January-April Activity Report

AHAN Nippon Kan International Seminar Report

Homma Kancho Teaches in Nepal

Feb 26th-March 4th, 2009

Training Seminar for the Nepal Army Rangers

Nippon Kan

The Rangers are always ready and standing by.

 

Homma Kancho instructed a special spring training seminar for the Nepal Army Rangers this past Feb 26th-March 4th that concentrated on the teaching of original Aikido Nippon Kan NSDT (Nippon Kan Self Defense Techniques). There were over 500 Army Ranger Special Forces in attendance, and training was held outside for six hours each day. Aikido Nippon Kan philosophy of “maximum power, minimum damage” was emphasized in this military training to be used for crowd or riot control. Nippon Kan NSDT techniques are also practiced in other countries by police and special forces.

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Nippon Kan

 Homma Kancho and I-kam Yoon Sensei welcomed by 400 soldiers and given a Hindu blessing.

 

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On top of a military truck with young soldiers; on their way to the practice location.


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 Homma Kancho from Nippon Kan General Headquarters teaching the Nepal Army Rangers.

 

Nepal Army Aikido (NAA), instructed by Mr. Rajesh Bista and assisted by Sgt. Dhan Gurung is an internal Aikido organization for Army Ranger Special Forces and Nepal Military Police; it is not geared toward civilians. Bista Sensei instructs all of the military and police Aikido courses and also teaches civilian Aikido classes with Pramod Adhikari of Nepal Aikido. Bista Sensei is small in stature but not in energy or skill as he works tirelessly to promote Aikido in Nepal. As a former Kyokushin Karate instructor and champion fighter, Bista Sensei is very strong and powerful.

It was about five years ago that Bista Sensei decided to choose a new path in his personal training, and was the first to contact Nippon Kan and Homma Kancho. Homma Kancho first visited Nepal and Rajesh alone in 2005. In 2006, Homma Kancho led a tour of 15 students to Nepal for the first Aikido seminar held in Nepal. This was the beginning of what has become a rapidly developing Aikido program in the country of Nepal for both military and civilian students. In subsequent years Homma Kancho and assistant intern instructor staff have made many trips to Nepal to assist in the development of these programs.

Nippon Kan

NAA Instructor and Coordinator Staff. from left: Mr. Adhikari, Bista Sensei. from right: Sgt Dhan Gurung, Yoon sensei In front; Homma Kancho.


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NAA Instructor Sgt. Dhan Gurung, and Homma Kancho

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Mariusz, Nippon Kan instructor flew in from Ireland to serve as assistant

 


Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan, Founder of Kobayashi Dojo in Japan had planned to attend this event in Nepal with Homma Kancho but his plans were changed at the last minute. Kobayashi Shihan and his son Hiroaki both recommended and gave official permission for Ikam Yoon Sensei to accompany Homma Kancho to Nepal as their representative. I-kam Yoon Sensei was an uchideshi to Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan and is currently Founder and Chief Instructor of the Korean Aikido Federation.

Nippon Kan graduate uchideshi and intern assistant instructor, Mariusz Ferenc, also flew in from Dublin, Ireland to assist Homma Kancho. Mariusz has completed three terms as an uchideshi at Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver and also served as an intern instructor in Nepal and the Philippines. Soon, Mariusz is planning to open Nippon Kan Aikido in Dublin.

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Homma Kancho and I-kam Yoon Sensei on the training field with security soldiers.


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Special Aikido training for elite soldiers.


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Sgt. Gurung demonstrates multiple attack techniques.

 

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Nippon Kan
 
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Nippon Kan

 NSDT techniques with a real life application.


For military security reasons we cannot provide too much detailed information on the Nepalese Army Ranger commanders in attendance, but we have provided a short video of a NAA (Nepal Army Aikido) demonstration performed at the Army Ranger commemoration ceremonies held shortly before Homma Kancho and party arrived on this trip.

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View a short Nepal Army Ranger Aikieo demonstration video.


Nippon Kan

Homma Kancho checking out the indoor practice space for mat donation.


AHAN General Headquarters donated 150 mats for indoor NAA (Nepal Army Aikido) practice during the rainy season when practice cannot be held outside.
LINK HERE TO ARTICLE AND PHOTOS OF THE 2008 NIPPON KAN NEPAL ARMY RANGER SEMINAR

Written by Sgt. Dhan Gurung
NAA Assistant Instructor

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Nepal Aikido Association Annual Seminar

Nippon Kan

First day seminar attendants.


Over 200 people attended this annual spring seminar conducted by Homma Kancho at the Nepal Multiple Martial Art Center. A unique mixture of Nepalese regular army soldiers, Nepal armed police, civilians and students made up the attending student body. The seminar was held for three days, and the group was divided into two levels of experience.

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200 seminar attendants.


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Beginning military police students.


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Sightseeing at historical sites; Homma Kancho and Yoon Sensei.


Yoon Sensei and Homma Kancho traded off teaching groups. It was a ground breaking seminar in the sense that young people from all walks of civilian and military life joined together for this event. It was a tremendous opportunity for communication through the common focus of Aikido. All of us extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for Homma Kancho and Yoon Sensei’s tireless efforts.

Written by Pramod Adhikari
NAA Coordinator

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AHAN Excursion to the Pokhara district of Nepal

Nippon Kan

Innocent practice touches the heart


After the seminar events in Kathmandu were complete, Homma Kancho and Yoon Sensei accompanied by me (Bishu Kanta) as guide, set out for the resort town of Pokhara, 240 kilometers west of Kathmandu.

Martial arts are very popular in Pokhara and in the early morning hours, students gather around the sports center, some practicing inside, some outside, but everyone serious in their practice of the martial arts. I took Homma Kancho to see our morning practice, and he was very impressed to see such a large and developed practice in such an under-developed rural area of Nepal. Homma Kancho commented on the positive value of martial art education for the young people in this area.

Homma Kancho and Yoon Sensei also went to visit an English NGO that has been operating an orphanage and boarding school in Pokhara for the last eleven years. At the time of this visit there were 46 students and 8 teachers at the facility. Homma Kancho commented that he was thinking of starting AHAN’s own live-in facility in Asia focusing on youth leadership training and development.

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With Pokhara Kyokushin Karate students.

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Future fighters of Pokhara.

 


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Many different martial arts practice together in the early morning hours.


After the visit to the orphanage, we traveled 40 kilometers west, deep into the mountains to my hometown of Jaisidanada and then onward another 20 kilometers to the village of Walling.

It is here that I have invested in building a large sports hall and dojo for the practice of Kyokushin Karate. Students come from many of the surrounding villages in the area to practice, and now a school has also been built for these students as well.

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From Kanta Sensei’s house high a top the mountain; the dojo down below.


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It takes 1 hour to climb down and 2 hours to climb up.
Kanta Sensei used to walk this path to practice every day.


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Kanta Sensei’s original home is 200 years old. Photo with grandmother.

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In the kitchen.

 


This area is well acquainted with Mao terrorists, and there have been many attacks in this area. In the past few years, over 15,000 Maoists and Nepalese soldiers have died in territory skirmishes here.

Homma Kancho spoke on this tour, “For Kyokushin Karate to invest such great amounts of time and resources to teach the young people in this remote area is a wonderful endeavor. Right now, Kyokushin Karate is being taught in 15 local schools and has 6 local branch dojos. It is impressive that Kyokushin Karate has been in this area for 27 years and it is a marvel to see Bishnu Kanto Sensei’s 50 meter x 25 meter concrete block dojo out here in this area.”

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Kanta Sensei helped in the funding to build this new dojo.

 

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Kanta Sensei’s old dojo.

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Kanta Sensei and local instructor inside the new dojo.

 


After watching students practice hard in this remote dojo, Homma Kancho said, “I have visited many countries and most everywhere I travel you can find Kyokushin Karate. I have often wondered why it is so prevalent in the most remote of areas, and have been interested in learning about the life and philosophy of the Founder of Kyoukushin Karate, Masutatsu Oyama Sosai. I want to know what he found valuable in his own life. His teaching has spread beyond country borders and language barriers and succeeded in all kinds of economic, cultural and political conditions. He has given the people in all of these regions a unifying hope and a dream. I have seen with my own eyes the social discipline, patience, respect and camaraderie instilled in the students here. This alone has made it a very valuable trip for me.
Through my travels, I have also seen martial arts used to support gang violence and even private armies. East Timor is a good example of this and is the opposite of what I am seeing here.

Read Homma Kancho's Bujutsu Fighting Gangs in East Timor I

Read Homma Kancho's Bujutsu Fighting Gangs in East Timor II

The practice here and the practice in East Timor cover both ends of the spectrum, and both seem to support my theory that “Human beings make the martial arts; the martial arts do not make human beings”.

The best example of the positive effects of martial art training are evident here in the Pokhara area and I have the highest respect for Bishnu Kanta Sensei for his years of tireless efforts and great skill. Thank you very much for being a wonderful guide to myself and Yoon Sensei.”

Written by
Bishnu Kanta Aryal Sensei
Kyokushin Karate

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Homma Kancho Teaches in La Paz, Bolivia

April 5th-12th, 2009

Nippon Kan


The elevation of the international airport outside the city of La Paz, Bolivia is 4000 meters above sea level. It is considered good manners to greet passengers visiting from lower elevations with a warm smile and an oxygen tank. Even as you leave the plane you can feel the lack of oxygen in the air. As AHAN Nippon Kan Bolivia coordinator, I, Arturo Kawai Alvarez brought a tank of oxygen with me to meet Homma Kancho’s plane, but Homma Kancho…

Nippon Kan

Discussion with students.

 

Nippon Kan General Headquarter uchideshi graduate Arturo Alvarez Kawai returned to his law practice in La Paz, Bolivia after graduating from Nippon Kan’s uchideshi program in Denver last year. Currently he practices Aikido with fellow lawyers in La Paz as he pursues his busy career.

ARTUROS REPORT:

A Short Recount of Homma Kancho’s Visit to Bolivia
Nippon Kan

At Lake Titikaka; me, Homma Kancho, my friend Carlos.


One of the very first things one notices while being an uchideshi at Nippon Kan, is how often Homma Kancho travels around the globe and for how long. In the short three months I spent in the dojo, Sensei has been in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos, Japan, Egypt, Iran, and maybe even other countries I could be missing right now. Knowing that Homma Kancho had reached almost every single corner of the world, I set the goal to convince him to visit my homeland: Bolivia.

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From the airport, a beautiful view of La Paz below.

 

After a short exchange of e-mails, Homma Kancho arrived in La Paz on Monday April 6th. Most people do feel the effects of being at 3,700 meters above sea level (around 11,800 feet) as soon as they land, even when coming from other cities as high as Denver, which lies at less than half of La Paz’ actual altitude. Taking that into consideration, I took an oxygen tank to the airport, just as a precaution. To my surprise, Sensei found the idea amusing rather than necessary. Not only didn’t he need any assistance, but also felt pretty well during that first day. So much so, that he immediately asked what the schedule for the day was. Truth to be told, I had saved that day for rest and recovery, which most tourist need, but upon Sensei’s insistence had to push up the activities planned for the next day, leaving a big loop in the original schedule.

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Central square.


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Homma Kancho did not need oxygen!


During the next few days, Sensei visited downtown La Paz, had a very short meeting with members of the Japanese community that remains in the city, and taught a couple of special Aikido classes to a very small group of Aikidokas that could be found short before his arrival.

On Wednesday, Homma Kancho visited the ruins of Tiwanaku, an ancient civilization that predated the Incas and of whom little is currently known. The ruins are nevertheless impressive and provide an interesting experience.

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Visiting an archeological site with Homma Kancho, 3870 meters high.


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Nippon Kan

 Practice at Kokyu-ho dojo.


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Kokyuho dojo and Kondori Sensei.

 

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Tea time for Hommma Kancho and Kokyu-ho dojo students.


Thursday April 9th was a very special day in the Catholic Calendar: It was a day before Good Friday, marking the beginning of Easter. That’s why for that day we scheduled a visit to Copacabana, the most important center of pilgrimage in Bolivia, right by the shores of Lake Titikaka.

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Lake Titikaka


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Nippon Kan

 The annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Copacabana.


The Basilica of Copacabana is home to the Virgin of Copacabana, a figure that represents Saint Mary but that is also confused in the Bolivian mixed culture with the Pachamama, the Aymaran Goddess of Earth and Fertility. We though Sensei would appreciate the opportunity to witness the faith displayed by Bolivians on this particular date, especially since many show opposites faiths to the same symbol.
Of course, being by Lake Titikaka, the highest navigable lake in the world, we couldn’t limit the visit to the Basilica: We took Homma Kancho to the “Isla del Sol” (Island of the Sun), an island where centuries earlier an ancient Incan temple lodged priests of the highest order. Sensei surprised us once again on the island, when he climbed over 400 steps to the top of it without any assistance and almost no rest, a remarkable feat considering that the lake lies at around 3,800 above sea level (aprox. 12,460 feet).

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Homma Kancho with a spring in his step has no problem climbing in the altitude!


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A view of the Andes Mountains looming above.


Homma Kancho spent little less than a week in La Paz, which is unfortunately too short a time to know the many faces of the city, not to mention Bolivia as a country. Not only do I hope Sensei enjoyed his visit, but it is my sincere wish that he will be back some day to learn more about Bolivia and its people, especially those Aikidokas who will appreciate having a chance to learn from one of the few surviving masters of the art.

As AHAN Nippon Kan Bolivia Coordinator, I want to thank Homma Kancho for this visit. I will try my best to serve as AHAN representative for my country.

Arturo Alvarez Kawaii Esq.
AHAN Nippon Kan Bolivia Coordinator

This report was translated into Japanese for the Japan website by Hiro Yagi.

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AHAN Nippon Kan Guatemala Seminar

February 13-15, 2009

Nippon Kan

With the children at the Guardalaria Virgin del Camino Center in Guatemala City.


Aikidoka in the capital city of Guatemala City came together last year to form AHAN Nippon Kan Guatemala. This February, Homma Kancho visited for the first time and taught at a six hour practice held at the Escuela Central Aikido, coordinated by Pablo Buentafe.

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Scott Olson, General Headquarter Instructor, Father Fransisco. Pablo, Homma Kancho.


Homma Kancho was accompanied on this visit by AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters Latin America Coordinator, Scott Olson Sensei who has been to Guatemala on previous occasions to work with this new but enthusiastic group of Guatemala students. In Scott Sensei’s younger days, he worked in the mountains of Guatemala as a volunteer carpenter, building need new schools for local communities in need. He speaks fluent Spanish and has a great understanding of Latin cultures.

Proceeds from the seminar were donated to the Guardalaria Virgin del Camino Day Care Center for underprivileged working mothers. This organization helps young mothers with free day care and meals for children 3 to 7 years old, so that they might work to help support their families.

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AHAN Guatemala, Escuuela Central Aikido students.


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Practice


One of the goals of these AHAN fundraising seminars is to raise the most funds possible for donation to local community charities. To this end, it is always Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan Instructor Staffs strict policy to not accept teaching fees, or spend precious seminar resources on fancy dinners, accommodations or entertainment for instructors or organizers. On this trip, Homma Kancho and Olson Sensei actually stayed in a working monastery run by Father Francisco who welcomed them with wonderful yet modest hospitality.

After the seminar Homma Kancho was shown a few sites of Guatemala with a trip to La Antigua, the old capital city’ to experience the culture and natural beauty of Guatemala.

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Father Francisco and Homma Kancho.


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A visit to La Antigua.


We thank Homma Kancho and Olson Sensei for the visit to our country.

Written by
Pablo Buentafe
Escuela Central Aikido
AHAN Nippon Kan Guatemala Coordinator

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AHAN Nippon Kan International Activity Report

AHAN Nippon Kan Myanmar Begins

March 10th-14th, 2009

Nippon Kan

Looking at the globe; where is Myanmar?


Earlier plans to visit Myanmar were finally realized this past March with Homma Kancho’s exploratory tour. This visit was a surprise visit by design, and Homma Kancho went alone and unannounced. Homma Kancho was interested in learning about humanitarian organizations at work in Myanmar for possible ways AHAN might be able to contribute that are within our means.

After visiting several organizations, Homma Kancho chose the Yadanapon Yeiknyein Orphanage founded by U Margainda. This orphanage cares for about 60 young people, many who have become Buddhist monks in training from a very early age. As a preliminary project, AHAN has pledged to donate 250 kilos of rice per month for the next two years.

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With children from the Yeiknyein Orphanage.


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Nippon Kan

 Nap time for the children.


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A beaming smile is always a good measure of living conditions.

 

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Nippon Kan

 Kids drawing wonderful pictures!


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 Homma Kancho and I (Nilar) negotiating for rice.


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Checking the quality of the rice.

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The delivery truck was a taxi.

 
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Nippon Kan

  Children unload the rice at the temple orphanage.

 

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The rice delivered


Homma Kancho visited more than just orphanages, and spent a great deal of time learning about the life of the common people of Myanmar. From sunrise to sunset Homma Kancho walked the local markets, temples and gathering spots of the people of Yangon.

My name is Nilar Than, and I am an officially licensed tour guide, interpreter and travel coordinator. I have guided many Japanese people visiting Yangon, but I have never had a client with an itinerary like Homma Kancho. Our daily schedule was very busy yet Homma Kancho managed time to visit Myanmar Aikido in Yangon, instructed by U Mya Sein Sensei twice and practiced together for two evenings of classes with Myanmar Aikido students. Sein Sensei practiced in Japan long ago and had actually met Homma Kancho in Japan.

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From Sein Sensei’s dojo, you can see golden pagodas light the sky from the windows.


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Homma Kancho and Sein Sensei.


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Nippon Kan

 Sein Sensei’s dojo students.


I am a graduate of the World Buddhist Meditation Institute Japanese Language School which is run with donations from many NGO organization in Japan and other countries outside of Myanmar. I look forward to my new position as AHAN Nippon Kan Myanmar Coordinator and will try my best to help with the development of new AHAN projects in my country.

Here are photos and receipts for the April and May rice deliveries to the Yadanapon Yeiknyein Orphanage.

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Receipt-click to enlarge

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April rice delivery

 


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Receipt - click to enlarge

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May rice delivery

 

 

LINK HERE to see the drawings of the children of Yangon.

Myanmar Photo Album

Tural Learning Center and Monastic Education Schoolnite

Over 1,300 children have been taken care of here at the Kalaywa Tawyakyaung scrip-Tural Learning Center and Monastic Education Schoolnite.

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Young monks prepare for next day college exams.


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Beginning at a very young age, this young monk is now 18. These are all of his possessions.

 

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Nippon Kan

Living quarters of young monks in training.


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This young monk studies hard and with a nice smile!

 

World Buddhist Meditation Institute

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Graduate Ms. Nilar standing in front of the Institute.


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The children of Myamar study well.


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Holding a dictionary, this young monk teaches himself English.


Downtown Yangon

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A large church and billboard-influences from the West.


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Nippon Kan

 The new and the old strike a good balance in Yangon.


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Nippon Kan

 The temples are a place to rest and relax.


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Homma Kancho standing in front of sleeping Buddha; Nehan-Butsu.


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Nippon Kan

 The origin of the Fudomiyo temple gate guards common in Japan.


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Nippon Kan

 The Myanmar people are an innocent and religious people.


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Nippon Kan

 Child monks begging for alms.


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Homma Kancho in the wholesale markets.


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Nippon Kan

 From a quick meal from a street vendor to traditional fine dining,
Homma Kancho can eat just about anything.


Written by
Nilar Than
AHAN Nippon Kan Myanmar Coordinator

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Homma Kancho Visits Mindanao Island, Philippines; Illigan City, Malawi Village

February 20th-25th, 2009

Nippon Kan

Mats donated to the Mindanao State University Illigan Institute of Technology (MSU IIT)


Homma Kancho visited Aikidoka in two cities on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. At the end of last year, this area of Mindanao was a hot-bed of local terrorist activity which interrupted normal life in a number of ways. There was a high risk of kidnapping, and as a precaution, even the AHAN Nippon Kan Mindanao staff were not notified of Homma Kancho’s visit until a few hours before his arrival. A large, public seminar was not advisable under these conditions, and Homma Kancho taught instead, a number of small practices held in private party halls.

The purpose of this visit was to support AHAN Nippon Kan Mindanao coordinator Ava Yancha in her efforts to build a new permanent dojo. Meetings were held during this visit to discuss timing and other details to move forward with these plans. Ava used to have her own dojo, but with all of the political unrest and terrorist activities, her dojo was forced to be abandoned. Other stops on this trip included teaching Aikido in Malawi- a Muslim area outside of Illigan City, and a visit to a refuge facility for abused children in Illigan City to drop off donations of food, hygiene product and school supplies.

It was concluded at the new dojo building meetings, that it would be better to wait until the political environment in the area had stabilized to pursue further development. It was decided that for now it was better to concentrate on developing a strong student base using an existing facility at the MSU IIT University. This practice program was in dire need of new mats, so Homma Kancho arranged for the donation and delivery of 70 new mats for student practice.

Nippon Kan

Homma Kancho and Cihan at Nippon Kan Headquarters

 

The funds for these mats were donated to AHAN by Nippon Kan General Headquarter graduate uchideshi, Cihan Karaogluol from Turkey. Cihan donated these funds to AHAN last year as part of his Ramadan traditional donations. This donation was used to purchase these new mats for students in Illigan City. The children in Malawi drew wonderful pictures for Homma Kancho which can be viewed by linking HERE.

Written by
Nippon Kan General Headquarter Office Staff

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AVA’S REPORT

Nippon Kan

Under very hard conditions, students struggle to practice without their own dojo.


Homma Kancho’s visit this time was a surprise. We were notified only a few hours before his arrival that he was coming and we were instructed not to tell anyone he was on his way. It was only I and Juan that traveled to Cagayan de Oro this time to pick up Homma Kancho at the airport.

Homma Kancho arrived dressed in his usual inconspicuous white t-shirt and khaki pants. Same as usual, Homma Kancho is always one to blend in with the locals. Actually he usually carries a few white t-shirts in his day pack and changes them like handkerchiefs in the hot sun of Mindanao.

Nippon Kan

At the police academy; Ava, Cadet Saidamen, Homma Kancho


Our first stop on this marathon of a visit was to see Saidamen, one of my Aikido students from Malawi. Saidamen joined the police academy last year and to show his support, Homma Kancho asked to go to the academy to visit him. Saidamen already has an engineering degree from the university but with no work available in the area, Saidamen decided to join the police academy to qualify for a vocation that could help him support his family.

Saidamen’s hair was cut short, and from all of the serious training, his body was strong and lean. “He looks good” Homma Kancho commented as the two checked each other over. Homma Kancho had not seen Saidamen in about a year. There are many anti-government rebels living in Saidamen’s home village, many who were reportedly involved in the terrorist activities in recent months in Illigan City and surrounding areas.

Last year during the worst of the attacks, I too left my home and everything I owned behind and fled to Cagayan de Oro. I still have not returned to Illigan City and am living in a small village outside of town.

Saidamen will graduate in three more months, and by the look on his face, he was thrilled to see Homma Kancho again. The police academy was about a three hour drive from Illigan, but when we returned, Homma Kancho went directly to teach Aikido practice.

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Ava’s make-shift shelter; still on the run…

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Even on the run, Ava made sure to take her AHAN Mindanao dojo sign and a statue of Maria. Never forget what’s important!

 


The following day Homma Kancho and I traveled to Malawi Village to re-visit Saidamen’s father-in-law’s home, which also houses the local dojo in town. Saidamen’s father-in-law had been injured in an ambush, and since there are no nearby medical facilities in the area, he was home. Homma Kancho was concerned about him and went to check his condition. In this area, skirmishes and ambushes between the military and anti-government Muslim factions are still common…and deadly.

Our philosophy at AHAN Mindanao is the same as Homma Kancho’s. We are a humanitarian organization and open to people of all sides. As a martial artist, Homma Kancho has gained a great deal of respect in this area with the Muslim people. Homma Kancho has said, “I am not a politician or a priest. My job is to make dust by hitting the mat every day; I am just a simple martial artist.” Even the Moro-Islamic groups of Malawi laugh at this joke, for they know he speaks the truth.

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Homma Kancho tends to a wounded Moro-Islamic leader.


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A toast with young Muslim leaders.


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Innocent children unaware of the politics and fighting around them, delight in drawing.


Homma Kancho looked at Saidamen’s father-in-law’s wounds and brought him his own medicine for little comfort and aid. Homma Kancho also gave the children of the village presents of crayons, paper and other school supplies. He asked the children to draw him pictures and was intrigued by the pictures the children of Malawi drew for him spontaneously. These children, who live in a war-torn region lacking in most of the human comforts we take for granted, drew pictures of cute houses, rainbows, birds and happy families. So content and innocent were their drawings and so inconsistent with the realities of life in their village.

LINK HERE to What Can We Learn From these Pictures?

We returned from our visit to Malawi and Homma Kancho taught practice the following day again in Illigan City. After practice members of AHAN Mindanao delivered rice and other foods, hygiene and school supplies to a shelter for abused children.

Homma Kancho was only here for four days, and even though every day the schedule was packed with activities, Homma Kancho still insisted on teaching three Aikido classes to the eager students here. Homma Kancho saw some of the casualties of the political troubles in Illigan City and brought comfort and hope to everyone he visited. Homma Kancho told me on our drive back to Cagayan de Oro, “In the instability that has resulted from the violence and unrest here, many people have kept a candle of hope lit through their practice of Aikido. This is both touching and impressive. In the strife and struggles that you all are experiencing now are the seeds of future peace. Keep your practice of Aikido alive now in these conditions and you will be strong when better days finally come.”

Homma Kancho left us with thoughts and plans for our future dojo. We visited a proposed building site and went over architectural drawings he had brought with him with Saidamen. When the time comes, Saidamen, with his background in engineering will be able to help us build our new dojo.

To help our students practice now, Homma Kancho arranged for the delivery of 70 badly needed new mats for our practice. He told us that the funds for these mats were donated to AHAN by Nippon Kan General Headquarter graduate uchideshi, Cihan Karaogluol from Turkey. Cihan donated these funds to AHAN last year as part of his Ramadan traditional donations. Homma Kancho also bought 10 used computers that will be used here for future AHAN activities in the Illigan area.

Nippon Kan

Buying dried fish.

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Buying rice.

 

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AHAN Mindanao Staff buying food and other supplies.

 

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Delivering supplies to the shelter facility.


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AHAN staff passes out supplies to the children.


We will not forget the gifts from AHAN or the teaching that Homma Kancho brought to us on this trip. I thank God for all of his efforts and the efforts of AHAN.

Note: I would like to give more detail about the political situation in Illigan City and the personal risks Homma Kancho took by coming to visit with us here, but I cannot for our own personal safety reasons. Thank you Homma Kancho for coming to visit us.

Written by
Ava Yancha
AHAN Nippon Kan Mindanao Coordinator

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Homma Kancho’s Annual Visit to Bangladesh

March 5th-March 8th, 2009

Nippon Kan

Dharmarajika Orphanage; Homma Kancho joins the line for lunch.


After leaving Nepal, Homma Kancho took a quick trip to Bangladesh to check on ongoing AHAN projects there. Currently AHAN supports two orphanages in Dhaka with one ton of rice per month, computers and other building, medical and school supplies. On this trip, Homma Kancho was also interested in researching a facility he had heard of west of the capital city of Dhaka.

The first morning, Homma Kancho and I (Maji) arranged for the March delivery of ½ ton of rice to the Dharmarajika Buddhist Temple and Orphanage for boys. After the rice had been delivered and stored, we joined all of the children for lunch. Serving close to 500 boys at one sitting is quite the undertaking, especially considering the available kitchen facilities. All of the boys were happy to be fed however and seemed to enjoy the new guest in their midst.

In the afternoon we went to the Madrasa Muslim Mosque Orphanage for girls with the second ½ ton of rice delivery for the day. Homma Kancho checked carefully on the progress of the ongoing constructor of a new school house. The last of the four floors was being erected and they were in need of cement, bricks, window frame, tile and other construction materials. Homma Kancho made arrangements to donate the needed supplies and delivery arrangements were made for the next day.

The teachers at the orphanage had been busy on a project that made Homma Kancho very surprised and happy! When we first came to the orphanage a year ago, you had to cross over a rickety hand-made bridge that stretched over a swamp area filled with trash. To Homma Kancho’s surprise, part of the swamp area had been filled in and vegetable gardens had been planted on both sides of the approaching path. This garden, beginning to grow before our eyes were planted with seeds that Homma Kancho donated last year.

With a few hours left in the day, Homma Kancho wanted to go to the rice merchant area of the local markets to compare shop owner prices. He carefully checked the prices and quality of the rice from each merchant; finally deciding to stay with the same merchant we had purchased rice from last year. Last year’s merchant still had the best prices, and his reputation of reliability remained untarnished. For all of last year, his rice was delivered in full and on time.

NEGOTIATING
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Serious price negotiations.

 

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Merchant employee lifting a 100 kilo sack of rice easily to the top of his head!

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Carrying ten, 100 kilo sacks of rice for one hundred meters to the truck!

 


MADRASA MUSLIM GIRLS ORPHANAGE

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New gardens bloom with seeds from Homma Kancho.


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Three years ago this garden was a trash filled land fill.


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Delivering the rice.

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In the kitchen

 

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Finish school building almost done. Meeting to discuss needed supplies

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Construction site for school building

 
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 Everybody; ready…set…GO!


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This gentleman cooks the meals for 300 girls twice a day all by himself.


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Cement

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Metal

 

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Plastic

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Bricks

 Delivery of school building materials. Photos sent by Maji, AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator

 

DHARMARAJIKA ORPHANAGE
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Merchant employee still going strong; delivering rice at the boy’s orphanage.

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Rice storage room at the boy’s orphanage.

 
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Orphanage kitchen staff.


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The boys rush in for lunch!

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Big appetites!

 
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Lined up waiting for lunch.

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Curry is the main dish most days.

 
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Homma Kancho eats lunch together with the boys.


Our work being completed in Dhaka, we climbed on a bus for a five hour bus ride to the city of Chiitagong. To say this ride was restful would not be quite accurate. After reaching Chiitagong, our next destination was another 130 kilometers south to a remote village near the Myanmar/Bangladesh border that housed a facility we were interested in seeing. While Bangladesh is currently primarily Muslim, Myanmar is a predominately Buddhist country with small Islamic communities as minorities. These Islamic communities are at times persecuted and under the current Myanmar government rule, are not eligible for official citizenship. Sometimes harassed and mainly country-less, groups of these Islamic people of Myanmar migrate frequently to Bangladesh; living sporadically on both sides of the border. Neither country welcomes these people for reasons of their own, making survival tenuous and living extremely difficult for this community. The facility we had heard about offered meager assistance to orphaned and handicapped girls from these roving Islamic communities. Known for violent kidnappings, thefts and even murders of foreign nationals, special permission from the Bangladesh government is needed to enter nearby areas.

No taxi driver in Chiitagong wanted to take us to this dangerous area. After asking many drivers we finally found a driver willing to take us to there and negotiated for the ride there…and back, up front!

Nippon Kan

Homma Kancho keeps a low profile by hiding his face in scarf.

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The long ride down a bumpy road.

 

Homma Kancho wore a headscarf that covered his face as we set out on the last leg of the journey to our destination deep into Bangladesh countryside. Having had bad experiences before in other countries, Homma Kancho feared that if his visit was announced and the time schedule set precisely that we might be met with a staged presentation of facility activities. The original plans for this visit had been cancelled, and we set out on our own and unannounced. The purpose of this unannounced visit was to fairly assess the facility for possible future AHAN support. Homma Kancho was sorry for canceling the plans made by facility organizers, but this was done for fairness and for safety. It could be very dangerous to follow a prearranged set schedule in such a volatile region.

When we arrived, we found that our suspicions and precautions had been well founded. This facility is associated with a Japanese NGO, but we were not able to confirm there was any activity at this location. For security reasons I cannot go into detail, but as it turned out, the facility we visited seemed more like a façade for soliciting donations than a true humanitarian facility. We returned quickly to Chiitagong, leaving that dangerous area behind us.

I caution people to be careful about supporting facilities that operate in areas where foreigners are not even allowed to go. Even with the best of humanitarian intentions, it is important to confirm and be able to monitor donation allocations personally before supporting any humanitarian organization. Beware especially of internet appeals for donations. Many cyberspace solicitations are extremely difficult to authenticate and monitor. If you are not able to visit personally organizations that you would like to support, I suggest you select organizations with a long track record such as the Red Cross for example.

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A rusted sign was the only
evidence of activity.

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Scattered refugees living in tents
along the road.

 


My country of Bangladesh receives aid from many countries and my people are very thankful. There are many good organizations to support here in Bangladesh, but there are also bad ones. As AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator I agree with AHAN General Headquarter policy in its thorough, hands-on investigative approach toward project support.

LINK HERE to What Can We Learn From these Pictures?

Homma Kancho’s visit this time to Bangladesh was very short and extremely busy. We were able to accomplish many things in such a very short time. Thank you very much as always.

Written by
Maji Sarkar
AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator

Read more articles on Bangladesh

AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarter Domestic Activity Report

AHAN Nippon Kan’s Meal Service for the Homeless Continues

Nippon Kan

19 years; preparing for the homeless meal after morning practice.

Same as usual. AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters Homeless Meal Service project continues into its 19th consecutive year. We are proud of the fact that with all of the support from staff and volunteers, we have been able to continue this service for so many years.

For the first 5 or 6 years after I began this project, I was accused by the Japanese community of trying to make a good name for myself. This was disappointing at the time, but now after almost two decades of service to the homeless, the Japanese Consul General, other consuls and their families, the Japanese Denver Business Association, the Denver City Council, Mayor’s and Governor’s office have come to understand the true purpose of this mission. Nippon Kan is proud of the recognition we have received from the Denver community and around the world.

Hard times brought on by the current economic downturn in the US can be seen at the Denver Rescue Mission. The homeless population has changed. To protect individual’s privacy I can’t go into too much detail, but it seems that the people we now see in the service lines at the mission are people with a higher level of education and a lack of addictions or physical afflictions. They look like normal folk that just can’t find work or don’t want to work in jobs below their former levels. I wonder what has happened to the more severely afflicted homeless; it seems like they are losing in a competition for services with these new “jobless homeless”.

For the April monthly meal service, there were about 50 people interned in the resident-rehabilitation program. During the middle of the meal, one of the leading residents called out my name and all of the residents clapped to show their appreciation for the meal served. This was the first time in 19 years that this had ever happened.

The outside guest dinner is served after the resident dinner at 8:00 pm. There are usually 250 to 300 men and women at this dinner, all who stood in line for hours for this meal, a church service and a bed. Even the outside guests seemed to include more of the new “jobless homeless” than before.

In past years I had become accustom to a silent look or simple nod of thanks from the “outside guest homeless”. This was the standard for recognition and appreciation from these most helpless and down trodden of the Mission’s homeless guests. These homeless are now disappearing and are no longer in the majority at the Mission.

I waved back to the “jobless homeless” as they clapped in approval of the meal set before them, continuing to wonder, what had happened to those who use to give their thanks in silence.

Written by
Gaku Homma
Nippon Kan Kancho

AHAN Nippon Kan Homeless Food Service Project Report

January 18th 341 dinners served
February 15th 309 dinners served
March 15th 273 dinners served
April 19th 345 dinners served
Total since 1991 56,000 dinners served

 

Nippon Kan Public School Field Trip Program Begins for 2009

Nippon Kan

Emily Busch, Nippon Kan Vice President serves as guide for the cultural tours.


Thousands of children in the Denver school system have come to Nippon Kan for this cultural tour program, beginning way before Japan House Culture Center changed its name to Nippon Kan Culture Center.

Nippon Kan first began as Japan House Culture Center in 1978 as a Japanese culture center offering classes in tea ceremony, flower arranging, Japanese language, brush calligraphy and Aikido. All of the instructors at that time were volunteers from Japan who all lived and worked together at the foundling center. Classes were taught at night, and by day, staff traveled by invitation to Denver public schools to give on-site cultural demonstrations. These cultural demonstrations were also used as a vehicle to promote the Japanese martial art of Aikido which was relatively unknown in the area at that time.

The demonstrations were performed at no charge, so to support the volunteer programs, staff worked at night cleaning buildings with a local janitorial company. Working by night and performing demonstrations and teaching classes by day, the original Japan House volunteer staff got little in the way of rest. Right-hand man to Homma Kancho during those formative days was Yutaka Kikuchi whose talents and efforts went a long way toward the success of Japan House. It was so busy during those early days, that the stress caused Yutaka’s hair to fall out in quarter size clumps!

There were many volunteers and friends back in those days (too many to mention everyone) that helped lay the ground work for what has become Nippon Kan and many have gone on to become responsible members of the Denver professional community. Instrumental in Nippon Kan’s early development were Yumiko Asano (Japanese language teacher, currently director of the Kumon Math School in Denver) and Kumiko Shimizu (kado-flowering arranging instructor, currently senior Japanese language instructor and coordinator at Colorado University and Principal of the Denver Japanese School).

Reflecting back now, I had no idea that so many members of our staff would become so established and successful! You could see in them, then as now, the talents and dedication within. More of this story can be read in Homma Kancho’s new article “Beginning Times of Nippon Kan”

Today Nippon Kan Headquarters has its own 10,000 square foot facility that exhibits traditional Japanese architecture and artifacts in our dojo, museum, gardens and restaurant. About 3000 school children a year come to visit Nippon Kan on these Japanese cultural tours The tours include hands-on activities like origami, Aikido demonstrations, facility, museum and garden tour and a Japanese lunch provided by Domo. The cost for the tour is $10.00, $7.00 of which is donated to AHAN for use in world-wide humanitarian activities. During the tour children learn about AHAN projects here at home and all over the world especially about how their participation in the cultural tour assists in the rice donation projects for children in orphanages in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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Children watch as uchideshi demonstrate the art of Aikido.

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Homma Kancho writes all of the children’s names in kanji as a memento of the tour.

 
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Tours are sometimes for high school students too.

 

LINK HERE to a slide show of AHAN and Domo rice donation projects for spring 2009

Nippon Kan is still run by volunteers to this day, and this school field trip program is made possible by volunteer staff that take time off of work and school to run this program. This past April, we were visited by a group of students from Ellis Elementary which turned out to be a very special group of students from a very special school. Ellis Elementary is unique to Denver in that its student population of about 600 children comes from over 18 different countries. Ellis Elementary has taken on this challenge in a very positive way and encourages all of its students to learn and share in their international cultural backgrounds. This was one of our most favorite field trips this year as Ellis Elementary turned out to have very wonderful students, teachers and parents. They in turn were very excited and supportive of Nippon Kan’s cultural programs and we expect to see them again next year!

Written by
Emily Busch
AHAN International Program Director

Aikido Nippon Kan General Headquarter Dojo News

Nippon Kan Headquarters End of Year –New Year Activity Report

December 31st, 2008-January 4th, 2009

Nippon Kan

Closing the year with ippon-jime cheer!


As is our tradition, Nippon Kan ended classes for 2008 with Keiko Osame (last practice of the year) and began practice for 2009 with Keiko Hajime (first practice of the year). For the past few years, in keeping with Homma Kancho’s philosophies of AHAN, the celebrations have been kept simple.

Homma Kancho spoke of his thoughts about the New Year, “Since AHAN began, I have had the honor and opportunity to travel all over the world. I have visited many “front line” dojos and seen many things, including the life struggles of the world’s most poor. What I have learned from these experiences has changed my attitudes about ways to celebrate the milestones of life. I am not against celebrations and I encourage all of my students to celebrate themselves after attending Nippon Kan traditional ceremonies. As for myself, I have given up invitations to Christmas and New Year’s parties, cards and presents and large celebrations at Nippon Kan. I do this as my acknowledgment to all of those in the world whose misery was difficult for me to see. I give them my celebrations. This is my misogi.”

On the 31st of December, Homma Kancho celebrated the New Year’s coming with a 5 hour personal misogi ceremony to pray for the children of the world followed by rei sui (the pouring of cold water) in the garden. Only a few uchideshi were on hand to witness.

Nippon Kan

As is tradition, the New Year begins with Keiko Hajime


Written by
Emily Busch
Nippon Kan Vice President

New Staff Announcements

February 2nd, 2009

Nippon Kan

Joking around Homma Kancho; left: former President Kelly, right: new President Mirabella.


Captain Doug Kelly, Nippon Kan General Headquarters NPO President for the past 6 years retired as President this year. Captain Kelly was instrumental in the procurement and development of Nippon Kan’s current facility. With career promotions and a growing family, Doug found it was time to “pass the baton” to our new Nippon Kan General Headquarter President Michael Mirabella Esq.

Captain Kelly is an international pilot and flight instructor for United Airlines. For the past few years, his growing position and responsibilities have made it more difficult for him to participate as actively as president. Captain Kelly helped steer Nippon Kan through “take off” in our new headquarters until reaching our current “cruising altitude” and we are all grateful for his service.

With the development of AHAN’s international humanitarian programs, Mr. Mirabella, long time legal council for Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan, was chosen by Captain Kelly and staff to step into the position as new Nippon Kan President.

On February 2nd, the “changing of the guard” ceremony was performed at the February Hakama Kai meeting. Announcements were also made at this meeting of Nippon Kan hakama members, of the appointments of Noel Camp as the new Youth Program Instructor and Jim Lattanzio as new uchideshi coordinator. Many, many thanks to Thomas Dammen for your many years of service as past Nippon Kan Youth Program Instructor and James Haugen for serving as Uchideshi Coordinator.

Written by
David Geras
Nippon Kan Treasurer/Secretary

14th Annual Bowling Tournament; Nippon Kan vs. Enshin Karate

March 22nd, 2009

Nippon Kan

Homma Kancho and Ninomiya Kancho.


This year, at the 14th annual bowling tournament between Nippon Kan and Enshin Karate, Nippon Kan won. This “friendly tournament” was originally thought up by Homma Kancho as a way to celebrate the birthday of long time friend and fellow Denver martial art pioneer, Joko Ninomiya Kancho, Founder of Enshin Karate.

Unfortunately, this year’s tournament fell just two days after Homma Kancho had returned from a month long tour of Asia. Homma Kancho was quite jet-lagged from the trip and had to excuse himself from some of the festivities. This was not the reason that Nippon Kan won this year however; Homma Kancho is a pretty good bowler!

Written by
JM Wands

Enshin Karate Sabaki Fighters Stay at Nippon Kan

April 16th -19th , 2009

Nippon Kan

Sabaki Challenge fighters and coaches stay at Nippon Kan this year too.


Homma Kancho’s long time friend Joko Ninomiya Kancho is director of the World Open Sabaki Challenge Karate Tournament. The tournament was held as usual in Denver, the headquarters for Enshin Karate. 8 karate challengers and coaches came from Japan to participate in this year’s tournament and all of them stayed at Nippon Kan. The coaching staff are all former graduate uchideshi from Enshin Headquarters and were trained personally by Ninomiya Kancho. Ninomiya Kancho does not drink alcohol however, so it is rumored that Homma Kancho was in charge of this part of their Enshin uchideshi training program!

This time one female fighter joined the ranks of the entourage from Japan and won her division. Of the two male fighters, one came in second place in his division. All of the fighters and coaches love staying at Nippon Kan where the accommodations and food is always great. As is tradition, the Japanese fighters and coaches asked to stay at Nippon Kan which they say brings them good luck! And as luck would have it, this year too, the group returned to Japan with trophies! They say Homma Kancho’s Domo Restaurant food is good luck…maybe its true!

Two different Japanese martial arts; Karate and Aikido. To have such a friendship between teachers and students of these two completely different martial arts is unique. This friendship and mutual respect among students springs from the friendship and leadership of Homma Kancho and Ninomiya Kancho.

As Homma Kancho says, “The martial arts do not make human beings; human beings make the martial arts. This is a good example.

Written by
Nippon Kan Staff

Homma Kancho Visits Japan

April 27-May 2nd, 2009

Nippon Kan

At the memorial ceremony of the late Morihiro Saito Shihan. front: Morihiro Saito Shihan’s widow, behind from left: Hitohiro Saito Sensei’s wife, Amino Sensei, Homma Kancho.


I went for a quick trip to Japan this past April to attend the annual AHAN Nippon Kan Japan Branch Association meeting scheduled in Tokyo. While in Japan, I traveled to Iwama to visit Dento Iwama Ryu no Hitohiro Saito Jukucho to pay my respects at the memorial commemoration for his father, the late Morihiro Saito Shihan, Aikido 9th Dan.

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During Aiki Tai Sai, Kobayashi Dojo no Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan always pays his respects to the late Morihiro Saito Shihan, here with his son Hiroaki Kobayashi Fukudojocho.

 

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Carving a mask: Aiki Shuren Kai, Hitohiro Saito Jukucho.


Nippon Kan
Nippon Kan

 Aiki Shuren Kai uchidesh

 

That same day, the Iwama Aiki Jinja Tai Sai Grand Ceremony was being held in Iwama and many people came to attend this annual event commemorating the passing of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba. I have my own personal reservations about this ceremony. It seems to me that this very religious ceremony today is held to validate a belief that the Founder is some kind of god. In my view, this perpetuates an illusion and a myth that is confusing, misunderstood and misused in the world. I sat just across the road from the ongoing Tai Sai ceremony at the Dento Iwama Ryu dojo and reflected on my personal experiences of living with the Founder at that very same location. My memories of the Founder and the image that is projected of him in many places in the world are not the same. I will always believe that the Founder was a great human being, but he was a man, not a god.

LINK HERE to Homma Kancho’s article The Founder Morihei Ueshiba, a God?

Nippon Kan

Not clearly defined, this ceremony sends a confusing message to the world.


The Tai Sai Ceremony today seemed more of a way to try to hang onto power through bloodlines than innovation and I wondered how long this will be able to continue. The ceremony was conducted from beginning to end by Shinto priests so it is fairly apparent that this was a religious ceremony. Is Aikikai a religious organization? As I looked on I thought, “Aikikai is no longer the only Aikido organization in Japan or the world. There are many viable organizations today that are not related to Aikikai and are thriving. For Aikikai this seemed to be a desperate attempt; holding onto an image of a god-like founder; their founder, as a way to hang on to power. We will see where this path leads.

I have taught many Aikidoka that are not part of Aikikai and have always told them, “Your affiliation or ties to a large organization do not matter. It is your practice that is important and can be an important communication tool with other Aikidoka around you. Learn from each other, practice together. This is what is important.”

Nippon Kan

Shudo Maruyama Sensei and Homma Kancho in front of Shushinkan Dojo in Nagoya.


After leaving Iwama I traveled to Nagoya for one day to pay my respects to my old teacher, Kokikai Aikido Founder, Shudo Maruyama Sensei. He was one of the original Aikikai Aikido pioneers in the USA, and listening to his stories is for me a very valuable lesson in history.

Written by
Nippon Kan General Headquarters
Gaku Homma
Nippon Kan Kancho

Outstanding Supporters of Nippon Kan General Headquarters

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Scott Olson Sensei, AHAN Latin America Coordinator fixing the dojo shower.

 

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Fixing the bathroom sink, Clint Emore.

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Cleaning up dressing rooms, Mr. Dick Hayes.

 

Nippon Kan General Headquarters’ 10,000 square foot facility and grounds house the Nippon Kan dojo, Domo Restaurant, gardens, museum and boarding facility. General upkeep and maintenance is a priority and could not be accomplished with out the support of so many of our students and staff. Cleaning, plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, parking lot maintenance, auto repair and more are always part of Nippon Kan operations. We would not be able to maintain this facility without the expertise and generosity of our students and for this we are always deeply appreciative.

Written by
Nippon Kan General Headquarters President
Michael Mirabella

New Uchideshi at Nippon Kan Headquarters

Armed with 24-7 patches on their uniforms, the Nippon Kan uchideshi engage in a level of practice that is not easy. All in all, the current uchideshi are young, in good spirits and seem to enjoy their practice. With only a half day on Sundays to call their own, they have little time to rest, and this past Sunday, even their afternoon off was spent working in the Nippon Kan gardens with Homma Kancho.

Homma Kancho always rewards the extra efforts of the Nippon Kan uchideshi and after a Sunday garden project always takes them out for a big dinner. Homma Kancho learned this tradition from the late Morihiro Saito Shihan who taught him, “If uchideshi help you with a special personal project, (the Nippon Kan gardens are Homma Kancho’s responsibility and he strictly oversees all of the garden care) you must feed and take care of them well.” More uchideshi are scheduled to arrive at Nippon Kan for the summer.

Written by
Nippon Kan Staff

2009 Nippon Kan Uchideshi Profiles

Nippon Kan

Jason


Jason Austad 2nd term.

From Bismarck, North Dakota, Jason owns his own house painting business. During his business slow season earlier this year, Jason took some time off for his own personal training at Nippon Kan.

 
Rose Bernal 1st term.
Nippon Kan

Rose

From Chicago, Illinois, Rose was first a regular Nippon Kan member before becoming a new uchideshi after graduating from nursing school. After completing her uchideshi term, Rose will continue on towards her career as a registered nurse.

This Spring, Nippon Kan had two more uchideshi Canada and Australia. One was asked to leave after one week, one left after one month.

Words from Alumni Uchideshi Graduate Mariusz Ference

Reflections of My Practice at Nippon Kan

That was August 2006..,myself and the aikido group I practiced with at that time we went for seminar in Donegal, Ireland. That was where I met Gaku Homma Shihan for the first time.

I was quite new to aikido, just had it started a few months before. Despite of that I didn’t now much about the martial art when I started it I had a very strong feeling like it is something which is right for me, something I want to do, it was just something that had `common sense`. I liked the flow of it. That was  all I could say at that time…

When we went for the seminar in Donegal, I remember that there was something different about the way Gaku Homma Shihan  was teaching, I liked the way I experienced aikido that time.. That was also the first time when I heard of Uchideshi program.

Over 1 year had passed since that seminar when on 13 of September 2007 I arrived in Denver, Co with an intention to participate in Nippon-Kan Uchideshi program.
My intended stay was for 3 months. What I think I expected from the program was to improve my Aikido skills in a short period of time. What I had experienced was far beyond my expectations. What I mean by that know only people who were leading me through the program, all those who were around, and all who had decided to become  Nippon-Kan Uchideshi.

On purpose, all I would like to reveal about my first 3 months there is that there were many great days pretty well balanced with the days when I was asking myself a question `what am I doing here` looking at my bags with strong thoughts of running away..

Eventually that was a great experience which I only benefited from, in many ways. I graduated my first 3 months on 14th of December 2007. Then I went for a short break and came back to Dojo for another term.

At the beginning of March 2008, Sensei gave me the great opportunity to assist Nepal Aikido Club(currently Nepal Aikido Association) in their practice. 5 months in Kathmandu were one of the greatest experiences and moments in my life so far. When I was about to finish the project in Nepal, I was so excited  when Nippon –Kan gave me another opportunity to continue A.H.A.N project, this time in Philippines, where I was assisting instructor Ava Yancha, my current friend. Another great experience, in many ways, Despite of the situation in Mindanao Islands, I really enjoyed my stay there and I will always be grateful for all the wonderful moments to all those good hearted people I met there. Unfortunately I could stay with them for only 8 weeks. I came back to Denver at the end of September. Sensei had covered all the expenses of my great journey for 7 months which I am deeply grateful for.
I stayed in Denver in home Dojo for another month, and then decided to go back to Europe to work. A few weeks ago I had a great surprise. Sensei took me back to Nepal for a week. It is March 2009 now. Currently I try to work on my career, and thinking of A.H.A.N as a big part of my current and future life.

It has been 1.5 year since I crossed Nippon-Ken’s door for the first time. How I see, understand and believe what Aikido is for me now?  It is an `Art of living`.Aikido expands far beyond the mats. It is an art through which people join together, cooperate, help and support each other. An art through which people learn how to flow and act together. It is being said that the age of consciousness has come. Age when people start understanding that we are all one and that we are here to grow and progress together. People start awakening from the dream of  ignorance, hatred and selfishness which separate us from the whole. They start understanding that all the differences between us: cultures, religions, languages people had created by themselves, and all that now  is a result of our programming which we have been receiving since we are born.         

People start being aware of the universal harmony. They start understanding that going against another in any way, with thought, speech or physically is ultimately going against oneself. According to that Aikido as martial art , `the art of living`, perfectly suits the moment. I believe that the art of aikido is an art of living on the New Earth. It is a Queen of martial arts. 

I would like to express my deep gratitude to Sensei, Emily sensei and all Nippon-Kan, everybody who is a part of it. Thank You.

My best regards,
Mariusz Ferenc
March 16th, 2009

NOTES FROM EDITING STAFF

AHAN Nippon Kan currently has active projects and activities ongoing word-wide. We receive activity reports from coordinators from many countries, and translating, editing and organizing these reports takes time. Not only are there a lot of reports to work through, there are always the challenges of rolling blackouts, other internet service interruptions or even civil skirmishes that delay reports. Sometimes it is decided by editing staff that certain reports need to be held until news of events in certain areas cool down a bit.

Homma Kancho’s activities and reports abroad can be challenging too. Sometimes for safety reasons, Homma Kanchos visits to other countries must be unannounced. Sometime the photos or reports from these visits are held for privacy or security reasons.

We thank you for your patience and understanding the time it takes to sort all of these missions and to report on them responsibly.

Spring 2009 at Nippon Kan Headquarters

Nippon Kan

Snow in the Nippon Kan garden in Denver this spring. Late snow this year caused damage to the garden however the damage brought even more new buds. We can learn a lot about life from the garden.


Just as the buds on the trees were beginning to open and the flowers were beginning to bloom, Denver was hit with a pair of back to back spring snowstorms. The storms were beautiful, but they caused a lot of damage, ultimately making spring come very late this year. This photo was taken in the middle of April in the Nippon Kan gardens. It is a beautiful scene, but can you believe its April!
That’s springtime in the Rockies for you!