Rinjiro Shirata Sensei, 10th Dan (1912 - 1993) Shirata Sensei was a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei, the Founder of Aikido, from the age of 19, and he practiced and studied Aikido for 60 years. Shirata Sensei was director of the All-Japan Aikido Federation for a number of years. He developed a process of study and a series of techniques to bring clarity and the inner truth of one's mind and body and the Universe to the outer techniques and in one's life that forms an integral part of our Aikiko Aikido practice today. He did this in part during a multiple-year period of sabbatical and during his own individual study based on the movements and techniques he experienced with the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei.
Rinjiro Shirata Sensei maintained Aikido is a Path of Light. His dojo was called the Kodokan, or "The Path of Light Academy."
Rinjiro Shirata Sensei was well known for encouraging people with his warm, heart-felt smile. He could also be particularly gentle, calm and graceful, while at the same time displaying unyielding inner strength forged through years of training when performing a purification rite with his aiki-sword.
Shirata Sensei once told this tale: "A young warrior visited a yamabushi who was rumored to possess the "Sword of Invincibility". The warrior begged the yamabushi to reveal the secret of the sword, and the wizard agreed, but only under the following conditions: "You must lead a chaste and frugal life, meditate for several hours each day, recite the special chants I give you, and train in the techniques I show you. Do this for twenty years, and I will reveal the secret of the sword." The intent warrior faithfully fulfilled his pledge and returned twenty years later. As promised, the wizard produced the magic sword. The warrior took it in his hands, held it a few minutes, and then gave it back -- he no longer needed to rely on such a weapon."
The Secrets of Aikido
By John Stevens
Professor John Stevens Sensei, 7th Dan (Aikido) Professor Stevens is an Aikido Shihan (teacher of teachers) who lived in Japan for 35 years. His teacher was Rinjiro Shirata Sensei. During his time in Japan, Professor Stevens studied Aikido, which led to his creation of Classical Aikido. He has studied and taught Aikido all over the world.
Professor Stevens Sensei also studied Japanese calligraphy as well as several different forms of Japanese Zen while in Japan, and he was ordained as a Soto Zen priest.
Professor Stevens Sensei is a hardworking author perhaps best known for his delightful translation and arrangement of some of O'Sensei's work in The Art of Peace, a book about Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei, the Founder of Aikido, which includes a compilation of translated doka and calligraphy from O'Sensei.
Professor Stevens Sensei's calligraphy shows the characteristics of being gentle, calm and kind as well as being bold, watchful and always alert. At the same time as all of this, it also shows relaxed, yet unwavering determination. All of these aspects translate to his Aikido techniques as well. He is also a very hard worker, somehow drawing out of some of his students and the people he works with the diligence and courage to give whatever they are working on everything they've got. Then with apparent effortlessness gained from years of diligent training himself, he helps people somehow endlessly move forward past what sometimes seems like insurmountable obstacles to find more, as well as more within themselves from which they can draw on and give. Keep moving forward and never give up.
Professor Stevens Sensei maintains that Aikido is Light and also teaches that the Universe is our greatest teacher. He continues to support, encourage and teach these concepts through his literary and artistic works as well as his life by example.
Janice Walter (18 years of daily practice) - Growing up Janice learned to regularly sit quietly for hours at a time with family in boats from the age of 5 beginning in 1969. This led to her developing a natural Zen practice to go along with growing up in a family of practicing Catholics. Meditating in boats is a practice she continues to this day.
Shortly after meeting a new friend who had practiced both Aikikai and Ki Style Aikido, Janice began research and practice of Aikido based on the written works of Professor John Stevens Sensei, 7th Dan, Classical Aikido. This led to her own practice and development of several aspects of chinkon-kishin which form an integral part of her practice today.
A few months later, Janice began practicing Ki Style Aikido at the nearest Aikido dojo an hour away in Kingston, Ontario Canada for several years until that dojo closed.
In 2006 with the support of her Ki Style Aikido teachers and friends, Janice began practicing Aikido in her home town of Rideau Lakes Township. There she also continued to work to combine and refine her techniques and to share her understanding of the Light of the Universe.
The result is Aikiko Aikido, a flowing Zen perspective of Aikido that is family-oriented with firm control.