The Beginning Years: 1999-2000


It was the summer of 1999, and Dr. Diane Mirro missed the iaido practice she had enjoyed while living in Dallas. Under the guidance of Sensei Russell Ichimura of the Dallas-Fort Worth Kendo & Iaido Kyokai, Diane began a study group for ZNKR iaido in San Antonio under the auspices of the AUSKF. Within a short time, Diane was joined by Joe Sheldon, who had studied iaido and kendo in Houston and also missed the dojo he left behind when he moved to San Antonio.

Diane's study group shared practice space at an unusual dojo (School of Martial Arts and Dance) that hosted a variety of different arts on a weekly basis. Rose saw a newspaper article about the dojo's owner and joined the group. The reporter was so impressed with the iaido she had seen while researching the dojo article that she returned to write a piece about Diane.

San Antonio Express News
July 25, 1999


Without a sensei in residence, Diane frequently traveled to Dallas for iaido instruction at DFWKIK. She was also able to attend the annual AUSKF iaido seminars, and in 2000 was honored as "outstanding player" at the taikai for 1-2 dan (New York).

During this time, the RCIKK class studied only ZNKR iaido, and the number of female students generally outnumbered the male students - an unusual happenstance in the martial arts world. Meanwhile, Joe traveled to the Houston Budokan for instruction and maintained his involvement with kendo.

2000 Austin Taikai Winners

2000 Austin Taikai




Soon, the club was being asked to provide demonstrations of Japanese sword work. In 1999, RCIKK first appeared at the Japan Festival, sponsored by the San Antonio Japan America Society (and then held at the Crossroads Mall). In 2000, Japanese sword work of various types appeared in part of Mike Quigley's Japanese Sword & Art Show at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio.

San Antonio Express News

In this photograph, Joe Sheldon demonstrates the bunkai of one of the ZNKR kata with Beatrice Longoria during a demonstration at the Central Library Auditorium.

Thank you to the McGowns who started our holiday party tradition in 2000, complete with Samurai videos.

As later photo galleries show, the club continued to grow and thrive, adding kendo as a regular class in 2001. Breaking somewhat with AUSKF tradition, the young club changed its name from "River City Iaido Kyokai" to "River City Iaido & Kendo Kyokai" (with the word "iaido" appearing before the word "kendo") in honor of its roots in iaido.

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