September-December 2009 Activity Report
Sept 12-23rd, 2009
What a surprise! The boy riding the ox, Nippon Kan’s logo- in real life!
This September, Nippon Kan General Headquarters organized an official tour to Myanmar. The purpose of this tour was for research and development of AHAN projects in Myanmar instigated by Homma Kancho on his first visit to Myanmar in the spring of this year. Homma Kancho was accompanied by myself, Emily Busch, AHAN International Program Director and four senior Nippon Kan members.
On his first trip to Myanmar this past spring, Homma Kancho selected the Yadanapon Yeiknyein Orphanage founded by U Margainda as a focus for AHAN assistance and development. On this September tour, the Nippon Kan delegation visited the orphanage in Yangon on three occasions.
With more hands to carry goods, we were able to carry 350 pounds of children’s clothing donated by Nippon Kan family members and friends, a computer, sewing machine, medical and educational supplies from Nippon Kan Headquarters. This facility houses about 100 children, so we also organized the delivery of 250 kilos of rice on a monthly basis.
Arranging for rice deliveries to the orphanage.
Great kids make for a worthwhile project.
350 lbs of clothing and other supplies for the orphanage.
Myanmar has a long history of Buddhist tradition and it is customary in Myanmar for orphaned children to be cared for at local Buddhist temples. There are many large temples in Myanmar that are well supported by their communities, but as is common in many places, the small temples struggle to support the daily care for the children left in their charge.
On his first visit this spring, Homma Kancho met Nilar Than, who is now serving as Nippon Kan AHAN Coordinator for Myanmar. Nilar accompanied Homma Kancho to many temples before Homma Kancho made his selection of the Yadanapon Orphanage in the capital city of Yangon. There was one episode during a visit to the orphanage on this trip that was especially touching.
A well used pair of sandals
Are these your sandals? Homma Kancho asks with a smile.
We were about to leave the orphanage one day, when Homma Kancho noticed a pair of flip-flop sandals that had been left on the steps by one of the children. The sandals had been worn so long, that the heels of the sandals were completely worn away; they looked like someone had taken a large bite out of both of the heels. “Whose sandals are these?” Homma Kancho inquired with a big smile. At first no one came forward as a silence fell over the children gathered around. Finally one of the boys pointed to his friend and another boy pushed the boy forward out of line. The boy stood straight by himself with his arms folded tightly in front of him with a serious expression on his face. Homma Kancho asked kindly, “Are these yours? I think it is a wonderful thing that you have worn these sandals so long that you have worn the heels right out of them. You have used these sandals well and I am proud of you.” These words made the boy strengthen his crossed-arm stance and his face took on even more of a stern expression.
After saying our goodbyes, we returned to the bus, where Homma Kancho asked our guide, Nilar, “Did I make the boy angry by asking about his sandals? He looked so stern with my inquiry. “No,” replied Nilar, “In Myanmar, it is a common show of respect for children toward their elders to stand with their arms crossed with a serious expression. It is good manners here in Myanmar; he was paying respects to you with his expression.”
Emily and Myanmar guide Steve bargain for sandals in the market.
Sandals for everyone!
Homma Kancho sat quietly for a moment before he said to the group, “I know we have other plans for today, but I want to go to the market and buy sandals. You can all go on ahead if you would like and I will catch up with you later.” Without hesitation, everyone in the group agreed that a trip to the market for sandals was the perfect event for the afternoon where we bought over 100 pairs of flip flops and sandals of all colors and sizes for the children.
Returning to the orphanage, the monks were a little surprised to see us again so soon, but joined in the fun as they called the children down to the courtyard. Homma Kancho put a brand new pair of sandals on the feet of boy whose sandals had worn through and said “I want to make a trade. One hundred pair of new sandals in exchange for your worn pair. Would that be okay? I don’t want to trade because I feel sorry that you have sandals that are worn, I want to award you these new sandals because of the care you gave your old ones; using them completely until they could not be worn any more. Your sandals without any heels are more valuable to me than any new sandal, and I will like to take them to the United States as a treasure for me.” The boy looked nervous, as Nilar translated carefully. The boy nodded in agreement and the fun began as everyone scrambled for new sandals to wear.
Later back in the bus, Kancho reflected, “When I was in elementary school in Japan, closed-toe shoes like sneakers were so valuable that they were worn until toes could be seen sticking out of worn and split seams. Most of the kids in school had to go barefoot during PE class. This was only fifty years ago in Japan and today reminds me of those days.”
Everyone sat quietly on the bus for ride back through the busy streets of Yangon, reflecting on the wonderful lessons we had learned that day at the Yadanapon Orphanage.
AHAN Director Emily Busch with local village kids.
Today, the relationship between the United States government and the military government of Myanmar is strained diplomatically over democratic and humanitarian issues. Before coming to Myanmar I knew only what I had read about these issues. Labeling Myanmar as a “bad country” I do not believe is in any way fair to the wonderful people and overwhelming good that is also part of Myanmar’s history and culture. On this visit, I have never once felt in any danger or sensed oppression or unrest. We have been welcomed sincerely and treated with the utmost kindness and gentleness by every person we have had the fortune to meet. I have heard lately in the news that there is talk of new negotiations and dialog between our government and the government in Myanmar. I find this encouraging, and only hope that at our small level we can encourage more cross-cultural communication and exchange with the lovely people here.
Enjoying a little local palm wine.
There are over 100 tribes living in Myanmar.
Besides visiting the orphanage in Yangon, our AHAN tour was filled with the wonders of Bagan, Lake Inle and Mandalay. We spent much of our time marveling at the history and the beauty of Myanmar and the wonderful people we met. Every member enjoyed the tour immensely, and as an extra bonus, we were able to practice Aikido with local Aikidoka in two cities in Myanmar. Link here if you are interested in more on Aikido in Myanmar!
Nippon Kan AHAN International Program Director
Nilar standing in front of pagoda.
Ms. Nilar Than is officially licensed by the Myanmar government as a Japanese interpreter and national guide. Nilar, who free lances with many official Japanese tour guide services, is a popular guide in Myanmar. Her licensing examinations were rigorous, granting her certification as a high-level professional in Myamnar’s tourist and business industries. Nilar is an expert on Myanmar history, geography, culture, anthropology and demographics in each of Myanmar’s diverse regions and populations. Nilar is fluent in Japanese and English, putting her in high demand with Japanese, European and American tourists and business officials. This past April, Nilar accepted Nippon Kan Headquarters appointment of AHAN Myanmar Coordinator and has been instrumental in the development of AHAN projects in Myanmar.
Myanmar September rice delivery
Myanmar December rice delivery
Rice deliveries were made on schedule for the months of September, October, November and December at three orphanages in Myanmar and Bangladesh. In Myanmar, Nilar Than, AHAN Myanmar Coordinator supervised the deliveries, and in Bangladesh, all deliveries were made under the watchful eye of AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator Maji Sarkar. In total 1.3 tons of rice per month were donated and delivered.
Oct 30-Nov 7, 2009
UAE Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) sponsored the “Festival of Thinkers 2009” as an emporium of Nobel Prize Winners from around the world this past October. The international conference included a world-class concert for guests, royalty and other dignitaries at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
The Japanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, in conjunction with Nippon Kan AHAN International Concert Series 2009 Coordinator, Gaku Homma, coordinated arrangements for the Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers from Matsukawa, Japan to perform at a series of concerts organized for the Festival of Thinkers 2009.
Kyougaku Taiko leader, Eitaro Chino, and nine highly skilled accompanying drummers flew from Japan to Abu Dhabi to perform. This year, eight women and two men made up the drumming entourage.
The Kyougaku Taiko Drummers have performed for the Nippon Kan AHAN International Concert Series for the last six years, with performances in the United States, Rio de Janeiro and Buzios, Brazil, Ankara, Cappadocia and Istanbul, Turkey, and Cali, Columbia. The drummers have an international reputation of excellence and have thrilled audiences all over the world. This year was unique in that the entourage was made up primarily of women, and that the youngest participant, Mayumi Konuma, is a sixteen years old high school student in their hometown of Matsukawa.
Nov 2, 2009
Unbelievable hotel-looks like a castle!
The first performance for the drummers was held at the infamous Emirates Palace Hotel on a special stage built entirely for the Festival of Thinkers Gala Dinner show. No expense was spared for this three-hour concert where world-famous performers entertained the 1000 guests who had assembled for this gala event. This event was attended not only by thirteen Nobel Prize winners but kings from two Scandinavian countries, ambassadors and diplomats from all over the word. The mega-stage included many story high screens that surrounded the stage and of course a full-scale fireworks display. The Kyougaku Taiko Drummers performed as the opening and closing acts for this concert and brought the audience to their feet with a roar of applause as they closed this elaborate world-class concert event with a grand finale. The drummers in return, were given an almost overwhelming introduction into the elite world of Abu Dhabi.
The drummers marvel at the luxury.
Constructing the superstage.
Drummers; ready and waiting.
Every spare minute used to rehearse.
Before theshow - drummers strike a pose!
Nov 3rd, 2009.
Paying respects at the Ambassador’s residence.
The second drumming concert was sponsored by the Japanese Department of Agriculture as part of a Japanese fruits export symposium in Abu Dhabi. The concert was held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence at the opening of a Japanese imported fruit tasting for the spouses and relatives of distinguished ambassadors from many different countries stationed in Abu Dhabi. All of the guests at this event were women dignitaries, and in compliance with Islamic rule in Abu Dhabi, no men are allowed to perform for the all-woman audience. This was the first time that the Kyougaku Taiko Drummers performed with an all woman entourage at such a high-level international concert. The women drummers put on a sensational performance that delighted the guests who all stayed afterword for autographs and questions.
All of the drummers were treated to a welcome lunch at the Ambassador’s residence the day after the drummers arrived in Abu Dhabi. At this luncheon, the drummers were able to spend time with members of the Japanese community living in Abu Dhabi. Many thanks to our gracious hosts for their wonderful hospitality.
A first in the Kyougaku drummer’s history; all women performance.
Nov 3rd, 2009
Playing at the Japanese school.
At 6:30 pm. that same evening, about 200 people gathered at the Japanese school gymnasium for a concert for the 40 Japanese students who attend the school plus staff, family members and friends. This Japanese school is well known for its high standard of scholastic and intramural studies and the teachers worked busily to turn the well equipped gymnasium into a concert hall complete with stage, audience seating and PA system. Being so far from their homeland of Japan, I could feel the sincere enthusiasm in the teachers as they dedicated their efforts to the tasks at hand.
The concert was attended by Japanese Ambassador Tatsuro Watanabe and his wife and Setso Ohmori, the DCM Minister at the Embassy of Japan. The PA system for the concert was arranged by First Secretary and Consul Haruo Yamagami, also of the Japanese Embassy.
At the end of the concert, all of the students, parents, teachers and staff lined the driveway and waved a small sea of Japanese flags in farewell. It was a touching and thoughtful sight that was appreciated by all of the Japanese drummers in this land so far away from home.
Many people help behind the scenes.
A local father joins the drummers for monster play.
The kids delight in the performance.
A grande send off with Japanese flags.
November 4th, 2009
Drummer in costume and staff.
The next day, we made our way for about a two hour drive from Abu Dhabi to the city of Dubai, where the Kyougaku Taiko Drummers were scheduled to perform at the HCT Men’s University Campus auditorium. The drummers played an hour long concert on the beautiful men’s campus which was also attended by Minister Setsuo Ohmori and First Secretary and Consul Haruo Yamagami.
Rehearsal is key.
The finale always includes audience participation.
Nov 5th, 2009
Private photographs are taboo. This is an official campus photo of the concert.
On the following day, the drummers visited the city of Al Ain for a concert to be performed on the HTC Women’s University campus. This campus has smaller accommodations, so two performances were scheduled to accomodate the over 600 women in attendance. The Woman’s University in Al Ain does not have a gymnasium. In accordance with Islamic tradition, sport and fitness training is not a part of the curriculum for women, so no such facility exists on their campus. The concert instead was held in a very large cafeteria facility and was very well received by all of the women students. The students gathered around the drummers excitedly after the concert shaking hands, taking photos and gathering autographs. For this concert, Mrs. Tatsuro Watanabe and Mr. Ohmori were in attendance and helped supervise a wonderful luncheon held afterward for the drummers and guests. After performing the hard physical work of two back to back concerts, the young drummers greatly appreciated the wonderful lunch that was served.
On all of the tours I have accompanied the Kyougaku Drummers, I have noticed that every spare moment is used to the fullest. Schedules and locations are checked and double checked, impromptu rehearsals, equipment checks and meetings fill any spare moments between performances. The drummers did have a few hours for a bit of sightseeing, and all in all did a fantastic job keeping up with the rigorous pace of this week-long tour. The Japanese Ambassador’s wife, Mrs.Watanabe was a great help looking after the drummers, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being able to see the drummers perform concerts on three separate occasions. Mrs. Watanabe’s kindness and thoughtfulness was reflected in the rest of the Japanese Embassy staff who worked diligently; running to and from the airport, making preparations at concert locations, looking after transportation, meal and lodging arrangements, and offering Japanese home-style comfort to the drummers and staff. Special thanks to the Japanese Embassy Cultural Attache, Mr. Susumu Yoshida for working so hard, always with patience, humility, and a smile. Honto ni, Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.
On the last evening before the drummers left Abu Dhabi for Japan, all of the Embassy staff involved with the week-long concert tour gathered at Mr. Omori’s private residence for a farewell party. It was a memorable evening and a week that the drummers from Matsukawa will not soon forget.
Special thanks to First Secretary and Consul Haruo Yamagami, formerly Consul at the Japanese Consulate in Denver, who coordinated the week long concert tour for Embassy staff, the HTC staff who accompanied the drummers every step of the way and to Mrs. Ann for all of your support.
My greatest thanks and appreciation goes to every drummer from Matsukawa, Japan for their tremendous talent, effort and endurance. All of the drummers lead their own lives in Matsukawa with school, jobs and family life. Each drummer practiced diligently; fine tuning their skills to make this concert tour an overwhelming success. I admire the drummer’s power, not only for the incredible music they perform, but for their strong spiritual connection and spirit. Without this spirit, they never would have been able to reach such heights, and touch as many hearts as they did. Thank you to the Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers for sharing their spirit and their drumming with the people of the United Arab Emirates. There are already many requests for a return trip next year!
After arriving, no time for rest; time to unpack and check the drums.
Never a moment wasted; free times used for meetings and rehearsals.
I also must thank all of the local people in Matsukawa Village who supported this effort behind the scenes. I offer my salute for their understanding and support of this important cultural activity. Unlike other sports that focus only on winning or losing and the thrill of the game, the drumming in Matsukawa embodies and reflects the true spirit of the people. In Japan there are very few drumming groups that have had so much international exposure and acclaim. The concert performed on this tour at the Emirates Palace hotel was a world-class performance beyond any of the drummer’s wildest dreams. It was my reward to see them triumph with the challenge.
I hope that the people of Matsukawa will continue their vital support of the young drummers of their village in reaching new dreams in the years to come.
In closing recognition
Shinano no Kuni Matsukawa Kyogaku Taiko Drummers UAE Concert Drummers
AHAN Nippon Kan Founder and Director
Communications and Public Relations
AHAN International Program Director
For privacy and security reasons, filming and photography was limited on this trip. Photos will be limited in this article.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Sept 14, 17, 19, 2009
AHAN friendship plaque presented to Sein Sensei by Emily Busch, AHAN director
A delegation of six from Nippon Kan Headquarters visited Myanmar Aikikai New
Organization, under U Mya Sein Sensei http://www.myanmaraikikai-neworganization.com/aikikaiFile/Brief.htm
at two of their dojos in Myanamar; the first in the capital city of Yangon and the other in the city of Mandalay.
Aikido practice in Myanmar began in 1951, making its history one of the longest practice histories in the world. Sein Sensei began his practice of Aikido in 1988 under Burma (currently Myanmar) Aikido U Thaung Din Sensei who founded Myanmar Aikikai. After the passing of Founder U Thaung Din Sensei in 1996, his family retained dojo operations and Sein Sensei became Chief Instructor.
Two years before the passing of Founder U Thaung Din Sensei, Myanmar Aikikai began a relationship with an Aikido organization in Japan. In 1999, Sein Sensei was the first person from Myanmar to be invited to practice at Iwama and at Hombu. Unfortunately the organization that Myanmar Aikikai had established a relationship with in Japan began intrusive policies, trying to dictate and dominate control of the structure and practice of Myanmar Aikikai.
Believing that Aikido in Myanmar should be independent, self-run and self-organized, Sein Sensei left Myanmar Aikikai to form Myanmar Aikikai New Organization of which he is still chief instructor.
Group photo at Sein Sensei’s dojo in Yangon.
Group photo in Mandalay.
Homma Kancho leads practice in Mandalay.
The organization in Japan that has supported Aikido in Myanmar since 2001, has had no relationship with Sein Sensei and his organization Myanmar Aikikai New Organization.
I have always believed that it is critically important to be respectfully aware of every countries history and customs, and respect the direction and development of Aikido in each country the way that is best for the people living there; by their own choosing and in their own time. My wish for Aikido in Myanmar is to grow healthy and strong along guidelines that are defined by and for the people of Myanmar.
The motto for this Japanese Aikido organization is “Harmony for Asian People”.
It sounds beautiful, but in practice, this group ignores the long history of Aikido
in Myanmar and aims to bend local organization to their own will and purposes. This
I find disheartening. It is not only detrimental for people in Myanmar, it is also
misleading for the Japanese people that support them; those that believe in the motto
of “Harmony for Asia” and do not understand the true motives of this organization.
The directors of this Japanese organization should know that some senior Myanmar Aikidoka
compare the practices of their organization with the Japanese Army invasion of Myanmar
At home in Japan, this organization holds fund-raising seminars, golf tournaments and other events asking for public support of its Myanmar operations. Those that innocently support these fundraising events do not know the divisive effects this organization is having in Myanmar; the only thing being raised with these efforts is the organizations own self satisfaction.
Individuals in Japan need to understand what is truly going on in Myanmar before pledging your support. Your support might be involved more with politics than practice, and might do more harm than good.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Oct 7-12, 2009
Alaoui M’barek Sensei and Homma Kancho with board of directors.
While visiting Turkey this past October to teach a series of Aikido seminars, Homma Kancho took a few days to visit Morocco. It had been four years since Homma Kancho had been able to visit Morocco and he was looking forward to meeting up with old friends.
My name is Bryon, and I traveled from Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver to Morocco to serve as Homma Kancho’s assistant. We had come at the invitation of Morocco Aikidoka and I met Homma Kancho at the airport in Casa Blanca.
The invitation we had received was from a senior Aikidoka that had been part of the entourage we had practiced with on Homma Kancho’s first visit to Morocco; he was registered in Nippon Kan Headquarter records. After much email correspondence (mostly in French) to confirm schedules, we were on our way to Casa Blanca. Almost immediately after we arrived and were greeted by our hosts, Homma Kancho said to me, “Something is wrong”.
In 1956, M’barek Alaoui Sensei began his teaching of Aikido in Morocco and at the time of Homma Kancho’s last visit had built a nationwide organization in Morocco of over 3000 members.
Homma Kancho naturally began to wonder why we had not been able to meet with Alaoui Sensei upon our arrival. At first we were told that Alaoui Sensei was sick and in the hospital so we would not be able to meet with him on this visit. Homma Kancho thought for a moment and commented, “On a recent trip to Abu Dhabi UA, I was talking with the instructor there who had told me that he had just met with Alaoui Sensei a week ago and said that he was in fine health. Something is wrong with this information.”
It was not long before we were to discover that Homma Kancho’s instincts had been correct. What has been happening in many parts of the world had been happening in Morocco too. The splintering of Aikido organizations is becoming an all too familiar world-wide phenomenon.
Our host dojo it became apparent, had split from Alaoui Sensei’s organization and had formed a completely different organization of their own. Homma Kancho, even though he sensed what was happening, said nothing to our host and continued to fulfill his teaching commitments in dojos both in Casa Blanca and Marrakech. Homma Kancho said, “Even though this situation is not what was proposed to us, if I stop now it is not fair to the students who have come together for these seminars. The students are not aware of organizational politics, and should not be the ones to be affected by this. Internal politics are struggles between the leaders of organizations; innocent students should not be the casualties.
Homma Kancho taught as scheduled and said his goodbyes…
Politics are not students responsibility, Kancho teaches the spirit of Budo.
With only twenty four hours before our plane was scheduled to depart Morocco, we set out to search for Alaoui Sensei ourselves in Casa Blanca. With the language differences and our unfamiliarity with the city, this seemed like a daunting task indeed. We went to the medina (the old walled city within Casa Blanca whose winding twisted labyrinth of streets were originally built as a form of protection to confuse enemy attackers). Without a guide, we could not have found our way through the medina and our chances of finding Alaoui M’barek Sensei by ourselves we figured was about 1 in 1000.
We soon found that the medina is a very lively and close knit community and word got around in the medina faster than any internet would ever to be able to!
Alaoui Sensei’s students help in our adventure.
Many joined in the reunion celebration.
We started our search in an internet café where we tried to look up contact information on Alaoui Sensei. It was not long before someone asked who we were trying to find, and within a few minutes, the word had spread about our mission in the medina. Moments later, someone arrived that said they could guide us to the residence of a senior student of Alaoui Sensei. Thankful for the help, we set out on foot and were taken to the student’s home.
We were happy to hear that Alaoui Sensei was not sick and in the hospital as we had been told. He was in Marrakech, a four hour drive from Casa Blanca with his senior staff, where they were checking locations for upcoming seminar events. Our new found friend was able to contact Alaoui Sensei in Marrakech. Upon hearing the news that Homma Kancho was in Casa Blanca and looking for them, Alaoui Sensei and his staff cancelled the rest of their overnight plans and headed back to Casa Blanca.
It had only been four years, but when Homma Kancho and Alaoui Sensei finally met, it seemed like the meeting of long time great friends. We had dinner with Alaoui Sensei and his senior board of directors and Homma Kancho heard all about the big changes that had been taking place in the structure of Aikido organizations in Morocco over the last four years.
Homma Kancho spoke to the group, “I have heard this story before. It seems the cause of many of the problems here started with the introduction of Japanese JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) overseas volunteer Aikido instructors to Morocco. Other JICA instructors have caused problems in many parts of world. Not all of them have been disruptive of course, some have contributed positively to local communities but by in large, in my own personal experience, I have witnessed more problems with them than not. There is a fifty year history of the practice of Aikido in Morocco and when I was here four years about there were over 350 dojos and groups united in practice. There was a solid organizational structure in place here in Morocco. I do not know why JICA instructors are sent from Japan into countries with stable, developed Aikido organizational structures; they seem to cause disruption, not development.
Many JICA instructors are sent to countries without researching the structure of local existing Aikido communities. Instructors are sent at the invitation of what very well might be the individual aspirations of a single instructor. Instructors are sent without investigation or a thorough evaluation of the instructor being sent. In my opinion it is vitally important to understand the organization of the local environment and just as important to make sure an instructor is qualified as someone who will respect local organization as well as their cultures.
For example, two years ago in Ankara, Turkey, a local Aikido instructor opened a dojo with a JICA instructor almost right across the street from an existing dojo, seemingly deliberately. Ignoring existing Turkish Aikido organizations, they began their own direct Dan promotion system with Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. I counted the number of steps myself from the existing local dojo to the new JICA dojo; it was 190 steps. This was very disappointing to me.
For a visiting JICA Instructor to ignore local history and organization and claim superiority because they are “Japanese” is akin to invading a country waving Japanese flags. The people in Japan pay taxes that are used to support JICA programs in other countries. If the result of these programs is bitterness and disruption because of the reckless actions of a Japanese JICA instructor, then the money, time and energy used for these programs serves only to confirm a negative image of Japanese people in the world.”
Farewells, with a promise to meet again next year.
Alaoui Sensei and accompanying board members bid us a fond farewell, making plans for a visit next year in 2010 for an Arab-Africa Aikido Seminar Summit. Homma Kancho enthusiastically promised to attend.
Nippon Kan General Headquarter Instructor
October 16-18, 2009
Homma Kancho and Ali Sensei donate proceeds to Bursa Street Kid Foundation.
Homma Kancho returned from Morocco to Turkey on October 13th. I have heard Homma Kancho mention that he would like to spend a few days relaxing in Istanbul someday without teaching and work to be done.
After Homma Kancho returned from Morocco, I, Megumi Machi, AHAN Turkey Coordinator and my husband Vecihi took the opportunity to take Homma Kancho by car to visit the Black Sea. We also spent time in Istanbul doing a great deal of research on Turkish cuisine for Homma Kancho’s restaurant in Denver by visiting many local restaurants!
Homma Kancho was also shown the sights of Lake Iznik by one of Ali Uludag Sensei’s senior students, Seha Iscan who owns his own travel agency in Istanbul. Homma Kancho enjoyed his time on all of these local adventures and the chance to relax for a few days.
The fish were very fresh at the local fish market.
Cooked and served on the spot!
Sever Sensei measuring the size of coffin from the Roman Empire.
At the gate of a Byzantine era fort with Seha.
Beginning October 16th, Homma Kancho taught two seminars in Bursa, marking the opening of a new branch dojo in Bursa for Ali Uludag Sensei of Turkey Aikikai. A portion of seminar proceeds were donated to the Bursa Street Kid Foundation. In special attendance at these seminars was Mustafa Aygun Sensei who trained together with Ali Uludag Sensei as original students of the Founder of Aikido in Turkey, Kenji Kumagai Shihan, currently living in Tanabe City, Japan. Today both Uludag Sensei and Mustafa Aygun Sensei head their own organizations in Turkey, but came together to practice at these landmark seminar.
Turkey Aikido is made up of a number of practicing dojos and supports many activities. There are many people with many ideas, which makes it difficult to organize as one sole organization. There can be danger in an Aikido organization when organizers do not practice Aikido themselves and seek to control activity for personal gain or benefit.
From left; Ali Uludag Sensei, Homma Kancho, Mustaf Aygun Sensei.
Homma Kancho offered his advice to Ali Uludag Sensei and Mustafa Aygun Sensei, “Both of you are original students of the Founder of Aikido in Turkey, Kumagai Shihan. You now both have your own organizations but today you practice here together. This sends a good message and offers a positive example to your students. As direct students of Kumagai Shihan, respect each other’s individual activities yet work together toward compounding your directions; both of you with your own organizations, instructors with individual differences but with the same ultimate goal; to see Aikido in Turkey develop in a healthy strong way. This is the way to say thank you to your teacher, Kumagai Shihan.”
Practice in Bursa.
Group photo at Bursa dojo.
Bokken practice at second seminar location
Time to relax with an after practice celebration.
Homma Kancho and Ali Sensei clowning around!
This philosophy of Homma Kancho’s is one of his highest priorities. His purpose is to teach, not to become involved with any organization’s policies or politics.
Thank you Homma Kancho for your positive advice and inspiring practice.
Nippon Kan AHAN Turkey Coordinator
December 2nd -12th, 2009
Homma Kancho with future instructor Ranger cadets.
Homma Kancho visited the Nepal Army Rangers this past December in Kathmandu, Nepal for the second time this year. 600 soldiers from each Nepal Army Ranger Company; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo participated in this extended training event.
An outside three-hour practice was held each morning for enlisted rangers utilizing Nippon Kan NSDT (Nippon Kan Self Defense Techniques) for crowd and riot control combat training. Each afternoon, another three-hour practice was held for 60 elite cadets that have been selected to become future instructors. These intensive practices were held indoors at the Nepal Army Ranger on-base dojo and concentrated on more intensive open-hand and weapon arresting Aikido techniques. This daily regiment lasted a grueling six days.
NSDT is Nippon Kan’s unique method of training that focuses on the delivery of minimum damage with maximum power. This is the foundation for Nippon Kan kihon or basic technique for military application.
Rangers line up to welcome Homma Kancho
With Colonel Bhlm Bdr Shah.
Homma Kancho instructing.
Before training began, Commanding Officer Colonel Bhlm Bdr Shah and Second Secretary and Security Attache, Yoshihiro Kakinuma from the Japanese Embassy in Nepal were in attendance for the opening ceremony demonstrations supervised by Captain Aneez and students from the five Nepal Army Ranger companies.
Instructor Rajesh with Homma Kancho.
Instructor Rajesh teaching.
Transportation by motor cycle through Kathmandu.
Young soldiers wrestling with
In Kathmandu, cadets in training to become future instructors practice six hours every day but Sunday under Nepal Aikido Nippon Kan Chief Instructor, Rajesh Bista. Instructor Bista was the original Aikido pioneer as the first to bring the practice of aikido to Nepal by inviting Homma Sensei to Nepal in 2005.
Within the Nepal Army Rangers, NSDT and Nippon Kan Aikido practice have been expanding rapidly. On this December visit, Homma Kancho and Instructor Bista traveled about two hours deep into the mountains outside of Kathmandu to a special training base where NSDT is being applied to Special Forces training. Homma Kancho reviewed specialized NSDT training in practice and discussed plans for future training development.
On this trip, Homma Kancho learned that Sgt. Dhan Gurung, a Nepal Army Ranger Aikido Instructor, whom Homma Kancho has trained on previous visits, had been transferred to Sudan as part of a UN Peace Keeping Force of 850 Nepalese soldiers. Sgt. Gurung has already begun an Aikido training program for the Nepalese soldiers while in Sudan and Homma Kancho worked with about 20 soldiers during this six day intensive training program in preparation for their departure to join this mission soon in Sudan. Homma Kancho plans to go to Sudan in early 2010 to teach the Nepalese UN Peacekeeping forces personally.
Special training camp NSDT practice.
Soldier eat while standing during training.
After a long hard day, a popular pastime
for soldiers is to relax watching
pro wrestling on TV.
Practice in Nepal Army Ranger dojo.
Homma Kancho speaks to soldiers
As a country, Nepal is still somewhat politically unstable and during this visit there were general strikes going on in Kathmandu. With concerns about security during these strikes, precautions were taken with Homma Kancho’s transportation to and from the base. Instead of being transported by military vehicle during the strikes, Homma Kancho was driven by motorcycle, which made for interesting trips through the city.
This report was written by me, Cihan Karaogluol, who served as Homma Kancho’s assistant for this training in Nepal. I am a graduate uchideshi from Nippon Kan General Headquarters in Denver, now living in my hometown of Izmir, Turkey. This trip was as experience I will never forget.
Nippon Kan GQ Graduate Uchideshi
NOTES FROM EDITOR
This training mission was for active military personnel, therefore many people involved in this successful project cannot be named or photographs used for security reasons.
City of Izmir Food Service Project
September 17th, 2009
Meal service in Izmir.
Nippon Kan Graduate Uchideshi, Cihan Karaogluol, now living in his hometown of Izmir, Turkey, organized his own AHAN project with fellow Aikidoka for the less fortunate in Izmir this past September. To celebrate the ending of Ramadan, serving the less fortunate is a common custom. This was however a unique experience for Aikidoka in Izmir, who put on their first ever event of this kind.
Homma Kancho demonstrates with Cihan.
As a live-in student to Homma Kancho at Nippon Kan Headquarters, Cihan learned not only Aikido technique but philosophy and humanitarian service as well. He learned how to do…how to take action, which was evident on September 17th, 2009 at Izmir’s first meal for the homeless sponsored by Izmir Aikidoka.
Nippon Kan AHAN International Program Director
November 21, 2009
Korea concert poster
Korean Aikido Pioneer and Korean Aikido Federation Founder and President, I-kam Yoon Sensei and his students sponsored and produced a charity concert in November for underprivileged families in Seoul. This project enlisted not only Aikidoka under Yoon Sensei’s direction but many talented artists and volunteers from the general public.
Yoon Sensei understands well the philosophy of AHAN activities, and how to take action; evident in this first ever charity concert sponsored and produced by a martial art group in Korea.
We congratulate Yoon Sensei and all of the Korean Aikido Federation and look forward to growth in the future.
Nippon Kan Kancho
Letter from Yoon Sensei
Dear Homma Kancho,
I hope this letter finds you well. Everyone is doing fine here! On the 21st of November, we will be putting on a charity concert for the less fortunate here in Seoul. With the spirit that we have learned from the ways of AHAN, we are taking this challenge for the benefit of our community. At the concert, I am planning to recognize you as the source of AHANs international spirit of volunteerism and community support.
There are many famous singers and bands that have agreed to donate their time and talents for this concert as well as supplying the sound and lighting systems. All of the staff are volunteering their time and we are discovering what a valuable this event is for us as a team. The concert on the 21st will be 2 ½ hours long, and we are hopeful that it will be an inspiring evening! This is the first time in Korea that a charity concert event like this one has ever been organized by a group of martial artists, and this is attracting media attention!
I and all members of the Korea Aikido Federation respect your spirit and your actions, and will continue to develop our own AHAN spirit here in Korea now and into the future!
AHAN Korea Coordinator
Korean Aikido Federation President
December 20th, 2009
First UN Aikido group in Sudan
Nepalese UN soldiers practice in Sudan.
Sgt. Dan Gurung, one of the primary Nepal Army Ranger Aikido Instructors has been transferred with his team of 850 United Nation Peace Keepers from Nepal to Sudan to participate in UNAMID African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur. While serving as a peace keeper in Sudan, Sgt. Gurung has begun teaching Aikido Nippon Kan NSDT (Nippon Kan Self Defense Techniques) as well as basic physical and field combat training to troops stationed there. The photos were taken in the hot sun on hot sand, feature combat training conducted by Sgt. Gurung. This is not a day at the beach! Homma Kancho is planning to visit Sudan in the early part of 2010.
Nippon Kan Staff Editor
Sept 11th, 2009
Metro Denver University sponsored the “Sharing the Freedom: A Concert of Remembrance and Hope” performed by the United States Air Force Academy Band on September 11, 2009. The concert was performed at the Metropolitan Auraria Campus in Denver and was conducted by special guest conductor Chie Imazumi. Nippon Kan AHAN in conjunction with Domo Restaurant supplied dinners to the performers and staff.
AHAN International Program Director
October 24th, 2009
Nippon Kan Army on the job!
19 years ago, Nippon Kan asked the Denver Parks and Recreation Department if we could help the city by doing a volunteer project for them. 19 years later, this project has become a city-wide projecy, aptly named “Put the Beds to Bed”, since the task at hand for this project is to turn the flower beds in Denver City parks for winter.
IN THE PROJECT BACKGROUND…
Colorado State Capital
Denver Art Museum
Denver Public Library
Denver City and County Building
Nippon Kan always turns the flower beds at Civic Center Park, located in downtown Denver between the State Capital and the City and County Building. On this day in October, about 80 members, families and friends got the work done in record time. Thank you everyone for a job well done!
2009 Project Leader
November meal prep during a record blizzard… brrrrrr.
At the October monthly homeless dinner at the Denver Rescue Mission, we noticed a surprisingly sharp rise in the number of homeless guests to be served. For the last 19 years, we have served two meals at our monthly dinner service; one dinner at 5:00 pm. for residents of the mission, and an 8:00 pm. meal service for outside guests. The total meals served at these two services averaged between 250 to 300 meals.
In October, the mission suddenly changed the service format to accommodate four meal services instead of two, totaling well over 400 meals served per evening. This increased our volunteer time for the meal services alone to five hours at the mission. Adding in food prep and cooking time, the amount and costs for the foods to be served, and the time spent by the volunteers meant a big change in our monthly service routine.
Homma Kancho contributes the most to these meal services, beginning the homeless meal service prep at 7:00 am. After a full day of food prep, cooking and four meal services, Homma Kancho is one of the last to leave the mission at about 9:30 pm. For the past 19 years, most of the funds used to support this meal service project have come from Homma Kancho’s personal donations. It is unfortunate that occasionally over the years we have heard rumors that Nippon Kan only participate in local service projects as an excuse to solicit money. Nothing could be further from the truth; especially for this homeless service project, Nippon Kan has never solicited outside funds.
It is never Nippon Kan’s philosophy to create volunteer projects and seek outside support to make them happen. We do the best we can to accomplish what we can with our own resources. Nippon Kan’s restaurant and other business projects help to generate most of the funds needed for our service projects both locally and internationally. Self-support and independence within a number of years is an ultimate goal of all of our projects around the world.
This year as in all these years past, we are thankful to all Nippon Kan volunteers and guest volunteers for their service. Especially this year, Consul Mitsui of the Japanese Consulate in Denver and his wife, first came to the Denver Rescue Mission as a Nippon Kan guest volunteer and have become regulars at many homeless dinners this year.
Consul Mitsui of the Consul General at Denver has become a regular volunteer
Homma Kancho in an apron works on the homeless service from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Bundled up volunteers peel vegetables in the snow.
Nippon Kan Treasurer
Sept 28 295 dinners served
October 25 411 dinners served
November 15 420 dinners served
December 20th, 300 dinners served
Total since 1991: 58,615 dinners served
October 22, 2009
Graduation party on a frosty evening!
At Nippon Kan Headquarters, a special practice is held every Monday evening for members ranking 3rd kyu and above. This year, Homma Kancho scheduled a special “Kancho’s Clinic” during this practice time, and attendance was limited to the top 40 members with the highest attendance records.
The purpose of this clinic was to improve any inconsistency in ability of our
Hakama ranked members; especially with many of our newer ranked members, by concentrating
on foundational development and understanding of Nippon Kan technique and Nippon Kan
In this light, the clinic was a success.
A few members not selected for this clinic chose to leave the dojo, but for continued healthy operations of Nippon Kan Headquarter dojo, it is important to maintain strict levels of training and philosophical understanding.
On a cold night, a hot nabe (pot dish) is the best. Homma Kancho with Michael Mirabella, Nippon Kan President.
Homma Kancho is all smiles. Left; Emily Busch Nippon Kan Vice President
It was late into the fall when Homma Kancho invited hakama clinic graduates to celebrate with a fall garden party. It was a very chilly evening in October, but the party was held outside in the gardens. A huge pot of dojo nabe (Japanese pot dish) a little hot sake, mittens and warm coats kept everyone warm as we viewed a harvest moon. It was an evening of great comradery and cheer… even if it was a bit nippy!
Nippon Kan President
October 20th, 2009
Colorado is home to many distinguished Japanese Martial Art Instructors, many with over 30 years experience teaching in Denver. The purpose of this meeting was one of communication, focusing on teamwork and discussion on positive plans for the future of all of the Japanese martial arts in Denver. This annual meeting was also attended by Consul General Kubo of the Japanese Embassy at Denver and Chie Consul Mr. Kashima. The annual meeting was held at Nippon Kan’s Domo Restaurant.
Yutaka Yaguchi , Shotokan Karate
Sadaharu Kurobane,Wado Kai Karate
Eiji Igaki, US Olympic Karate Team Coach
Shuichi Otaka Judo
Hiroyuki Tanabe, Wado Kai Karate
Joko Ninomiya, Enshin Karate
Gaku Homma, Nippon Kan Aikido
December 19th, 2009
Just before Christmas, Keiko Osame (End-of Year Closing Class) was held for Nippon Kan Youth Program members. Parents, family and friends were invited to attend this special class to watch practice, demonstrations and promotion announcements. Homma Kancho joined the festivities and spoke to youth program members and their families. “The purpose of practicing aikido is not about finding an opening or weakness in your partner and learning how to use a kick or a punch to defeat them. Aikido is about learning to be a partner, learning how to respond to and work together with a partner to create a well executed technique together. Aikido focuses our training on physical communication and learning the effects and consequences of movement.”
Mr. Noel Camp and his adult assistants coordinate a vibrant and challenging program for our younger members, one that even his own kids attend! The day was filled with excitement as advanced youth program members and adult instructors gave demonstrations for family and friends and all attending youth program members received a certificate of achievement.
It has always been Homma Kancho’s philosophy not to hold examinations or testing for any Nippon Kan member; adult or youth. Promotions and advancement at Nippon Kan is based on attendance and personal instructor evaluation. Membership dues for youth program members remain $25.00 per month, and there are no fees for promotion.
Having a very affordable fee structure and no fee-based system for promotions is one of Homma Kancho’s strongest convictions. Even though the dojo accounting staff throws up their hands at time, this conviction remains a firm part of Nippon Kan’s foundation.
Nippon Kan Vice President
Dec 12-17th, 2009
Abu Dhabi Concert celebration with drummers in Matsukawa village.
After concluding his teaching with the Nepal Army Rangers in Nepal, Homma Kancho stopped by Japan on his way back to the United States. He made this trip to Japan to pay his end-of-year respects to high ranking instructors and to join the Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers for a victory celebration in Matsukawa after their return from their concert tour toAbu Dhabi.
Shinshin Aikishurin Kai Jukucho Hitohiro Saito Sensei with his handmade shishigashira.
From right; Aikido Kobayashi dojo Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan, Homma Kancho, Kobayashi Shihan’s son Hiroaki Kobayashi Sensei and Koyanagai Sensei.
From right; Enshin Karate Fukuoka Branch Chief Hayashi Sensei, Aikido Kokikai President Shudo Maruyama Sensei, Homma Kancho, Enshin Karate Aichi Branch Chief Sakakibara Sensei.
While in Japan, Homma Kancho attended another celebration, one that was held
in his honor. The celebration was organized by graduate uchideshi students of Enshin
Karate US Headquarters in Denver, Colorado under Kancho Joko Ninomiya. These former uchideshi
have gone on to become instructors themselves and traveled from many parts of Japan to
honor Homma Kancho for his 60th Year Kanreiki Iwai birthday
celebration. It is customary in Japan for a special celebration to be held to honor someone’s
60th year and this occasion was no exception. Homma Kancho and Ninomiya Kancho have been
good friends in Denver for decades and Homma Kancho has always taken special care of
Enshin uchideshi students. It was a grand reunion at a local Japanese style ryokan (inn)
that Homma Kancho and all enjoyed immensely.
PHOTO 78E LARGE 6266 Former Enshin Karate Headquarters, Denver, Colorado USA graduate uchideshi.
Chrys Yutaka Kikuchi
Nippon Kan Japan Branch Coordinator
Oct 4th, 2009
Nori enjoys a homeless meal at the Denver Rescue Mission
Introduced by Kobayashi dojo in Japan, Norihiro Hayashi finished a full three month term before returning back to Japan. His next plans include either going to college or working to save enough money to travel the world. Congratulations on completing your uchideshi term Nori, you are always welcome at Nippon Kan as an alumni!
Oct 10th, 2009
Center; Ava with Monday night class
Ava Yancha completed her second three-month semester on Oct 10th and returned to Mindanao Philippines. Ava is AHAN Mindanaou Coordinator and is currently teaching Aikido in Mindanao. She is also involved in a number of AHAN projects with her local community. The reports we are currently receiving from Mindanao is that she is currently working, teaching and developing Aikido and AHAN in Mindanao on a daily basis.
Shoveling snow in the garden. Left: Rob, Right: Rick sempai.
Robert first arrived in Denver from Arizona in September so his first impression of life in Denver was it was a little cold. We had a rare blizzard in October that really surprised this newest uchideshi. Robert has now completed his first 3 month term and has taken on the challenge for his second term.
Homma Kancho with a tan, rests in the barracks in Nepal.
After he finished writing his new article “From the Homeless Shelter”, Homma Kancho sighed and said “Aikido is truly nothing, (nani mo nai or no-thing) ”…
Homma Kanchos travels all over the world, especially to under-developed and dangerous areas. No matter where, if he is asked to come to practice Aikido, he goes.
I have noticed that the more he travels, the less he seems to focus on structured Aikido practice in our world. As a young man, Homma Kancho practiced very hard, but as he travels through more and more years of training and experience, his focus seems to have graduated to a different level. Sometimes these days when he travels he does not even take his keiko gi, and even when he is in uniform and teaching, he seems to be always thinking; working on understanding the true reality of Aikido and life. “To practice true Aikido”, I have heard him say, “one does not need to wear a keiko gi or hold a bokken. Defining Aikido by uniformed practice or the use of weapons is not where the true answers lie.”
In 2009, Homma Kancho traveled over 6 months of the year, and in 2010, his projected travel schedule is so busy it is difficult to organize. All of our Nippon Kan staff here at Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver and all of our friends abroad wish Homma Kancho continued good health and success in his pursuits of understanding in the coming year.
http://www.nippon-kan.org/home/sketch_diary.html (Sketch Diary)
http://www.nippon-kan.org/uchideshi/uchideshi.html (Uchideshi program)