Nippon Kan, located at 1365 Osage Street, Denver, CO., is the largest Aikido dojo in the Rocky Mountain region. The school was founded in 1978 by Gaku Homma Sensei, who was a student of the founder Morihei Ueshiba at the Iwama dojo in Japan. Homma Sensei was the last official uchideshi (live-in student) at Iwama dojo and was with O'Sensei during the last years of his life. After the founder's death, Homma Sensei moved to the United States and opened his independent dojo. Homma Sensei is the creator of Nippon Kan's unique teaching method that combines kenjutsu (sword techniques) and jojutsu (staff techniques) with taijitsu (open hand techniques).
It has been Homma Sensei's belief that all Aikido organizations are part of the same family under the Founder, O'Sensei. And, after O'Sensei's death, Homma Sensei was not able to choose one organization over another and therefore studied Aikido independently and founded Aikido Nippon Kan in 1978 as an independent dojo.He created and developed his own system of study based on what he learned from O'Sensei.
Although Aikido Nippon Kan remains an independent organization, his loyalty will always remain with the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba and maintains a close relationship with Aikikai's Hombu dojo and Iwama's Aiki shrine dojo. Both, he considers,are part of the heritage of his youth.
In the years since O'Sensei's passing, Morihiro Saito Shihan, 9th degree black belt, become a world-renowned Aikikai Shihan (master instructor) and also the chief instructor (dojo cho) of the Aikishrine Dojo in Iwama. Until his death in the spring of 2002, Morihiro Saito was the special advisor to Aikido Nippon Kan and close confidant to Homma Sensei.
I have been practicing Aikido for more than 40 years, and I am still pondering what it is that I have learned. I have seen the different ways Aikido is portrayed and perceived externally, and the behind-the-scenes problems the major Aikido organizations have faced.
I wonder if we as a society of Aikidoists are really practicing what the Founder taught us. It seems to me that we may be missing his message of humanity and love. I have watched instructors and students who seem to be self-absorbed and isolated in their practice. They seem to concentrate primarily on their own development and promotion. I am afraid that this is a very narrow and limiting understanding of what Aikido can be and can give others the wrong impression about the true nature of Aikido.
The world of Aikido is not governed like other martial arts by tournaments that determine who are the most skilled or powerful. Therefore anyone can claim to be an instructor and justify his or her own personal interpretations. I have watched amateur "Aikido analysts" portray Aikido with words instead of practice, whose primary format of Aikido experience has been discussions on the Internet. (This is not in reference to Aikido Journal or other major professional on-line publications). Many instructors make wonderful speeches about Aikido and the art of peace, but not many are active leaders, who lead by doing, not by what they say we are to do. To me, to retreat from the world and build an Aikido commune and Aiki shrine deep in the mountains is more indicative of self-glorification than true understanding of Aikido. Instructors who preach flowery concepts not based in reality, do not lead others to understand themselves or the world. Using the words of the Founder as a shroud to hide behind reveals a basic lack of understanding.
By simply practicing Aikido in a dojo, are we changing or improving the world around us? Just one step outside the dojo, you can find homelessness, poverty, drugs, unemployment and crime. Merely practicing Aikido by itself does not change this.
Every time we step outside, we are in contact with real life. We can't forget that Aikido is only a small part of a big world. I always make the point to my students that true understanding does not come from the practice of martial arts only. We need to widen our scope of study to truly understand the role martial arts play in human development.
Since bring introduced to AHAN, Homma Sensei has enabled me to witness first hand the power of using aikido as a tool to truly reconcile the world. It is through Homma Sensei's devotion and unrivaled efforts in providing such rewards and humanitarian efforts to the less fortunate around the world that has inspired me to be a part of this dream. This dream, which is not any further out of reach than any other dream, requires the participation and sincere efforts of others as well as together we can make the difference.
For more information please visit Nippon Kan.