affiliated independent dojo in Italy with a large following and students came to this seminar in Parma from all over Italy including Sicily in southern Italy.
In accordance with AHAN (Aikido Humanitarian Active Network) guidelines, a portion of proceeds from this seminar were donated to the “Centro Sociale Airone” that supports literacy programs and cultural activities for the elderly. The fundraising was a great success and the Mayor of Parma, the Director of the Centro Sociale Airone, and the Italian Sports Karate Federation President came to the seminar closing ceremony to accept the donation. In the Parma area, this was the first time that a martial art event had raised funds for their community and everyone was appreciative of the effort. With this AHAN activity, a new approach for the martial arts and the positive link with local community service programs was realized in Parma.
Homma Kancho demonstrates with Nippon Kan Instructor Michael Barrera
Practice in Parma
At the three-day weekend seminar in Parma, practice was held six hours a day. Homma Kancho commented, “You all have put in a months worth of practice in three days time!” Homma Kancho’s teaching was well-received as his curriculum was developed to be easy for participants to follow, punctuated with humor, history and a wealth of experience and insight.
To keep his focus, Homma Kancho did not spend a lot of time with extra curricular activities during the seminar. He was a well-disciplined instructor who paced himself like a professional athlete. Homma Kancho noted, “We always try to make sure that our hosts understand beforehand, but usually I need to use my time off the mat to prepare for the next classes. I understand that students and instructors are generous in spirit and do their best to arrange dinners and parties during a seminar. I always feel bad if I must decline these invitations. It is not a reflection on the hosts, but due to the fact that I take my responsibility seriously to teach a seminar to the very best of my abilities. To this purpose, it is my policy not to socialize extensively when it is time for me to teach.” I think that the secret of Homma Kancho’s endurance in all of his travels around the world is his self discipline and self control.
The seminar drew to a close with a standing ovation, and invitations were extended to Homma Kancho to come again next year.
With the Mayor of Parma.
With Fesik President.
With director of the Centro Sociale Airone
The city of Parma is especially famous for two things; Parmesan cheese and Parma ham (Proscuito ham). Go anywhere in Parma and there will be cheese and ham on every table! Homma Kancho commented that he ate more Parmesan cheese and Parma ham in one weekend than he had eaten in the last year! The rolling hills around Parma are especially conducive for growing grapes, so the wine was also delicious! Even during the seminar, much to my surprise, Parmesan cheese and homemade wine was served. We learned that the correct way to eat Parmesan cheese was to use a small knife, not to cut the cheese but to facilitate in breaking off small chunks. So we experienced Aikido “Italian style” with a piece of cheese, a sip of wine and a short rest between classes!
This past summer, I accompanied Homma Kancho as assistant on a trip to Egypt. I was surprised that students there would stop practice in the middle of class time to attend to their daily prayers as was dictated by their Muslim traditions. I have been able to learn many things accompanying Homma Kancho on his travels, but between prayers and wine with practice, I think I have experienced both ends of the cultural spectrum!
Many people brought wine to Homma Kancho as gifts, and before long we had a collection of at least 20 bottles of wine. Homma Kancho said that we could not carry that much wine back through customs in the United States, so we were ordered to DRINK UP! Nippon Kan Instructor Michael Barrera who also assisted Homma Kancho on this trip and I willingly complied.
Old castle village.
Parma is famous for its cheese and ham.
After we said our goodbyes in Parma, we headed for Rome. On Homma Kancho’s past two visits to Italy, he had been the guest of Samuel Onofri Sensei and his wife Aurora. This time Samuel had a recreational vehicle which made traveling quite comfortable. On the way back, we stopped at the home of graduate uchideshi Michele Zanrei, who trained as an uchideshi at Nippon Kan Headquarters this past spring. Michele and his family invited us to their home, so we stopped by for homemade pizza and homemade wine. Homma Kancho was very happy with the hospitality of Michele’s family and declared that the meal served at their home that day was the best meal he had had in Italy!
After spending the night in Tuscany in a quaint castle village, we drove on to Ardea - Tor San Lorenzo outside of Rome where Samuel Sensei and his wife have just opened an arts academy named A.S.I.A.A. Academy Studies Integration Armony Arts. This has been a long time dream for Samuel Sensei and his wife, and we were happy to be able to visit.
from left; Michele’s mother, Michele and family
At the academy, 20 different classes are offered, and even though they have only been open since
August, they have about 200 students studying there. This Christmas, the Academy will be performing
a Christmas fundraising performance of the opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame to raise funds for community
service efforts in the area. Samuel Sensei teaches Aikido and Kempo at the academy and other martial
arts are also offered instructed by volunteer instructors. We only were able to spend one day at the
academy, but the day was spent well, as Homma Kancho was able to teach a 3 ½ hour beginning level
class that delighted all attending students.
Onofri Sensei in front of the A.S.I.A.A Academy
All of the proceeds after expenses from the Parma seminar were donated to the Parma literacy
projects at the Centro Sociale Airone. Since the purpose of this seminar was humanitarian
and community oriented in nature, airfare and other travel expenses were sponsored by
Homma Kancho and AHAN headquarters in Denver.
Putting away 600 tatami mats is a big task! Thank you to all who volunteered.
Nippon Kan General Headquarter Instructor
Italy Seminar Staff Assistant
AHAN International Concert Series Featuring the Japanese Taiko Drummers in Colombia a Resounding Success! Over 12,000 in Attendance.
October 12-19th, 2008
Nippon Kan AHAN coordinated this concert tour to the Colombian cities of Cali and Palmira this October where four performances were held in four different locations in the area. Over 12,000 Colombians, many for the very first time, enjoyed the powerful and dynamic performances of these very talented Japanese drummers. All of the performances were filled to capacity with crowds that received the drummers with thunderous enthusiasm.
The Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers from Nagano, Japan were invited to perform at
the special celebration held in Cali, Colombia as part of the 100th Year Anniversary
of Japan-Colombia Relations Celebration Festival held in Colombia this past October.
The Matsukawa drummers have performed in all parts of their native country of Japan,
and internationally they have performed in the United States, Brazil, and Turkey as ambassadors
of AHAN. Everywhere the drummers have traveled with AHAN, their concerts have been a
Link here for articles written about the drummer’s concerts in the USA, Brazil and Turkey.
Cali, Colombia was first settled by a large number of Japanese immigrants, and there remains a fairly large Japanese community in Cali to this day. The Colombia Japanese Association is headquartered in Cali, and its new five-story facility is used to promote many Japanese cultural activities. The Colombia Japanese Association served as local host coordinators for the drummers visit and did a tremendous job promoting and organizing the series of concerts performed..
First landing in Cali and still going strong!
Without rest, the drummers set about tuning and checking their drums.
A formal visit by the drummers visit to Colombia Japanese Association President Mr. Machida.
It took the Matsukawa drummers a full 24 hours to travel from Japan to Cali, yet after their arrival, the 10 drummers, not pausing for even a short rest after their long journey, set about the task of checking, tightening and tuning their drums in preparation for the first concert, scheduled for the very next day.
The first concert was to be a free concert performed for students at an occupational technical training school for low income residents at the Teatro Jorge Isaac Theatre, a 200-year-old theater in downtown Cali. A second concert was scheduled for the same evening; this time open to the general public.
There were about 700 people that were expected to attend the day concert for the occupational school students. Unfortunately, government funding allocated for bus transportation to the theater fell through and although disappointing, the morning concert had to be cancelled. The drummers were also disappointed, but Homma Kancho said, “Its okay…if the students cannot come to us, then we will go to them! Instead of the sightseeing and rest that was scheduled, we will go to the school ourselves. The purpose of this concert tour to Colombia is to extend and share the spirit of Japan. Instead of trying to move 700 students to come to see us in this theater, it will be much easier to move the 15 of us to see them at the school. So don’t be disappointed, we will go tomorrow!”
With Homma Kancho’s words, arrangements were made by Japanese Colombian Association Office coordinator and local concert coordinator, Ms. Ayako Nakata for us to visit the school the next day.
The opera house is over 200 years old
Unpacking for rehearsal at the opera house.
A very serious rehearsal.
Many vendors set up shop outside the opera house.
1st performance LIVE!
The audience is invited to join the drummers for the finale.
After the concert.
In the meantime, the cancellation allowed the drummers a chance to do a full dress rehearsal in the theater in preparation for the evening concert to come. The practice turned out to be quite beneficial, and even in a new environment, the evening performance for 1,200 people went exceptionally well. The drummers were extremely well-received. After the concert, the drummers greeted guests in the lobby, who gathered around with glee to share a moment with the drummers in person. The Japanese Colombian citizens in particular sincerely appreciated the efforts of the drummers who had come from so far away to bring them a reminder in song of their homeland and their heritage.
On the move.
In the TV studio with local anchor.
The next day was supposed to be a rest day and a day to do a little sight-seeing, but instead we headed for the Sena Occupational Opportunity School. This school is government supported in Cali, but also receives support from the Japanese government and Japanese businesses in Colombia. Together, the Sena School offers occupational skills training and human development for over 10,000 lower income students in the city.
The concert was held during lunch break and LOTS of students gathered to watch and listen to the powerful drumming performance. The crowd was so excited and happy after the performance, we were a little concerned when hundreds of students rushed in to meet the drummers in person. The drummers were all very happy to receive such an innocent outpouring of joy and excitement from the students. They said, “We missed out on shopping and sightseeing today, but to receive such an enthusiastic reception from these students makes all of us glad that we are here.” The drummers were all smiles as they greeted students with tears and smiles all around.
The taiko drums capture young hearts.
After the concert with the drummers
Time for Autographs.
Young people making friends with the drummers.
The concert on the third day was held at the Teatro al Aire Libre Los Cristales (Crystal Amphitheater) on the outskirts of Cali. This outdoor concert arena held 6,000 people who all came out under a beautiful evening sky. The Mayor of Cali himself came unannounced and to everyone’s surprise joined the drummers on stage. At the end, the Mayor spoke highly of the drummers and the importance of this kind of Japanese cultural awareness by the people of Cali.
In front of the ampitheater.
Listening carefully; a sound check by leader Eitaro Chino.
A wave of fans inspires the drummers.
The Mayor joins in!
The last performance was held about one hour’s drive northwest of Cali, in Palmira City. History tells us that Palmira City was the most successful Japanese settlement in Colombia during the pioneer days. Like many cities that were settled in Spanish colonial times, the city is built around a city square, with a very old cathedral on one side and a palace on the other. This concert was to be held in the city square and was sponsored by the city of Palmira. The square to our surprise had been set up with 4,000 plastic chairs. The sight of so many plastic chairs in the square was a good reminder of its historical importance as a place for communicating with local residents.
This was not our only surprise. As the drummers took the stage, before the concert began, all 4,000 people seated in the square, rose to their feet and stood with the 2,000 people behind them (that had come too late for a seat) to sing the Colombian and Japanese national anthems. Instrumental accompaniment was piped in over loudspeakers hung strategically about the square. Everyone stood at attention and sang both anthems with respect and pride. It seemed a little unreal, to be so far away from Japan as we stood in the Colombian town of Palmira, listening to the Japanese National Anthem sung by so many thousands at once. The show of respect for our small group was overwhelming and appreciated deeply by our group. In the square that day, this had been built so long ago by the ancestors of those who stood before us, lingered a sense of pride, manners and respect that touched all of our hearts.
A wide-angle photo would be needed to see all of the chairs in the square that day.
A private moment before the performance.
So many in attendance; you could not see the back rows of people.
Japanese Colombian residents were deeply moved by the drummers performance.
This AHAN International Concert Series in Colombia was a team effort from the start. All the drummers have “a day job” at home in Matsukawa village. They practice every evening after work, from 7:00 pm until midnight on most days. If not for the support of family, friends and co-workers back home, the international concert tours of the Matsukawa Drummers would not be possible.
The Matsukawa Drummers touched the lives of 12,000 people in Colombia in the week we were here. As ambassadors, their music went a long way in teaching the Colombian people about the Japanese culture and furthering the development the friendship between these two countries. The successful diplomatic efforts of the Matsukawa Drummers I believe need to be recognized more in Japan and supported more by the Japanese government. Active support of organizations like the Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers would bode well for the future of all Japanese diplomatic relationships and goodwill in the world.
Aikido Nippon Kan Founder Gaku Homma
|Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters|
|Local Event Coordinator||
Sakae Machida (Japanese Colombia Association President)
Embassy to Colombia
Teatro Jorge Isaac Theater
Teatro al Aire Libre Los Cristales Theater
Sena Opportunity School
City of Cali
City of Palmira
|Performers||hinano no Kuni Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko|
|Director and Coordinator||Gaku Homma (Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters)|
|Emily Busch (AHAN International Project Director)|
|Interpreters||Arturo Kawai (AHAN Bolivia)
Harumi Nishi (Japanese Colombia Association)
|Transportation||Shogo Tejima (Japanese Colombia Association)|
August and September 2008
Homma Kancho speaks on peace from the martial arts point of view earlier this year at the Mindanao State University.
Nippon Kan General Headquarters has made many friends through AHAN all over the world, and has a special relationship with AHAN Mindanao Coordinator Ava Yancha and her students in Illigan City, Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Ava has been especially active in the development of peace and human resource development through the Aikido she shares with her students in Illigan City and all over Mindanao Island.
More articles on AHAN in the Philippines can be linked from the end of this article.
This past August, Nippon Kan Instructor Mariusz Ferenc after concluding a five-month resident instructor internship in Nepal was sent to join Ava Yancha in Mindanao. Mariusz went directly from Nepal to the Philippines, where he went to help Ava in developing the technical proficiency of her core students in Illigan City. His stay was expected to be a little over two months.
Homma Kancho and Ava Yancha in February 08
Mariusz teaching high school kids in Illigan.
At the conclusion of our tour to Japan to attend the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, I had planned to fly to Illigan to meet with Ava and Mariusz before his return to the United States. On September 27th, I made my way to Narita airport to await my flight to the Philippines. It was at the airport that I received the news.
The news was not good. There was a political emergency taking place in Mindanao and this time it had been violent and deadly. There was no choice. I cancelled my trip and gave word to the Nippon Kan staff in Denver to make immediate plans for Mariusz to evacuate the area as soon as possible.
I am a martial artist, not a priest or a politician. Anyone from any background who
wishes to practice Aikido with me, I view as an equal. In this report I do not
judge or take one side over another in the strife that is occurring in Mindanao. From
this position I report the events as they unfolded by the only communication available
in real time between three countries—the Philippines, Japan and the US… email.
We need to find peace for future of these young peoples..
On Mindanao Island, there have long been clashes and fighting between the Philippine government and fundamentalist Islamic groups in the area such as the MILF. The last few years have been relatively peaceful with a tentative and fragile cease fire in place. In August, this fragile peace was broken in Illigan City. Ava expressed her concerns by email about the political tensions and her concern for Mariusz.
August 17thm 2008
Sensei, Mariusz is safe. now 5 days no class in aikido in iligan...maxim hotel was explode many bomb was planted....please pray for us ..all schools here suspended for 5 days...
Dearest Homma Sensei...We are now at Cagayan De Oro City Many civilians died one of the students...many children died because this situation...bomb are planted somewhere in the city...thats why i let maruisz san be safe. 1am in the dawn we arrived here...in cagayan de city...please pray for us for peace here in iligan city...many ears of children cut and suffered...please help us....
These emails we received in August so we were aware that the fighting and casualties had escalated in Illigan City at that time. In August, Ava and Mariusz had evacuated Illigan and moved temporarily to nearby Cagayan de Oro. Interestingly, the word we had heard from Mariusz on Aug 10th, was that everything was going well and he was teaching classes every day. His mood at that time, was bright.
At the moment iam in hotel in cagayan de oro with Ava、・・・ family and few security guards. we came here last night. we are safe and everything is ok . yesterday in iligan there where many bombs. two had exploded,7 people where killed. Ava says that it is not safe for me to stay in iligan at the moment. i will stay in cagayan de oro for a few days until its safe to go back to iligan.
this is what i can say for now. anyway. everything is ok and we are safe. nothing to be worried about.
Ava is available under her mobile. ・・・・・I will e mail soon
The situation in August in Illigan City was volatile and one week made a big difference in an escalating unrest. The situation did calm down however and after these episodes and Ava and Mariusz returned to Illigan City where practice resumed again. Everything seemed to settle down, and plans continued for my visit to Illigan at the end of September until we received the following messages at Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver.
Sept 21st, 2008
Something is happening again in iligan . Ava says it is not safe for me to be here. we are going together to Cagayan now. Ava ask me to tell you to also cancel Homma Sensei’s flight this time.
i will e mail soon..
Sept 22nd, 2008
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 7:21 AM
Subject: URGENT News from the Philippines. Letter from Nippon Kan Headquarters to Japan to notify Homma Kancho
Dear Chrys, (Nippon Kan AHAN Japan Branch)
Ava has sent word that the MILF Rebels have been setting off bombs again in Illigan. Mariusz has been taken again to Cagayan De Oro so that he will be safe. The situation is very bad in Iligan. She is very worried about Homma Sensei's safety AND DOES NOT THINK HE SHOULD COME TO THE PHILIPPINES NOW.
I have tried to find out what exactly has happened but it is difficult. There has been violence and more violence for the end of Ramadan has been threatened. Classes are being canceled after the 25th for Festival week because of fear there will be more bombings. Tourists are on high warning alert.
Chrys, Please let me know as soon as possible what Homma Kancho would like to do.
Sept 22nd, 2008
we are in cagayan now. last night I heard bombing sounds. Ava said that the tower of Abunu was bombed and also Pugaan. that was very close to iligan. intelligence report that tourist who visit iligan are not safe until December.
Ava advices to cancel Sensei`s ticket because it is not safe at all to visit Iligan or Marawi at this time.
She is very sorry for that situation.i also hope to leave Philippines as soon as
Sept 22nd, Philippine News Release
Security up at southern Philippines airports amid rebel threat: police
Security has been stepped up at airports in the southern Philippines amid intelligence reports they could be targeted by Muslim separatist rebels, police said Friday. The General Santos, Zamboanga, Davao and Cotabato airports, serving four of the largest cities on Mindanao island, have adopted "target hardening measures" to repel potential attacks by hardline Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) factions, a police statement said.
The cities' seaports as well as fuel depots will also get increased security, it added. The statement said police have received an intelligence report that a MILF unit was "planning to conduct hostile strikes in the cities of Zamboanga, Davao and Cotabato targeting Christian-dominated areas." Hardline MILF factions pillaged a series of Christian communities on the island last month, killing dozens of civilians and triggering the evacuation of up to half a million people. President Gloria Arroyo has rejected calls to resume peace talks until the MILF leadership turned in key leaders accused of leading the deadly raids. Meanwhile, the authorities foiled a bombing attempt and repulsed a MILF raid on Mindanao, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jose Torres told reporters. An improvised explosive device was found and disarmed outside a school in the town of Carmen late Thursday, Torres said. Before dawn on Friday, a MILF unit attacked a military detachment near the town of Kauswagan, Torres said. "Our troops were able to repulse the attack," he said. No casualties were reported.
Please understand this....December up to January Homma Sensei can visit here...as of now
Sept 22nd, 2008
thank you for the understanding....i decided that there will be no practice during fiesta week from sept.25 the dojo will be close until oct.2 2008 its because of report the MILF...they will attack iligan like what happened before when many children, innocent people died...even now 400 meters away from iligan milf and soldiers all out of war there will be human bombs...the milf they just do timing then will attack because they want to get iligan city OFFICIALS HAS A DEATH TREAT....KIDNAPPING TOURIST OR WHATEVER...ITS NOT GOOD TO HAVE A VISITORS HERE IN ILIGAN CITY....I AM CONCERNED VERY MUCH TO HOMMA SENSEI...I KNOW MARIUSZ HE ALREADY A PHOBIA HERE IN ILIGAN I HOPE HE WILL UNDERSTAND ME.....of course all students still practice until wednesday but the parents has a memorandum that there children will not allowed to practice if the situation is clear and safe...
WE ARE ON RED ALERT PLEASE....NO VISIT FOR SAFETY......THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS..... AVA
Greeting....Bad news..........16 people died in blast of bomb here in iligan September 30,6pm at Pryce plaza...God Bless...Give all my best to everyone Emily Sensei...
I had planned to come to Illigan to teach an Aikido seminar, but as the intensity of the situation in Illigan increased it became increasingly apparent that even if I were able to get to Illigan City safely, that no students would be venturing out of their homes for an aikido seminar until this trouble had passed.
All of this turmoil was building while I was in Japan. Email communication were being relayed from Mindanao to Nippon Kan headquarters in Denver and on to Tokyo. Finally on that day at Narita airport I made the decision not to go to Illigan City and arrangements were made for Mariusz to return to the US immediately.
The story continues. In October and November the reports we received seemed like the situation was settling down again. Then again in December…
Dec 18th, 2008
Dearest Homma Sensei, Please pray for us...
We are attack again by the MILF TWO BOMBS HAS BEEN EXPLODE IN UNI CITY and JERRYS SHOPPING MALL THE ONE YOU TAKE A PICTURE IN THE STREETS. three people died in the bomb blast and 44 people has been wounded..We read alert in our city us of now...
Highschool and College I will be able to continue teaching but town dojo we have to close down because of danger. Those are the pictures were we feed the homeless with joanne san and the students also when teach the Bantay bata 163 means childrens who has been moulested(rape) from there relatives and neighbor...
Our dream of opening the peace dojo, if dojo open we can take more of these kind of children. Teaching peace is the best valuable education for our children at this time. God Bless you Ava
Some of the information originally contained in the actual emails has been edited for security and privacy reasons, and not all emails have been included, but the emails in this article are real and are the actual correspondence between Mindanao and Nippon Kan Headquarters. The purpose of including these emails in this article is to try to share the reality of this experience. Facing this kind of situation, the ideals of love and harmony in Aikido techniques feel a little irrelevant. The lesson here I believe is to understand this point. Aikidoists can sometimes live in an illusion, isolated from REAL trauma and conflict. We need to make sure we understand that being a skilled Aikido technician in the controlled environment of a dojo does not make one a master of true conflict. What could we really do as Aikidoists in the kind of situation that has been going on in Illigan City? I think this is a more valuable topic for students and instructors to discuss than self absorbed talk about love, harmony and ki power. Facing this question head on will get move us closer to the practice of Aikido based on the true principles of the Founder Ueshiba. We need to learn from what Ava is doing in the middle of this dangerous crisis; she is taking care of abandoned children.
The following photos have been blurred for security purposes
Last class before the dojo was closed as a security precaution.
In need of a new dojo.
We have no mat but we can practice through AHAN
People lining up for food.
Humanitarian activities with the homeless.
Children receiving much needed food.
Ava and her students visit abused children’s shelter.
For instructors like Ava Yancha, a native woman in the small city of Illigan in Mindanao, there is no difference between Muslims and Christians or rebels and patriots. As an Aikidoist and an activist, she works very hard to bring true peace to an area of the world that is marked with violence. Even risking her own safety, Ava is truly on the front lines of our Aikido practice. All of us here at Nippon Kan General Headquarters will do our best to support her efforts in every way we can.
To all of the Aikido students in Mindanao, I council you to keep a calm center. Make decisions calmly, respect each other’s lives and try not to involve your self in violent struggle. We all hope that peace will return to your life in Illigan soon. I will visit soon, to help move forward your building plans for the dojo of peace in Illigan.
Nippon Kan Kancho
P.S. In this article I have written about terrorist activities in Illigan City. I do not personally name or link any one actual group such as MIlF or other Islamic rebel organizations as being responsible for these incidents. There are many possibilities for the cause of the strife in the area. It is possible that there are reasons amongst officials to use these violent incidents to start trouble and agitation for their own benefit. It could be many possibilities.
I have many Muslim friends in this area of the Philippines and also I have many Christian friends too. Both sides want peace. They are all my friends.
October 16th, 2008
Practice at Cali Nippon Budokan.
While the Japanese drummers were in Cali, Colombia, Homma Kancho took one day off as project coordinator for the concert tour to answer the requests for him to teach Aikido at the Nippon Budokan. The Aikido instructor at the Nippon Budokan is Jorge Silva who will be coming to Nippon Kan General Headquarters in January to participate in Nippon Kan uchideshi program.
Link here to an article written by graduate uchideshi Arturo Alvarez, who served as Homma Kancho’s translator and assistant on this tour to Colombia
August 5th, 2008
Children receive keiko gi from Ayako Nakata, Japanese Colombia Culture Center Director.
Last spring Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan AHAN General Headquarters organized a fundraising campaign to supply practice uniforms (keiko gi) for children from low income families in Cali, Colombia. In this campaign, pounds of fresh Colombian coffee beans brought back from Colombia by Homma Kancho on his first visit to Cali, were given to donators as gifts for supporting this campaign. On August 5th, 2008, the 40 AHAN keiko gi were presented to the children and photos were sent to Nippon Kan Headquarters documenting the event. The keiko gi were donated for children who’s families could not afford such luxuries for their practice of Aikido and Karate at the Japanese Colombian Culture Center.
here to Homma Kancho’s article “Aikido and the Community” about his experiences
with the children of Cali, Colombia last spring.
Posing for the camera.
Sept 19-27, 2008
In September, five people from Nippon Kan and 10 people from AHAN Mexico, accompanied Homma Kancho to Japan to attend the 40th Year Anniversary Celebration of the Aikido Kobayashi Dojo. (Founded by Yasuo Kobayashi, Dojo Cho http://www.cup.com/kobayashi-dojo/english/index.html ). The first event attended was a special practice held at the Meiji University Aikido Club, instructed by Kobayashi Shihan. This practice was followed by another special practice instructed by Aikikai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. There were over 500 aikidoka that attended this special practice. Both practices were followed by a banquet dinner for 400 people who had come from all parts of Japan and around the world to attend this 40th Year Anniversary Celebration of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo.
Practice at Meiji University.
40th Year Anniversary Celebration Party.
Homma Kancho was a special guest and sat together with Kyoichi Inoue Sensei, (Metropolitan Aikido Shihan, former Yoshinkan Kancho). Shudo Maruyama Sensei (Aikido Koki Kai Founder), Hitohiro Saito Sensei (Dento Iwama Ryu Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai Founder)and Kosaku Takano Sensei (Aikido Azabu Dojo Cho). A lively discussion ensued among this group of leaders about Aikido; past, present and future, and a good time, was had by all.
There was a poignant moment after practice at the Meiji University when Shudo Maruyama Sensei and Kobayashi Shihan met again for the first time in 45 years. It was a touching reunion and a wonderful chance to get reacquainted after all these years.
After the 40th Anniversary Celebration came to a close, our group from Nippon Kan and AHAN Mexico moved on to a whirlwind tour of Kyoto, Nikko and other sites of Japan before returning home. It was a short but wonderful trip, with enough memories to last for a long, long time.
Nippon Kan General Headquarters
November 22, 2008
Hitohiro Saito’s 5th Anniversary Celebration.
The son of the late Morihiro Saito Shihan (Aikikai 9th Dan), Hitohiro Saito Sensei, Founder of Dento Iwama Ryu, Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai held his 5th anniversary demonstration at the Tomobe Community Center Grand Hall. The celebration that followed was held at the Tenrenkan Dojo of Iwama. Demonstration were performed by Dento Iwama Ryu instructors and students from all over Japan and around the world. There were also friendship demonstrations of Toyama Ryu Battojutsu (Toyama style quick-draw-and-cut sword techniques) and Katori Shinto Ryu (Katori Shinto Style sword fighting techniques).
The last demonstration was performed by Hitohiro Saito Sensei and his techniques reflected his Saito heritage and lineage; Hitohiro Saito Sensei is indeed his father’s son.
Hitohiro Saito Jukucho’s demonstration.
Hitohiro Saito Sensei spoke before his demonstration, “Techniques are created and passed down by human hands; they belong to people, not to any particular place or dojo.” Saito Sensei went on to talk about his chosen path as an instructor independent from the large Aikikai organization and his commitment to promoting tradition in his teaching of the Iwama style Aikido of his father. “This,” he said, “is my purpose. I take with me on my path, Iwama Aikido.”
Saito Jukucho with Kobayashi Shihan and Inoue Shihan at the celebration party.
In attendance were Kyoichi Inoue Sensei, (Metropolitan Aikido Shihan, former Yoshinkan Kancho) and Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei (Aikido Kobayashi dojo http://www.cup.com/kobayashi-dojo/english/index.html) both of which were very close Morihiro Saito Shihan and had many stories and memories to share.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Sept 28th and November 20th, 2008
The village of Matsukawa, hometown of the Shinano no Kuni Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers is located in the central mountains of Nagano Prefecture on the main island of Honshu, Japan. Homma Kancho paid two visits to the village of Matsukawa this fall as director and coordinator of our drummer’s tour to Colombia in October. The first visit was in September to discuss details and logistics for the upcoming concert tour in Colombia, and the second visit was in November to assess the tour and to discuss a possible upcoming concert tour in the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi.
Homma Kancho has been an outstanding coordinator for all of the AHAN concert tours our drumming troupe has performed, and we all greatly appreciate his many efforts and all of the hard work it takes to make these incredible events happen.
Matsukawa Kyougaku Daiko Leader
Sept 19-27, 2008
In front of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine.
It has been a long time since Nippon Kan sponsored a tour to Japan. In the old days, Nippon Kan organized at least one tour to Japan every year, sometimes two. In the last seven years, since the creation of AHAN (Aikido Humanitarian Active Network), Homma Kancho’s schedule has become increasingly busy with projects in many different countries around the world, making it more difficult to organize a tour to Japan. Japan too in the last seven years, has become more expensive as the dollar has devaluated making the trips to Japan even more costly than before.
This one week tour to Japan focused more on Aikido practice than sightseeing since the purpose of the trip was to attend the 40th year anniversary of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo in Japan. We practiced with the Meiji University Aikido Club, attended a practice instructed by Aikikai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba and practiced at the Kobayashi Dojo with Kobayashi Shihan. While in Tokyo we did have time to do a bit of sightseeing and also visited Nikko; the burial grounds of three generations of Shogun, and the historical old city of Kyoto.
There were 10 people on this tour that came from Mexico as students of Mexico Aikido Take Musu Aiki including chief instructor Fernando Roman Sensei and five people including Homma Kancho who came from the US. Homma Kancho has taken over 300 people to Japan on Nippon Kan tours over the years, but Homma Kancho confessed that this tour with 15 was a bit tiring for him. He told me, “The first time I took students to Japan was over 30 years ago. As time passes, Japan seems more distant to me and it is more challenging to guide a large tour. It is not just the fact that Japan is more expensive to travel than it use to be, it is probably just the fact that I am getting old! I used to never tire, even taking even a group of 30 people on a non-stop tour of Japan. Now…”
I know Homma Kancho was speaking the truth from his perspective, but all of us on this tour thought it to be a wonderful experience and Homma Kancho a challenge to keep up with! If he was tired, it sure did not seem so.
We all would like to thank Homma Kancho for making this tour possible and to Nippon Kan Japan Branch coordinator Chrys Kikuchi for showing us around Tokyo. It was a great trip and a good time was had by all!
Nippon Kan General Headquarters tour member
AHAN Mexico, Take Musu Aiki http://www.mexicoaikido.com.mx/eventos/JORNADA%2008/report%2008.html report by AHAN Mexico Coordinator Fernando Roman Sensei
Socks and underwear; gifts from Homma Kancho.
AHAN Nippon Kan Homeless Food Service Project Report
August 17th 298 dinners served
September 21st 300 dinners served
October 19th 350 dinners served
November 16th 340 dinners served
December 21st 269 dinners served
Total since 1991 52,332 dinners served
The December homeless meal service concludes Nippon Kan’s meal service for 2008. This year we passed a milestone by serving our 50,000th meal to the homeless on May 18, 2008. Link here to the article about the 50,000 meal milestone last May.
Nippon Kan could not have accomplished this goal without the help of our dedicated student volunteers. On the third Sunday of the month, for the past 18 years, students have gathered after Sunday morning practice to peel and chop vegetables for the monthly meal service. There are usually about 20 students that stay after practice to accomplish this task which if you added the number of students over the years it would be in the thousands. After the morning prep is finished, Domo Japanese Country Foods Restaurant chefs spend their only day of the week they have to rest, cooking for about 4 hours the dishes to be served for the evening meal. At 3:00 pm, Homma Kancho, Domo chefs and uchideshi students go to the mission for the last bit of meal preparation. The first dinner is served at 5:00 pm. to on average 50 people in the Denver Rescue Mission resident program. This meal has a larger variety of dishes served. At 7:00 p.m., about 15 Nippon Kan student volunteers arrive to prepare the dining hall for the outside homeless guest dinner at 8:00 p.m. At this dinner, an average of 250 to 300 meals are served. Our volunteer staff has spent many years serving this dinner and has worked out a routine that “runs like a well oiled machine.” The dinner service usually lasts until about 9:00 p.m. when all of the volunteers and Domo staff members return home after a long but productive day. I think that with this kind of experience, Nippon Kan could put together a meal for 400 to 500 people in an emergency in about 6 hours time.
Decembers volunteers for meal prep.
Side to side Volunteers work diligently in the cold December air.
It was so cold, the water began to freeze in the containers!
In the mission kitchen.
Decembers volunteers at the mission.
For 18 years, Homma Kancho has personally funded this monthly meal service at the Denver Rescue Mission. Nippon Kan never solicits outside funds or even donations from students for this local project. Homma Kancho spoke about this meal service: “The people that we serve at the Denver Rescue Mission all have their own reasons and personal story for being there. I have learned a great deal from meeting and working with the people at the mission; it has been a very good experience. This has been my school for learning about the realities of life. My donations to this project have actually my tuition to this school of life. Having a restaurant and access to wholesale foods has made my tuition more affordable, and anyway I don’t have expensive hobbies or a lot of personal expenses so I enjoy giving back in this way. What brings me the most happiness is that we have been able to continue for so many years.”
Many thanks to all of the volunteers who have donated their time and energy for all of these years to this special project.
Nippon Kan AHAN International Program Director
December 15th, 2008
Nippon Kan AHAN supplies one ton of rice every month to two orphanages in Bangladesh. Since this project began in 2006, over 35 tons of rice have been donated by AHAN to help in an ever so small way to feed the children in the orphanages care. This past spring there was a drastic increase in the price of rice in Bangladesh due to rice shortages caused by adverse weather conditions, floods and a global change in the international grain markets.
Nippon Kan General Headquarters does not ever solicit outside donations for this project, but interestingly, a new benefactor seems to have appeared at Nippon Kan. The finishing touches on last year’s Nippon Kan garden expansion was completed on July 15th, 2007 with the placement of a bronze statue of the Kanzenonbosatsu (Musubi Kannon). This beautiful image from Homma Kancho’s private collection is a seated Kannon figure representing the Buddha listening to the heart of mankind. Homma Kancho wanted to place this statue in the Nippon Kan garden to bring a feeling of home for staff originally from Buddhist countries.
Since the statue has taken up residence in the Nippon Kan gardens, we discovered that coins were being tossed into the Buddha’s lap by customers at our Domo Restaurant and other visitors. We made a donation box to collect the coins and pledged all of the donations to the AHAN Bangladesh Rice project. Lately when checking the contents of the donation box, we have been surprised to find it filled with coins and bills, illuminating the kindness of our Domo customers who understand our endeavors with AHAN. We appreciate their support and the support of the still figure in our garden that seems to have brought to us a little extra help for the orphans of Bangladesh.
AHAN International Program Director
Sept 6th, 2008
Written by Brian Grabowski
Domo’s famous box dinners.
A troupe of young Korean artists, The Korean Traditional Arts Performers from Los Angeles performed at the Denver Center for Performing Arts this past September 6th. Over 2,500 people came to this performance of traditional Korean theater and musical arts. Homma Kancho met the troupe coordinator by accident, but soon found through conversation that they both had similar attitudes towards the preservation of cultural tradition. The coordinator spoke: “I want Korean young people to be exposed to the traditional arts of Korea before these arts completely disappear; that is why we are doing these performances around the country. I want the young to identify with these arts as part of their heritage.” Homma Kancho smiled and said in agreement that his goals with Nippon Kan were the same; that one of his purposes was to spread an understanding of the Japanese culture.
In support of these Korean artists, Homma Kancho made Domo box dinners for the entire troupe of 40 performers and support staff for the night of the performance. Homma Kancho told me after the performance, “There are over 50,000 Korean native and second or third generation Korean Americans living in Denver today. We have many Korean customers that frequent Domo Restaurant, and we have Korean people on our Domo staff. Domo also shops for fresh produce and other Asian foods at one of the large super-sized Korean markets in town. In Denver, the Korean people have made a powerful impact and are doing very well as a community. Nippon Kan also has ties to Korea through our association with Korean Aikikai President and Chief Instructor Ikam Yoon Sensei. I have visited their dojos in Seoul and other parts of Korea as part of our cross-cultural friendship. People from different cultures, especially people from different cultures that live in the United States need to help each other to reach the shared goals of success and happiness. It is especially important for Asian people who are minorities in the US to share their talents and resources with each other. I will do whatever I can to support efforts to ensure that today’s young people do not forget their own countries identity and heritage. The least I can do is offer the foods from my restaurant towards this effort.”
I have traveled with Homma Kancho to many countries, most memorably, Bangladesh. While in Bangladesh we visited an orphanage for girls outside of the capital city of Dhaka. I remember on that visit when Homma Kancho decided to support the orphanage with monthly donations of rice. After spending only a little time at the orphanage, Homma Kancho promised the elders in charge that we would pledge to have rice delivered to the orphanage every month. After we left, Homma Kancho turned to me and said, “Where we are going to get the money for this, I wonder! I think if I go to the sushi bars less often, I can save enough money every month to cover this donation!” I have always marveled at how Homma Kancho makes some of his decisions on the spot, and at the firm commitment he makes towards honoring his promises.
At Nippon Kan General Headquarters, some of our activities to promote cultural awareness have been to support the performing arts. To date, Nippon Kan has coordinated an international concert series featuring a world-famous Japanese taiko drumming group with concerts in the US, Brazil, Turkey and Colombia. We have also coordinated concert tours to Japan for US Native American dancers, and a traditional blue grass band and, in support of Mongolian performing artists, Nippon Kan has coordinated a performance series in the US for traditional Mongolian musicians and supported the teaching of the traditional Mongolian morin hur (string instrument) locally at Nippon Kan Headquarters.
Attending this Korean performance was an enjoyable experience, reinforcing what Nippon Kan stands for in the way of cultural exchange and awareness through the performing arts.
Written by Brian Grabowski
AHAN International Assistant Director
Oct 11, 2008
This year was a little different than other years. It has been our tradition for many years to turn the flower beds for winter in downtown Civic Center Park. Less than 18 hours before the project was to begin, we received a call from the Denver Parks Department. Turns out, there was a parade scheduled for the following morning and there would be hundreds of people using the park as a staging area for the parade. The parade organizers had forgotten to notify the Denver Parks Department of the intended parade route until the very last minute.
The Parks Department expected us to cancel. “No worries” we replied as we worked to notify students and staff that the project had been moved to Washington Park; another large park in the metro area.
First, exercise Nippon Kan style!
An organized approach for even pulling grass!
Before and After
Even with the last minute change, the project started on time at 8:00 the following morning. About 80 members, families and friends showed up for the work ahead. Our teams worked hard and very fast as we soon finished our designated areas and overtook other groups volunteering in the park. We always seem to get someone passing by that asks us why we are pulling all of the flowers, especially if some of them are still in bloom. Actually it is important to turn the beds before the flowers go to seed and optimally before the first heavy frost to prepare the beds for next years planting.
When we volunteer at Civic Center Park, we usually work alone. This park is just the right size for our teams of volunteers and we make quick work of the project. Since Washington Park is a much larger park, there were other groups involved in the project this year. We were a little surprised to see that some of the groups spent much more time digging up plants and taking them to their cars than they did turning the beds for winter.
It made me proud when I watched our teams and their leaders, working hard with a pure
spirit of volunteering, AND it made me proud to see the work we were able to accomplish
in a very short time.
Nippon Kan regulars.
Dec 18th, 2008
This year, Nippon Kan AHAN’s cultural tour program hosted about 1,400 kids from 26 schools from the Denver Metro area. Children’s classes from elementary, middle school and high school came to Nippon Kan headquarters for a morning of Japanese cultural activities.
The school buses usually arrive at 10:00 am. The tours begin with a lesson on the history of Nippon Kan, and a facility tour. Depending on the age of the children, Japanese history, sociology and architecture are also discussed as the tour winds its way into the dojo. In the dojo, the children are able to participate in hands on demonstration of origami, shodo, Aikido and Japanese children’s games. After this part of the tour has been completed, the children are shown around the Japanese folk art museum and gardens as tour facilitators also talk about the philosophy of AHAN and a description of some of the projects for children that AHAN is involved with around the world. The tour ends at Domo where all children, teachers and parents enjoy a Japanese lunch.
The school tour groups range in size from 35 to 150 and are guided by Nippon Kan General Headquarters AHAN International Program Director Emily Busch, John Cruise and student staff.
All of the children’s lunches are prepared early on the morning of the tours at Homma Kancho’s Domo Restaurant, located on the premises of Nippon Kan Culture Center Headquarters. The cost per person for these tours is $10.00 per person. $3 is used to cover material costs. The remaining $7 is given to AHAN for use in AHAN projects overseas. The tour staff and chef staff at Domo all volunteer their time to support this ongoing project. On this day in December, the last group for 2008 was a small group of 35. All members of the group, both young and old enjoyed their adventure into Japan for the day.
Written by Nippon Kan Office Staff Coordinator
Oct 23rd to Oct 29th, 2008
Kobayashi Shihan was a delightful instructor. It is easy to see why Kobayashi Aikido has grown throughout the world.
Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo came to the United States in October to teach a three-day seminar at Nippon Kan General Headquarters. Kobayashi Shihan is one of the surviving direct students of the Founder Ueshiba and a living testimonial to the days and teaching of the Founder and of the first generation of international expansion of Aikikai in the 1960’s and 70’s. More information on Kobayashi Shihan can be found on his website at http://www.cup.com/kobayashi-dojo/english/index.html and Kobayashi Shihan’s account of his trip to Denver can be found on his blog.
In the Nippon Kan Garden. From left; Shinozaki, Kobayashi Shihan, Homma Kancho.
Second row Emily
This year marked the 40th year anniversary of the Aikido Kobayashi dojo in Japan, and even though the entire month of September was filled with anniversary events in Japan, Kobayashi Shihan was full of energy and vigor on this trip to Denver in October. He was hard to keep up with at times especially for a man of 73 years of age!
Kobayshi Shihan takes the first fall!
Kobayashi Shihan selects a beginning student as his uke.
Kobayashi Shihan teaching style.
Kobayashi Shihan impressed students at Nippon Kan with his powerful teaching style and delighted everyone by starting off the seminar by taking ukemi, and doing rolls with all of the demonstration partners he chose from attending students. Kobayashi Shihan was careful to include all levels of students in his teaching and chose many white belt students to demonstrate his techniques with. Practice was serious of course, but the mood was cheerful and even inspirational with his experience and talents as a teacher of Aikido. All of our students were encouraged to see a man of his years demonstrating with such vitality.
After the conclusion of the seminar, Kobayashi Shihan enjoyed Colorado with visits to mountain hot springs and other sites of interest. Kobayashi Shihan’s visit happened to coincide with Halloween, and to celebrate the visit, a Halloween party was scheduled for his last evening in Denver. Kobayashi Shihan enjoyed seeing everyone in costume and took many photos with students dressed for the occasion.
A very valuable photo!
Nippon Kan monsters on parade.
Kobayashi Shihan fits right in at Denver’s oldest historical cowboy bar!
While touring a state park in Colorado Springs, some local rock climbers caught his attention. He stood for many minutes watching as the climbers made their way carefully up the steep rock faces. Hideki Shinozaki, Kobayashi dojo uchideshi and assistant to Kobayashi Shihan on this visit, turned to him and asked, “Sensei, you are not thinking about going rock climbing are you?” “It looks interesting,” Kobayashi Shihan replied. “To go where normally people cannot go I think would be a fun challenge.” Later Mr. Shinozaki told me that a few months ago he had found a scuba diving mask and snorkel in Kobayashi Shihan’s car. When asked about it, Kobayashi Shihan said he had been taking lessons! “Maybe he is serious about going rock climbing,” Mr. Shinozaki replied. “Please don’t let him! Hiroaki Sensei (Kobayashi Shihan’s son) has entrusted Kobayashi Shihan’s safety in my care. If he really wants to go climbing, I am in big trouble!”
In his spare time, I learned, Kobayashi Shihan takes computer and dance classes and challenges many other hobbies. I think that is what keeps him so young and healthy; he has a wonderful attitude towards learning, and is always finding new physical and mental challenges to keep him young and fit.
Very interested in the rock climbers.
This time, only a photo; no climbing!
My purpose as Nippon Kan Founder has been to provide as many opportunities as possible for Denver students to learn from the high ranking Japanese instructors that were direct students of the Founder and teachers of my own. To this end, Nippon Kan has also hosted seminars for the late Morihiro Saito Shihan and Masatake Fujita Shihan, both who were first generation students of the Founder. I wanted my students to have these experiences not just to learn their technique, but to experience the teaching of these important teachers who have contributed greatly to the richness of our Aikido history.
This seminar, held in October, was purposely held at Nippon Kan dojo and the number of students was limited to 100. If you missed the cut off this time, I encourage you to sign up early next time!
We all sincerely appreciate Kobayashi Shihan coming to Nippon Kan and also thank Mr. Shinozaki for all of his efforts in taking good care of Kobayashi Shihan on this visit.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Nov 24th, 2008
Colorado Martial Art Instructor Association with Consul General Kubo.
Martial art instructors teaching Japanese Martial Arts in the metro Denver and Front Range area were invited to a meeting in November with the Consul General of Japan in Denver. The focus of this meeting was a discussion on the history of the Japanese martial arts in Colorado and to report on the current status of the different martial arts in Colorado today. This Japanese instructors meeting has been held annually for the last few years with members of the Japanese consulate, but this was the first time that the meeting had been presided over by the Consul General himself.
Most of the instructors in the Japanese Martial Art Instructor Association have been teaching the Japanese martial arts in Colorado for the last 30 years. This annual meeting is a time for all of the instructors to exchange information, discuss ideas and to report on recent developments in the different Japanese martial arts taught in Colorado. It is also a time to confirm friendships among the various disciplines.
At this meeting, a deeper understanding was reached between instructors, the Consul General and other members of the consulate, and new ideas were discussed on furthering the development of the teaching of all Japanese arts and cultural exchange in Colorado in the future.
This meeting was arranged by Consul General Kubo and his Deputy Consul Kashima. In attendance was Yutaka Yaguchi — International Shotokan Karate Do Federation. Sadaharu Kurobane — Wado Kai Denwa Kan Karate Center, Hideharu Igaki — US Karate Do Olympic Team Coach. Shuichi Otaka --Judo, Hiroyuki Tanabe — Wado Kai Shudokan Karate Center, Yasuo Ishikawa — Kendo, Yoshida Tomoharu — Japanese kickboxing and Gaku Homma — Nippon Kan Aikido. Joko Ninomiya-Enshin Karate Do was in Japan and unable to attend this year.
All of the attending Japanese Instructors offer sincere thanks for the generous hospitality of Consul General Kubo and staff.
Nippon Kan Kancho
This year too, Nippon Kan had many good uchideshi students that graduated from the Nippon Kan uchideshi program.
There are many kinds of students that come to Nippon Kan to begin their training as full-time live in uchideshi students. Some complain from the start and soon quit and others that make it through the program, but depart the dojo without making much of an impact; leaving no footprint behind. There are those students however, that actively apply themselves to the training and participate in Nippon Kan activities with great enthusiasm. When these students graduate from the program, there is a great celebration, as all Nippon Kan students gather to congratulate them on their efforts. These students leave their mark on the dojo and are not soon forgotten.
In reality, the dojo itself is just an empty box. A box to be filled by finding one’s self. Those who graduate from the Nippon Kan uchideshi program with honors realize that it is up to them what they learn during their practice at Nippon Kan. The students that graduate with honors are the students that put everything they have into every step they took at the dojo. The benefit of this applied learning is in finding the resources within one’s self.
The following students are our Nippon Kan uchideshi who graduated with honors in 2008.
Mariusz graduated from Nippon Kan’s Uchideshi Program as a Nippon Kan General Headquarter Instructor after completing three terms at Nippon Kan Headquarters, a 5-month resident instructor internship in Nepal and a 2 month resident instructor internship on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Mariusz’s resident instructor internship in the Philippines was cut short by an eruption of local civil unrest and he was forced to leave by emergency evacuation. Mariusz showed courage and leadership during this time with his teaching of the young Aikido members in Illigan City. His efforts were outstanding in difficult circumstance, and his spirit remained strong. Mariusz’s third term was completed at Nippon Kan headquarters after his evacuation from the Philippines. Currently, Mariusz is working on AHAN project planning in Dublin, Ireland.
from left, Emrah, Michele, Arturo, Alberto.
Michele originally practices at an Aikikai dojo outside the city of Parma, Italy and was a 1st term graduate with honors in 2008. During his training, Michele excelled in his positive practice and mastered well the organizational skills needed to balance his daily practice with dojo chores and duties. He was a good role model to both Nippon Kan general students and other uchideshi alike. As a warm and sincerely kind individual, Michele made a lot of friends at Nippon Kan. After completing his 1st term, Michele returned to Italy. This December, Homma Kancho visited Italy and met Michele at the seminar Homma Kancho instructed in Parma. Homma Kancho had the occasion to visit Michele’s home and was welcomed warmly by his family.
Alturo Alvarez Kawai
Arturo originally practices at an Aikikai dojo in Lhapaz, Bolivia and was a 1st term graduate with honors in 2008. Arturo accompanied Homma Kancho to Nepal where he assisted in training there and also served as translator and assistant to Homma Kancho this past October in Colombia for the AHAN International Concert Series in Cali, featuring the Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers. Arturo is first a lawyer by profession and assisted Nippon Kan greatly with communications in all of the Spanish Nippon Kan AHAN projects. Arturo was especially involved with the Colombia Keiko Gi’s for Kids Project and researched all of the import regulations and made arrangements for the shipping and delivery of the keiko gi from Nippon Kan to Colombia
Ermrah originally practices at an Aikikai dojo in Istanbul, Turkey and came to Nippon Kan for a one month special term. Ermrah was sent by the company he works for in Istanbul to study English as well as participate in Nippon Kan’s uchideshi program. Ermrah was very busy going to language school full time and keeping up with his uchideshi training and responsibilities. He used his time well and had a valuable month of training on many levels during his stay in Denver. Homma Kancho teased Ermrah noting that it was especially challenging for Ermrah to be an American style bachelor without his wife and family to take care of him for a month!
Alberto Castillejos Mahr
Alberto originally practices at an Aikikai dojo in Mexico City, and also graduated with honors as a 1st term uchideshi in 2008. Alberto was well mannered and hard working during his time as an uchideshi, but you could tell on occasion that Alberto had grown up with a gardener and a maid as part of his family’s household. Alberto had a very productive experience as an uchideshi at Nippon Kan, where not only did he learn Aikido, but also learned cooking, cleaning, laundry, and basic organizational skills. All of these, were new experience for Alberto. Alberto returned to Mexico after graduation to return to his studies at the university.
Cihan originally practices at a Turkish Aikikai dojo in Izmir, Turkey and came to Nippon Kan this fall for a one month special term. Chihan adapted well to the culture and living conditions of uchideshi life, practicing rigorously and keeping up with all of his daily chores and duties. After completing his special term, Cihan returned to Turkey to prepare for his upcoming marriage. We all wish him the best of luck in his new life! Before his departure, Cihan made a generous donation to AHAN as part of the tradition of Ramadan in his Muslim faith. This donation has been allocated for assistance in Mindanao, Philippines for next year. A follow up report will be written about this donation allocation in Nippon Kan website updates for 2009.
Banu originally practices at a Turkish Aikikai dojo in Ankara, Turkey and also came
to Nippon Kan this winter for a one month special term. In Ankara, Banu operates
her own dojo, and came here not only for her own practice, but to learn Nippon Kan
teaching methods, dojo operations and volunteer project organization. Banu was a
very hard working uchideshi and participated in many activities with senior Nippon
Kan members. She left Nippon Kan having made many new life long friends. This was
Banu’s second visit to Nippon Kan Headquarters, the first being a visit as assistant
with her instructor in Turkey, Ali Uludag Sensei in 2005. In 2007, Banu also joined
Nippon Kan AHAN’s tour to Korea and Mongolia. As
a cross-cultural ambassador, Banu was a wonderful representative of Turkey.
Link here to Banu’s experiences as an uchideshi at Nippon Kan
Banu's Report in English
Banu's Report in Turkish
August 23rd, 2008
Bi-annually, promotions are celebrated for students in Nippon Kan’s Youth Program. This past August, 32 of Nippon Kan’s youth program members received promotion certificates. Nippon Kan does not hold testing; all of our youth program promotions are based on instructor evaluation. Emily Busch, Nippon Kan AHAN International Project Director explained to youth program members, observing families and friends about current activities of AHAN for children at this special ceremony. After a short class that all students participated in, advanced youth program students and Nippon Kan adult class instructors did demonstrations for this special celebration. Homma Kancho also joined in the celebration with his teachings. .
An explanation of AHAN by Emily Busch.
Instructor Anthony Dolan’s demonstration.
Nippon Kan Office Staff
October 15th, 2008
In preparation for Kobayashi Shihan’s arrival at Nippon Kan, dojo student volunteers busied themselves, tidying up the grounds and doing maintenance work on the dojo mat. With such a large dojo facility, Nippon Kan could not survive without the support of students who help in many different ways to keep the dojo running smoothly. We thank everyone for their support!
Nippon Kan receives correspondence by mail and email from all over the world most every day. Some of the letters we receive are from other dojos who have been inspired by AHAN to start community service projects in their own communities. At Nippon Kan we are always delighted to receive these kinds of reports since one of the biggest goals of AHAN is to inspire the spirit of humanitarian and community service everywhere. Success in these projects is not only for us, we hope dojos everywhere succeed in mobilizing support for their communities no matter what size dojo or number of students.
Below are two letters we received from a dojo in Kansas we wanted to share with all of you.
Tues July 29th, 2008
Our first community service project
Dear Gaku Homma Sensei,
I am writing to inform you about a community service project that a small independent dojo in Topeka, KS is participating in. The inspiration for this project came from the many articles and activity reports regarding AHAN that I have read from your website.
I am the instructor for the Aikido program at Professional Martial Arts (PMA). PMA is a small dojo where Aikido, Karate, Taiji and other programs share training time. Because of everyone’s busy schedule and a small student population, I decided to start with a small service project that would be easy for students to get involved in. For this project, students in the children’s Aikido and children’s Karate programs were asked to bring food items to the dojo to donate to Doorstep, Inc. Doorstep, Inc. is an agency that “helps Topekans/our neighbors survive crises, improve their way of life and become self sufficient.” Being a small dojo, I challenged the students to collect 2 boxes of food to donate. At this time, they have exceeded my goal and have collected 4 boxes and still have another day to donate items. It is very exciting to walk through the dojo and see children so happy to help others in need. I have seen some children who appear to get more enjoyment out of donating the food then when they received a promotion for Aikido.
Although the food drive is a small project I think it will serve as a launching pad for future community service projects. I would like to thank you for all of the humanitarian efforts you have put forth and let you know that your efforts have now had an impact in Topeka, KS. I am looking forward to someday visiting Nippon Kan to train and learn more about AHAN. Many of my students are also interested in visiting the dojo so I am beginning to organize a trip to Denver in the future (it is likely that it will be several months down the road so we can all raise enough money for the trip and to schedule time off of work and/or school).
Thursday Dec 4th, 2008
Another community service project in Topeka KS
Dear Gaku Homma Sensei,
I wanted to write and let you know that our dojo in Topeka, KS has just completed our second community service project. After being inspired by AHAN, I organized our first community service project this past summer and we are now successfully wrapping up our second project.
After the success of the food drive this past summer I decided to participate in a project sponsored by Doorstep, Inc called “Christmas in July”. Every year Doorstep Inc adopts 250 local families for Christmas and the items collected for the “Christmas in July” program are used to support the adoption of these families. The items donated to Doorstep are used to set up a “department store” so parents can choose items for their adopted family. Instead of having strangers by gifts for a specific family member, this “department store” setup allows parents to choose items that will be most enjoyable to their children.
The student participation rate was high for the project and students from the Aikido, Karate, and Taiji programs all donated items to be delivered to Doorstep, Inc. We have collected several boxes of items for the project and we are excited to know that our donations will bring joy to many individuals during this Christmas season.
On a different subject…a few of my students and I would like to visit and train at Nippon Kan. If you are welcome to us coming to visit is there a time of year and a time of the week that would be best for us to organize a trip to Denver.