Sunday, October 03, 2010

In memoriam

Today was the Seiichi Sugano Sensei Memorial Seminar at the New York Aikikai with Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, Donovan Waite Sensei, and Jikou Sugano Sensei (Sugano sensei's son).

With relatively short notice, over 150 aikidoka came out to honor Sugano sensei in the best possible way -- the joyful practice of aikido.

During the seminar, I could almost feel the spirit of sensei in the dojo -- particularly during Jikou sensei's class. His teaching was very reminiscent of sensei, both in method and manner. Jikou is every bit the soft-spoken, modest gentleman his father was.

As I'm sure most of you reading this know, Sugano sensei died August 29 from complications of a long illness.

He was surrounded by his senior-most students from New York and Australia, as well as, of course his family, including his son, Jikou.

There was a very touching memorial service the following week, led by Tony Smibert, Sugano sensei's senior student and head of the Australia Aikikai.

Smibert sensei's eulogy was very heart-felt and touching, as were remarks by Harvey Konigsberg and Yamada sensei.

In the days and weeks following these events, it seemed everyone had a story or recollection of Sugano sensei. I was glad to realize sensei meant so much to so many people.

Aikido is a Way
There is commitment and there is obligation
Do not abuse or misuse the art of Aikido
Study carefully, honestly and humbly
Respect your seniors and look after your juniors
-- Seichi Sugano Sensei
He meant more to me than I even realized when he was alive, but that's what always happens after a person dies, isn't it? We suddenly realize we loved the person we lost.

If even I, a relative new student, who was hardly on intimate terms with sensei, felt that way, I can only imagine how so many others must feel.

But that was Sugano sensei. He was able to make each student feel he cared. It is only natural that we should care back.

Sensei's ashes will be scattered on Mt. Banks in the Blue Mountains near Sydney during Australia’s Winter School in July.