Sugano Seiichi Shihan – 17 December 1939 to 29 August 2010
Sugano Shihan, 8th dan, was an uchi deshi (inside student) who lived at the Hombu dojo (Japan) with O-Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido) and remains one of the legendary figures in the aikido world community. He in fact became an emissary for O-Sensei’s philosophy of love, kindness and compassion.
Another uchi deshi and spiritual emissary was Tamura sensei – who, in 1965, was sent to Europe while Sugano sensei was sent to Australia. Both were committed to stay on the path created by O-Sensei while introducing as many people as possible to the art of aikido. In a few short years, Sugano Shihan’s charisma and focus on a high standard of teaching the basics made aikido quite popular in Australia. All over the world, the physicality of his aikido became known for power and speed. He was also a master swordsman.
Tamura Sensei became so busy handling Europe and the Middle East that he asked for Sugano Sensei’s help with Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. After 15 years in Australia, Sugano Shihan left to teach aikido in Europe . It was while in Belgium that Sugano sensei met Pennewaert sensei, who became Sugano sensei’s otomo (attendant to the instructor). In 1988, Sugano Shihan went to New York to help teach alongside Yamada Yoshimitsu, 8th dan, Shihan and President of the US Aikido Federation. During this time, Pennewaert sensei served as uchi deshi to Sugano and Yamada, and he was privileged to teach at the New York Aikikai.
When Pennewaert sensei opened his school in Southern California, Sugano sensei named “Shin Do Kan” (House where you practice the way of the heart) – the same name bestowed on the first dojo opened by Pennewaert in Belgium in 1987 – and presented the new school with the customary “ai-ki-do” scroll which he created by his own hand. Sugano Shihan’s “ai-ki-do” scroll is now permanently displayed as part of our dojo’s kamisa (front of the training area).
Sugano Shihan conducted aikido workshops all over the world, but always maintained regular contact with the Shin Do Kan dojo, which included an annual weekend seminar. For many people, all over the world, Sugano Shihan was an embodiment of the aikido philosophy that we are all connected in ways we may never fully understand.