Born in England, Paul Martin began Karate at the age of seven and in the years that followed managed to gain Dan grades in three styles of Karate. He went on to represent the English International Karate Team and was English Champion in 1992,1993 and 1995. In 1993 he joined The British Museum in London, eventually achieving his goal of joining the Department of Japanese Antiquities. There, he cared for and studied the Japanese sword and armour collections under the guidance of Victor Harris (a student of Dr. Kanzan Sato, and translator of Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings), and with Victor's encouragement enrolled in a Kendo class. Paul currently holds 3rd Dan Karate, 4th Dan Kendo and 4th Dan Iaido.
Paul has also presented swords on BBC TV, BBC Radio 4, Discovery Channel (WeaponsMasters and Some Assembly Required), The History Channel, Los Angeles JATV (JapanAmerica Television) and made several appearances on Japanese Television.
On his various trips to Japan representing the British Museum, Paul studied swords at many museums, shrines, and the workshops of eminent swordsmiths and polishers. He studied the art of oshigata drawing from a curator at Atsuta shrine in Nagoya (home of the Imperial regalia sword – the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi) and a sword specialist from Tokyo National Museum. He subsequently produced oshigata for the British Museum’s sword collection.
In 2004, Paul relocated to Tokyo, from where he curated an exhibition of modern Japanese swords at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. The Los Angeles Japanese Consulate General hailed this 2005 exhibition “as the first of its kind in America.”
Paul has also brought several craftsmen to the west for lectures and demonstrations, and in 2006, became the first non-Japanese to win the NBTHK Tokyo Chapter kantei kai (sword appraisal meeting). In 2009, he joined the Nittoho Tatara Team in the manufacture of that year’s supply of tamahagane.
Paul provides translations for the Japanese Sword Museum in Tokyo (Nihon BijutsuToken Hozon Kyokai), The Hayashibara Art Museum, The Oku Izumo Tatara Sword Museum, The All Japan Swordsmiths Association and the All Japan Sword Traders Association. Paul’s publications include a translation of Ono Yoshimitsu’s World of Juka-Choji (Hayashibara Art Museum), The Japanese Sword Guide to Nyusatsu Kantei (also translated into German, French, Italian and Russian), and a co-authorship of Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords (Kodansha International).
As well as translating the narration for two DVD’s for the All Japan Swordsmiths’ Association, co-produced two more DVDs on Japanese Swords: Kozuka Koubo, and Art of the Japanese Sword. He has also produced articles on Japanese swords for Token Bijutsu (NBTHK’s sword magazine: Japanese), Token Shunjun (Japanese), The To-ken Society of Great Britain, The JSSUS (Japanese Sword Society of the United States), The Nanka To-ken Kai (Southern California Sword Society), Cultural News (Los Angeles), and the Tokyo Journal. He has also been featured in interviews by Tokyo’s Metropolis Magazine, The Daily Yomiuri, The Asahi Weekly, and The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s magazine: Acumen.
Whilst living in Japan, Paul practiced Kendo and Iaido at Kodansha publishing company’s Noma dojo, Ono-ha Itto-Ryu: first with Ono Terao sensei, then at the Reigakudo honbu under Sasamori Takemi Soke, and Hayashi-ryu Iai-batto-jutsu at the Bugekikan honbu of NHK’s Taiga drama fight coordinator, Hayashi Kunishiro sensei. He also researched and studied other archaic styles of Japanese swordsmanship.
Paul, a Masters graduate of Berkeley, the University of California, currently splits his time between London, Tokyo and Berkeley where he continues to study the Japanese sword, lecture at Universities and Foundations, and teach Kendo and Iai-batto-jutsu.