Recommended reading: “The Last Swordsman: The Yoshio Sugino Story” by Tsukasa Matsuzaki

The article below on famous swordsman Yoshio Sugino has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

The fierce gleam that once characterized his gaze has given way to a gentle, affectionate light as he watches over his young charges in the dojo. People have taken to describing him as “free of worldly desires and cares,” neither flattering others nor being swayed by their evaluations. At the age of 93, he is comfortable with himself to the point that his every movement and gesture is picture-perfect. His sword is filled with a graceful, elegant energy, his smile with an irresistible attraction.

The Aikido Journal archives now include more than 800 articles in twenty different languages and numerous video clips. We are constantly adding new articles and translations in our effort to document aikido and related disciplines past and present. If you would like to support us in this effort by taking out a subscription to the Online Aikido Journal we welcome you to do so by clicking this link. Remember that if you subscribe or renew for two years you will now receive both the Aiki News / Aikido Journal Archival DVD and Stanley Pranin’s latest book Aikido Pioneers-Prewar Era absolutely free of charge. Don’t pass up this special offer!

Click here to read entire article.


  1. I love this story! In one of the early Kurosawa samurai film DVDs (Sanjuro?) there was an out-take of Sugino sensei teaching Toshiro Mifune a technique.

  2. Fascination with a long, sharp, Japanese blade post-samurai times:

    1. morbid curiosity?

    2. the ability to slice even thick objects?

    3. the Freudian phallic extension?

    4. the aesthetic beauty of the blade and koshirae?

    5. the discipline involved in learning to block and strike with it (Iaido/Kendo)?

    6. the extremely high quality of tamahagane (jewel carbon steel)?

    7. the sacred process of making tamahagane?

    8. that every Aikido technique can be done with a sword?

    9. the historical ideal of the samurai?

    10. metaphor of slicing through fear?

    11. metaphor of piercing straight through obstacles?

    I’m alone so far on this one, you all. I hope you’ll write comments pertaining to other reasons to revere the Nihonto.

  3. Respect, appreciation and gratitude come to mind.

    Respect for the immense effort over time to maintain a revered tradition.

    Appreciation for the genius, talent and perseverence, again over time, by committed devotees of a proven art form, and its usage in a culture foreign to most.

    Gratitude for the efforts of visionaries like Stan Pranin, to include cultural and interesting insights and glimpses of how the rest of human history is weaved into a marvelous tapestry of mankind’s achievements.

    I find no energy left for sarcasm, ill manners or jealous spite.

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