SDC ProfileThe Self Defense Company is a global organization of members and instructors dedicated to the education and training of personal protection, crime prevention and conflict resolution for civilians, law enforcement, military and private security.

Founded in 2007 by lifelong martial artist, coach, bodyguard and defensive tactics instructor Damian Ross with the motto “You don’t need a black belt”, The Self Defense Company provides its members essential self defense skills through the cornerstone program The Self Defense Training System (SDTS) and Bodyguard Bulletproof Clothing and Gear.

Sdts Combat WhtImagine if you took all of the martial arts in the world, boiled them down until only the most effective and combat oriented techniques and strategies remained.

Then you tested those methods in life and death situations for almost 100 years against guns, knives, clubs, multiple attackers in the streets, in the trenches and the back alleys of the cold war….

….Sound too good to be true? …what if I told you it’s already been done!

The Self Defense Training System (SDTS) is based on over a century of research and development of modern warfare conducted by the British and United States military and law enforcement beginning in China and Japan in the early 1900’s and reaching its peak during World War 2, Korea and Vietnam when close quarter combat was a part of warfare, espionage and civilian resistance.

“There is no new and improved method of self defense.” 

Nakayama Hakudowas, the founder of Muso Shinden Ryu Battojutsu (Swordsmanship) once said, “No matter how advanced weapons become, although antiquated, hand-to-hand combat does not change”.

We couldn’t agree more. Don’t be taken by those who claim to have the “secrets” or have developed a better method of self defense on their own personal experience.

The only thing that has evolved in self defense is HOW YOU LEARN. The tactics and techniques NEVER change. 

We’ve taken those combat proven methods and put them into a modern, progressive learning system using a multimedia platform called The Self Defense Training System (SDTS).

The Self Defense Training System (SDTS) will help you develop a good foundation of self defense and enhance your existing method of personal protection – regardless of your age, size, man or woman. We’re not claiming to have “the best” system or method – but we know from real life experiences what works and what doesn’t work and we have helped thousands of people from all walks of life with this program.

With the Self Defense Training System you can adapt your always changing physical skill set to meet the constant need to survive and protect.

“BODYGUARD, because no matter how much you train…you can’t become bulletproof.”

After the Garden State Plaza Mall shooting in 2013, Self Defense Company Founder Damian Ross, now a 1. Bodyguard Bulletproof Jacketfather of two, decided something needed to be done to protect his friends and family. Sure, there are “gun defenses” but mostly for situations where the gunman is close to you. Unfortunately random acts of gun violence continue to rise in frequency and for that there really is no “defense” only prevention.

This began a two year search for the perfect bulletproof solution: realistic, reliable, certified bulletproof protection at an affordable price.

Finally, after dozens of samples from three countries on three different continents, Damian found Israeli Military Contractor Tal-Shahar, Ltd. to make the original Bodyguard Jacket to his exact specifications. Now the company plans to expand the Bodyguard line with more clothing options and gear.

The demand for this lifesaving product continues to grow and the Self Defense Company will meet this demand by increasing production and keeping costs to a minimum.

A Brief History of The Self Defense Training System, The Self Defense Company and its founder Damian Ross.

Our Story begins in 1907. The Location: Shanghai, China- After a 12 year commitment in the Royal Marines, a 27 year old, Shanghai Municipal Police Officer William E. Fairbairn enters a dojo in the brothel district in one of the most dangerous places in the world.

The sign on the dojo simply read: “Professor Okada JUJUTSU – BONESETTER”

Fairbairn was considered a tough man by his peers. Described as a “good man in a dust up”, he sought


Self Defense Pioneer W.E. Fairbairn

Professor Okada after he suffered a beating at the hand of some merchant sailors.

During this period, Shanghai was one of the most dangerous places in the world. Many a policeman was brought in on the floor of a rickshaw after having been knocked out just for fun. Fairbairn quickly realized that an effective means of close quarters combat was not only imperative for the success of the Shanghai Municipal Police, but for the survival of its officers as well.

Fairbairn studied under Professor Okada for 3 years. Under Okada’s direction, he found himself in Japan at the Kodokan, the world headquarters for Judo. Fairbairn studied under Judo’s founder Professor Jigoro Kano. Fairbairn learned a wide variety of striking techniques as well as grappling, throwing, strangling and joint dislocation. He eventually he would earn a 2nd degree black belt.

Fairbairn’s training went well beyond Japanese Judo and Jujutsu. Since he was stationed in Shanghai, he had access to a variety of emissaries and bodyguards from a wide range of cultures. This included but not limited to Chinese boxing and Indian Wrestling, Western Wrestling, Prizefighting and Savate. These methods were studied, dissected and boiled down to until only the most common and effective methods remained.

His studies also included prison and police reports involving violence. Interviews of people involved in real-life close-quarters fighting were held with the sole purpose of determining how they survived.

The tactics developed were taught and used by the Shanghai Municipal Police and later by US, British and Canadian Special Forces, O.S.S. Operatives and other elite fighting units. As a result of their success in combat, these methods were taught globally to the Israeli Defense Forces, Australia and other Western Allies. These methods even found their way to the civilian resistance in France and Great Britain during WWII.

The work of Fairbairn, Sykes, O’Neill, Applegate and others, stipped away the sport and ceremony of the martial arts to its core and reveal its original combat effectiveness.

The result was a method of self defense that was easily taught, easily mastered and 100% effective in a fraction of the time.

Twenty years later in 1964, a boy by the name of Carl Cestari enters the dojo of two time Olympic coach and ALL – Japan Collegiate Judo Champion Yoshisada Yonezuka Sensei.

Carl began his study of martial arts at the age of 7. This started a lifelong love affair with martial arts and self defense. Under Yonezuka he earned black belts in Kodokan Judo

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Damian Ross with David Ellis, Carl Cestari and Yoshisada Yonezuka

and Shitoryu Karate. Later he would receive black belt ranks and teaching licenses in Japanese Nippon Kempo, Koshinkai Karate, Daitoryu jujutsu and the Charles Nelson Self Defense System.

His study with Charlie led him to research of Fairbairn, Sykes, O’Neill, Applegate and Biddle of the World War II Combatives era.

Carl realized the incredible value of this research and after reflecting on the real life and death situations he faced – he immediately began to train and teach these methods.

Carl became the foremost authority on World War 2 Combatives and Reality Self Defense before his death at age 49.

Several years later in 1989, Damian Ross, collegiate wrestler and football player was training for years in Tae Kwon hoping to become a ‘Black Belt Master’. For hours on end – practicing, drilling learning hundreds of self defense counters and techniques for every possible situation.

He followed his instructor’s orders without question.

3. Instructor Training

Self Defense Company Instructors training for certification.

Damian eventually got his black belt and as luck would have it, found himself in the middle of a knock-down, drag-out bar brawl.

He took a guy to the floor with a double leg takedown – but it wasn’t long before his buddies jumped in.

Damian doesn’t remember exactly how he escaped, but he considers himself lucky – a few broken bones and a concussion…it could have been a lot worse.

But now he was forced to take a HARD LOOK at his training, because the self defense he was taught looked NOTHING like what he saw in the real world.

And after 10 years of dedication and money he came to two brutal realizations:

He was wrong and his instructors were wrong.

Damian recalls “It was tough to let go of my investment of time, my ego and all that goes with it. Don’t get me wrong, the relationships I built in the dojang were great, but when it came to what they taught as real self defense, it just didn’t work in real life. I was bouncing and doing security at the time and I NEVER really used anything besides wrestling and a few punches. But that fight showed me how vulnerable I really was – that night I discovered the difference between sport fighting and self defense the hard way.”

As luck would have it, through a friend on the Bergen County SWAT team, he met Carl Cestari.

Carl became Damian’s instructor and mentor. Damian followed in Carl’s footsteps as best as he could, even earning a 2nd degree black belt in judo from Carl’s Judo Instructor Yoshisada Yonezuka.

Damian became hardwired into a network of people like himself,  martial artists, competitive athletes, law enforcement officers, bouncers, security and military personnel with one goal in common – realistic and effective self defense.

Over the next several years, Damian took his training and put in into a modern curriculum based on his years as an elite athlete and coach. 

He began by teaching it in his dojos in Emerson, Oakland and Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Then after several years a self defense formula started to take shape.

“The concepts and methods of WW2 Combatives were great, but the learning methods and curriculum  were disorganized and didn’t reflect the way modern athletes train and learn. Plus, they really didn’t have a ground fighting system…and that needed to be addressed!” Damian Ross

We were finally getting consistent results and The Self Defense Training System was born. Our goal was to give your average person REAL SKILL in 3 to 6 weeks.

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SDC Instructor Darren Poesel USMC (ret) somewhere in Afghanistan.

We can do this because the Self Defense Training System relies on basic motor skills. The added bonus is that is can continue to serve you throughout your entire life regardless of your age, sex or health condition.

Once learned, you don’t need constant repetition just a little “refresher” from time to time is all it takes to maintain your skill level.

“Don’t fall into the trap of one style or method. Take over your own training regiment, find out what works best for you – remember you are your best teacher.”– Damian Ross

I started the Self Defense Training System out of my own necessity to survive and win.

After personally training thousands of people from all walks of life, from ages 8 to 80; I realized that people need to constantly adapt their current physical abilities to self defense.

In order to do that we had to change they way we think about self defense and instead of forcing you to LEARN a specific technique, we had to focus on the result and give you the best method to get that result based on what you can do.

Self defense is a life skill, not a lifestyle. It has to be there when you need it most and that’s usually when you’re at your worst.

On behalf of The Self Defense Company and its Instructors, thank you for stopping by.

Train Honestly,

Damian Ross

Founder, The Self Defense Company

PS. Every living creature on the planet has the instinct to protect itself, it’s not that complicated. Unfortunately we humans tend to overcomplicate things, but the fact is, the simplest solution is often the best.


So Why Doesn’t the Military and Law Enforcement Still use the Combatives Developed by Fairbairn?

This is a question I get often and the answer is a combination of political correctness, a shift in attitude in the military and police work, advancement in technology and the new guy making his mark.

After Vietnam the “KILL OR BE KILLED” military needed a makeover. The anti-war sentiment in the US forced politicians to pass programs and policies that reflected a kinder and gentler soldier. Soldiers were no longer warriors but “peacekeepers” and rules of engagement were created.

The rough and tumble military of WWI and WWII looked antiquated and out of touch.  It has gotten to the point that in some cases, soldiers aren’t even allowed to stand post with loaded weapons. 

Law enforcement saw even a greater shift because they’re in direct contact with the civilian population. Huge restrictions were placed on techniques and tools. Police were taught “non-lethal” use of force martial arts based tactics that worked good in the academy, but fail miserably in the field.

The result is that more cops become gun-centric and more dependent on pepper spray, tazers, ASPs and other tools that sometimes fail. And when you don’t have confidence in your ability to handle yourself, you will panic and use your gun.

The need for hand to hand combat in the military is no longer a priority. Night vision, drones and other tech give soldiers the intel on enemy positions and numbers. Weapons are much more reliable and soldiers are better trained with those weapons. This is a good thing and gives us the supreme advantage in combat.

The new guy always wants to change things.
With each new command, a new staff enters with their own ideas to modernize and improve. If you were placed in charge of hand to hand combat, you would be compelled to put your stamp on it. In the 80’s the US Army was teaching Tae Kwon Do, then it became BJJ and now MMA. While it looks like it’s “evolving” it’s just changing with market trends.

Ask yourself this – how well do you think a soldier is going to fight wearing 91 pounds of gear?
Try pulling guard and doing an armbar with that stuff on. You probably won’t even be able to roll over.

Today hand to hand combat is used as a confidence builder and mental conditioning tool. In reality soldiers and cops win by overwhelming numbers, superior technology and firepower.

You on the other hand have none of those and will most likely be unarmed, alone and outnumbered.

What about SEALS, RANGERS, PARARESCUE, Marine Recon, Delta Force, Green Berets the SAS and the MOSSAD?

Don’t worry about them – those are serious dudes who really don’t need too much hand to hand training if any. They are willing to do whatever it takes to survive in the blink of an eye. All the training in the world will not turn you into them.

Thinking you’re going to train in a system and be able to protect yourself like ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES is like telling me that if you go to a football camp, you’ll be able to play professional football.

I will tell you that we have Special Forces types in the SDTS (trained some, related to some and friends with others). Heck we even have one or two as instructors. To be honest, they were bad asses long before they came to The Self Defense Company.

Look, there’s only one time in history where the government had a real need to learn the truth about self defense. Before agenda’s and political correctness drove policy. When it was still fists, boots, bats guns and blades and that was Pre-Vietnam.

Train Honestly,


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