1998 US Open - Richard Brandon, Open Hands

Take a trip back to the 90's and enjoy this performance by a Kung Fu and Sport Karate legend.

This is the first edition of a weekly series that will be featuring old school sport karate videos to keep the history of the sport alive. This week, we take a look at an incredible performance from Team Paul Mitchell's Richard Branden at the 1998 U.S. Open on ESPN2. This performance came at the age of 34, just after recovering from a broken leg that he suffered while filming an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.


Branden, originally a Tae Kwon Do black belt, became a Kung Fu expert after training with Yao Li. He started competing on a national level in 1987 and gained early recognition in 1988 for defeating formidable opponents like Ho-Sung and Ho-Young Pak. After just two years of national competition, he earned his spot on Team Paul Mitchell. His performances are remembered for the incredible power that he brought to Wushu routines and the refined cleanliness that he displayed during extremely difficult techniques. You may notice that at the end of his 1998 U.S. Open Performance, Branden appears to look around for a moment before finding the front of the ring and completing the routine with a bow. This is because a childhood accident wounded his eye and severely impacted his vision, making the difficulty of his routines even more impressive. Team Paul Mitchell coaches Steve Babcock and Don Rodrigues would stand behind the judges and cheer loudly at the end of Branden's performances so that he could listen for their voices and know which way to turn.

Richard Branden - WMAC Masters ingridrichter.info

This icon's legendary career included ten NASKA world championships and six WAKO world championships. His accolades earned him a spot in the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame in 1992 as the Kung Fu Artist of the Year. Branden's success in the competitive scene also set him up for several opportunities in Hollywood. He was an actor and stuntman for the Power Rangers franchise and played "Yin Yang Man" in WMAC Masters (pictured above). He was also a stunt performer in the world-famous Mortal Kombat series.

Richard Branden passed away at the age of 50 on December 11, 2013 after a battle with stage four pancreatic cancer that began in May of that year. His career continues to inspire many martial artists today and his legacy lives on through his school, Richard Branden's Studio Kicks in Palo Alto, California.

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At the top of the bill will be Eduard "Landslide" Folyang welcoming Zhang Lipeng to the Circle.

The debut match for Zhang offers him a massive opportunity against a former ONE Lightweight World Champion. The pivotal matchup in the lightweight division will position the winner for a possible contender's bout later this year.

Another World Champion will see action in the co-main event.

Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex "Little Rock" Silva returns to the Circle against Miao Li Tao, who hopes to knock-off the #5-ranked strawweight contender and jump into the official ONE athlete rankings.

Also in action, heavyweight striker extraordinaire Alain "The Panther" Ngalani meets undefeated Thomas Narmo in a matchup that will surely provide fireworks to be remembered.

In flyweight action, Eko Roni Saputra looks to build on his four-bout winning streak against China's Liu Peng Shuai. The Indonesian grappler has looked sensational as of late and can continue to make his case for flyweight contendership with another stoppage victory.

Opening the card will be a lightweight match between India's Rahul Raju and Mongolia's Otgonbaatar Nergui.

The previously recorded event can be seen on Friday, August 13 on Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report YouTube, and the Bleacher Report app at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST.

ONE: Battleground II Card

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Alex Silva vs. Miao Li Tao

Thomas Narmo vs. Alain Ngalani

Eko Roni Saputra vs. Liu Peng Shuai

Otgonbaatar Nergui vs. Rahul Raju

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