Seiichi Sugano Shihan passes away in New York City

We have been notified of the passing of Seiichi Sugano Shihan in New York City on August 29. A notice has been posted on the Australian Aikikai site announcing his death:

“Sugano Shihan has passed away in New York. He challenged illness with great courage, then passed away peacefully, in the arms of his family. Sensei touched and changed the lives of generations of aikido students around the world. We were privileged to know him.”

Sugano Sensei was among the last generation of uchideshi at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo to have studied directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He was dispatched to Australia in 1965, later taught in Belgium and Europe, and beginning in 1988, at the New York Aikikai until his passing.

An Aikido Journal interview with Sugano Sensei is available here.

Further information is available in French and English here.

We would like to acknowledge Christiaan Zandt and Clark Bateman for notifying us of this sad news.


  1. Editho Arnaiz says:

    My sincere and deepest sympathy .

  2. Bruce Baker says:

    My first thought upon reading this news .. NOOOOOOO .. Not Sensei Sugano!

    My second thought … What a wonderful teacher he was and what wonderful memories I have.

    Third thought .. all of us are suseptable to death .. illness … disease despite how strong our zest for life is,and how strong our spirit may become through forging the spirit and training.

    And now as I blink back the tears as I think that I will never see sensei ever again .. we must all train our replacements, pass on our knowledge or have it lost for a time as others struggle to learn what we have learned.

    We cannot fight time .. and our time on this earth is limited. I am so glad to have known Sugano Sensei for the handful of short times I was able to train with him.

    Thank you Sugano Sensei for sharing of yourself so generously while you were here among us.

  3. I send to all friends and close students of Sugano Sensei my feelings of love and my prayers for his safe journey through mysterious “after-life-space”.

    I am not aikidoka, but I met Sugano Sensei a few times and he was such a special human being, kind, reserved and deeply brilliant, as well as he was the Great famous Shihan that everybody knows.

    I was so surprised about how much his classes were “magic” and also about his skill to “disappear” during the exercices.

    I tried to find him amoung all the aikidokas, but he had disappeared! And then suddenly, he appeared again! Never have I seen this happen with any other Sensei. I think that Sugano Sensei was teaching much more that what our eyes allow us to see. And maybe some didn’t notice a few times because it was invisible!

    Each time the moment came to his teaching, during the “Aikido International Congress” in Tanabe Japan, all the faces of the students would become smiling faces and the tatami was very well used, with no empty holes and with enough space for everybody.
    Just a miracle, a “gap” of love in the practice, i could very well notice this from upstairs..such a discrete way of being great! Wonderful Master, Sugano Sensei, indeed! Hommage to him.

    Love, Myriam Szabo,
    founder of Danza Duende School and network.

  4. Innalillahi wa inailaihiroji’un.
    I had a short quality time with Sugano Sensei during his visit to Indonesia. The seminar only took a day but the impression of his teachings and his gentle soul remain inside my heart. Thank you and good bye Sensei.

  5. Totally stunned to hear of this news, my deepest sympathy, best wishes & thoughts go to Sensei’s family & closest friends

  6. A Bright Light,
    Shining Quietly,
    Reaching Far!

  7. For Seiichi,

    On Monday night I had a very beautiful dream. I dreamt that Seiichi and I were walking together in the mountains, as we did many years ago, and he asked me how I was progressing. I thanked him for his wonderful teaching, and wanting him to understand that I really had made some useful progress, I especially thanked him for teaching me to-ko-tachi (centering between heaven and earth).

    I went on to say that I had come to realise what a beautiful and “connected” way of “being” this is, and what an invaluable way of harmonising with the Universe. He walked away smiling and the dream faded, leaving me feeling very happy.

    I awoke next morning with this dream vividly in mind and still feeling joyful. A few hours later I learnt of his death and was devastated. I went alone into the mountains for two days, but have now returned to continue trying to transmit to my students the happiness of the wonders of Aiki that he passed on to me.

    John Turnbull.
    Canberra, Australia.
    (I was Seiichi Sugano’s first Australian student in 1965 and since then have trained daily in the teachings of O’Sensei Ueshiba which he introduced to this country.)

  8. João Martins says:

    For you Sensei Seiichi Sugano and for all your family and dearest friends.

    I will describe my first seminar in Fátima by 2003/2004, where in the end, I was proud to meet a uchidechi of O sensei Morihei Ueshiba. I wanted something to remind me that day so I grabbed the only thing I had, my white belt, and told my partner that I was going to ask Sensei Sugano to write something for me. My partner didn’t think it was a good idea, but I was determined so I went straight and spoke to him in English.

    He grabbed my belt and asked my name and wrote it on the belt with a tremendous precision.
    Although I have this memory from him it´s not the most important. The simplicity and good will, the desire of making all aikido practitioners a great family. That is the most important memory that will live for ever.


    Rest in peace.

  9. My best wishes to the family, friends, students and all others touched by the loss of Seiichi Sugano. I walked by to sign up just last night and start my studies, and was greeted instead by the news of his service.



  10. Billy Komara says:

    For you Sensei Seiichi Sugano and Family.
    Thank you Sensei Seiichi Sugano for everything you teach for us, I am so Sad about your Passing, i hope i can continue your teaching aikido here in Indonesia.
    Goodbye Sensei, GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS..


    Billy Komara

  11. the man was a being continuing toward perfection…he kept his smile (and it got bigger) when he showed me over and over to my dismay that a (katate tori) nikyo did not involve any pain and didn’t have to…that was a life’s lesson in itself, and it was all i needed to know

    his smile, kindness, generosity of spirit

    sugano teacher

    missed but never ever forgotten

  12. Graham Perham says:

    I first heard of Sensei Seiichi Sugano in the mid 1960’s at training with Tony Smibert and David Brown in a disused henhouse, on a mat made of sawdust covered with canvas. The corrugated iron roof was around two feet above. It was just wonderful.

    I actually met Sensei at a training/grading at Monash university. He was Magic! I heard of his death just today.

    I guess I can say that Aikido to this day is still a part of my life. My interest in Aikido led to my change in religion to Buddhist all those years go. His death is sad, but his teaching will live for a long time.

    Thank you Sensei.

    Grahan Perham

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