Video: Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, at the 1986 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

In this demonstration that Shirata Sensei gave at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration in 1986, he first reads aloud a scroll containing a poem in praise of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei written by the religious leader Masahisa Goi. This is followed by a free-style sword kata that includes elements of sword movements practiced by O-Sensei in the prewar period. Shirata Sensei next demonstrates a series of jo kata of his own creation. The finale consists of multiple attacks by four opponents wielding the jo and bokken with the finish featuring a classic Daito-ryu pin!

Rinjiro Shirata was born in 1912 in Yamagata Prefecture. He was from a family of Omoto believers whose mother practiced Aiki Budo at a dojo of the Budo Senyokai in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. Shirata Sensei joined Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo in 1933. He was known for his exceptional physical strength. Shirata was later dispatched to Osaka where he taught until his induction into the Japan Imperial Army. He resumed teaching aikido c. 1960 in Yamagata continuing until shortly before his death. Shirata supervised publication of the 1984 book in English, Aikido: The Way of Harmony by John Stevens.

Duration: 9:15

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  1. Hi Stan,
    I’m confused. I have read a translated document that states Shirata started training around Dec 1931. Other sources say it was sometime in 1932. Here you say he joined the Kobukan in 1933. Uh, help? 🙂


    • Mark,

      This is a difficult subject. Shirata Sensei states in his interview that he entered the Kobukan Dojo in either 1931 or 1932. This is incorrect. If you carefully read the interview you will see that he mentions that Zenzaburo Akazawa was already in the dojo when he enrolled. Akazawa entered the dojo in 1933 after Yonekawa, Yukawa, and other seniors. Another way I discovered to figure out who entered the Kobukan Dojo and it what order was via photos from the period. In some cases, I know with precision, in others it is my best estimate. When I would interview the prewar deshi, I would always ask who was there when that person enrolled. Little by little, I was able to establish a pecking order. The Japanese are often not reliable sources and there is a tendency to specify a date earlier than the actual one.

  2. Very interesting and precious document of Shirata Shihan´s studies.

  3. Charles Warren says:

    On my computer watching these is always a bit choppy. The most interesting part that I could see was sensei deliberately going BETWEEN two attackers and engaging them both. THAT’s special!

  4. Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed seeing the technique of Master Shirata. I especially liked seeing his flow and footwork. Truly inspirational.

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