Master Sugino Yoshio

The late Master Sugino Yoshio is best known for the excellence of his swordfight choreography for such monumental films as Akira Kurosawa’s ground-breaking Seven Samurai and Yojimbo as well as Hiroshi Inagaki’s epic masterpiece, Miyamoto Musashi (retitled Samurai Trilogy in North America and broken down into 3 segments: Samurai Part 1, Samurai Part 2, and Samurai Part 3).

But he was a gifted and charismatic martial artist who studied under Morihei Ueshiba and other great martial artists, and who inspired all who met him with his humility and his immense skill.

Mr Reid studied under Sugino Yoshio Sensei for years in Japan: “I remember him as cheerful but unyeilding in his demands for excellence, a gentle man who nonetheless carried great strength within him. I consider myself profoundly fortunate to have been able to study under such a master.”

Sugino Sensei on the set of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, “Yojimbo”

If you are interested, the Aikido Journal published an excellent article on Sugino Yoshio Sensei titled “The Last Swordsman: The Yoshio Sugino Story”. The first paragraphs are reproduced by permission below:

Yoshio Sugino, swordsman of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, is respected worldwide as one of the elder statesmen in the world of Japanese kobujutsu (classical martial arts). Born in 1904, his life has paralleled much of the development of modern Japan, and during that time he has been fortunate enough to know and study under many of this century’s legendary martial artists.

He has also provided martial arts instruction for many of Japan’s most popular historical movies, including Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, adding dynamism and reality to what had been staid and poorly stylized fight-scene choreography. He has also appeared frequently in the media as a representative of the world of Japanese kobujutsu. In such ways he has contributed much toward introducing the truly wonderful aspects of Japanese martial arts to the public. But despite Sugino’s tremendous service to the budo world, information on him has been limited to fragmented interviews and popular articles that do little toward painting a realistic portrait of the man himself, his origins and his history. In this series I look back on Sugino Sensei’s life and the paths he has taken, along the way presenting some of the thoughts on bujutsu he has developed during his 92 years.

Please take the time to read the entire article.