Instructors

Please visit the beginner’s page (http://www.aikidoforbeginners.org/) for more information on instructors and class information.

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 is 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.

san_ongSan Ong Sensei

Senior Instructor
San Ong began studying aikido at Nippon Kan in 1997. After completing the Beginner’s class, she joined as a regular member and has been steadily practicing here ever since In addition to being great physical exercise, aikido has sustained her interest over the years due to the intellectual curiosity, emotional resilience and persistence it engenders. She believes that – aside from the development of technique – aikido at Nippon Kan involves learning how to learn. It makes for a richly satisfying journey. San currently holds the Nippon Kan rank of 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.

jason_breitzmanJason Breitzman Sensei

Senior Instructor
Jason Breitzman Sensei is a Senior Instructor who began his practice at Nippon Kan in 2003. In 2017 Jason traveled to Nepal with Homma Sensei to assist with providing instruction to the Nepal Army, as well as traveling to Thailand in support of AHAN projects at Bilay House. He also volunteers regularly in the local community and has supported Nippon Kan in various staff roles over the years. Jason began instructing at Nippon Kan in 2005 and currently teaches Beginning and General classes. His teaching style presents aikido concepts in a light-hearted and accessible manner that’s beneficial to students of all levels. Off the mat, Jason enjoys many hobbies including cooking and gardening and is known to prepare the occasional special meal for visiting uchi-deshi during the annual August Challenge. Jason Sensei holds the Nippon Kan rank of 6th degree black belt.

david_gerasDavid Geras Sensei

Senior Instructor
David Geras Sensei has been practicing Aikido since 1987. He practiced at Aikikai dojos in Tokyo when living in Japan and joined Nippon Kan after moving to Denver in 2001. Since then, he has been very active with Nippon Kan and AHAN, served in several capacities on the Nippon Kan board of directors, and has been a substitute teacher. David Sensei is a Nippon Kan 6th degree black belt.

tj_brauerT.J. Brauer Sensei

Senior Instructor
First introduction to Aikido was in 1976 at Fort Lewis College, Durango Co., through the athletics department. It was an evening class for students taught by a Japanese instructor who was traveling through the area. Though the class was for a semester I stayed on for about 3 more months until the instructor left town and went to New Mexico.
The second practice period was with Ikeda Sensei in Boulder while I was attending graduate school. I was with them for around a year, from 1980 to 1981.
My last, and longest period of study has been here at Aikido Nippon Kan with Homma Sensei. I believe I started in January of 1986. Emily Busch was a brand new shodan and my instructor for my beginning class. TJ Sensei holds the Nippon Kan rank of 6th degree black belt.

Instructors

Yuji Kosakowski Yuji Kosakowski Sensei

Instructor
Yuji has been training at Nippon Kan since 2005. He has traveled With Homma Kancho to Bilay House, Thailand to help A.H.A.N to help in the initial construction of the orphanage. Yuji has been an instructor for Nippon Kan’s Youth Program teaching children Cooperation and social skills through Aikido. Yuji has also instructed the adult 6 week Aikido beginner’s class. Yuji Sensei holds the rank of 4th degree black belt.

Joshua BakerJoshua Baker Sensei

Instructor
Joshua Baker Sensei discovered Aikido for the first time in college in the mid-1990’s. While he didn’t practice long there, the experience resonated from the very start. After moving to Colorado to start a family, he joined Nippon-Kan in 2004 and began practicing in earnest. Throughout his tenure at Nippon-Kan, Joshua has participated in numerous domestic AHAN volunteer activities, often serving as a team lead. Internationally, he has served as an AHAN representative in Thailand, helping to support underserved children in the Chaing Mai and Ratchaburi areas. He has also traveled as an assistant with Homma Kancho to Nepal, who was conducting an Aikido seminar with the Nepal Army Rangers. Joshua has been leading general classes since 2012 and enjoys exploring the depth and adaptive nature of Aikido in his classes. Baker Sensei currently holds the Nippon Kan rank of 5th degree black belt.

Madalyn ShalkeyMadalyn Shalkey Sensei

Instructor
Madalyn Shalkey Sensei began practicing aikido at Nippon Kan in 2007. She is currently an assistant instructor, teaching the Tuesday and Thursday beginner’s class. Madalyn accompanied Homma Sensei to Morocco in 2012, for a seminar in Casablanca held with the La Federation Royale Marocaine D’Aikido, Iaido Affinitaires. You will know when she is practicing, as she has the loudest kiai in the dojo! Madalyn Sensei holds the rank of 4th degree black belt.

Jason Lowrey Sensei

Instructor
Jason Lowrey was first introduced to Aikido in 1998 through a mixed martial arts sport club at the University of Florida.  Jason began his Aikido training at Nippon Kan through the uchideshi ‘Live in Student’ program under Gaku Homma Kancho in 2005.  Over the years he has traveled all over the world with Homma Kancho to experience many types of Aikido. He also works in a trauma hospital as a critical care RN which offers a unique perspective to his Aikido training.  Jason currently holds the rank of Nippon Kan 5th degree black belt.

Assistant Instructors

Hien Pham Hien Pham Shidon

Assistant Instructor
Hien began practicing aikido at Nippon Kan in 2008. He’s been part of the office administrator staff, and serves as Nippon Kan board of directors Secretary. Hien holds the rank of 4th degree black belt.

Paige McGlaughlin Paige McGlaughlin Shidon

Assistant Instructor
After moving to Denver from the Western Slope and searching for a place to learn martial arts, I discovered Nippon Kan in 2009. I immediately felt at home learning aikido at the Nippon Kan dojo because of the philosophy and spirit of giving back to the community. I have also been privileged to participate in a cultural exchange with the village of Higashinaruse, Japan. I also work as a public school teacher teaching art to grades K-6. Paige holds the rank of the rank of Nippon Kan 2nd degree black belt

Youth Program Instructors

Eric Cravens Eric Cravens Sensei

Youth Program Instructor
Eric Cravens started practicing at Nippon Kan in May 1999 and has served in different roles since that time. He has been part of the office staff, updated dojo class records, instructed various classes, and assisted in visiting instructor seminars and public events. Eric began helping with the children’s class in 2012 when his daughter began and became co-instructor in 2014. He teaches children’s and advanced children’s class and continually strives to improve. Eric is a Nippon Kan 4th degree black belt.

Youth Program Assistant

Linda Walsh

Youth Program Assistant

Mala Setaram Wolef

Youth Program Assistant