2010 August-December Activity Report
National Philanthropy Day award ceremony. From left; Doug Kelly-Alumni President of Nippon Kan,
Consul Mitsui of the Japanese Consulate in Denver, Homma Kancho,
Consul General Kubo of the Japanese Consulate in Denver, Mrs. Kazuko Kubo,
George Blankenship Nippon Kan Advisor.
Homma Kancho celebrated a big milestone this year: his 60th birthday. By coincidence or design, 2010 was also a big year for Nippon Kan and Homma Kancho who received numerous awards for outstanding service to our community. Homma Kancho said, “I have been named for many awards this year, but these awards are really meant for all of the students and friends who have supported Nippon Kan in all that we have been able to accomplish. It is all of Nippon Kan that I am thankful for.”
Nippon Kan Vice President
August 15th, 2010
An impromptu interview with Homma Kancho
Homma Kancho, who has led Nippon Kan’s efforts to feed the homeless in Denver for the last 20 years,
was honored by local, leading Colorado television station, Channel 7, as one of Denver’s Every Day
Heroes for 2010. A Channel 7 news team paid Homma Kancho and volunteer staff a visit while they were
preparing for our monthly Homeless Meal Service on August 15th to present him with the award and film
an interview. Homma Sensei told the Channel 7 reporter, “This is quite a surprise, but it is not just
my achievement. It is the achievement of all of the people who have helped serve these meals at the
Denver Rescue Mission for the past 20 years.” The interview continued through the meal service at the
mission and was aired daily the first week of September. Link
here to view the Channel 7 interview of our own “Every Day Hero”.
November 10th, 2010
Mayor’s Design Award 2010
On November 10th, 2010, Homma Kancho received the Mayor’s Design Award 2010 for outstanding creativity, winning the “Home is Where the Art Is” category for the design and construction of Domo Restaurant and Nippon Kan Culture Center. Both Nippon Kan and Domo were designed and built by hand by Homma Kancho, staff and an “army” of student volunteers.
November 12, 2010
Homma Kancho was honored on November 12th, 2010 as the winner of the Outstanding Volunteer Award for National Philanthropy Day. This year’s ceremony began with the following words by organizers. “If a community is to be a strong one, then its fabric must be woven together with the threads of generosity.” Each year, on National Philanthropy Day in Colorado, we demonstrate the strength of this community by highlighting our brilliant tapestry of philanthropists, volunteers, and committed community leaders.”
National Philanthropy Day is a special day set aside nationwide each November to recognize the thousands of generous people and organizations who donate their time, talent, and financial resources to worthy causes. This year’s luncheon celebration was held Friday, November 12th honoring ten outstanding individuals and organizations for their commitment to philanthropy. Held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, over 1000 community members attended the event. Channel 7 News Team’s John Ferrugia served as the Master of Ceremonies.
Homma Kancho gave a speech to the 1000 in attendance at this special luncheon and received a Governor’s
Proclamation from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter for his achievement as Outstanding Volunteer for 2010.
In attendance with Homma Kancho were Consul General of Japan Kazuo Kubo and his wife, Consul Mitsui
and Nippon Kan Staff. Homma Kancho noted in his speech to attendees, “As Japanese people, we are always
thinking about how to be good visitors and citizens in Denver and how best to contribute to our local
Click here to view the video presentation of Homma Kancho aired at the National Philanthropy Awards Ceremony.
Students preparing the homeless meal after practice.
Without the support of all of the students and friends who have volunteered their time, we could not have continued our service to the homeless for these past 20 years. 2010 marked our 20 year anniversary of our Homeless Meal Service Project with the Denver Rescue Mission in Denver and in these past two decades, over 400 volunteers have been part of this project. This year we passed the milestone of supplying, preparing and serving over 60,000 meals, a milestone that has been recognized by the Mayor and Governor of Colorado, Denver City Council, and local news media. We are especially appreciative of the support of Consul General Kazuo Kubo and Consul Mitsui of the Japanese Consulate of Denver. Thanks to everyone for your support!
Nippon Kan Kancho
September 19th -300 meals served
October 17th - 325 meals served
November 21st - 295 meals served
December 19th - 285 meals served
Total since January, 1991 61, 834 meals served
Sept 19th, 2010
Captain Anees practicing at Nippon Kan dojo.
Captain Anees of the Nepal Army Ranger Special Forces and one of the supervisors of Nepal Army Aikido has been in the United States for special forces training with the US Military since April 2010. Captain Anees stopped by Nippon Kan before his return to Nepal to practice Aikido and join Nippon Kan volunteers in serving dinner at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Captain Anees serving dinner to the homeless with Nippon Kan staff.
October 2nd-6th, 2011
With Homma Kancho’s direct support, the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center moved to a new facility in June of 2010. This past October, Homma Kancho flew to Yangon with Nippon Kan computer expert, Roger Failor to visit the new facility and assess the improvements that have been made over the past few months.
Girls studying at the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center
Roger checking the computer equipment
Nilar teaching staff how to use a
fire extinguisher for safety
The AHAN Learning Center opened for classes within weeks of moving to the new facility, and by the time of this visit, there were already about 40 full time students enrolled and attending classes daily. Gifted students from outside of Yangon have a place to live at the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center where dormitory housing is available for girls and boys; no matter their ability to pay for their accommodations.
Myanmar is a country made up of many tribes with different historical and cultural backgrounds. Myanmar’s future; like all counties in the world, lies in its young people, and one of the Learning Centers goals is to provide quality education to young people of all tribes and backgrounds. This is the best way Homma Kancho feels that AHAN can contribute best, in our small way, to the future development of the people of Myanmar.
Homma Kancho and Roger with the children at the Yadanapon Orphanage.
On this visit, Homma Kancho also visited the Yadanapon Temple Orphanage, delivering rice, medical and other daily supplies. Homma Kancho and AHAN have been donating rice monthly at the Yadanapon Orphanage for the last two years.
AHAN Myanmar Coordinator
October 7th-12th, 2010
Homma Kancho, accompanied by Nippon Kan graduate uchideshi Cihan Karaogluol and Go Suenaga traveled to Illigan City, Mindanao, Philippines this past October to supervise the construction of the new AHAN Mindanao Learning Center. At the time of their arrival, the foundation of the building had been laid and construction of the walls had just begun.
Sudents carrying concrete blocks
Working well in to the night in the pouring rain.
Homma Kancho mixing cement
With only enough time to drop their bags after their arrival, Homma Kancho and crew went to work buying materials and joining the volunteers working at the site. It is rainy season in October in the Philippines so everyone worked in a downpour huddling under ponchos and tarps in a futile attempt at staying dry.
At the AHAN Mindanao Learning Center construction site, equipment and tools were in limited supply. Manpower was the driving force and Ava Yancha Sensei and her students worked long into the nights carrying heavy bags of concrete, mixing concrete by hand with shovels and cooking meals over meager fires to keep the staff going. Homma Kancho commented that the foundation of the new AHAN Mindanao Learning Center was made of the strongest of foundations: team effort and teamwork.
Ava Sensei leading the way by example
With students at the dojo
Volunteers work to keep the crews fed
Taking a break from construction, Homma Kancho and crew assisted Ava Sensei and her students in cooking and serving a hot meal to over 200 Bajao villagers. Link here to see a video of this Bajao meal service in Mindanao
Ava Sensei cooking for the Bajao people
A crowd of Bajao people waiting for the meal service
A foot pedal sewing machine donated by Cihan for making keiko gi.
Foot pedal power can be useful in areas with electric blackouts.
Homma Kancho and AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters have sponsored all of the expenses for the construction of the AHAN Mindanao Learning Center and Cihan Karaogluol also donated sewing machines and cloth material for the making of keiko gi. Making uniforms will provide the Learning Center a way to earn income to help cover needed study materials. The AHAN Mindanao Learning Center is scheduled to open in February 2011.
AHAN Turkey Coordinator
October 15th-17th, 2010
A student reunion with Homma Kancho and Yoon Sensei.
The center spot is left open as a symbol of respect for presiding Shihan.
After meeting with aikidoka in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss future plans for the building of the AHAN Thailand Learning Center, I flew to Korea to visit Ikam Yoon Sensei, President of the Korea Aikido Federation and practice with his student aikidoka in Seoul. It was a warm reunion and I was able to meet and practice again with many of Yoon Sensei’s students; many who had traveled far for this reunion practice. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Yoon Sensei, who first came to Denver at my invitation to instruct a seminar at Nippon Kan Headquarters and also accompanied me on a trip to Nepal to instruct the Nepal Army Rangers. As always, the time spent with Yoon Sensei and his wife Miae was a memorable and pleasurable experience! Thank you very much for your hospitality!
Nippon Kan Kancho
October 16th-18th, 2010
A wonderful surprise visit by Kobayashi Shihan
Homma Kancho visited Japan briefly on his return to the United States to meet with Japanese Nippon Kan graduate uchideshi alumni. A dinner meeting was arranged by all of the former Nippon Kan Japanese uchideshi, many who had been in Denver during the August summer practice marathon. As a great surprise for Homma Kancho, Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan and Dojocho joined the dinner party after attending a meeting of his own in the area! The reunion was a cheerful event, marked notably by Homma Kancho and Kobayashi Shihan comparing hand and leg sizes! “When Kobayashi Shihan came to Denver to teach at Nippon Kan, we were all so surprised by the size of Kobayashi Shihan’s hands and legs! No wonder his technique is so powerful”…”and with legs like that, no wonder Shihan’s suwarewaza (kneeling technique) is so outstanding!” remarked Homma Kancho.
After Kobayashi Shihan bid his farewells, the party continued well into the night. “That is what I am told any way” said Homma Kancho, “My recollection is a little fuzzy”.
Homma Kancho and Kobayashi Shihan comparing legs
Kobayashi Shihan has huge hands;
even compared to Homma Kancho!
The size of Homma Sensei’s legs are famous in their own right, but it has long been told that Kobayashi Shihan’s legs got that big doing rabbit jumps around the Yamamote Train line in Tokyo…
October 7th-12th, 2010
Shoes of students lined up neatly; a Nippon Kan etiquette.
When Homma Kancho and attending uchideshi alumni visited Mindanao, Philippines to supervise the construction of the new AHAN Mindanao Learning Center, they also visited Aikido dojos in Illigan City that Ava Sensei is involved with to teach and work with students in Aikido; an art that is blossoming under the care of Ava Sensei and her dedicated student staff. Below are a short series of reports describing events of their week in Illigan!
In front of MSU IIT. From left: Saidamin, Suenaga, Homma Kancho, Ava Sensei and Cihan
Aikido is now part of the university curriculum at the MSU IIT and it is very popular with students there. Many students who previously trained in Karate, Kempo and Taikwondo have taken to practicing Aikido as part of their university studies. Link here to a video of Homma Kancho’s demonstration at MSU IIT.
Aikido classes are instructed by AHAN Mindanao Coordinator Ava Yancha Sensei at the Illigan Facility for the Deaf twice a week. The classes are instructed in sign language with the help of specially skilled volunteers. After teaching at the facility, Homma Kancho observed, “Teaching here is a special challenge because words are not an effective tool for communicating here. The students learn by observing the instructors movements carefully and they are very perceptive in detecting an instructor’s thoughts and feelings in their movements. I learned to pay attention to their reactions and their expressions. It was a very good experience for me. I hope Ava Sensei and her students will continue to teach at this very special place.”
AHAN Turkey Coordinator
With Ava Sensei’s students
During the rainy season in Mindanao, the falling rain is a daily event. During our practice at Mindanao Aikido Dojo, instructed by Ava Yancha Sensei, we practiced during a downpour so heavy that it was even hard to hear! The students however paid the rain little mind; concentrating instead on their practice. It rained so hard during one practice that the electricity shorted out, plunging the dojo into darkness. My fumbling attempts to find the light switch were rather embarrassing as students went about the business of lighting candles so that practice could continue! The candles made for an interesting mood in the dojo as students carried on as if nothing had happened. I reflected on the resiliency of these students. If this had happened in my “developed” country of Japan it would have made the evening news!”
Nippon Kan alumni uchideshi-Japan
In front of the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center
It is one of the philosophies of the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center is that learning and education are not found only in the classroom but outside in the world around us as well. This December, 47 students and staff from the AHAN Myanmar Learning Center went on a fieldtrip to visit the historical sites of Yangon. The AHAN Myanmar Learning Center staff has been doing an excellent job providing the gift of learning to these students in Myanmar and deserves to be commended for their dedication and efforts!
Studying the historical sites of Yangon
AHAN Myanmar staff also continued the tradition of supplying monthly rice donations to the Yadanapon Temple and visit the orphanage regularly to check on the needs of the boys living in their care.
AHAN Myanmar Coordinator
60 pairs of new shoes ready for delivery
Reporting from Turkey is Cihan Karaogluol who currently lives in Izmir with his wife Melda and family. Cihan is a Nippon Kan graduate, alumni uchideshi and has served as assistant and otomo to Homma Kancho on seminar trips all over the world. Below is a report written by Cihan about current AHAN activities he and his wife have inspired in their hometown of Izmir.
In Izmir, we recently organized a project to help children in need by providing shoes for them. We first chose a school and then inquired on how many children were in need of good, new shoes. It was difficult to decide who we would be able to help; it seemed all of the children were in need of shoes. We settled on bringing new shoes for 60 children. I know there were more that were needed and I hope that in the future we will be able to help provide even more.
Organizing this project in Izmir meant a lot to us, and I learned many things. I remember Homma Sensei
saying that “truly helping people is not easy”. This is true I discovered with this project. I also
saw that there were many people that did not try to make things better themselves for the children;
they just waited for help. Truly helping people as Homma Sensei teaches is in giving support, not giving
hand outs, and this is an important lesson for me. Thank you for teaching the importance of support
Cihan helping the children put on their new shoes
Melda and the children are all smiles!
4th Quarter 2010
The following points were reported by Rajesh Bista Sensei, Instructor for Nepal Army Ranger Aikido, headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.
- The training of Aikido is being considered for not only all Army Rangers but all Army Troops in Nepal.
- 40 new students from different Army divisions have joined the Nepal Army Ranger Intensive Aikido
- Commanding officer reported that 10 Ranger brigades are considering extending their training in Kathmandu to continue their Aikido practice.
This is the only information that is allowed to be provided to the public under Army regulations.
Delivery of school supplies to Madrasa elders.
The monthly deliveries of 1 ½ tons of rice to the Madrasa Orphanage for girls in the capital city of Dhaka continued September through December 2010. This AHAN Learning Center facility was built with the support of AHAN and houses up to 350 girls. Currently the girls are housed, fed and go to school at the facility and AHAN is working on plans to increase medical supply support in the coming year.
Below are receipts for delivery September-December 2010.
AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator
October 9th, 2010
Every fall for the past 19 years, Nippon Kan has been involved with the Denver Parks Department in “Putting the Beds to Bed” in Denver city parks. “Putting the Beds to Bed” consists of turning the flower beds for winter, and Nippon Kan has been named the Nippon Kan Army by Parks Department officials for our teamwork and exemplary speed! This year over 80 Nippon Kan students, family members and friends turned the flower beds in Washington Park, and with Nippon Kan’s power, the task was done in half the time allotted.
The Nippon Kan “Army” gets its power from teamwork; a skill that manifests from practicing Aikido, a martial art that does not hold tournaments. Aikido strives to build strong bodies and good character, not to defeat an opponent. All skills that come in handy when tackling flower beds!
October 30th, 2010
Halloween at Nippon Kan; pretty spooky!
At Homma Kancho’s suggestion, Nippon Kan’s Halloween party was organized this year by a team of our newer intermediate dojo members. Over 100 people attended the party that had games for the kids, costume contests, music and a wonderful potluck buffet. The dojo was decorated in grand spooky fashion, and the winners of the free raffle went home with gifts donated by Homma Kancho’s from his travels abroad!
After the guests had retreated back into the night, the organizing crew met with Homma Kancho who had great accolades for the crew’s imagination, organizational skills and the party’s success. Homma Kancho advised, “Your new ideas and energy bring vitality to the dojo, and tonight was a great example of what you all are capable of accomplishing.”
The crew is now in the development stage of a new special homepage for Beginners at Nippon Kan that will be launched in early 2011.
Organizing Team Coordinator
December 16th, 2010
The horns are worn with honor by our most senior member. This year it is Heinz!
The horns are worn with honor by our most senior member. This year it is Heinz!
It has become a tradition at Nippon Kan, that sometime well after the first snowfall, an evening party is held in the garden for senior students and staff. It is rather amusing, having a “macho” garden party in the middle of winter; we are all Aikidoka after all, and everyone enjoyed the good company and good food; cooked by Homma Kancho himself. This annual event is a chance to say thank you to all of our senior members for their contributions to the dojo throughout the year. It is also tradition for the most senior member to wear the bull horn hat, the bull being the logo and symbol for the Nippon Kan dojo.
A good time was had by all…
Nippon Kan Treasurer
Dec 18th 2010
A little distracted, even a yawn, that’s kids for ya!
Youth Program Instructor Noel Camp and Assistant Instructors Jeff Legwold and Roger Failor are in charge of our growing Nippon Kan Youth Program for our youngest members. In 2010 we saw a dramatic increase in the number of students enrolled in this program with the number of active members rising to over 80. This increase is due to the enthusiastic and skillful leadership that Noel and his staff have brought to this successful Nippon Kan program.
Noel Camp Sensei presenting promotion certificates to children
Winter promotions were held for Youth Program members on December 18th, 2010. There are no examinations held for Youth Program members. Advancement is based on attendance and personal development. Nippon Kan focuses on the joy of practice not on rewards and prizes and competition is never part of the curriculum.
Homma Kancho commented, “When I was a child, kendo and judo were taught to kids by policemen and school teachers donating their time. No student ever worried about the cost of classes, it was part of growing up and becoming a member of the local community”. Homma Kancho still holds to this philosophy in our Nippon Kan Youth Program classes and the cost per class for our youngest member has always been $6.25. There are also never hidden charges or contracts or other obligations.
Nippon Kan Office Staff
A fresh new Nippon Kan team made up of our younger intermediate members have been working on building
a new Aikido web page especially for beginning students. Nippon Kan has a long history and our current
website reflects the activities of many generations. To insure that our website is attractive to the
needs and trends of young people just beginning their practice of Aikido, the idea for this page was
born. This page will use current media communication methods and concentrate on quick answers to questions
and subjects that younger beginning students are interested in. Our new Nippon Kan team is in charge
of creating this new web page that will link to our main website.
The new web page is under construction and is scheduled to be read in early 2011. Please visit our web site at: www.aikidoforbeginners.org. Welcome to Aikido Nippon Kan Quick Info & Beginners Classes Click Here. also Visit Us On Facebook by clicking here.
Curry for 300
August 17th, 2010
Uchideshi serving meals to the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission
One of the responsibilities of being an uchideshi (live-in student) at Nippon Kan is helping to prepare and serve our monthly dinner for the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission. This dinner is served on the 3rd Sunday of every month and has been a Nippon Kan tradition for the last 20 years. On the Sunday of the meal service, preparations begin early in the morning. Students join in the preparation after morning practice, peeling and chopping vegetables for the evening meals. After an entire day of cooking the meals are packed and transported to the mission in the Nippon Kan van.
The actual dinner services start at 5:30 pm at the Denver Rescue Mission, and usually there are four dinner services for the homeless that end about 9:00 pm. By the time that all of the pots and utensils are transported back to the dojo and washed and put away it is usually after 11:00 pm.
For the uchideshi, Sundays are usually their only day of rest, but on one Sunday a month, all uchideshi devote the entire day to this homeless meal service. The experience for all uchideshi that come to Nippon Kan is one that can be very helpful in developing organizational and other skills beneficial for later careers. Homma Kancho encourages, “Only as a Nippon Kan uchideshi do you have the opportunity to make curry for 300 people at a time”.
Uchideshi helping Homma Kancho cooking pots of curry for the homeless meal service
Michele after his final practice…
Farewell Practice for Michele
November 9th, 2010
On November 9th, 2010, Michele completed his fourth term as an uchideshi at Nippon Kan (one term is 3 months). To reach this milestone, Michele attended an especially rigorous practice instructed by one of our senior technical instructors, Michael. In this class, Michele performed 100 ukemi (rolls or high falls from a technique) and scrambled with students to save his uchideshi patch. Michele emerged from the class with a torn uniform but otherwise in good spirits. Unbelievably, Michele is coming back in January 2011 for another term while he attends school.
Banu’s Uchideshi Experience Report
Sep 29th 2010
Banu practicing at Enshin Karate Dojo. She has quite a strong kick!
Banu Alisverisci has completed two terms as a Nippon Kan uchideshi and this summer returned to Nippon Kan for her third term in the Summer August Marathon. Banu is one of the chief instructors in her own dojo in Ankara, Turkey and has returned regularly to Nippon Kan to train in the last few years. More information on Torii Dojo
Banu has written about her experience as a Nippon Kan uchideshi Link here to read!
The Challenge is Everything; December’s Coldest Day 2010
These uchideshi come from a place in Japan with there is little snow, so this December, 2010 presented a challenge of its own for them! The temperature was below zero when this picture was taken, and even saying “Cheese” took effort! Ah the prowess of youth! On the left is uchideshi Hiro Yagi and on the right is uchideshi Nori Hayashi. Hiro graduated from the University of Denver with a master’s degree and will start a new job in Japan in April. He will continue his term as Nippon Kan uchideshi through March 2011. Nori will complete his second term in January 2011. All of this was amusing to Homma Kancho who grew up in Northern Japan where a cold and snow is the norm through the many winter months.
Nippon Kan Editor
After Homma Kancho returned from his trip to Asia in late October, he took a period of solitude. “Even sumo wrestlers and football player have an off-season. I am an athlete too, even as a 60 year-old senior citizen!
Homma Kancho used the time in solitude to reflect on current Nippon Kan operations and in mid-December began to activate improvements in office operations, website redesign, class scheduling and even new menus for Domo Restaurant. “Improvements and growth start from danshari which means to remove unnecessary things. Sometimes improvements do not involve adding new things but removing what we do not need. Reshaping Nippon Kan operations is a goal of mine for Nippon Kan in 2011.”
This year Homma Kancho received many well deserved awards and recognition for his service to our community. Someone joked that we were going to need to build more walls to hang all of the new plaques! Homma Kancho, looking at these gifts commented, “These awards are of course an honor but not a final reward. It is good that our projects have been recognized, but what is important is that we continue our work”.
Thomas Dammen, Nippon Kan Youth Program Instructor
Thomas Dammen, Youth Program Instructor through 2009 passed away December 31st, 2010. We will all remember Tom’s gentle spirit and gifted insight. To recognize his passing, no decorations were erected for the New Year Opening Practice 2011 which is a tradition of mourning in Japan.
May Tom rest in peace, he will be missed.