“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.”
Master Yoshio Sugino 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).
Aikido Journal published an excellent biography about Yoshio Sugino Sensei entitled “The Last Swordsman: The Yoshio Sugino Story by Tsukasa Matsuzaki”. This biography details the life of Yoshio Sugino Sensei from his youth through his training years to his later years. Of particular note is the fascinating look it gives us of his relationship with Director Akira Kurosawa and his work on Kurosawa’s movies. Please click on the photo below to read this great story.
“On one occasion he was visited by Seiji Miyaguchi, who had initially refused his part in the film on the grounds that he did not feel up to playing the role of a strong, stalwart samurai. But Kurosawa talked him into it, telling him there was no need to worry since skillful camerawork could be relied upon to strengthen his image.
Miyaguchi came to Sugino to ask for instruction for the scene in which his character Kyuzo — one of the most famous in Seven Samurai—makes his first appearance. Miyaguchi listened carefully to Sugino’s instructions and was soon managing beautifully despite his utter lack of experience. He spent two days practicing what he had learned and with a little extra coaching during the actual filming the scene became one of the most outstanding in Seven Samurai and in the history of the genre.”
Here is an excellent interview (reproduced and translated courtesy of Aikido Sangenkai) with Yoshio Sugino Sensei (杉野嘉男) and his son Shigeo Sugino (杉野茂男) that originally appeared in Japanese in “Kengo Retsuden-shu” (Biographies of Kendo Masters) number 67 Futabasha Publishers Ltd. (剣豪列伝集 67号 双葉社 1961年) in 1961. In this interview, Sugino Sensei discusses the history and philosophy of Katori Shinto Ryu:
“Morikawa: It came back to me with Yojimbo, but I heard that you have taught sword techniques for many movies and plays. Many of the actors were from the Kurosawa group, weren’t they?
Yoshio Sugino: Yes. Inagaki Sensei’s “Ganryujima” (巌流島), “Duel at Ichijoji Temple” (一乗寺決闘) and “Yagyu Secret Scrolls” (柳生武芸帳) were as well.”
Mr. Tong was very honoured to have studied at Sugino Dojo and to have participated in some of the key events in the history of the dojo.
Mr. Tong has fond memories of his time with Sugino Yoshio Sensei and feels blessed to have been his student.
Sugino Sensei passed away in 1998. He will be missed.