In April of 2019, Omar Lam Sanz Sensei hopes to fulfill his life long dream of visiting Japan.

Have you ever had a dream? A dream full of bitter-sweet longing
because you didn’t know how it could ever come true?

Omar Lam Sanz has a dream too.

All of Omar's life, he has been dreaming of going to Japan. Ever since he was a little kid, he has had dream after dream of visiting Himeji Castle. He said that every dream feels so "vivid as if it were real." Having been a martial arts enthusiast his whole life, Omar's life long goal is to train at the Aikido World Headquarters - Hombu Dojo and "stand in front of the tokonoma where O'Sensei once stood."

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Omar Lam Sanz teaching at his dojo.

Omar Lam Sanz teaching at his dojo.

Omar Lam Sensei has dedicated his life to practicing, mastering and teaching martial arts at the highest levels in Cuba. Like Americans who go to Europe to find their roots and come back exhilarated, connected to their heritage, and with a new confidence in who they are, Omar dreams of connecting to his martial arts roots by visiting Japan.


When I met first Omar in Cuba, he asked me if I had ever been to Japan.

“Of course,” I said. “I go there every year. It is important to me that I continue to maintain the connection to Japan that my teacher, the Reverend Kensho Furuya formed back in the 1970s. For me, it feels right – I can’t imagine not going.”

But Omar’s wife Yanina, sitting next to him, began to cry.

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Because it’s been Omar’s lifelong dream to visit Japan,” she said, “and it seems so out of reach. My heart hurts for him every time I think about it.”  

As a child growing up in Cuba, Omar watched his father do strange exercises. He climbed on his father’s back so he could experience the wonder of what his father was doing – and so he was introduced to Kung Fu. This sowed the seeds of his lifelong passion for martial arts.

In 1975, Omar began rigorous training in karate. He received his first black belt at age 15.  At 19 he was selected to be a member of the Cuban National Karate Youth Team. With them, he won many annual championships. After he retired from the team, he became their technical director and Vice President of the National Shotokan Karate Association in Cuba.

Still, something was missing. Omar searched for something more, and in the 1990s he began his training in Aikido. Over the years he rose to hold different positions of responsibility in the Cuban Aikido Association. He was their vice president, a member of their National Board of Directors and their Technical Committee. Eventually he opened his own Aikido dojo in Havana, where today he teaches Aikido students from ages six to sixty, and beyond.

Omar’s deepest wish is to bow and train in Japan at the World Headquarters Hombu Dojo located in Shinjuku, in Tokyo and to attend a memorial service for O’Sensei at Aikishrine - Iwama Dojo. He also dreams of training with the grandson of the Founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Moriteru Sensei.

Omar’s interest in Japan goes even deeper. When he began karate, he was captivated by the culture of simplicity and the ability to see beauty in ordinary things. The lifestyle intrigues him.

 In Omar’s words:

“Japan to me is special in everything from its history at the time of the samurai, the philosophy, building castles, gardening, calligraphy, tea ceremony, martial arts, architecture, traditional crafts, taiko drumming, the combination of the old and the new philosophy of the Japanese people to always keep striving.”

The Furuya Foundation of Los Angeles has committed to making Omar’s lifelong dream come true. His trip to Japan is planned for April 2019. Omar has already obtained a letter from Hombu Dojo which will allow him to obtain a Visa and visit Japan. The last hurdle is that the estimated cost of the trip is $10,000.00.

But in Cuba, Omar earns a mere $15.00 per month. You can imagine why the dream of visiting and training in Japan seems totally out of reach for him.

With friends and supporters like you in his corner, we can make it happen for him. Together we can help him create memories he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.

Will you help Omar fulfill the dream that’s been growing in his heart since he was a young child? Your tax-deductible contribution to the Furuya Foundation will go a long way to making Omar’s dream a reality.

With gratitude from all of us and especially from Omar.

If you would like to discuss Omar's trip further, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

David Ito
Dojo Cho, Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Chairman, Furuya Foundation

If you would like to help out:

Donate by check:
Furuya Foundation
1211 N. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 USA