Ellis Amdur first began studying martial arts in 1968 with a “backyard” karate teacher. He then studied several years with a disciple of Alan Lee, one of the first instructors of Chinese martial arts in America to openly teach non-Chinese. In 1973, he began studying aikido, which brought him to Japan in 1976. There, he found Toda-ha Buko-ryu as well as Araki-ryu torite-kogusoku. He discontinued aikido in 1978 to focus on these two koryu bugei.
Concurrent with these studies, Amdur cross-trained for various lengths of time in judo, muay thai and xingyi. A primary focus of his own study has been principle-based training regarding integration of the body so that it is used most efficiently, something he discusses in detail in his book, Hidden in Plain Sight. He also recently began training in Braziilan jiujitsu with several instructors.
Amdur returned to America in 1988, setting up a company, Edgework, which focuses on various aspects of crisis intervention.
Amdur taught Toda-ha Buko-ryu as shihan-dai (assistant) to his own instructor, Nitta Suzuyo, starting in the mid-1980’s. Fully licensed as shihan, he began teaching his own students upon his return to America in 1988. With those students, he has set up one subsidiary school in Athens, Greece. One of his students, Steve Bowman, achieved a full teaching license as shihan in 2010 and runs his own dojo in the Pacific Northwest. Amdur and Bowman retain a close collaborative relationship.