Category Archives: News


2021 Regional Shōdan Shiken at Clear Lake Dojo

On Saturday, May 15, all members of the dojo came together to hold a regional shōdan shiken for both Clear Lake and the San Antonio dojo. We were honored to have John Ray Sensei come down again to lead the judging panel, and for Jon Andresen Sensei’s support. Also we were privileged to have the support of Michael Goodman’s spouse, Melissa, assist us as the Candidate Organizer (CA) for the bow-out area. Even those who were not testing played key roles,– Laurence Ching was the CA for the bow-in area and managed the number tags; Sean O’Hara was the Ceremony Master (CM) for the opening ceremony, testing (1-4dan), and closing ceremony.

Before the test Ray Sensei lead us through a short practice of the Battō Hō set, pointing out and reiterating kihon as he went. Then there was a brief rehearsal of the process for the benefit of the two students from the San Antonio/Austin dojo who were new to the Clear Lake dojo and our testing process. Next the written tests were administered and graded. Finally we were ready to begin the main part. The opening/closing ceremonies and everyone’s practical tests went very smoothly, thanks to the weekly rehearsals. During closing remarks Ray Sensei announced that he would recommend all for the rank they tested for. Below is a listing of who tested for what. After the group photo (see below) was taken and break down complete, everyone walked to the nearby Italian restaurant for a long relaxed meal with much fellowship.

Note: In addition to the expected shodan through yondan tests there was a surprise (surprise to everyone except for Ray Sensei and myself) hachidan test. Michael Goodman was the CM for that segment.

Testing for shodan: Jonathan MacDonald (CL), Collin Rogers (SA/A), Billy Tran (CL).

Testing for sandan: Michael Goodman (CL), Eric Simon (SA/A)

Testing for yondan: Troy Beckman (CL)

Testing for hachidan: Emily Egan (CL)

2021 May 15 group photo
Clear Lake & SA Shōdan Shiken group photo
News Other demo

Friendswood Demo

Saturday, May 11, was our first demonstration at the Friendswood Public Library, held as part of their observance of Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (May).  It was held inside their meeting room just inside the front door.  

Earlier in the month I was invited to fill their display case.    This case is in the lobby next to the meeting room door and the display will be up until some time at the end of the month.  Also in the lobby I discovered a display of MA related books in the lobby that library staff were kind enough to put up together with an event flyer that Mr Riley created to publicize our demo.  

The ceiling of the room was a bit low, which caused some on the demo team to change waza or change how they did standing kirioroshi in order to not hit the ceiling.  This is actually one of the side benefits of doing demos outside one’s dojo,- it forces flexibility and awareness of one’s surroundings.  I was joined by Michael Goodman, Billy Tran and Jonathan MacDonald.  In addition to demonstrating waza and Tachi Uchi No Kurai, I took a lot of questions from the audience on a wide range of topics ranging from how I got into Iai, to the why and wherefores of the formal seated bow, to the purpose of sageo, and more.  It was a good crowd.  


Display Ending May 30; New Brochure

If you haven’t yet been to the Evelyn Meador Public Library in Seabrook, Texas, to see the Japanese cultural display in their display case, you have until Wednesday next week (May 30) to do so.  The next day the items on display will be removed.

The dojo brochure has been updated with mainly new photos and some better written content.  It replaced the older version at the link at the bottom of the home page.  Also here:

News Seabrook display

Embu at Evelyn Meador Public Library in Seabrook, Texas

The joint embu/public presentation by Clear Lake Iaido Dojo and Tora no Tsume Dojo was a great success.  Everyone brought a lot of energy into their demonstration, and the audience had some good questions.  One question regarding the use of the sageo lead down some interesting avenues that high-lighted both functional and symbolic roles.



Group photo with Jon Andresen Sensei

On Sunday, April 22, Jon Andresen Sensei of The San Antonio dojo was able to join us at practice.  All of the active, local students were also there, so I took a group shot.

Houston Japan Festival News

2018 Houston Japan Festival, The Cold One

Many many thanks to everyone, both students and those who support them, who made the demonstration on Saturday and Sunday at Houston Japan Festival possible.  It would not have happened as well as it did without everyone’s help.  There is a photo attached to this post of everyone who demonstrated.

The weather was phenomenal this year.  For those who have never been to Houston Japan Festival, this is a purely outdoor event held annually next to the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park in downtown Houston, so the weather plays a pivotal role.  Usually Japan Festival is a sweat fest. This was the first year ever that I did not break a sweat during the entire event, even during the demonstrations.  It was actually cold in the morning when we demonstrated, making the warmth of a winter weight haori and wool hakama feel very cosy.  

There were more than a few vendors selling vintage Japanese clothing.  The large booth that debuted last year was back selling lots of kimono and yukata.  This event has become a great place to look for obi, koshihimo, juban, kimono, yukata and haori.  

The JAXA booth was displaying a poster of Nemo since he’s currently on ISS until June.  I tried to get an extra copy of the print, but no joy.  So I took a photo which is attached.  

The Japanese Garden in Hermann Park was recently enlarged so I strolled through it, enjoying the relatively quiet and spacious grounds.  I highly recommend it when the hustle and bustle of the rest of the festival starts to wear at one.  If interested in lotuses, there’s a variety grown there that is descended from very old seeds (~2000 years according to the sign) discovered at an archaeological dig in Chiba Prefecture.  


John Ray-Sensei Practice

On the 2018 February 9-11 weekend John Ray-Sensei came down from Denton to the Clear Lake dojo to conduct training for the southern Beikoku Tendai Iaido Kai (BTIK) branch dojo.  Attending from the Baton Rouge dojo was Neil Melancon-Sensei.  Jon Andresen-Sensei represented the San Antonio dojo.  In the course of the weekend we practiced Seiza, Battō Hō, Tōhō, Tatehiza, Oku Tachi, Kaewaza, and Tachi Uchi No Kurai.  Everyone worked hard and came away with fresh insight.  Even after years (20+) of practice there is still so much more to learn.  This is what makes MJER Iaido so rewarding for the effort put in.

Also, in addition to the waza practice, Jon Andresen-Sensei brought some of his tantō for a show and tell.  


Visit by John Ray Sensei

Many, many thanks to my teacher, John Ray Sensei, for visiting us to share his passion for Iai.  In addition to two students receiving their Shodan certificates, we had a great practice with him yesterday.  Everyone worked hard and benefitted from the sincere instruction.


Photos on Flickr; Brochure on main page

I recently finished uploading almost all of my Japan 2014 photos to Flickr.  The galleries on this site are slimmed down sets.  So if you want more, please head on over to:

Start at “Waiting at IAH” and work your way to “Narita 1 Observation Deck”.  Thank you for your patience.


In other news the tri-fold style brochure for the dojo is now available for download as a PDF from the main page.  It has its own header and is located at the bottom of the main column.


2014 Japan June Twitter Archive

I tweeted a lot during this trip and thought including my June Twitter archive, which covers all but the last day, would provide an additional point of view of how things went.  Unfortunately the archive that Twitter generates has no dates attached to the tweets.  They are arranged with the oldest tweets at the bottom so please start there and work your way up.

Your June Twitter archive