Cultural Center Focuses On Community

Martial Art Students Give Back To Those In Need

Many martial arts studios put an emphasis on enhancing mind and body. At the Nippon Kan Japanese Cultural Center in Denver, they also focus on community.

Chief instructor Gaku Homma teaches the Japanese martial art of aikido.

It relies on open hands, not fists. The idea is to help people develop themselves. Homma makes sure those open hands extend to the community.

Homma founded the Nippon Kan center in 1978. When he was an aikido student as a boy in Japan his training included not only the martial art, but house duties like cleaning and cooking. That led Homma to start the highly acclaimed Domo Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant is closed on Sundays, but you will still find Homma and his students cooking for more than 300 people. When the meal is complete the staff delivers it to the Denver Rescue Mission to feed the homeless.

Homma says he understands life's hard knocks. He struggled when he first came to America. But this is more than community service for Homma, he sees it as an "exchange."

"We are learning from these people. We are gaining something," said Homma.

"He feels it is a way for him to pay tuition for all that he learns for the people that we meet at the mission and that they are just as much a part of the life in Denver as our life in Denver," said Emily Busch with the Nippon Kan Cultural Center.

Homma and his staff have been doing this every third Sunday for 20 years.

"About a month ago, they served 60,000th meal with us. So, you can imagine we cannot do what we do with out these individuals," said Josh Geppelt, with the Denver Rescue Mission.