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Sugano was born in Otaru, Hokkaido. Sugano 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 of Morihei Ueshiba. In 1965 he was appointed by Ueshiba to introduce aikido in Australia. He remained there for 15 years, founding the organisation Aiki Kai Australia. At the request of Nobuyoshi Tamura, 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.
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 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 (Melbourne) and Hanan Janiv (Canberra). They had also been awarded the title of Shihan.
- Aiki Kai (Australia) official website, includes some historical information and "newsletter" magazines. Over 40 dojo, including every capital city.
- NY Aikikai: News about Sugano Sensei at the Wayback Machine (archived August 13, 2007)
- Sugano Sensei Medical Fund at the Wayback Machine (archived September 21, 2007)
- Seiichi Sugano Shihan passes away in New York City