Category Archives: shodan shiken

Denton shodan shiken Tanida-Sensei Tanida-Sensei koshukai

2014 Koshukai & Shodan Shiken, a brief personal journey

2014 Denton SwordThe story really began three weeks prior when David and I came to Dallas for the North TX Irish Festival. In addition to the festival I spent most of Saturday in Denton just to the North visiting my teacher and participating in the Saturday morning class. All was well until the day after we got back where upon I fell ill with a respiratory disease. After a week of making little progress I saw my doctor and started on antibiotics. Meanwhile my heightened conditioning routine, necessary to prepare for the physically demanding Koshukai, came to a halt. I recovered barely in time to gather the many things needed for the long weekend, pack, and drive off to Denton, as planned, on the Wednesday before the weekend.

Thursday morning was spent resting, organizing, and waiting for Sensei to complete his work for the day so we could run errands in the afternoon. I did the driving as we stopped to get gifts for Tanida-Sensei and his wife, arrange for the pizza dinner on Friday, check the key operation at the gym, arrange for tables, arrange for checking in at the hotel, and buy fruit & snacks for the hotel room.

After getting back to the house we enjoyed a smoothie before heading down to the dojo for the Thursday practice. The easel was also brought to the dojo and set up. Everyone in attendance was testing, so the practice consisted of jūkeiko followed by a practice Shiken. Afterwards we went out to eat with Charles-Sensei and continued to discuss planning for our trip to Japan in June. Much later that night Neil-Sensei arrived and settled down in Sensei’s study for the night.

The next day Nemo-San came by in the morning before heading to the airport to pick up Tanida-Sensei, in order to collect the hotel check in paper, the basket for the hotel room, and the care kit. This allowed us time in the morning to complete preparations at the dojo and get things ready to move to the gym for the evening practice.

Promptly at the appointed time, Tanida-Sensei came to the dojo to start the afternoon practice with the assembled Kanchō. Every year he seems on fire to transmit to us the technique and essence of MJER. Every year he challenges us to raise our Iai and that of our students. This year was no different.

Four hours later the practice with the Kanchō is done and we are able to take Tanida-Sensei to a private viewing of Kogushi-Sensei’s family sword at the nearby Denton Annex where it is on display. Afterwards Nemo-San took him back to the hotel to rest while everyone else was busy moving stuff to and preparing the gym for the evening practice.

Promptly at 6:30 he arrived and lead a three-hour practice for everyone in attendance. I wasn’t feeling up to another practice so instead I ran a camera. Afterwards there was a small pizza party at Sensei’s house for Tanida-Sensei and Kanchō.

The next morning I woke up with a migraine that included a touch of nausea, so I took medication and rested that morning while everyone else participated in the morning practice at the gym. I sent the refreshed care kit to Nemo-San courtesy of Neil-Sensei. By noon I was feeling better and was able to participate in the afternoon practice, even doing tatehiza techniques. There was a group photo before everyone dispersed to get ready for the party.

The dinner party that night was at Sensei’s house and featured Martha’s tasty Tex-Mex food. We couldn’t eat enough. We also watched a video of an MJER practice in Japan from the early 1980’s lead by Tanida-Sensei’s and Sensei’s first teacher, who had incredible Iai. Later that evening Sensei presented him with a printed copy of the latest newsletter, which included the published interview that Neil-Sensei did last year with him. Others, including myself, presented their own small gifts before he retired for the night.

The next day we gathered at the gym for the last large group practice in the morning. After a few hours there was a break to allow those testing to do jūkeiko, and everyone else to set up for the Shodan Shiken to follow. I was running on fumes by then so I just helped a little with set up and rested as much as possible.

Before the test the Kanchō were given tournament evaluation forms for the first time ever, and Tanida-Sensei explained how to fill in each part of the form and which pairs of testers we were practicing on. This was done I think to begin preparing us to judge a tournament.

The Shodan Shiken went very well. While I was able to watch Nemo-San and Rob-San from the front table, I could only observe Jon-Sensei and Ali-Sensei from the rear as I awaited my turn. Every one did very well I think.

After the test was over, and the various group photos with the Sensei were done, there was the usual mad rush to break down, change clothes to get ready for lunch, while fielding all the good-byes from the many leaving to go back to where they came from. Finally everything was packed, cleared out, and locked up, and we could journey to Brent’s for a by-reservation-only delicious meal catered by Babe’s of Sanger TX. We couldn’t eat enough of the good food. While resting & digesting in a quiet corner of the house, Tanida-Sensei came by to let Nemo and I know that he wanted to have a practice at the dojo in one hour. I got up and immediately notified everyone else. Knowing we had to go back to the house to get our gear first, everyone jumped up and headed out.

Even dressing out directly at the house and going immediately to the dojo, the practice had already started by the time I arrived. After some general comments by Tanida-Sensei he commenced to teach us the finer points of the paired waza we knew. After three hours this, the last practice, came to a close. Neil-Sensei took his leave to drive back home. The rest of us, after changing, all headed out to a soup/salad/sandwich shop for dinner, our last chance to visit, and to conclude the business side of the event. Tanida-Sensei was taken back to his hotel for the last time as we headed back to the house to grab some sleep.

Morning came very early as a handful of us rose and hurried to the hotel to see him off to the airport by 7AM. Afterwards most of us went back to bed, including myself.

After waking up again I could barely move around to do laundry, re-pack, and head out the door to run some necessary errands, which included a much-needed chair massage of the lower back at The Cupboard. After Sensei completed his work for the day we spent some time checking out his new laptop before heading down to the dojo for the evening practice. There was no practice as the handful that showed up were all way too tired and sore from the weekend. So we just quietly talked about how it all went.

Still worn out I was able to move around a little bit more on Tuesday and conclude my business in Denton (including another chair massage, this time focusing on the upper back & shoulders). With the car fully loaded I headed off back home at 2 PM,– a time picked to avoid both Dallas and Houston rush hours. Back home I was too tired to do more than unpack the car and go to bed. It was several days later until I had the desire or energy to unpack, and eight days until I was finally out of the deep well of exhaustion that effected everything and I could resume my normal work out.

Lesson for next year: Don’t get majorly sick before the Koshukai, and if that fails, settle for just watching and taking notes.


Denton News shodan shiken Tanida-Sensei Tanida-Sensei koshukai

Tanida-Sensei’s Annual Visit

Thanks you to everyone who made this event so great.  We continue to learn from the previous year and as a result this year’s event was the smoothest ever.

This year more than ever Tanida-Sensei was full of energy and it was all we could do to keep up.  Total hours of practice for the weekend (Friday – Sunday) were about 21 hours.  We are incredibly lucky to have him come every year to teach us.

In addition to the koshukai there was a shodan shiken held late Sunday morning.  Three Clear Lake students tested successfully for their ranks, and one student received honorable mention by Tanida-Sensei.

News schedule shodan shiken Tanida-Sensei

Certificates Are In; New Wednesday Practice

Congratulations to everyone who tested in March.  Tanida-Sensei mailed the certificates to Sensei not long after the event, and then he mailed ours to me.  A few weeks ago I presented the last remaining certificate to Richard.  I am very proud of everyone who tested, and of all who made the journey to Denton to train with Tanida-Sensei.

Next week a new Wednesday class, from 8:15 to 9:30 PM,will be added to our weekly schedule.  Please remember that the preceding yoga class goes until 8:00, and don’t enter the studio until that class is over.

Demonstrations hatsunuki Houston Japan Festival Japan News Other demo shodan shiken Taikai Tanida-Sensei Tanida-Sensei koshukai US Embukai

Another two years go by….

This is a recap of some of the highlights of the past two years, which have been good for us. For a more complete listing see the Past Events link. The class schedule is unchanged, but the monthly fee has increased.

2005 – Everyone who tested at the Shodan Shiken in 2005 received their rank. Also that year I went to Japan to participate in the annual All Japan Eishin-Ryu Embukai in Sakai City, and several practices in Chiba and Sakai City. When not involved in Iaido activities I did some sight-seeing around the Tokyo/Chiba area. In early October we traveled to Denton for the 5th US Embukai.

2006 – At dawn New Years Day members of the dojo who could attend participated in our annual hatsu-nuki outside despite the warm weather and attendant mosquitoes and fire ants. In March at the annual koshukai & shodan shiken in Denton there were four people testing. They were Ali for sandan, Jon & William for nidan, and Ron for shodan. All who tested achieved their rank. Also this was my first time sitting at the judging table with Tanida-Sensei, John-Sensei, and Susan-Sensei. In April we had a very successful demonstration at the annual Houston Japan Festival. Thanks to the Japan America Society of Houston for inviting us. In late May & early June David and I traveled to Washington & British Columbia to tour around the area. In addition to sight-seeing and eating some of the best salmon in my life I visited the Hokusei Dojo in Everett (thanks, Scott), and attended the annual Canadian Iaido Association (CIA) summer seminar in Vancouver BC (thanks to Esaka-Sensei and Ted-Sensei). On Aug. 20 we did a demonstration at a church on the Northwest side of town. In mid November we traveled to Denton for the 6th US Embukai.

2007 – For our hatsu-nuki the weather was actually cold so we had no bugs to bother us. The hot sake toast tasted very good! In March we had six testing. They were Emily for godan, Jon & William for sandan, Ron for nidan, and Dale & Beverly for Shodan. All who tested achieved their rank. In April we were fortunate to have Charles-Sensei come to help us with our best ever demonstration at the annual Houston Japan Festival. Thanks to to Charles, and thanks to the Japan America Society of Houston for inviting us back. In August we heard the terrible news that Ted Davis-Sensei, president of the Canadian Iaido Association (CIA), suddenly died after a brief illness. In late August David and I went to Japan to participate in the World Science Fiction Convention held in Yokohama. This was the first time this particular convention had been held in a non-English speaking country. The Japanese fans put on a very memorable event. After the convention we joined a group of fans for a 9 day whirlwind tour of Japan that included Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka. During the convention I stole away for a day to attend a practice lead by Tanida-Sensei. After the tour was over we stayed over in Osaka to attend another practice in Sakai City. In mid November we traveled to Denton for the 7th US Embukai.


Also in November our dojo building came under new management, and our dues increased from $50 to $79/month.

Denton Japan News schedule shodan shiken Taikai Tanida-Sensei Tanida-Sensei koshukai

two-year highlights

The past year and a half have been our busiest ever, hence the lack of updates to this site since 2003 August. Many things have happened and a few things have changed. Please see the Past Events section for some of the major events that we have participated in. Amazingly enough the class schedule is unchanged, but the fee has increased from $25 to $40 per month.


Notable Milestones

In 2003 Joe, Neil, and I went to Japan for the first time in our lives. It was a wonderful experience. In addition to participating in the ZNIR Embukai in Yamagata, we were able to attend a special practice presided over by Ikeda-soke. Tanida-sensei and Kogushi-sensei were very kind to us, and made our trip a great success.

At the 2004 Tanida-sensei koshukai & shodan shiken in Denton, for the first time Joe and I were not the only ones from our dojo testing. We had four people testing for shodan. These were Sue Curtis, Linden Sisk, Matthew Burke, and Ali Lawson. All who tested achieved their rank (including Joe and I who tested for sandan).

Also in 2004, for the first time ever, one of the students successfully applied at their High School to take Iaido for PE credit.

At the 2005 shodan shiken we had the following testing: Jon Andresen & William Huckaba for shodan, Ali Lawson for nidan, and Joe & I for yondan. Also, Jessica Culler, who started Iaido in Clear Lake and relocated to Oklahoma, tested for shodan. She is currently training with Susan Burke-Sensei in Oklahoma City. Results of this grading are currently unknown.


Future Happenings

Next month I will travel to Denton to train with Sensei one last time before I return to Japan in June for three weeks. I look forward to attending Tanida-Sensei’s classes, and hopefully participating in the all Japan Eishin-Ryu Embukai. While I am gone, classes at Clear Lake Iaido will continue as usual with the help of Joe and the other senior students.

Denton hatsunuki Japan News San Antonio Sword Show shodan shiken US Embukai

Certificates, Events catch-up

Certificates Arrive

While at The Dojo in Denton earlier this month, Sensei surprised me at the Thursday class when he presented me with my nidan certificate. He also gave Joe’s certificate to bring back to him. At the very next class Joe was at, I surprised him with it.


Events Past and Future

The San Antonio Sword Show is now just a fond memory, as is the training trip to Denton which occured July 31- August 3. Coming up fast is the trip to Japan to train with Sensei’s Sensei. During the two weeks (Oct. 8-22) that Joe and I will both be gone formal classes will be cancelled. Prospective students and other visitors are advised to wait until after the 22nd to arrange to watch a class. Coming on the heels of that trip is the U.S. Embukai in Texas which will occur on the first weekend in November. Then in December is our dojo Xmas party. We will bring in 2004 at dawn on New Years Day with hatsunuki, first draw.

Denton hatsunuki Houston Japan Festival Japan News San Antonio Sword Show schedule shodan shiken Tanida-Sensei Tanida-Sensei koshukai US Embukai

Lots going on; Mirror installed

Saturday Practice Moves to Sunday & Friday Practice Time Change

I am finally getting around to making some much needed changes to the web site. Thank you for your patience, and thanks to those who offered to help. As the regular students already know, the Saturday practice has moved to Sunday from 12:30 – 2:30. Also, as of April 25, the Friday practice is now 8:30 – 9:30.


Events Past

This is a quick overview of events past.  In October the 2nd Annual Texas Embukai was a great success with six instructors in attendance. Four from our group attended. In December Jack Bieler of Denton visited us one day and lead a special practice. On New Year’s Day we had our first ever Hatsunuki celebration in Houston. In January Charles Mahan of Denton visited us one weekend, leading practices on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In early February Joe and I went to Denton for training with sensei. Later that same month, four of us journeyed to Denton for Tanida-sensei’s seminar, and two of us tested for nidan in the shodan shiken held on Sunday. In March most of the school was involved in one way or another in the wall construction (for a large mirror), and general dojo upgrade/remodeling. In April three of us and Charles Mahan, who happened to be in town, demonstrated at the 2003 Japan Festival in Hermann Park in downtown Houston. Also that same weekend, Charles lead our Sunday practice, and two of us entered the traditional sword division at a local martial arts tournament,– Joe Charles won first place and I took second in the advanced track. The very next weekend Sensei and Tom Thomas came down to spend a very enjoyable weekend with us. We trained hard during the day, and at night watched videos and had a lot of fun (and little sleep). In May I had two five foot tall sections of mirror installed on the newly built wall. This was a tremendous improvement over the hanging closet door mirrors.


Events Future

The San Antonio Sword Show, May 23-25, is rapidly approaching. We will be joining Sensei and his local students in a demonstration of Eishin Ryu from 2 -2:30. In the future is a trip to Baton Rouge when Sensei travels there to visit Neil and Doug. In the not-too-far future is our trip to Japan in October.