Recommended reading: “Interview with Seiichi Sugano” by Fuyuo Nanaura

The article below 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.

I found it difficult to understand [O-Sensei] when he used Omoto ideas and doctrines to explain aikido, because they were very vague. Someone with a deeper knowledge of Shinto probably would have gained a better understanding than I did. He was speaking in Japanese, of course, so I understood the words, but it was the way he expressed things that was difficult to understand. It was difficult to follow his logic, to feel that I had really grasped his meaning in a coherent way. In the same way children may not understand precisely what their parents are saying, even though they do in a general sense. O-Sensei was also from a different era, so he communicated in a somewhat different way.

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  1. bruce baker says:

    The shop-keeper, the Farmer, the little man who wanted to be a warrior .. a then the priest who wanted to connect to the universe beyond the terms of human knowledge … that was O’Sensei. No wonder .. even his students who understood the words could not grasp the deeper meaning of his thoughts, but his thoughts were as much his gut feeling of what he was grasping as it was the understanding of his knowledge of the religion he studied as much as it was the world around him also.

    Tell ya what .. listen to the mathematical ideas about how the universe works in our modern times.

    Listen to the science we find by studying the planet earth and all it’s animal and plants that we find alive today or fossilized in the ground, compared to the myths and legends of what different cultures tell.

    Mix in the natural disasters, all the volcanic events, meteor events, periods of change because of real global warming or global cooling, and guess what …

    The legends and myths, along with all the words of O’Sensei have a grain of truth in science.

    It is for you to figure out where the science ends and the tall tales begin, let alone the lessons that lie within the words. That .. is the journey of discovery.

    Too many people are hung up on the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, no kidding.

    When you do a class with Sugano sensei … he is not concerned with any of this, he is concerned that you are working on your techniques and practicing with a good heart, good spirit, at least that is my experience with the seminars I have had with him teaching. He is passing on what he has learned from MANY teachers!

    Of course my teacher, Chet Griffin 5th dan runs up to NYC to take classes with whoever is teaching, NYC features Yamada sensei and Sugano sensei, so we get an interesting mix of empty hand practice and weapons practice, but at the end of the day .. none of us is “the great teacher”, O’Sensei.

    My point is .. we are losing people who actually knew ‘the great teacher” and they didn’t know him quite as well as we would like to think they did, but do any of us know someone that well? We can only record the facts and make assumptions based on those facts when they fit rather oddly … just like we do for people today.

    If ya get a chance, do some classes with Sugano Sensei… steal whatever you can learn ..I am sure you will enjoy the class, and then … pass it on.

  2. bruce baker says:

    What a shame we have lost another great teacher, a great human being … someone who did not complicate Aikido practice … but simplified it as a practice to be enjoyed, and would smile at enjoyment of students practicing … that is how I remember by few times I got to practice with Sugano sensei …

    I wonder if Butch is somewhere out there practicing with Sugano Sensei? I would like to think the energy from each practice goes out infinitely into the universe around use and that light somehow never dies … so that if we could somehow travel faster than light … we would see our old friends still practicing .. just like the lights of stars of night are so very old and traveling across the universe, eh?

    If ya think about it like that … you could still see O’Sensei practicing …. if you were standing on some distant planet on some distant star…

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