Review of Master Ed Martin’s
“Self Defense for Everyone”

By: Master John Enger

Before I address the DVD – “Self-Defense for Everyone” by Master Ed Martin, I really do feel compelled to give you a “sense” of what I “feel” from this great “Master of the Art of Ninjutsu” - a student under Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. You will note that I used the words “sense” and “feel” because I have never met Master Martin personally. I have had the opportunity to speak with him on the phone briefly a few times. He does not know who I am from any of the other countless martial artists from around the world. Ah, but I do believe I know this man’s “spirit”! I may be a bit esoteric for some when I make this statement, but I “know in my knower” that this is a great man. A man who lives what he teaches. A “teacher of teachers”! So, with that said, it is an honor to have had the opportunity to review what was presented on this DVD.

The opening remarks by Master Martin are very poignant. He states that “the art adapts to you”. Such a simple statement, but so very true and refreshing. Why? Because so many martial artists in today’s world have not understood this concept of martial arts. Perhaps it’s because there has been a prevailing attitude of “pride” and “arrogance” that have infiltrated the martial arts today. Master Martin speaks reverently of his teacher, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, and give a wonderful history lesson of the art of Ninjustu and its traditions, going back almost one thousand years. The art has finally been taught outside of Japan and is available to anyone willing to take the time to learn not only the techniques, buts its history.

You will find Master Martin debunking the myths associated with self-defense which are aptly demonstrated by the techniques shown in this DVD. As he states “it is what is known”………. Not how hoe big or strong you are. That needs to be said! It is not going along with the current trend today. I believe in fitness! I believe we should do everything we can to stay healthy – however, the marketing of martial arts today makes one believe you must be a fine tuned athletic machine, a modern day  “gladiator”  in order to be able to defend yourself. The “ultimate fighter”?…………… I assure you, no such beast lives! That is the real truth! Master Martin will prove to you in this DVD that “speed determines how relaxed you are” and that you will not need to retreat (matter of fact moving backwards to get away is not a wise choice) to avoid being struck.

I like stories that teach us lessons in life. In this DVD Master Martin is the first that I have had the opportunity to observe to do just that. He used several very appropriate “Sufi” stories --- although not one used in the DVD (the gems are reserved for those who purchase this DVD) here is a nice example of a Sufi story with a lesson:

The Chickpea

A chickpea in a pot leaps from the flame,
out from the boiling water,

Crying, “Why do you set fire to me?
You chose me, bought me, brought me home for this?“

The cook hits it with her spoon into the pot.

“No! Boil nicely, don’t jump away from the one who makes the fire.
I don’t boil you out of hatred.
Through boiling you may grow flavorful, nourishing,
and united with vital human spirit.
I don’t inflict this suffering out of spite.
Once green and fresh, you drank rain in the garden;
you drank for the sake of this fire.  

God’s mercy precedes His wrath;
by God’s mercy the sick ones suffer.
It has always been so; this is how God creates all that exists.
Without pleasure, no creatures would come into being.
Without creatures, what could the burning love of the Friend consume?
Such sorrow may come that you might wish
to be free of this life.
yet the Grace of God will overtake His wrath,
once you are washed clean in the river of suffering.


So, you will enjoy the lessons through the Sufi stories in this DVD.
As the title states: “Self-Defense for Everyone”  -- Everyone? Yes, even us tenured Sensei’s …. You just might find yourself learning some things… I did!
The techniques presented are basic………… and that’s the way they should be in my opinion.

The techniques presented are very sound and very effective. They can be used by all ages and requires absolutely no athletic ability. You will find techniques that cover , wrist grabs, chokes (front and rear), headlocks, bear hugs (front and rear), avoiding being struck, knee strike techniques (put them off balance). You will learn how to use wrist locks, finger locks, how to attack the neck (wonderful lesson on nerves in the neck and face to attack – a brief lesson on anatomy and physiology!), attacking the cuticles and more!

What was demonstrated in these static techniques were then demonstrated through blending/combining them (synthesizing) into a flowing pattern (moving from one technique to another) in order to defend yourself.   

Master Martin encourages every student desiring to learn the techniques shown to practice so that they develop muscle memory. By doing so, little thought will be required to use them. The techniques will become instinctual and dynamic.

Teaching the “SMILE” technique. Yes, there is such a technique. I have always known that any tension in your body will slow your reaction speed ……… this is a very true statement. But what has this to do with smiling?
Master Martin will take you through a surprising discussion on tension and smiling and how this dynamically plays out in a self-defense encounter. Nope! I’m not giving it away in my review………. Looks like you are going to have to get the DVD to find out what the “SMILE” technique is all about. And, Master Martin is right on the money with his teaching.

The techniques in this DVD presentation work. I had one of my students review the DVD with me and we then spent the better part of our afternoon practicing them. They were simple and they worked very well. The most enjoyable part was being able to take the technique and start to blend them with the others he taught.

To those considering purchasing the DVD…. DO SO! Those with no self defense training will receive a gold mine of information. To those who are already instructors, I promise you, you will learn some new things while sitting at the feet of one of the humblest masters in the world.