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Trailblazer: Burton Richardson

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Burton Richardson is a Black Belt Hall of Famer and is a trailblazing instructor on the most comprehensive martial arts platform in history—Black Belt+

*Due to editorial limitations, parts of this interview may have been abbreviated.

Black Belt+: You inspired so many, who or what inspired you? Burton: My inspirations were the proverbial carrot and stick. The stick was a very bad incident when I was nine years old. I was abducted by a large adult who continually threatened to kill me if I didn’t do what he said. It was a horrible ordeal that motivates me to train others so they never have to be a victim. The carrot was both Sifu Bruce Lee and Guro Dan Inosanto. I was so fortunate to start training with Guro Dan when I was only 18 years old. To this day the wisdom and examples of Sifu Bruce and Guro Dan inspire me to be my very best and to pass on the “constant improvement” directive to my students worldwide.

Black Belt+: Black Belt+ was started to help students outside the dojo, what are your expert tips on training solo or remotely? Burton: We can make great progress outside the dojo and I practice solo every single day. To get the most out of your practice when you don’t have a partner, visualize an attacker who is fighting back. When you hit the BOB dummy or work on a heavy bag, use your imagination to visualize a moving, aggressive opponent. Evade or block those kicks and punches and time your counters. Don’t just strike the bag, pick precise areas to target so that you work on your accuracy as well. Even if you are shadowboxing, pick spots on the wall to aim towards. Developing power is a must, but power is useless if you don’t hit your target.

Black Belt+: Oftentimes in our training we hit a wall, what’s your advice for students who lack motivation or want to quit? Burton: I remember that feeling of being on a plateau. What I didn’t understand early in my training was that while on a plateau, I was actually progressing toward the next upward climb. As long as I went to class, I wasn’t really stagnant, even though it felt that way. In reality, I was inching along that plateau working my way towards the next rise. Thankfully, I just enjoyed where I was, kept on paying attention to details, and eventually made the jump. Such a fascinating process. Always remember that a black belt is a white belt who never quit. When you hit that plateau, smile and keep training!

Black Belt+: What are some changes or developments in your art over the years?

Burton: In 1997 I started pressure testing everything I had learned and made a commitment to only teach techniques that were successful in hard sparring or fighting.

In a real situation, an attacker is going to resist 100%. If we aren’t prepared for that resistance, no technique, regardless of its merit, will be applicable. Each individual must develop the skills necessary to deal with a resisting opponent, so all of my students must pressure test the techniques themselves. We do this safely but dealing with resistance is the key to successful application of the martial arts.

Black Belt+: Today, what is the emphasis of your teaching? Tell us about your videos featured on BB+.

Burton: I mentioned earlier that I endured a very horrible situation when I was a youngster. My emphasis in teaching is to make sure no one else has to endure what I did. I was absolutely helpless against a much larger, stronger aggressor. Therefore, my programs are designed to help people develop functional, practical fighting skills that will allow them to not just survive, but to prevail in such a situation.


Check out all of Burton Richardson’s instructional videos on Black Belt+ Download and subscribe directly from Black Belt Magazine at Or download in the App Store or Google Play.

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