If you have any questions or inquiries for our school you may contact us at:
Sensei Karl Groeger at – tozaiswordschool@gmail.com

Or Sensei Art McConnell cell – (516) 707-2051

Main School
Tozai Sword School
At Empire State Dojo
86 Terry Road, Smithtown, NY
Instructors: Art McConnell / Karl Groeger

Affilate Location
High Bridge Sword Club
At Takajhashi Dojo
76 Montauk Highway, Amith Harbor, NY
Instructors:  Matt Martini

SCHOOL NAME: Tozai Iai Kai

The Tozai Iaido School is run by Art McConnell.
Art McConnell has trained in the Martial Arts of Japan and China since the early 1960’s.  He is the chief  instructor of the Tozai Iai Kai, graded 5th Dan and licensed to teach by Master Yoshitheru Otani, founder of N.Y. Iai Kai.

Art McConnell began formal training in Shotokan karate in 1961 at N.Y. Samurai Dojo, under John Slocum, then Iaido in 1964. Continued karate training with T. Miyazaki in in 1968 at the the Tokutai Dojo. Then trained with M. Takahashi in the 1980’s. Awarded Sandan in 1981. Trained with Master Okano in Japan in 1971. At Kenkojukuhombu. Studied Okinawan weapons with Dr. Andrew Linick.

Iaido Training:

John Slocum- Omori Ryu.

Yoshiteru Otani- Muso Shinden Ryu

Takeshi Mitsuzuka- Seitei Gata

Kunikazu Yahagi- Ryu Shin Jigen Ryu

McConnell received the rank of Godan and an instructor’s license from Sensei Otani Yoshiteru.

Sensei McConnell founded the Tozai (East&West) school in 1971 teaching Shotokan karate and Iaido. He has produced over one hundred black belt students in both empty hand and sword techniques.  He has also written two books titled, “The Ronin Soldier’s Diary” and “The Dragon’s Garden.” And made the period film “Zen Gold”.

McConnell has written “The Ronin Soldiers Diary” and produced a period film called “Zen Gold” .  He has taught Japanese Sword and Jodo classes for 30 years at the Empire State Dojo in Smithtown, NY.  Teaching forms from Shohato to combined spirit forms drawn from five Ryu, for self practice and competition.




Popularly known as “the art of drawing the sword”, Iaido is the contemporary legacy of the samurai of feudal Japan. A professional warrior class, both samurai men and women practiced warrior skills. Hayashizake Jinsuke Shigenobu is considered the legendary founder of Iaido as a concept and practice distinct from swordfighting in the 16th century, paralleling the development of a unified country. After Japan was finally unified under Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu early in the 17th century, the samurai combined their war skills with their interest in Zen philosophy and spiritual refinement. The combination gave samurai a venue for practicing their skills with a sense of Zen mindfulness.

Chief Instructor: Sensei Art McConnell, 5th Dan

Head Student: Sensei Karl Groeger, 4th Dan


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam Lempel
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 20:09:23

    Sensei McConnell… My name is Adam Lempel. I don’t know if you remember me at all however I trained under you in the early 80’s at Tozai Dojo in Glen Cove. I always regretted not following through with my training and promised myself to return to the martial arts; someday. I am proud to tell you that I have finally fulfilled that promise to myself, I am back. I now have an 8 year old son who studies Tae Kwon Do under Sensei Denise Rouleau in Brattleboro Vt. A little over a year ago as a way of spending more quality time with my son and a way to get into better physical condition I began taking classes as well. I am; by far; the oldest student in our school (which has many adult students) at 53, but am working hard and feeling better than I have in years. I have competed in 2 open tournaments this year placing in both kata and sparring in the 35 and over novice division. I have always remembered the importance you placed on tradition and respect in Karate, and my early training with you gave me, even these many years later, a foundation to build upon in my current training. I practice the same way that I compete, hard. I have fond memories of nights spent training with you, Sam Morano, Duncan Templeton and a guy named Giles (can’t remember his first name). Our basic Kata #1 is almost exactly the same “I” pattern as the first kata that I learned at Tozai. I even still have a copy of the handbook that I got from you. I am glad to see that you’re still around and teaching Karate. Thank you, from a student from your past, for introducing me to the Martial Arts in a way that has brought me back 30 years later. I am on Long Island frequently for business and to visit family, it would be an honor to visit you at your Dojo and have my son meet my original Sensei. Thank you again. Respectfully; Adam Lempel


  2. Jane Collins
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 19:17:22

    I have a few old karate photos to send to Sensei Art, but I don’t know the dojo address. Can you help me out?
    Jane Collins


  3. Paul Bachem
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 23:15:41

    Hello Sensei McConnell…I got to thinking about you today, Googled you and found this nice site. I have been enjoying reading through the posts and remembering fun times from long ago! I’m glad to see that you are still doing what you do best…teaching the martial arts. Regards from Paul Bachem from Glen Cove ( the worst Iai student you ever had!)


  4. Marshall Harris
    Sep 19, 2012 @ 05:25:16

    I studied with Mr. Slocum in the late 60’s. I would like to hear from anyone who was at the dojo, if possible.

    Marshall Harris


  5. Steve Muller
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 14:42:03

    If one is left handed is it still possible to learn iaido, or must one learn from the right handed way. I am very interested in learning iaido but have reservations because of being left handed.


  6. Gene Coppola
    May 06, 2013 @ 00:17:23

    Similar to Adam I also trained with Sensei Mc Connell many years ago in Glen Cove, I remember the names Duncan and Sam but mostly I remember the respect honor and tradition that was always a part of the Okano Dojo….I had the good fortune of running into Sensei Mc Connell today, I plan on keeping in touch and maybe someday training again……much respect, Gene Coppola.


  7. Charles E Lee II
    May 11, 2013 @ 20:53:19

    Nice History…OSS! I AM a student of Kanazawa Soke…SKIF


  8. Aldric
    Mar 20, 2014 @ 19:06:46

    Sensei, Karl, it’s been quite a few years. I hope everything is alright with you. I wish there were a few recent videos of sensei McConnell performing some of the traditional forms. it is so hard to find technique as clean as his!


  9. Dan Bachman
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 18:22:43

    Thank you again for a wonderful Sai seminar.


  10. Tom Heyman
    Nov 18, 2015 @ 02:41:40

    Sensei McConnell,
    I enjoyed watching the videos on this website. I am forever grateful to you for teaching me karate from 1975 to 1981. You told me i was the youngest black belt you ever made. (almost 16 yrs old). I received my Yodan from Tsutomu Ohshima
    (Shotokan Karate of America) in 2000. The serious and innovative training I received from you laid a strong and varied foundation for all my subsequent martial arts training.
    Best Wishes and Gratitude,
    Tom Heyman


  11. Ken Isbell
    Jun 06, 2018 @ 20:26:35

    I remember Sensai Art McConnell as if it was yesterday. I went to North Shore H.S., class of 1972; lived in Sea Cliff. My mother got me classes at his Glen Cove school, but I was one of his original students there. This was back in day when Sensai McConnell used this bamboo something or other and would hit you in back of the knee if you weren’t low enough. Later on, I re-took classes and thought I would meet the same fate. I was tensed up. But Sensai was so nice. He explained he eased up with that: “It’s not like as it was in the old days.” One of his students, Ferman Leung, was a high school friend. He had a beautiful style. I also rember this brown belt cop named…hold on…Bravere?? Or something like that. He had a powerful side kick. And there was this guy named “Big Ed”, kind of reminded me of actor George Kennedy. Ferman Leung went to summer camp with me and so did another student of Art’s, Duncan Templeton. Finally, there was a great guy who became a black belt, named Sam. I don’t have last names but Sensai McConnell would certainly remember. He taught me: “Never show your enemies you are afraid!” Leave him a message for me…Peace!

    Ken Isbell. I still have my blue belt certificate!


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