Teaching Aikido at Children’s Orphanage Care
March 24th -25th, 2008
Traditional Kyrgyzstan hats! Front; Mrs. Irina, Ali Sensei, Homma Kancho, Andrea Sensei, Mr. Najef.
Homma Kancho traveled to Kyrgyzstan to teach Aikido to both our children and adult students at our small dojo in Bishkek, the capitol city of Kyrgyzstan. Accompanying Homma Kancho was a television news producer Necef Hasanov from Baku, Azerbaijan and Aikikai Aikido urkey President Ali Uludag from Istanbul, Turkey.
Our dojo is part of an orphanage care center that cares for about 100 children from a young age through their middle school years. After middle school, young people in Kyrgyzstan are selected to move on to technical schools of which we assist in their placement.
My name is Reznikov Andrei and I am the founder and main Aikido instructor for the Aikido Center of Bishkek. I began my practice of Aikido in Dashken Uzbekistan in 1995. In the year 2000, we opened this Aikido dojo in Bishkek. My primary occupation is as a psychologist and I practice at the National Hospital in Bishkek. In my country, drugs and alcohol are serious problems and much of my practice revolved around the treatment of these ailments.
My partner in this dojo is Mrs. Irina who lived in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan as part of a JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) program. She hold the winning title in the Japanese language and speech contests in our country and works with the many Japanese companies and the Japanese culture center here in Bishkek. Both Irina and here children practice Aikido at our Aikido Center of Bishkek where we hold three classes a week.
Our dojo has limited funds available to us; therefore our small practice space is covered with cushions covered with a nylon cover. We hold classes for adults in the evenings and classes for children during the days. The number of students we have practicing averages about 30 including adults and children. Since our practice space is small, we divide our classes into two groups so that everyone has room to practice.
Outside the care center where
Aikido classes are held.
Children practice very sincerely.
Teaching with actions not words.
With the children.
On his long trip to Kyrgyzstan, Homma Kancho flew from Turkey, changing planes twice in the dead of night in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. It was a very long and difficult trip for Homma Sensei and we were delighted by the energy and enthusiasm of his teaching. I hesitated to ask if he would take the time to teach our children, but before I could even finish asking, he agreed and began to prepare for our children’s class. He said simply “okay, I will do”. To the wonder and amazement of all of our children, Homma Kancho used every day items such as pens and pieces of paper to make signals for specific actions. The training he said was “listening, decision-making and action or movement training”. I use similar types of techniques with children in my profession and enjoyed the two hour class taught by Homma Kancho a great deal. He made the children laugh with his jokes and they were quite attentive and learned many things. In the adult class that evening, Homma Kancho focused his teaching on how our open-hand Aikido techniques relate to the bokken and the jo. The relationships were fascinating, and we received much insight into the roots and the tradition of the Aikido we practice.
view of town
Iin front of statue of Lenin
Both Irina and I believe that teaching Aikido philosophy to the children of Kyrgyzstan is very important to their development. We of course do not even think about collecting fees for our teaching; our rewards are in the teaching itself. Homma Kancho spoke to us about our teaching,
“Sometimes Aikidoists pay a great deal of money to gather for seminars to work on improving their own techniques or practice. They believe that what they are doing is principled and spiritual and that they are acting in a spirit of harmony; unfortunately they are communication only amongst themselves.
I believe however, that this type of practice can be shortsighted in the best of circumstances, wrong sighted if these events are organized by people with ulterior motives and personal ambitions. Students that attend these seminars may be practicing hard but I do not believe they are reflecting on meaning of their practice. I wonder if they are working towards not only understanding themselves but at the same time reaching out to meet and have a positive effect on the world around us. These closed seminars remind me of scientists in a research laboratory making an “Aikido vaccine” to share only with other scientists in the laboratory. They congratulate themselves on what they have discovered but never share the vaccine with those who might benefit from it outside nor do they test the vaccine in the world outside of their laboratory to see what effects of their vaccine might have in the greater community.
As a psychologist I think you can relate to my observations. Every day you are teaching on the front lines. Study your practice well to see if your teaching is effective in benefiting your community. This is your challenge and your practice. Discuss what you are teaching with your peers and add new ideas to be the most effective you can be. In this way you can develop a sense of flexibility and responsiveness to the children and adult students entrusted to your care. In every case you can use Aikido technique and spirit to raise the spirit of your community. This I think is Aikido Alive! , and is the most beneficial to all of our communities.
Your dojo is not large and struggling makes this a difficult time in your Aikido teaching career. Today you sew the seed in the children you teach. Years from now these children will become adults and carry with them into adulthood the lessons you are teaching them today. We plant seeds of Aikido today for the future. This is one of the principle ideas of AHAN and is one of the principle reasons I have traveled so far to help you today. It is part of my own practice or shugyo too”.
We all received a great deal of inspiration and new-found enthusiasm and confidence from Homma Kancho’s visit to Bishkek, and look forward to applying what we have learned to our practice here. Homma Kancho and party left the following morning for a five hour drive to Almaty, the capital city of Kazakhstan. From far away in America, Homma Kancho had come to visit us in Kyrgyzstan, and our children too will have memories to cherish from this visit for a very long time.
Reznikov Andrei Sensei
Aikido Center of Bishkek
Almaty City Aikido Center
March 26th-28th, 2008
Aikido in Kazakhstan.
Leaving Bishkek, it took us about an hour by taxi to reach the border of Kazakhstan and another four hours before we finally arrived in Almaty, the old capitol of Kazakhstan. We were dropped off by our taxi driver at a bus stop outside of Almaty to wait for the Almaty staff to pick us up and bring us into town. On their way to meet us was Igor Antokhin Sensei of the Republic of Kazakhstan Traditional Aikido Association www.kata.kz and English translator Ms. Alexandra.
At the Kazakhstan border.
Melygin Sensei, Igor Sensei, Ms Alexandria.
The seminar in Almaty was scheduled to be held in a large sports compound building facility which also houses the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee offices. The second and third floors of this facility both hold one hundred tatamii mat covered practice spaces. The 3rd floor space is used by Igor Antokhin Sensei and the 2nd floor is used by Melygin Slava Sensei both for the practice of Aikido on alternating days. There are about 200 members in the Kazakhstan Traditional Aikido Association, so the seminar was planned to split the classes into three groups of about 60. Professor Sukiev of the Kazakhstan Academy of Sports and Tourism has been a great promoter of the Aikido in Almaty and helped to arrange the very nice spaces in the sports compound facility for practice by members of the Kazakhstan Traditional Aikido Association. Before these arrangements were made, the KTAA practices were limited to parks and empty buildings which made for much more challenging conditions. The roots of the KTAA link back to the direct students of the late Michio Hikitsuji Sensei in Japan. They practice Masakatsu Jodo or Masakatsu jo techniques which are uniquely related to Hikitsuji Sensei’s teachings.
Building housing the dojo.
Ali sensei, Homma Kancho, Igor Sensei.
Practice in Almaty
Homma Kancho teaching
By the third class, everyone seemed to relax and student’s movements became larger and more fluid as they enjoyed practice. Themes for the seminar included “The stimulation on our spirits and minds through repeated practice of Aikido” and on a more technical side, “the structure of Aikido; how to organize and group techniques”. Homma Kancho taught with humor and wise understanding relating many first-hand stories about the history of Aikido and his time spent with the Founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba. Being a journalist and an Aikidoist, I have attended many Aikido seminars and watched many videos and other media presentations on the subject yet I have never experienced the kind of practical yet innovative and inspiring teaching style of Homma Kancho.
Being privy to a lot of internet exposure, Kazakhstan students had many interesting questions for Homma Kancho including “Is it true that the Founder smoked cigarettes”, and “Was every instructor that practiced at Hombo dojo an uchideshi?” Homma Kancho was very thoughtful, patient and clear in his answers. He first responded with a joke, “If you are a smoker I think you would be glad to hear that the Founder smoked cigarettes, that would get you off the hook!” He then replied thoughtfully, “The Founder was a pioneer in Japan and spent some of his younger days in the wilds of Hokkaido Island. Today in Shirataki village, Hokkaido (a village of which he helped to build) is a museum that houses tobacco pipes and tobacco cases that belonged to the Founder. The Founder did smoke a pipe in his younger days, but we need to put this in a context of the time and the place. At that time in Japanese society it was quite fashionable for men to smoke and it was a celebrated social ritual for men to smoke together on occasion. Also remember that these tobacco pipes are not like cigarettes. They held a small pinch of tobacco that could be smoked in two or three puffs. Smoking these pipes on occasion cannot be compared to cigarette smoking today. Anyway, I would not recommend believing that smoking is a good idea just because the Founder smoked a pipe on occasion and still lived to be 80 years old! This made of the attending students and instructors laugh!
On the second question Homma Kancho answered, “No, not all Hombu instructors were uchideshi. Remember uchideshi are students who live at the dojo and practice Aikido as a way of life twenty four hours a day; being an uchideshi is more like living in a monastery. For about the last three years before the Founder died, there were no uchideshi at Hombu dojo at all. Shihan or shidoin (instructors in training) about forty years ago at Hombu dojo were paid about $150-$200 per month and lived in very small inexpensive studio apartments near the dojo. Some of these apartments were no more than a three tatamii mat space with shared toilet and kitchen facilities but they were considered as independent housing. These shidoin (intern instructors) would go to the dojo daily, but no one lived at the dojo at the time. Anyway, anyone receiving a salary by definition would not be an uchideshi. At that time, the Founder lived in Iwama, and many of these shidoin were lucky to receive instruction from the Founder more than a few times a month. I was the Founder’s otomo (attendant) at that time and every time I traveled with the Founder from Iwama to Hombu dojo in Tokyo the shidoin would pull me aside and ask me what kind of mood the Founder was in. If the Founder was not in a good mood that day, most of the shidoin would disappear leaving only the shidoin scheduled to teaching classes that day to receive the Founder.
One high ranking Japanese shihan that currently lives in the United States, lived for a time in the Hombu dressing room ceiling crawl space. No joke. It was at the time they were demolishing parts of the old dojo to make room for the new dojo at Hombu. They made a temporary make-shift dressing room for students to change in at the old dojo and there was a crawl space between the makeshift ceiling and the roof. This was where he slept, and when I discovered his secret sleeping quarters he made me swear not to tell the Founder he was sleeping there. Now he says he was an uchideshi of the Founder, but I don’t think it counts when the Founder did not even know he was staying there!
Many who lived during the period toward the end of the life of the Founder have now also passed away. I was young at the time however and am still a living testimonial to what really happened and what did not happen at that time in our Aikido history. There are also still people living in Iwama that knew the Founder directly and can testify to the last years of his life in Iwama.
Kazakhstan AHAN exchange students
Directors of Kazakhstan Kyoukushin Karate
The Hombu shidoin are more an authority on the life of the late Founders son, the late Kishomaru Ueshiba.”
In the summer of 2007, eight students from Kazakhstan lived and worked at Nippon Kan General Headquarters. During this visit to Kazakhstan, four of these students stopped by to visit Homma Kancho while he was in Almaty. Kyoukushin Karate students who also practice in the same complex, also paid a visit to Homma Kancho taking a few moments to share in friendly communication and photos with him and all of the Aikido students in attendance.
In the Central Asia Region including Kazakhstan, “Real Aikido” is practiced. “Real Aikido” is headquartered in Yugoslavia and is an interpretation of Aikido taught by a 10th dan ranked leader in these areas. “Real Aikido” is completely different in spirit, image and style from the Aikido taught by the Founder Ueshiba and in my view is a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the true meaning of Aikido as the Founder taught. It is very difficult to teach the Aikido philosophy of the Founder in a “Real Aikido” environment.
After the seminar, we gathered at a traditional Kazakhstan restaurant to celebrate and we all promised to meet again with hopes for the future development of the Kazakhstan Traditional Aikido Federation. The next morning Homma Kancho and party traveled from Almaty to the capital city of Astan and then flew onward to Baku, Azerbaijan for the last leg of this Central Asia Tour.
Written by Azerbaijan Journalist
Teaching at the Azerbaijan National
March 30th-31st, 2008
Homma Kancho, Gadil Zamznof, Ali Sensei.
Homma Kancho and his party left Kazakhstan about 2:00 am and arrived in Baku, the capital city of the Republic of Azerbaijan later that day. The next day, March 30th, Homma Kancho taught officers and cadets at the National Azerbaijan Police Ministry of Internal Affairs. For Homma Kancho this was his second visit to the Academy. Homma Kancho and party were picked up at the hotel for the fifty minute drive to the Academy by a Colonel of the Police Department Ferhad Memmodov and Gadil Zamznof, also a police colonel and Vice Principal of the Academy, and Sports Department Director Hafiz Haciyev met the group upon arrival.
Marching to to dojo.
With police academy faculty.
Azerbaijan is growing, and with growth comes the need for additional police officers so the Academy facility and staff have also grown since Homma Kancho was here last in 2005. We were given a guided tour of the academy facility and the martial arts practice dojo before Homma Kancho demonstrated and instructed select Aikido techniques applicable for police or military use to about 40 cadets while about 100 others watched carefully from the gallery. Before his demonstration, Homma Kancho began, “In the old days, VIP and crowd control officers used more force to control outbreaks of violence, but today there is much more of a focus on human rights violations. With today’s use of cell phone cameras and the internet as a world-wide vehicle real time news distribution, a snapshot of a technique can be misread as overly forceful. For all of these reasons, changing to softer yet effective defensive techniques is important. Your job is to protect and maintain public security, but a little bad press can misconstrue your actions and intent if the techniques you use are too hard. Especially officers involved in VIP protection need to be skilled in techniques which ultimately result in maximum effectiveness yet utilize minimum effort and minimum damage to others. This will be the focus and purpose and practice in seminar today”. The classes taught by Homma Kancho were filmed to be used in future training at the academy. Local Television stations wer also on scene and the footage was run many times on prime time television.
Setting up for Kancho’s speech before his demonstration
Homma Kancho’s interacts with the audience too.
Practice with cadets.
Kancho’s demonstration on the importance of “leg power and control”
Mune tori techniques.
Kancho interviewed for TV.
After practice a meeting was held to discuss how the academy could implement the practice of these type of techniques and their applications in future curriculum studies. The next day, Homma Kancho and Ali Sensei left for Turkey.
By this time I had traveled to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan
and Azerbaijan with Ali Sensei and Homma Kancho serving as
translator and guide. One thing hat I learned during this trip
was how important physical condition is to being able to function
at such a demanding international level. Before all off the
seminar practices had been finished, Homma Kancho was very
strict about monitoring his own diet and needs for personal
rest and physical training. He also controlled the amount of
alcoholic beverages he consumed and avoided “risky” foods
for his system. Most of our hotel rooms were on the upper floors
and Homma Kancho used the stairs to reach his quarters sometimes
walking up eight or more flights of stairs to return to his
room. Just when I was beginning to think that Homma Kancho
was not fond of the food in our countries or did not trust
our elevators, our extended seminar practice schedule came
to a close. Once his job was done, Homma Kancho said, “ I
travel not as a tourist but as a professional martial artist
in training, and my conditioning and habits are not unusual
during these times. It takes too much time to take a hakama
on and off if I was to upset my stomach before our teaching
schedule has ended!” Homma Kancho had visited Nepal,
Turkey and these three Central Asia countries on this trip
in three weeks time. Dealing with jetlag and the time changes
is difficult enough without the added rigors of teaching and
practicing Aikido halfway around the world. I truly respect
Homma Kancho’s endurance and focus; he indeed is a true
At out farewell party, Homma Kancho “switched hats” so to speak from an Aikido Sensei to a restaurant owner as he focused on sampling the tradition foods of Azerbaijan and the vodka this area is famous for. “Okay”, he said, “Now it is time to think about my other job…”
Azerbaijan Parliament near the Caspian Sea.
Azerbaijan building boom.
Many ruins in Azerbaijan.
Antiques and souvenirs.
Written by Azerbaijan Journalist
Aikido for Life Published
in Turkey; A Celebration
Bursa Street Kid Foundation Assistance Seminar
March 21st-24th, 2008
Homma Kancho’s book, Aikido for Life first published in the United States was translated and published in Turkey this year. This was cause for celebration by all AHAN Istanbul staff involved in this great effort and accomplishment. All proceeds from sales of the Turkish translation of Aikido for Life will be used to support AHAN activities in Turkey. Aikido for Life, first translated and published in English in the United States has been translated into 8 languages around the world.
Bursa is a ferry ride and a 2 ½ hours drive from Istanbul and was the location for a fund raising seminar in support of the Bursa Street Kid Foundation. The seminar was organized by Turkey Aikikai (Ali Uludag Sensei-headquarters Istanbul www.aikidoturkey.com ) and the Bursa Japan Culture Center Uluyama Aiido class run by Mr. Hakan Kaplan. At Ali Sensei’s invitation about 120 Aikidoka gathered for this two day fund raising seminar from all over Turkey.
1st day seminar location
2nd day seminar location
Ali Sensei is a very active leader of AHAN Nippon Kan Turkey and has organized many fundraising seminars and events on his own to support local charities and children’s assistance organizations. One of the goals of AHAN Nippon Kan Headquarters is to help inspire a sense of community service and wellness in Aikido communities all over the world. It has never been the purpose of Homma Kancho or AHAN to collect the allegiance of other dojos or to establish branch Nippon Kan dojos in other countries. It was evident in the spirit of the students practicing at this seminar in Bursa that Ali Sensei had taught them well; they did not come to get a promotion or rank for themselves, they came with the purpose of practicing to help others in their own communities. This is AHAN, and Ali Sensei understands it well.
Certificate of Appreciation to Homma Kancho from Bursa Street Kid Foundation
Practice at the Bursa seminar
In attendance at the seminar was the Mayor of Bursa, Muhamer Subasi, representatives of the Bursa Street Kid Foundation and members of the Tukish Aikido Association. After the first day of the seminar classes were over, Homma Kancho visited a center where professional Sema Dancing and music is taught. Sema dancing (whirling dervish dancing) is famous worldwide, and to visit the primary training center where Sema dancing is taught was a delightful experience for Homma Kancho who was able to visit with the dancers backstage and even tried a little dancing and playing himself! Homma Kancho was also able to visit a training facility for traditional Turkish military marching bands, boasting a history that included the world’s oldest living military band.
Friendly and hospitibal people of Bursa
Sema musicians practice
Sema dance goes round and round making holes in the practice board
Homma kancho tries his hand at Sema dancing and music
World’s oldest living military band.
Military band practice
This cymbalist is famous all over the world.
Homma Kancho and Ali Sensei returned to Istanbul at
the conclusion of the seminar to prepare for their journey
ahead to Central Asia, 1st stop: Kyrgyzstan.
Written by AHAN Istanbul Coordinator
March 14th-19th, 2008
Instructor Rajesh teaching with Homma Kancho looking on.
It has only been three years since Aikido was first introduced by Homma Kancho in Nepal in 2005, and practice has grown greatly in that time. At this seminar held at the Nepal Budokan (Nepal Multiple Martial arts Hall) the Nepal Minister of Education and Culture, The Nepal Olympic Secretary General, Mr. Jeevan Shrestha and other dignitaries and advisors came to watch the opening ceremonies and demonstrations.
Guests at the opening ceremony
Nepal Aikido Club is led by instructor Rajesh Bista and NAC secretary
Pramod Adhikari who have done a very good job organizing and
promoting the instruction of Aikido to their new and eager student
base in Kathmandu. Nippon Kan General Headquarters has sent four
instructors to Nepal to assist them in their teaching, program
planning and organizational techniques. The NAC is independently
run and operated and Nippon Kan Headquarters only sends instructors
to offer any assistance and guidance that is asked for. We are
only there to support the promotion of Aikido in Nepal and to
support the NAC as it grows as a dojo and an organization.
Last year there were about 30 students who practiced on a regular
basis, and this year the number of practicing students has
doubled to 60. The Nepal Aikido Club is growing strong due
to the sincere efforts of Rajesh Bista, Pramod Adhikari and
other supporting members.
Instructor Rajesh Bista and Homma Kancho.
Homma Kancho teaching Instructor Bista.
This seminar event began with demonstrations performed by Rajesh Bista and his students, a women’s demonstration featuring Dayangi Sherpa and Nippon Kan instructor Mariusz Ference, and a demonstration by Homma Kancho from Nippon Kan Headquarters. After the seminar introductions and demonstrations had been held, Homma Kancho began teaching the multiple day seminar event. The 200 tatami mat space at the Nippon Budokan where the seminar was held, was generously donated by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). The Nippon Budokan also houses a large wood floor space of the same dimensions, dressing rooms and offices making a very nice facility for the practice of different martial arts in Nepal.
Kathmandu Nippon Budokan (martial art hall)
Group photos of seminar attending members
Bokken and jo practice
The seminar was held over a three day period, two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon. About 60 students filled the originally requested space of 120 tatami mats but it was so crowded, we were allowed to use the entire 200 tatami mat hall. Participating in the seminar were Nepal Special Task Force and Armed Police Commanders who practiced very hard to learn what Homma Kancho had brought on this trip to Nepal.
With the Minister of Sports and Education and NAC Board Members.
After the seminar came to a close, NAC, Nippon
Kan Staff and Homma Kancho joined the Nepal Minister of Education
and Sports for dinner. The minister spoke about the martial
arts in Nepal, “25 years ago, the martial arts were only
practiced by the military or by police; it was illegal for
citizens to practice these arts. People who were not in the
military or the police practiced in secret, teaching themselves
from books or learning from friends who had traveled or studied
abroad and learned about such things. They began to form small
groups to practice. The first martial arts practiced in Nepal
were Kyoukushin Karate and Taekwondo. These groups grew large
and had a tendency to fight one another. A wise move was made
by the Nepalese government through the Sports and Education
Department was to organize and supervise practice space for
ALL of the semi-underground martial arts groups to practice
at the Ragasta stadium in central Kathmandu. Today there are
about 30 different martial art groups and from 700 to 1000
martial artists who practice at the stadium every day. There
is no other martial art training facility like this anywhere
in the world. The newest martial art to be introduced to Nepal
is Aikido and has been brought to us by Homma Kancho. With
all of Homma Kancho’s efforts and support, Aikido is
growing and is a good addition to the martial arts practiced
in our country.”
January 30th-February 4th, 2008
January 31st, 2008
Explaining martial art origins to students.
MSU IIT has been the State University in Illigan City, Mindanao Island, Philippines since 1938 and has a student population of about 5000. This semester, Aikido was officially added to the curriculum due in large part to the efforts of Instructor Ava Yancha who has been working in Mindanao since Homma Kancho’s last visit to the Philippines in February 2007 to bring further study of Aikido to the university. Homma Kancho was invited by Prof. Marzania M. Bucad to return to Illigan City this past January to introduce Aikido to the University staff and students.
Over 600 students and staff members joined in Homma Kancho’s Aikido introductory seminar. More students than expected were interested in participating in this event which surprising and delighted everyone. Homma Kancho gave an introductory demonstration to new students and also taught two sessions of practice for the MSU IIT University Aikido Club. In total, Homma Kancho scheduled to spend 4 hours teaching staff and students, spent an extra 3 hours teaching students that day. Since we were all surprised by the number of students interested in this demonstration, a wireless microphone had not been arranged for Homma Kancho to use for such a large audience. It was not a problem however as Homma Kancho’s strong presence and voice carried his message to all who had gathered to meet him.
So many students line up to register for class.
A dinner was scheduled with the Mayor of Illigan and the MSU IIT Administrative Staff that evening but Homma Kancho gently declined the invitation saying, “At this point, dining together with dignitaries that are not familiar with Aikido will not help the practice of Aikido develop here and improve. We have a lot of work to do to improve the teaching and practice of Aikido in Illigan. Once we have achieved these goals, then we can celebrate with a dinner with the Mayor. I came to the Philippines to help further your practice here. It is not quite time to celebrate yet!” Homma Kancho stood by his words, and spent a tremendous amount of time with all of us doing what he does best; teaching, sharing and practicing the martial art of Aikido.
Homma Kancho and Instructor Ava Yancha.
At the head table.
Homma Kancho’s speech.
Instruction by Kancho.
University PE Professors.
MSU IIT University Aikido club.
Practice with homemade bamboo jo.
We also would like to thank our own instructor Ava Yancha for her dedication and tremendous efforts in bringing Aikido and Homma Kancho to Mindanao and working so hard to have Aikido introduced as part of the MSU IIT curriculum.
Prof. Marzania M. Bucad
MSU IIT PE Professor
Lao Espinsa Aikido Club Advisor
February 1st, 2008
With high school students.
Illigan National City High School has about 7000 students, so two demonstrations were held at the Illigan National City High School to accommodate the large number of interested students. One demonstration was held in the morning and a second demonstration was held later that afternoon. One subject Homma Kancho addressed with attending students was the problems of violence among young people. Homma Kancho pointed out that many young people had the wrong idea especially about the martial arts from negative information they had received from movies and television. With an emphasis on non-violence and non competition in Aikido, the introduction of Aikido philosophy was welcomed as an alternative in conflict resolution for young people.
Performance of a popular Philippine dance before the singing of the national anthem.
Explaining Aikido to high school students.
With high school teaching staff.
With close to 300 students surrounding him, Homma Kancho approached his teaching of Aikido with humor, jokes and stories that kept everyone in rapt attention and the students seemed to thoroughly enjoy Homma Kancho’s introduction to Aikido. After practice Homma Kancho noted, “To be able to capture and hold everyone’s attention today with positive results is a real life tateki no kurai (attack by multiple attackers). I have to admit however that being surrounded by 300 high school students at one time is definitely a challenge!
Later, after an exhausting day at Illigan National City
High School, Homma Kancho instructed students at St. Peters
College until late in the evening. It was a long but wonderful
Mindanaou Aikido Instructor
February 2nd-3rd, 2008
Everyone gathers to welcome Homma Kancho.
After teaching at MSU IIT and the Illigan National City High School, we left to visit Malawi City. I first visited Malawi City in February 2007 and was looking forward to this return visit. During WWII, Malawi City was occupied by the Japanese military and support personnel who at the time made Malawi a peaceful and prosperous place to be. With the retreat of the Japanese at the end of WWII, large houses built for Japanese commanders and staff were abandoned. Many of them are still standing today. Old Japanese military bunkers are also still visible around the town.
I had come to Malawi City to visit Saidamen Ali who operates the small dojo in Malawi where Aikido has been practiced for the past year. Many villagers of Malawi are part of the MNLF, an independent resistance group that operates in the area. In 1996 a peace agreement was made between the MNLF and the Philippine government and despite occasional outbreaks, times has been peaceful in Malawi.
I have always maintained a politically neutral position with enables me to teach Aikido and promote communication wherever I am invited and welcomed. As the villagers gathered as I arrived, I could feel a difference in their manner from my first visit. This time everyone took turns shaking my hand and each one showed me his ID. This was a sign of trust from the Malawi people and I was honored. Every ID had MNLF stamped in bold which meant that all of them were soldiers of the MNLF.
Saidamin, a native of Malawi, graduated from the University with a degree in engineering but for a long period of time there was no work in his field in this area. Mindanao Aikido Nippon Kan Instructor Ava Yancho introduced Saidamin to the National power company in the area in which he found solid employment. I visited Saidamin on the jobsite where he worked with a crew of ten men under him. Because his current worksite is outside of Malawi, Saidamin returns home only on weekends. His salary per day is $4.50, which is a good wage in Malawi and enough to help support his family. One of Instructor Ava’s other assistants in Mindano, Benny, is currently teaching Aikido in a town about 7 hours outside of Illigan City.
A visit to meet Saidamin in Malawi
Homma Kancho, Saidamin, Ava.
As far back as WWII, Malawi has had a good relationship with Japan as the Japanese have brought prosperity and peace to their city. It saddens me that today problems created on the political world stage have affected even this far away city of Malawi. I was very happy that the people here have begun to trust me and were able to share with me the innocent goodness in their hearts. After only a short visit I had to bid farewell, promising to return again soon as Instructor Ava and I returned to Illigan City. With such a tight schedule on this trip there was not even enough time for Aikido practice, just time enough for everyone to gather together in a mutual show of respect.
Historical houses in Malawi.
Malawi shopping area.
Ten WWII Japanese Army Officer houses remain in Malawi.
Abandoned WWII Japanese bunker in Malawi.
The very popular and famous foods of Malawi made Homma Kancho happy!
(NOTICE: Through my teaching of Aikido and being a martial art instructor, I have built a special relationship and special trust with the people of Malawi. Only with this sense of mutual respect am I able to come to Malawi to visit and to teach. I do not recommend that foreign tourists or travelers come to Malawi just out of a sense of curiosity. It would show a lack respect for the local people and their customs to come without valid introduction and I would not recommend visiting under these circumstances).
Written by Gaku Homma, Nippon Kan Kancho
Nippon Kan General Headquarters
February 5th-11th, 2008
All the kids jump for the camera!
After leaving the Philippines, Homma Kancho flew to East Timor for his second visit in the past year. Homma Kancho’s first visit was last November, 2007.
The purpose of this visit was to teach and practice Aikido, but also for Homma Kancho to compete his research into the Bujustu Fighting Gangs and martial art wars in East Timor. On the last day of this visit, an assassination attempt was made on the President of East Timor that thankfully was not successful. The President was wounded by gunshots to the abdomen and has since been in recovery. Homma Kancho escaped East Timor before travel restrictions were fully mandated by the government forces and with Homma Kancho’s permission we have included excerpts and photos from his East Timor travel log of 2008
The following is a letter from the secretary of the East Timor Aikido Federation following Homma Kancho’s return from East Timor to the USA.
Dear Sensei Gaku Homma,
I hope you are well and greetings from us to all of members in your Dojo. Thanks also for you to make Timor leste include your oversea agenda. Right now we have challenge to move our Dojo to other place because government already hand over Dojo to Football federation to make their own office, so that's why we still on intern discussion to utilize NONO(President TAF) is house for our Dojo.
Probbaly Next month we will try got funds from own self, design our Dojo and Budget planning to make our Dojo at NONO land. Rigt now Timor Leste is calm but dangerous because our country still on Military operation to the head of petitioner Gastao Salsinha, his group before doing attacking and shooting President and Prime Ministry of Timor Leste.
Best wishes to you, Mr. Janio Aldroaldo
Please link here to Homma Kancho’s articles
on the martial arts in East Timor which also examine the past
30 years of the history of the martial arts in the United States
and the resulting effects these developments have had world-wide.
Bujutsu Fighting Gangs in East Timor, Part I
Bujutsu Fighting Gangs in East Timor, Part II
April 1st, 2008
Outside Cuautal dojo, Fernando, Rocio, Rebekka, Alberto Senseis (need larger image)
Currently AHAN Mexico and AHAN Central America Coordinators Fernando Roman Sensei and Rocio Aguero Sensei of Mexico Aikido Takemusu Aiki (www.aikidomexico.com.mx) have been outstanding in their efforts to promote the practice of Aikido and AHAN throughout Mexico and Central America. At Fernando Sensei and Rocio Sensei’s recommendation, the Escuela Aikido Cuautla Dojo in Cuautla Morelos, Mexico has been accepted officially as part of AHAN IISA (Instructors in Support of AHAN) International. In the last few years, Cuautla Dojo has hosted IISA Instructor tours in conjunction with Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan headquarters for guest instructors Ali Uludag Sensei of Turkey and Ikam Yoon Sensei and his wife Miae Sensei from Seoul Korea. Alberto Manzano Castellanos Sensei and his wife Rebekka Manzano Haerdi Sensei have both been active leaders in their local community and their dojo is a place for community health and well being. AHAN Nippon Kan Mexico Cuautla Dojo IISA was officially recognized on April 1st, 2008.
Nippon Kan and AHAN Headquarters in Denver have worked for the last year to supply monthly deliveries of one ton of rice per month to be distributed to the Dharmarajika Orphanage for Boys and the Madrasa Orphange for Girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Every month the rice is purchased and the deliveries coordinated by AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator Maji Sarkar who sends us a monthly report and receipts from both orphanages to monitor the donations and deliveries. Last year Bangladesh suffered several natural disasters including massive flooding and cyclones that caused major damage in Bangladesh that hampered their ability to grow their own badly needed food supplies. Rice has become scarcer in Bangladesh and prices have soared on the local markets causing even more hardship for the people of Bangladesh. This has made us at Nippon Kan Headquarters even more determined to do what we can to make sure that our rice deliveries, even though small on a grander scale delivered on time every month.
Below is a letter from the Dharmarajika Orphanage that Nippon Kan and AHAN have supported with donations of rice, computers, medical and school supplies and sports equipment.
Mr. Homma Sensei Hon'ble Founder
Ms. Emily Busch Hon'ble President
Aikido Humanitarian Active Network
Aikido Nippon KAN Headquarters
Denver, CO U.S.A.
Please know our heartfelt thanks for the kind donation of rice regularly for the children.This contribution is very useful for the maintenance of the children. Currently in Bangladesh food item prices are increased much. Particularly the price o rice has increased too much. As such this quantity of rice is of great value to us. A new Headmaster has joined our school to replace the retired one.
The computer school is functioning well. The management is trying to organize it as an income-generating organ forward to receiving somesubstantial out put from this activity.
We shall keep you informed of events of interest to you.
Sunil K. Barua SecretaryDharmarajika Orphanage
Along with our support for the orphanages in
Bangladesh, Nippon Kan also supports the Parish Elementary School
in Dhaka with donations of school supplies, and refurbished computers.
Over the holidays, members of our Nippon Kan Youth Program
sent hand drawn New Year’s greetings cards to the children
at the Parish Elementary School. In March we received about
30 cards from Bangladesh that had been hand drawn by the school
children at Parish in response to the cards we sent over the
holidays. These cards will be on display at Nippon Kan Headquarters
in Denver and an upcoming project for our Nippon Kan Youth
Program will be to start another SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES
card campaign to keep this colorful communication in bloom!
March 20th, 2008
Bio Diesel Eco Car engine
The “Bio Diesel Eco Car Adventure” made a stop at Nippon Kan on its cross country tour of the United States to promote alternative fuel source efficiency and cross cultural communication. The Eco Car team lead by Shusei Yamada were treated to dinner sponsored by Domo Restaurant and a tour of the Nippon Kan facility before heading off to the next stop on their US tour. Council Yamagami of the Japanese Consulate at Denver organized the visit to Nippon Kan and accompanied the group on the Nippon Kan facility tour.
The Eco car runs on vegetable oil and is a showcase model of this bio diesel production unit. Using a waterless wash batch processor of unique miniature design, the unit can produce about 10.5 gallons of fuel per day from used vegetable oils.
The tour which started in Vancouver, Canada in February, 2008 will make its way to the East Coast and on to Africa or Europe. Nippon Kan was originally scheduled to organize the complete Colorado visit but decided to turn the planning over to the Japan America Society who organized all of the other Colorado activities for this tour on a statewide scale
Echocar crew welcomed to Nippon Kan by Vice President Emily
Busch (in uniform)
Consul Yamagami (right).
Jan 20th 2008 362 meals served
Feb 17th, 2008 312 meals served
March 16th, 2008 307 meals served
Total Meals Since 1991 49,519 meals served
In May, Nippon Kan will pass the milestone of serving over 50,000 meals in 18 consecutive years of service at the Denver Rescue Mission. Recognition ceremonies and celebrations are planned for this meal service at the Denver Rescue Mission which we will be happy to report about in our next April-July Activity Report Updates for 2008.
Jan 4th, 2008
Students are examined by senior instructor panel.
In January of 2008, All Nippon Kan members at Nippon Kan General Headquarter were issued new Monjin Chou Student Identification and promotion handbooks. These passport size booklets are 28 pages in length and include all student records including ranking examination results, promotions, seminar attendance and volunteer project attendance which is so much apart of Nippon Kan membership. Shown below is a page in detail for 1st Kyu ranking requirements at Nippon Kan.
From Nippon Kan’s founding in 1978 through 2007, Nippon Kan did not have an examination or passport type system for ranking and tracking student records. Nippon Kan has grown however in the last decades and is very much involved with other dojos and organizations internationally. Homma Kancho felt that having a Monjin Chou passport system of our own reinforced Nippon Kan’s dojo professionalism provided students with a comprehensive guide for technical proficiency and raised Nippon Kan’s standing in a world wide arena. Examinations are now held by a senior instructor examiner panel of three to five senior Nippon Kan instructors.
Homma Kancho spoke about the Monjin Chou system at our January opening classes. “The main goal of Nippon Kan as it has matured as a dojo is not to see how many bodies we can fit through the doors, but to teach students that are seriously interested in practicing Aikido at Nippon Kan. When I first came to the United States, I came alone; I had no students. My life practice now is not focused on only teaching large numbers of classes every day at the dojo. I am a martial artist that has a path of practice as do all of you as students. Nippon Kan has grown up and with the help of all of our senior staff and students its operations function well. My focus now is not on developing internal dojo operation but my own practice and the practice of AHAN in our world community.”
Our new Monjin Chou system is a positive step and shows development in Nippon Kan operations and teaching. We are all encouraged that this new system will benefit all of our practicing students and that they will be proud to hold a Nippon Kan Monjin Chou.
Nippon Kan Senior Vice President
Nippon Kan Sends Two Former Uchideshi to Nepal
Kazumi and Mariusz in Nepal
Part of the experience for uchideshi (live-in students) that graduate from the uchideshi program at Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver is to participate in over-seas internships. Senior students that are regular members of Nippon Kan are also able to participate in this program under special circumstances. This year, Nippon Kan sent two-term graduate uchideshi Mariusz Ferenc and senior student Kazumi Yoshimura to Nepal to assist in teaching Aikido and to experience the culture of Nepal on a local first hand level. Kazumi, was the second woman student that has been sent on an extended stay as part of this international internship program, and the first woman that has been sent to Nepal. Both Mariusz and Kazumi lived in a homestay situation, and their role has been to support the NAC (Nepal Aikido Club) with organizational and teaching training and to participate in other local dojo related activities. Airfare for both students was sponsored by AHAN, and upon successful completion of their internships, expenses for lodging and meals will also be reimbursed.
When sending students from Nippon Kan to other countries, especially third world countries that do not have the material amenities that are available to most students in the United States, the most important advice given to students is not look down upon or quickly judge the people in the country that the student will be living in. Choosing to compare oneself with others before having a chance to learn the culture and the customs and the hearts of the people of these new lands tends to lead to a disastrous experience by all parties. This kind of moral superiority is not tolerated in the Nippon Kan International Internship program and must be agreed to before any student is allowed to travel under Nippon Kan or AHAN’s direction. The purposes and philosophy of AHAN and Nippon Kan cannot be accomplished with this kind of attitude. Students involved in the Nippon Kan Internship Program must also completely sustain from use of drugs, alcohol to excess and any interpersonal physical relationships with native women or men. Any violation of these rules will result in the immediate removal of the student from the internship host country and immediate expulsion from Nippon Kan. If instances of indescretion like this occur, it takes a lot of time to repair the damage done.
Nippon Kan Junior Vice President
Morning practice; uchideshi and Homma Kancho.
There is no rest for Nippon Kan uchideshi; even the uchideshi patches say 24-7 to remind students in the uchideshi program of the challenge and commitment they have made to their training. Every day there are 5 hours of practice, chores, responsibilities and special projects to attend to. All in all every day life is pretty busy for Nippon Kan uchideshi. Homma Kancho recently told the newest uchideshi, “To be an uchideshi doe not mean that you are here only to learn Aikido from your practice. You are here to learn Aikido by how you life your life on and off the mat”.
Take Matsuo teaching training.
This March, Take Matsuo, a captain of the Kyoto University
Aikido Club in Kyoto, Japan returned to Nippon Kan for a second
term. Takes first term was two years ago when he spent time
at Nippon Kan as an uchideshi before
going into his masters program at Kyoto University. Two years
later, after graduating, he returned this spring to train again
as a Nippon Kan uchideshi before
beginning his career.
Take practiced Aikido with the Kyoto University Aikido Club, under Seiseki Abe Sensei who is currently 93 years old. Abe Sensei was the Founder Ueshiba’s calligraphy Sensei and still is active as an Aikido Shihan in Kyoto.
August 10th, 2007-February 6th, 2008
Genbei and Yonta.
All of the gardens and landscaped areas at Nippon Kan are organic and chemical free so we attract many uchideshi (live-in students) of the four legged, eight legged, many-many legged and winged variety. We have everything from dragon flies, butterflies, praying mantis, locusts, grasshoppers and other insects, fish, snakes, frogs, mice, rabbits, squirrels, fox, badgers, raccoons, wild cats, doves (of which two were hatched last year in the Nippon Kan office) AND uchideshi dogs.
It is not that the dogs at Nippon Kan are uchideshi; the dogs at Nippon Kan serve as companions and many times as moral support for all of our hard working “human” uchideshi and staff.
Ponk was the first canine English Springer uchideshi at
Nippon Kan, survived by Genbei who is now 8 years old and still
with us as senior uchideshi. Santa,
the newest English Springer joined our dojo family
last year. We are sad to report that Santa passed away this
past February from heart complications as a young pup of six
months. Mother Emily, office staff and students were extremely
saddened by the loss of baby Santa. The breeder upon hearing
the news took heart and brought a new baby brother down to
Santa was with us for only a little while but touched everyone’s heart while he was with us. “Santa” actually means “third generation” in Japanese, so the new English Springer puppy has appropriately been named “Yonta” or “fourth generation”.
Our dojo will keep the memories of Santa forever.
All Nippon Kan Staff