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 Araki-ryu torite-kogusoku as well as Toda-ha Buko-ryu. He discontinued aikido in 1978 to focus on these two koryu bugei. He has trained in Araki-ryu since 1976, with thirteen years of direct study in Japan.
Ellis Amdur has cross-trained in a number of other martial systems over the years, most notably Kodokan judo at Tokai University's Fifth Branch High School; Muay Thai at Koei Gym in Tokyo, and xingyi chu'an. Amdur has most recently been focusing on 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 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 Araki-ryu as an assistant to his own instructor from 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 several subsidiary schools in Athens and Thessaloniki.