Rinjiro Shirata (1912-1993) was a 9th dan Aikikai shihan, and was awarded the 10th dan posthumously. He was born in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, and from a family of Omote Kyo believers. His mother practiced Aiki Budo at a dojo of the Budo Senyokai in Manchuria.
Rinjiro Shirata entered the Kobukan Dojo (hell dojo) of Morihei Ueshiba in 1933 as an uchideshi. He was well known for his modest character and exceptional physical strength, and became a top student.
Training at the Kobukan was very severe and tough, but Rinjiro and the uchideshi thought it was full of joy. They would try techniques out on each other as hard as they could, but only after the general public session was finished and O'Sensei had left the training area.
This very intense way of practicing certainly helped the uchideshi make good progress.
He travelled to Osaka with O'Sensei as his assistant, where he stayed and continued to teach. About 1936, Kenkoku University in Manchuria decided to include aikido in its curriculum and O'Sensei was appointed as advisor.
He recommended that Shirata become a professor there, but, the China Incident occurred and Shirata was called into the Japan Imperial Army, and spent the war years in Burma.
Shirata resumed teaching Aikido around 1960 when he was in Yamagata, and in 1962, he received the 8th dan rank from Morihei Ueshiba.
Rinjiro Shirata was a great support to the Aikikai and awarded 9th dan in 1972 by the 2nd Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and is one of a handful of people to have achieved this level.
Morihei Ueshiba developed Aikido from his combat studies of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu with Sokaku Takeda, and his spiritual studies with the Omoto Kyo and Onisaburi Deguchi.
Aikido focuses on harmony and non-resistance, leading to Success
He was also active in the International Aikido Federation from 1976, occupied several high posts and served on the technical council. He traveled to Honolulu in 1978 in connection with the IAF and to Chicago in 1984 at the invitation of Akira Tohei Sensei.
On both occasions foreign students responded enthusiastically to his skillful, yet gentle approach.
Devoted to the spread of aikido and a strong supporters of the Ueshiba family, Shirata was a regular participant over the years in major Aikikai sponsored events like the All Japan Aikido Demonstration, the Iwama Taisai, and the Kagami Biraki at the Tokyo Hombu Dojo.
Shirata Sensei was among the most respected aikido teachers and was widely-known abroad through the book Aikido: The Way of Harmony by John Stevens, which he supervised and featured his techniques.