Thread: Shirata Rinjiro
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 532
Re: Shirata Rinjiro

Charles Hill wrote: View Post
Hi Allen,

Could you explain a little more on what you mean by "the implication"? I am guessing you mean the point that Shirata Sensei was dedicated to Kisshomaru Ueshiba rather than the Aikikai. Is that right? How are you taking that to mean?

Hi Charles,

It is perfectly reasonable that you should ask that. I don't know if I can do your question service.

First of all, I'll point out that IMHO the ambiguity of the Japanese language allows for one to get one's meaning across sometimes in a very pointed way while a) allowing for a complete obfuscation/refutation of the original intent of the sentence or message by the end, if one discerns that impending doom is approaching. and, b) being imbedded in a structure of "plausible deniability" which is standardized and accepted. [This is just my opinion, but I suspect this is so due to the vary nature of the society in which the language developed. There needed to be escape valves and structured indirectness or the culture would implode. As a consequence one can be "told off" in a very artful and indirect way. In fact, one can receive the gravest of insults via a compliment. Or one can simply change ones original meaning for purposes of self (or other) preservation or simply be artfully (maddeningly) vague. ]

Secondly, I would prefer to copy the English translation and give my take on each line (Japanese would be even better I suppose, but I don't need the homework thank you very much!) . . . but I don't wish to step on anybody's toes, so I will refrain from doing that.

Third, it should be very clear that this is simply MY interpretation of a linguistic interpretation of a message that was knowingly delivered for public consumption so therefore would have been self-centured at the very least, under circumstances (death) that protocol would demand be handled with discretion and taste (further self-centuring).

With this third point in mind, I think it is remarkable that the Nidai Doshu chose to begin his memorial with the subject matter of the first paragraph. The second through fourth paragraphs would be much more the norm with the first and last paragraphs usually containing rather banal summations. Instead the following points are made, and in this order:

1. Shirata Shihan was one of the best of the Founder's deshi.
2. Shirata Shihan was faithful to the Founder (1st) and Nidai Doshu (2nd)
3. That faithfulness was of a personal order. (There was personal devotion to the father that necessitated faithfulness to the son. This was a product of Shirata sensei's relationship with his teacher, but also was, I am convinced, due to his family's relationship and involvement with Omoto Kyo, the Ueshiba family, and other highly influential personages involved in Daito Ryu and what was to become Aikido.)
4. That faithfulness wasn't invested in the organization of the Aikikai (and the the fine Way that it promotes.)
5. Shirata Shihan devoted himself to the WAY, not an organization.
6. Shirata Shihan was devoted to the FOUNDER (see point #2) and to the WAY, the WAY that the FOUNDER had established, as opposed to the organization (and the organization's Way!)
7. Due to this, (Shirata's personal devotion to the Founder and the Way the founder had established), he did much for Nidai Doshu and for Aikido.

These points may seem to contradict what is stated in the fourth paragraph, but I think not. I believe that that Nidai Doshu accurately claims that Shirata sensei hoped his actions of support for him and the organizational roll that he (Shirata) fulfilled, would bring, "respect to the founder, and in the end would lead aikido to correct and pure development."

Whether or not he felt that his hope was fulfilled in his lifetime I don't believe Shirata sensei expressed publicly for the very same reasons that he held offices in an organization he, according to Nidai Doshu, felt no personal devotion to and (it is my understanding) allowed himself to be censured by the son of his teacher while many of his peers (BTW, read the memorial again to see where Shirata sensei stood among his peers.) left to form alternate organizations with an outcome that produced (and this isn't a criticism, rather an observation) far more material and personal reward and recognition than Shirata sensei ever received while staying in "his own" organization, not to mention his juniors that came decades later.

Of course, one should keep in mind that I am speaking about my teacher so I am biased. I know for a fact that Shirata sensei would be terribly embarrassed by the boastfulness of my post. He was an incredibly humble man. But I tell myself that if Nidai Doshu can say that he was "one of the best" of the FOUNDER'S uchi deshi (read between the lines folks . . . there are uchi deshi and "the FOUNDER'S uchi deshi.") and "different from the present younger members and the post-war shihan." I stand in good company. I certainly agree with Nidai Doshu's last line. To my mind one of the greatest compliments that could be paid would be the simple statement, "He was a good man." He was!

Here is a quote that I think typifies my remembrance of Shirata sensei:

Patience and gentleness are power
Nothing is so strong as gentleness,
nothing so gentle as real strength.

Power is so characteristically calm,
that calmness in itself has the aspect of power,
and forbearance implies strength.

I think Shirata sensei was I silent giant within Aikido and worked selflessly and with great devotion to his teacher Ueshiba Morihei by practicing, preserving and promoting what he understood to be the WAY as established by the FOUNDER.

Thanks for asking,

~ Allen Beebe
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