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Aiki Kai Australia

National Aikido Association of Australia




Seiichi Sugano (17 December 1939 - 29 August 2010) was a Japanese Aikido instructor who lived and taught in many Western countries. He held the rank of 8th Dan, Aikikai Shihan.

Sugano Sensei was born in Otaru, Hokkaido, and had been learning judo for six years when, around the age of 18, he went to train in Aikido. Sugano entered the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1957 and by 1959 was a direct student (uchi-deshi) of Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido. In 1965, as a 5th Dan, he was appointed by the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, to introduce Aikido in Australia. He remained here for 15 years, founding the organisation Aiki Kai Australia. At the request of Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei, Sugano went to Europe and stayed in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Starting in 1988, he resided in New York City where he co-instructed with Yoshimitsu Yamada at the New York Aikikai. He continued to maintain close relations with Europe and Australia through regular training visits to those, and many other, countries.

Sugano maintained regular contact with the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and also the Ueshiba family. He traveled extensively during the year to give Aikido seminars, mainly in Europe and South East Asia. He visited Australia twice yearly and Malaysia once yearly to conduct the National Training Schools and dan grading. Sugano's Aikido was known for possessing both speed and power. His teaching emphasized timing and distance, within a fundamental study of basic technique. Weapons instruction followed a more organic style, with very little study of formal kata. Sugano's weapons instruction focused on correct body positioning (hanmi) and paired practice, which again emphasized the necessity of timing and distance.

In 2003, Sugano suffered a below the knee amputation, but he continued to teach and demonstrate aikido without any severe limitation. A medical fund was set up to cover his ongoing medical costs.

Sugano died in New York City on August 29, 2010. The Aikido Foundation he established in Australia prior to his death, continues to promote Sugano's Aikido legacy internationally.

Three of Sugano's students were promoted to 7th Dan on his recommendation: Tony Smibert (Tasmania), Robert Botterill (Victoria) and Hanan Janiv (ACT).They were also awarded the title of Shihan, Master Teacher. 

Further reading:
Download an article presented in the NYC Aikikai website on the history of Sugano Sensei and some of his comments about his early training.

Sugano Sensei when he was an uchi-deshi to O Sensei

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