Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall School of Iaido

Learn more about Clifford Crandall as the Grandmaster of American Eagle Style Here

Headmaster Clifford C. Crandall, Jr. started training in Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno over twenty-four years ago. He has said that his real attraction to this art of sword was more the person presenting it than the art itself. When asked to explain he would say Headmaster Matsuno lived the art and the philosophy which made the sword so appealing. Headmaster Crandall’s growing love of this ancient art soon spread to his own students and he began speaking of and promoting iaido concepts to his black belts and brown belts. As students I and other black belts had always seen the samurai belief in Headmaster Crandall as he would talk of the responsibility of a black belt to set examples for not only the students but the community. As an empty-hand stylist he believed that black belts should not smoke, swear and should work diligently to stay in shape to set the kind of example for others to follow. Now in this traditional iaido he found that for the samurai these things were not only important but impacted your level of skill and mental strength. It was the code he had sought and now through his instructor he realized could be lived. While never faltering from his empty-hand training and teaching he added regular daily learning and training in Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno. He scheduled school seminars with his instructor, Headmaster Matsuno, and stayed in close contact with him through letters, VHS tapes, faxes, and phone calls. I as a student could see the respect and friendship grow between these two men over the years. By now Headmaster Crandall had been made a Master Instructor and was teaching a group of about 14 students in the art of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno. Within the American Martial Arts Institute there were now two styles comprehensively taught. Emptyhand“American Eagle Style” and “Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno Iaido Style.” Headmaster Crandall (who was Master Crandall in iaido at that time) and Headmaster Matsuno began plans for our school to take a large group of the dedicated iaido students to Japan to be taught directly by Headmaster Matsuno and to experience the
country, history and culture that had forged this art. In 2002 Headmaster Crandall led a group of 15 of his iaido students to Kobe, Japan to train. It became a goodwill exchange with recognition from both senators and congressmen in New York State. This was to be a very special trip. Headmaster Matsuno had not said anything to his student, Master Crandall, but he was making plans to carry out the passing of the sword ceremony and appoint Master Crandall to Headmaster and make him his successor in the arts of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno. Because of the status of the trip as a goodwill trip TV footage and news coverage was taken for public release in New York State upon the groups’ return. A traditional sword-passing ceremony was performed in Kobe, Japan by Headmaster Tsuneyoshi Matsuno. This ceremony designated Clifford C. Crandall, Jr. as the Headmaster of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno for the world excluding Japan. Headmaster Matsuno stated that he would represent his school in Japan until his passing and then Headmaster Crandall would have the responsibility for the world including Japan regarding this ancient style of iaido. As a result of the detailed coverage of this event a one-hour TV show called The Passing of the Sword aired on central New York’s NBC station. This show was turned into a one-hour videotape which was sold nationally and over 200 copies were donated to libraries across the country. In February 2005, the unexpected passing of Headmaster Matsuno made Headmaster Crandall the sole Headmaster for the school and style of Takenouchi- Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno worldwide. Headmaster Matsuno had requested of Headmaster Crandall that what the style and school offered should continue to grow. In addition, upon Headmaster Matsuno’s passing, Crandall should be appended to the end of the style’s name. This would allow people to know that all of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno was maintained and taught in its original form, along with new information added by Headmaster Crandall. Headmaster Crandall has committed himself to carrying on his instructor’s last wishes to promote and keep alive his style of iaido and to expand the style while maintaining its philosophies and traditions as originally intended. This charge was not given lightly to Headmaster Crandall. Understand that Headmaster Crandall was first a Grandmaster of an empty hand style. He has pioneered the spread of martial arts for over 45 years. His training includes traditional Okinawan GoJu Ryu, traditional Tai Chi Chuan, old Mudo Kwan as well as the teachings of law enforcements tactics. His TV show Martial Arts Today gave him the opportunity to cover martial arts in 22 different countries and bring traditional martial arts to home viewers before it was widely accepted. He has been noted as the Grass Roots Ambassador by many and placed on the cover of Action Martial Arts Magazine with a feature article detailing his achievements. His school is traditional and is world recognized. He wrote the first 324-page detailed hard cover book on an American style of martial arts called American Eagle Style Textbook. This style blends some of the best qualities of Korean, Japanese and Chinese styles with American law enforcement self-defense. As a retired teacher, principal and superintendent of schools in New York State, his martial arts knowledge has been combined with a positive educational approach without changing the traditional respect and accountability format that made the martial arts a way of life in the beginning. Earning a black belt in his school cannot be expedited by money, position, or the number of times one comes to class. Patience is the key and self improvement is the goal. His empty-hand style has grown in both economically sound and challenging times. Students with poor attitudes or who just want to earn a black belt are not accepted and are encouraged to train at one of the many other schools that exist. Some standards that illustrate his beliefs are the fact that only adults teach in his school, and they must be yearly certified to do so through instructional programs with Grandmaster Crandall himself. Headmaster Crandall is truly a man of vision, which is based on the solid foundation of traditional ethics.

--Respectfully written by Renshi Nathan Morris


Headmaster Crandall’s Path in Iaido

I began training with Headmaster Matsuno in 1985 and had him on my T.V. show in 1987.  My show was called the Martial Arts Today Show and aired on WKTV, an NBC affiliate, for 10 years.

I trained continuously with Headmaster Matsuno during this period, learning the ways of the samurai in life as well as in the way of the sword.  I found this period exciting and truly enlightening.  In June 1997, I was promoted to Kyoshi and presented with my handwritten certificate prepared by Headmaster Matsuno himself, which also contained his personal chop as well as the Japanese federation chop.  Color copies of this certificate hang in all of the American Martial Arts Institute’s training halls.

At one of the many seminars Headmaster Matsuno performed for my Iaido students, he gave them all copies of his books.  These included the books he translated as well as the two that he wrote himself.

In 2001 Action Martial Arts Magazine produced a deck of martial arts trading cards.  I was one of the Grandmasters included in this deck and I made arrangements with Headmaster Tsuneyoshi Matsuno for him to be included and recognized as well.  With his help a beautiful trading card was released with his picture and bio which pleased both of us.

In June 2002, I traveled to Headmaster Matsuno’s home in Kobe with 15 of my top Iaido students. During our days in Kobe, my students and I spent all day training with Headmaster Matsuno and studying Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu. 

At this time he prepared me as his successor and discussed what he wished done regarding the future of the tradition of his style as passed on to him by Masayoshi Nakajima, the late 5th Headmaster of the original Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu.  He also instructed me in three additional katas that he had never passed on to any of his prior students in Iaido, including his personal method for the cutting ceremony of our style.  A passing of the sword ceremony took place wherein Headmaster Matsuno promoted me to Headmaster (Hanshi) and declared me as his successor to the Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno style of Iaido. 

This ceremony was videotaped with the intent of making a VHS documentary for current and future Iaido students to have in order to see this historical moment in their Iaido style. 

In 2004 a documentary was produced and aired to the public on WKTV an NBC affiliate, concerning the passing of the sword ceremony and Headmaster Crandall’s promotion.  VHS copies of the show were made and are still available to my students and the general public.

On June 1, 2004 Headmaster Matsuno presented me with my certificate of Headmaster Takenouchi-Hanganryu-Matsuno-Crandall.  This certificate was handwritten and signed by Headmaster Matsuno, and included his personal chop and the Japanese Federation chop.  Even though I was now Hanshi and his designated successor I was fortunate to continue learning from this great man.  Color copies of this certificate hang in the training halls of the American Martial Arts Institute.

In November 2004 Headmaster Matsuno contacted me; he was very excited to inform me that he had found a true Iaido sword for me that he felt was fitting of my position.  I felt very fortunate that Headmaster Matsuno had found me a traditional sword for my training.  Through him I received my Iaido sword which was crafted by Master Swordsmith Shigeru So who lived in Fukuoka, the county of Kyushu in southern Japan.  This sword was honored by winning “The Great Prize” by Mainichi Newspaper Co.

In February 2008 Headmaster Matsuno’s wife, Masako, presented me with Headmaster Matsuno’s 12th-century training sword with the help of Nobuko, Headmaster Matsuno’s daughter.
My correspondence with Masako continues to date through the help and translation of her daughter, Nobuko.  I stay in close contact with Headmaster Matsuno’s family to reassure them that Headmaster Matsuno’s wishes regarding the continuation of his traditional Iaido style stay true to his vision.

Headmaster Matsuno’s family have also assisted with segments of the new book which will be released this February 2009 on Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall.


Headmaster Crandall holding the handwritten Headmaster certificate presented to him June 1, 2004, making him the sole heir and successor of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Mastuno-Crandall for the world by the late Headmaster Tsuneyoshi Matsuno.

A Close-Up of the Certification.

The following pictures depict Headmaster Crandall presenting the 12th Century Iaido sword which was passed on to Headmaster Matsuno by Headmaster Masayoshi Nakajima Ryusho-sai, the 5th Headmaster of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu.  Headmaster Matsuno used this sword during his practice training. 

Headmaster Matsuno’s wife, Masako, passed this traditional sword on to Headmaster Crandall when he inherited the Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall Style of Iaido.

Headmaster Crandall presenting the sword in its original cover with gold tassels.

Headmaster Crandall and a side view of this 900 year-old sword.

THRMC School of Iaido