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Nippon Kan Instructor Staff
homma-kanchoGaku Homma Kancho
Founder of Nippon Kan

Aikido Nippon Kan was founded in the United States by Gaku Homma Kancho in 1978. Homma Kancho began his practice of Aikido at the age of fourteen in Japan under Shudo Maruyama Shihan (currently President of Kokikai Aikido). At the age of fifteen, he became the last live-in student to the Founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba at the Iwama Aiki Shrine (Aiki Jinja) Aiki Shuren Dojo, Iwama, Japan. In the Founder Ueshiba’s last years, Homma Kancho cared for the Founder in all of his daily activities as *Jikiuchideshi. He is the only instructor in the United States that served the Founder Ueshiba as a jikiuchideshi and is one of the few remaining living testimonials of the last years of the Founder’s life and teaching.

After the passing of the Founder Ueshiba, the Aikikai organization of his founding went through a period of internal turmoil and political upheaval.  Because of the tumultuous political infighting, Homma Kancho ultimately decided to leave Aikikai and set out on a journey of his own as he began teaching independently.  He began teaching independently first at the US Air Force Base in Misawa, Japan (Misawa City, Aomori Prefecture Japan). From here he moved to the United States to found Aikido Nippon Kan dojo in Denver, Colorado.

Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver has instructed over 20,000 beginning students since its inception in 1978 and Homma Kancho has been a primary pioneer force in the development of Aikido in Colorado. Currently Homma Kancho teaches Aikido internationally and is in high demand around the world. He has taught in over 40 countries and instructed students from over 60 countries. Homma Kancho has always remained an independent instructor and has built friendships around the world, but by policy does not have any branch Aikido Nippon Kan dojos internationally or domestically.

Homma Kancho still lives at Nippon Kan Headquarters in Denver together with uchideshi students from around the world who come to Nippon Kan to learn about the traditional martial art of Aikido. His first purpose is leadership training for students of our next generations. In 2001, Homma Kancho founded the AHAN Nippon Kan International Humanitarian Active Network which supports humanitarian and community development through Aikido and partnership throughout the world. One of the primary focuses for AHAN Nippon Kan is education for children. Three AHAN Nippon Kan Learning Centers have been built and are now running in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Philippines. Over 600 children and young adults are currently receiving educational support at these new facilities. AHAN Nippon Kan also currently supports orphanages in three countries supplying over 2 tons of rice per month, computers and medical supplies.

Homma Kancho is the author of many articles and books which can be found on the Nippon Kan website. He was born in Akita-ken, Japan in 1950.

*Jikiuchideshi is the Japanese term for a live-in student who also serves as daily caregiver. Homma Kancho served in this capacity as jikiuchideshi for the Founder Ueshiba during the last years of the Founder’s  life at Iwama dojo. At Iwama dojo at that time, the late Morihiro Saito Shihan and his family lived next door and the only people living at  Iwama dojo were the Founder, his wife Hatsu, their maid Kikuno and Homma Kancho. Homma Kancho took care of the Founder in Iwama until the Founder moved to Aikikai Headquarters in Tokyo where he passed away in 1969.

The only resident living at Aikikai Headquarters at that time in Tokyo was Mr. Tsunoda who served as maintenance man. There were no live-in uchideshi living at Aikikai Headquarters at that time. All of the young Aikikai instructors of the day lived near dojo headquarters in small apartments.

Senior Instructor Councilor

doug_kellyCaptain Doug Kelly Sensei

Captain Doug Kelly Sensei began practicing Aikido at Nippon Kan in January 1995 and has performed many duties as a regular member. Captain Kelly has served two separate terms as Nippon Kan President, as well as being a beginning and general class instructor. He has accompanied Homma Kancho to various countries as his most trusted military and law enforcement ambassador. Captain Kelly is a former USAF officer and a current Instructor/Evaluator and Line Check Captain at United Airlines. He also serves as a federal law enforcement officer with the Department of Homeland Security. Captain Doug Kelly Sensei is a Nippon Kan 6th degree black belt.

Senior Instructors

bryon_haysBryon Hays Sensei

Senior Instructor
Bryon Hays Sensei started practicing at Nippon Kan in November 1994, at the “old dojo” on Cherokee Street, and has served in many roles since that time. He serves as primary photographer for visiting instructor seminars and public events, with many of his photos illustrating Nippon Kan’s web and Facebook pages. He has traveled with Homma Kancho to events in Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Japan, Thailand, and Nepal to assist Homma Sensei in teaching classes and for demonstration. Bryon Sensei began teaching in August 1999. He teaches beginning, technical, weapons, and hakama-level courses. He was made a technical instructor in January 2006, and has served on the Monjin-Chou promotions board since 2008. Bryon Sensei is a Nippon Kan 6th degree black belt and currently serves as Nippon Kan Vice President.

michael_barreraMichael C. Barrera Sensei

Senior Instructor
Barrera Sensei has been practicing at Nippon Kan since 2003. Prior to moving to Colorado, Barrera Sensei started his martial arts training during his college years in Arizona. Then moving back to Texas formal aikido training since 1997. Barrera Sensei has been an advanced class instructor and uchideshi instructor since 2005. Barrera Sensei has accompanied Homma Sensei as assistant, instructor, demonstration assistant, and in Humanitarian projects to several countries to include Mexico, Nepal, South Korea, Mongolia, and Italy. Barrera Sensei holds the rank of Nippon Kan 6th degree black belt.

chris_abeytaChris Abeyta Sensei

Senior Instructor
Chris is a Denver native and began studying Aikido at Nippon Kan in 2003. In 2004 Chris participated in Nippon Kan’s Cross Cultural Exchange Program with East Naruse Village in rural Japan, for a three-month term. While there, he assisted with middle-school English classes and played with the local Taiko drumming group! Chris has served as Nippon Kan’s Weapons Class Instructor since 2008. Weapons class focuses on the relationship between open-handed Aikido movement and technique and the sword movements from which they were developed. Chris currently holds the Nippon Kan rank of 6th degree black belt.

rick_thompsonRick Thompson Sensei

Senior Instructor
Rick Thompson started Aikido training in 1989 at the University of AR. and began studying with Nippon Kan in 1996. Rick has studied as a live-in student with Shigeru Kawabe Shihan in Akita, Japan through Homma Sensei’s introduction. In addition, a 6 month live-in stay at Nippon Kan in 2002. Rick has assisted Homma Sensei around the world on several occasions. Including trips to Nepal to teach Army Ranger Instructor development classes. Rick has also traveled to Brazil, Africa, Mexico, Marshall Islands, Turkey and Italy to assist Homma Sensei in teaching classes and for demonstration.
Rick currently lives in Salida Colorado where he attends and hosts special events for Nippon Kan and it’s honored guests. He enjoys mountain living, skiing, white water rafting, and tactical firearms training. Rick Sensei holds the Nippon Kan rank of 6th degree black belt.