The three points lifted the Latics out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, until on Sunday at least, with Arouna Kone grabbing the only goal of the game in the 81st minute.
There were two notable firsts, with Wigan managing their first ever league win over Norwich and also their first success of the season following an international break.
Wigan's players ventured as far afield as Australia, Bolivia, Argentina and Honduras - and Martinez hailed the character that allowed them to grind out a vital victory.
He said: "Before the game I knew it was going to be a really tricky fixture. First because we've never managed to win a game after an international break.
"We are very unusual with the amount of internationals we have and to have 13 players leaving the club makes things very difficult from a physical point of view.
"And because of that reason we couldn't be our normal selves in possession. I don't think we were stylish as we normally are, but what we showed is an incredible character. Every player found a way to help the team to keep Norwich very quiet.
"To restrict any team in the Premier League to no shots on target requires massive effort. And then it was that little bit of quality at the other end.
"It seemed it couldn't quite fall for us but that's as good a goal as you're going to see in this league. The ball from Jordi Gomez was a fantastic, clinical ball, and the finish of Arouna Kone was just what he deserved for his work ethic.
"The character we showed today [Saturday] made it probably our most pleasing performance of the season."
Wigan went into the game on the back of successive victories over Everton and Newcastle, and Martinez again stuck with the same side.
That meant a second Barclays Premier League start for striker Callum McManaman, who had been a doubt with an ankle injury.
The 21-year-old has been at the centre of a furore following his knee-high tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara, which went unpunished both during the game and subsequently.
There were some half-hearted boos for McManaman from the Norwich fans but it was Kone who made the headlines on Saturday, and for the right reasons.
Wigan were subdued in the first half but they kept Norwich at bay and began to hit their stride after the hour mark.
Antolin Alcaraz had a header cleared off the line by Jonny Howson and the pressure eventually told as Gomez played in Kone for a thumping finish from the edge of the area.
It was a sixth goal in six games for Kone, but Norwich boss Chris Hughton felt they shot themselves in the foot after Wes Hoolahan gave the ball away in midfield, while Lee Camp might have done better at his near post.
"With us having been so solid, I couldn't see that goal happening," said Hughton.
"For me, it's a soft goal. We lost the ball in the middle of the park and one good strike saw them get the goal they needed."
Hughton was frustrated his side ended up with nothing, saying: "When you go away from home sometimes you have to hold your hand up if you've been beaten and beaten well but I don't think anybody seeing the game today [Saturday] would think that.
"We certainly deserved a draw and then it's just going to be about those moments. They had it and we didn't.
"But I thought for an away team we had good periods of the game where we had good control but it's one moment that's beaten us. It's very disappointing."
The result meant Norwich have been pulled back to within four points of the relegation zone.
Hughton added: "We've got seven games left, four of those games are at home. I think clubs like ourselves are always going to be stronger at home than away.
"It's disappointing today [Saturday] because I thought it was a really good opportunity to pick up at least a point."