Rinjiro Shirata (March 29, 1912 – May 29, 1993) was a 9 Dan Aikido Aikikai Shihan also known as the Kobukan Prodigy because of the strong body.
He was born in the Yamagata Prefecture. During school, he was very successful in Judo and already had a Nidan at the age of 17. His father was a landlord interested in martial arts and the one who was inspired by the Aikido demonstration in Ayabe held by the Morihei Ueshiba.
Rinjiro joined the Kobukan Dojo (old Hombu name) as an uchi-deshi in 1933. Cleaning the Dojo was his main duty and sometimes he received the techniques from the elder uchi-deshi secretly. Little by little he became a top student and an Otomo for the founder. He traveled to Osaka with the O-Sensei and remained there as a teacher.
In 1937 Kenkoku University in Manchuria asked for a teacher. The founder was about to recommend Rinjiro but sent Kenji Tomiki because Shirata had to join the Japanese Imperial Army.
A person who wishes to study Aikido should start with the spirit. If the spirit is not correct, the path will also be incorrect.
Upon coming back home in 1949, Sensei makes a pause in the practice. He gets a job, finds a wife, makes 3 kids and only in 1959 Aikido took a part of his life back. He concentrated on teaching in Yamagata this time.
Rinjiro Shirata Sensei was awarder 9 Dan Aikikai in 1972. He was appointed as a president of Aikido High Council and held posts in the International Aikido Federation starting from 1976 when it was established. He attended all Aikikai major events and was one of the most respected Aikido teachers.
Shirata Sensei had a piece of focus on a solo practice named Tandokudosa in Japanese. This was his way to unlock the Aikido and he even developed his own Katas for that.
During his funeral, Kisshomaru Ueshiba said that Shirata Rinjiro represented what Aikido is meant to be. He was awarded a 10 Dan from Aikikai posthumously
Enjoy an interview for the aikidojournal.com with Rinjiro Shirata and an article about him from John Stevens, his student and an author of the book Aikido: The Way of Harmony.