silat

Burton Richardson began his martial education under the tutelage of Dan Inosanto at his original kali/Jun Fan gung fu academy. It put Richardson on the right path physically — who could go wrong with Bruce Lee's top student as a teacher?

It also put Richardson on the right path mentally because Dan Inosanto has always believed in keeping an open mind with respect to martial arts and techniques.

That started in 1980, and Richardson hasn't slowed down since.

Not willing to limit himself to the vast pool of martial arts talent in Southern California, Burton Richardson set about traveling the world to bolster his skills. Wanderlust took him to China for sanshou lessons, Japan for shootfighting, the Philippines for kali and escrima, France for savate, Brazil for jiu-jitsu, and South Africa for Zulu stick and spear fighting.

Every time he set foot in a training hall, Richardson was on the prowl for functional self-defense skills. His philosophy was always that any technique must be proved effective before he'd adopt it. No doubt his formal schooling in biology helped him evaluate techniques for effectiveness before deciding which ones to teach and which to toss.

Burton Richardson earned himself a number of prestigious ranks, including full instructor in JKD and Filipino martial arts under Dan Inosanto, full instructor in jeet kune do under Larry Hartsell and second-stripe black belt in BJJ under Egan Inoue.

An original member of the Dog Brothers, Richardson is also a muay Thai instructor under Chai Sirisute, a silat instructor under Paul deThouars and a kali instructor under Antonio Ilustrisimo.

All that makes for an impressive curriculum vitae, but what really has enabled Burton Richardson to shine is his approach to passing his accumulated wisdom along to the next generation. Soft-spoken but insistent, he teaches only what works against a resisting opponent. Nevertheless, he keeps his classes safe — which is not an easy task, given the lethality of the subject matter and the focus on real-world functionality.

These are some of the reasons Burton Richardson was named Black Belt's 2015 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year.

Photos by Robert Reiff

To watch a Burton Richardson BJJ seminar, go here.

To read "These 10 Self-Defense Strategies Will Make You a Better Martial Artist" by Burton Richardson, click here now.

To read "Pencak Silat Expert Gets MMA Smackdown, Regroups, Comes Back Even Stronger With His Martial Art!" by Burton Richardson, click here.

Go here to order Burton Richardson's book Silat for the Street.

Click here to check out his online video course Silat for the Street.

Burton Richardson's latest project with Black Belt is a book titled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the Street, available soon!

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Roughly speaking, silat means "skill for fighting." There are hundreds of styles of silat, most of which are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines. Common to all these styles is a combat-oriented ideology and the use of weaponry.

In Indonesia, there are numerous forms of pencak silat (also spelled pentjak silat), as well as many kinds of kuntao, a type of Chinese boxing that bears many similarities to silat and is found primarily within Chinese communities in Indonesia. There are also many systems that blend pencak silat and kuntao.

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Burton Richardson Live Seminar

BJJ For The Street was developed by Black Belt Magazine Hall of famer Burton Richardson to take sport grappling and modify it to function in extreme self defense scenarios where pistols, knives, multiple attackers, and all "foul" tactics must be expected. Mr. Richardson is a leading instructor in Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Silat, and has coached MMA and BJJ world champions. But this is not BJJ for tournaments or MMA. This is BJJ For The Street! If you are interested in how you must alter your grappling to be truly effective for self-defense, tune in Tuesday, July 21st. 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific Time.

The island of Bali is part of the Indonesian archipelago. While the rest of the nation is Muslim, Bali traditionally has been populated by Hindus. It was a Hindu, a traditional wrestling master named Putu Witsen Widjaya, who originally invited me to this tropical isle to try my hand at mepantigan wrestling. (See the December 2018/January 2019, February/March 2019 and April/May 2019 issues of Black Belt.) He explained to me that his life's ambition is to meet and organize all the martial arts masters in Bali in an effort to preserve the culture.

On my subsequent visit, Putu introduced me to several local martial artists, including masters of san da, judo and silat. That last style, in particular, intrigued me because on a previous visit to Malaysia, I'd studied silat kalam and silat tomoi, in addition to having documented a few other variations of the art.

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In his matter-of-fact manner, Mas Aan, the man who had agreed to teach me silat tapak suci in Bali, Indonesia, explained the difference between using a hard block against a kick and simply stepping aside. With a hard block, he noted, your arm absorbs the force of the technique — and it's possible a bone in your forearm will break. With a side step, however, the kick slips right on by. That enables you to avoid all its destructiveness before you counterattack.

The concept applies even when catching a kick, the master said. His advice to me was to slide my front leg backward to get out of range and, once the foot or shin misses, attempt to grab the leg.Switching gears, Mas Aan demonstrated a self-defense technique for use against a shirt grab. As soon as the offending hand latched on, he slapped the arm down. Instead of using a slap that was strong enough to break the hold, he made his opponent stumble forward — at which point he uncorked an uppercut to the jaw. After that strike, he looped his fist downward and smashed his foe between the legs.This technique, coupled with the ones he'd just taught (see part 1 of this column), prompted me to ask if silat tapak suci had ever been dubbed the "punch him in the nuts" style.

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