self defense

about modern self-defense center

A Quick History of the Modern Self-Defense Center

2002 – present

msdc-exteriorThe Modern Self-Defense Center was founded in 2002, with the purpose of bringing the most effective, up-to-date training methods in Martial Arts and Self-Defense to the greater Connecticut region.  The initial program focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in a time when BJJ schools were few and far between in New England, as well as the Israeli art of Krav Maga which was largely unknown at the time.  In August of 2005 MSDC opened a 7200 square foot facility in Middletown, CT and expanded its programming: now there were multiple daily classes offering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both with and without the gi (uniform), Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, and Mixed Martial Arts.  In addition to all this, MSDC began offering a free self-defense class for members of the community that met every Thursday night (this class ran from 2005 – 2012, every Thursday).

seminar MSDC began attracting notable expert guests:  annual visits from world-renowned Jeet Kune Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Filipino Martial Arts, and Self-Defense expert Mr. Roy Harris, seminars from notable BJJ standout Mr. Roy Dean, workshops from movement expert Dr. Mark Cheng, rare training opportunities in the art of Kalis Ilustrisimo from Mr. Romy Macapagal, an MMA seminar with UFC veteran Mr. Jason Lambert, and a number of other workshops including Sayoc Kali, Boxe Francaise Savate, Aikido, Wing Chun, and more.

From 2005-2012, MSDC flourished and provided training to hundreds of people in the greater Middletown Area.  Additional programs grew, including the Adaptive Movement Martial Arts program for kids, and the Boxe Francaise Savate French Kickboxing classes (including two trips to Montreal to train with Kickboxing legend Mr. Richard Sylla).

In 2012, MSDC moved to Meriden, CT, into a beautiful facility that was well-designed to accommodate the growing number of group and private classes taught by the talented leadership team.  MSDC began training more athletes, including its first Professional Mixed Martial Arts competitor. 

Today, private face-to-face and online training continues to be offered to clients everywhere, including online courses that can be taken anytime, and new Virtual Reality real-time instruction and courses. 

Click here to read more about how you can train with MSDC founder Chris Martell and the other members of the MSDC team.

About Chris Martell

50% hippie

drives a prius, loves solar energy and broccoli.
thinks the world needs more love.
wants to help you live your most joyful life.

50% nerd

falls asleep thinking about how to train next year's new students more effectively than this year's.
wakes up EXCITed to test new approaches.

100% Expert

studied 20+ martial arts.
teaching credentials in 9. black belts in 4.
master's degree in developing training experiences.

(please don't check our math)

Chris Martell began his Martial Arts journey with Judo at 6 years old. At age 8, he began training Kenpo Karate at the Middletown Kenpo Karate Studio, where he found his home for nearly 20 years. At 11 years old, he was accepted into an experimental program to train Assistant Instructors. He reached the rank of Black Belt at 16, while teaching nearly 20 hours each week under the direct guidance of his Head Instructor, Professor Lee Lowery, who also encouraged him to find and pursue his own personal specialty within the Martial Arts.

Chris followed that directive and has pursued the most effective, hands-on training methods for real-world self-defense. He has trained in over 20 Martial Arts styles, from the ultra-traditional to modern and nontraditional methods, and he continues to explore new directions, on a quest to always improve the value and benefit to his students. Chris holds a 4th degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate under Professor Lee Lowery, a Lakan rank (Black Belt) in Modern Arnis under the late founder and Grandmaster Remy Presas, a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Mr. Roy Harris, a Black Belt in Budoshin Ju-jitsu under Professor George Kirby, and a Green Glove in Boxe Francaise Savate (French Kickboxing). Additionally, he is a Level 2 Jeet Kune Do instructor, a Level 1 Filipino Martial Arts Instructor, an Associate Level Grappling Instructor. In 2002 he completed Instructor Training in Krav Maga under Master Rhon Mizrachi, and in 2023 he became a certified instructor and G1 (Graduate level 1) under the International Krav Maga Federation.   (Click here for a more compete list of Chris’ ranks and credentials).

Someone once called Chris “the Leo Buscaglia of Self-Defense” and it’s a compliment he’ll treasure forever.

As the Head Instructor of the Modern Self-Defense Center, Chris has taught hundreds and thousands of individuals to improve their personal safety. In addition to his own students, he has worked with numerous public, private, corporate, charity, government, and university-based groups to help their members become safer and better able to protect themselves. He designed and taught a Self-Defense Course for Wesleyan University’s Athletics Department for several years, as their only non-faculty instructor. In 2011, Chris was a featured guest instructor at the New England Modern Arnis Camp. He is also the author of the book “Knack Self-Defense for Women: Strategies, Moves, & Everyday Tactics to Gain Confidence & Stay Safe”, which is available at bookstores everywhere.

“The real goal, in my mind, is that we make healthy and sustainable choices that enrich our quality of life.  Too often, we see people pursuing Martial Arts or Self-Defense training and learning it in a manner that either encouraged paranoia and aggressive behavior, or is utterly unrealistic for real-world conflict.  The goal in opening MSDC was to find a sensible middle road: somewhere we could develop useful and effective skills, but in a pro-social community atmosphere.  

It isn’t about earning belt after belt, nor about fighting to be the alpha dog, but instead about working cooperatively with your training partners — about helping everyone on board raise their own level of safety and awareness — so that your neighbors in the community benefit just as you do.  

It’s a practice that is mentally healthy as much as physically healthy, and it has fostered a group of the nicest people you could imagine…and here they are, kickboxing, wrestling, disarming weapons, and more.  We are joined by people of all ages, all walks of life, all income levels…all these members of our greater community coming together and helping each other to become safer and healthier.  It became the best of all worlds.”

Chris Martell

get started now

and go to bed tonight with skills you didn't have this morning



Modern Self-Defense Center offers hands-on, effective self-defense training methods for people of all shapes, sizes, and experience levels. Visit us in central Connecticut, or learn self-defense online with our remote lessons and streaming courses for any device, including virtual reality. 



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