Homma Sensei’s End of Year Message

December 20, 2002

Dear Nippon Kan Members and Friends,

The year 2002 is drawing to a close, and looking back it has been another busy and productive year. This year Nippon Kan received many honors, including a resolution passed by the Denver City Council for service to the community.

The first declaration of the resolution passed was in acknowledgment of the 30,000th meal served at the Denver Rescue Mission in twelve consecutive years. Nippon Kan served over 3,700 meals at the Denver Rescue Mission in 2002, passing the 30,000 meal served milestone on August 18th, 2002. This year for the first time Nippon Kan students also participated in the “Harvest for the Homeless” picking vegetables at the Denver Rescue Mission Farm in Wellington, Colorado.

The second declaration was to honor Nippon Kan for expanding the cultural horizons of Denver residents by sponsoring and producing the Mongolian fund-raising concert for orphaned children in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This concert, performed March 21st, 2002 was the first time Nippon Kan has sponsored a fund-raising event open to the general public. The concert, featuring the celebrated traditional Mongolian Folk Singing Ensemble, “The Winds of Mongolia”, was held at the Grand Sewall Ballroom at the Denver Center of Performing Arts. Over 600 patrons were in attendance at this historical event, and proceeds were used to support Nippon Kan’s A.H.A.N. Mongolian Orphaned Children’s project in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Tickets were also donated to Denver agencies whose works benefits the citizens of Denver such as the Denver Parks and Recreation, Children’s Hospital, Denver Firefighters Orphans and Widows fund, and the Art Institute of Colorado.

May 13, 2002 marked the passing of one of Aikido’s greatest teachers, Morihiro Saito Shihan, who passed away at the age of 74. His funeral was held June 22-23rd in a neighboring town of Iwama, Japan. Over 3,000 mourners were in attendance, and I also attended with the family to pay final respects. At my invitation, Nippon Kan will be hosting the Morihiro Saito Shihan Menorial Seminar in honor of Saito Shihan next February 7-9th, 2003. The seminar will be instructed by his son Hitohiro Saito Sensei, with a historical lecture given by Stan Pranin, Editor of Aikido Journal Magazine.

This year, Nippon Kan hosted two visiting instructors, Nishida Sensei from Sao Paulo Brazil, and Maruyama Sensei from Nagoya, Japan.

In June, Nippon Kan held its 11th Annual Spring Volunteer Project with the Denver Parks and Recreation Department. This year, we planted water plants and water lilies; border rose bushes, crusher vines and trimmed roses at Denver City Park. In October, Nippon Kan students rose to the occasion with the 11th annual “Put the Beds to Bed” project, turning flower beds at Civic Center Park.

November 23rd, 2002, Nippon Kan was recognized as “Outstanding Volunteer Partner” and awarded a plaque presented by the Denver Parks Department Volunteer Coordinator Joan Wilson. Nippon Kan was commended as an outstanding volunteer partner of over ten years, and as the hardest working group they have ever had as part of their volunteer program team!

This year was a year abroad with seminars and new A.H.A.N. activities. I was fortunate to be invited to teach Aikido and promote other A.H.A.N. activities on three visits to Japan, and to Rio De Janiero and Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ostrava, Czech Republic, and St. Andrews, Scotland. New A.H.AN. projects for 2002 included a donated keiko-gi program for children in the Rio De Janiero area and a student exchange program for selected college students in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Next year looks like it is going to be another busy year of travel as well. I give my thanks to all Nippon Kan staff and instructors whose diligence and efforts have allowed me the time to write many articles which have been published globally through Aikido Journal and take A.H.A.N. and Aikido to other parts of the world.

On the mat this year, Nippon Kan had almost 500 students enrolled in our beginning classes. This figure is consistent with last year’s figures, showing a healthy inflow of new students. On a national average, 500 beginning students per year is extremely high and very rare. Nippon Kan attracts new students through a reputation it has built over twenty-five years of service. Nippon Kan has a good reputation in Denver for community involvement, highly qualified, experienced instructors and a dedicated hardworking office staff team. The efforts of all of those who daily make Nippon Kan the quality institution it has become are greatly appreciated.

So as we look toward 2003, Nippon Kan is moving steadily, steering its way forward. 2003 promises to bring more development of A.H.A.N. internationally and the continuance of our community involvement here in Denver. Please visit the Nippon Kan website for detailed information on all of Nippon’s ongoing projects.

Nippon Kan’s New Year Potluck Party will be held on January 3rd this year, and we hope to see all of you there!

Have a Happy Holiday and New Year!
Gaku Homma, Nippon Kan Kancho