Let’s face it, time waits for none of us. Thankfully, through adaptation and drawing on past experience, you can create a successful training practice for any stage of life.
This episode of the GMB show features the legendary Burton Richardson. If you read Inside Kung Fu magazine in the 80’s and 90’s then you were most likely introduced to Burton and his work in Silat and Jeet Kune Do.
For over 30 years, Burton has trained with some the greatest martial artists of our time, and has taught thousands of people. During that time, Burton has learned how to adapt his training for each stage of his life while still experiencing highly productive results.
In this conversation, Jarlo and Burton talk candidly about Burton’s personal training strategies for longevity and consistent growth over those 30 years, as well as how you can apply those same principles – both in your current situation and for the decades to come.
- 4:00 – How Burton’s training has changed to accommodate time and experience over the last 30 years.
- 6:00 – Find the ways you need to enjoy the process of training and development. Changing expectations for the training in general will make it a far more adaptable and fluid process. Training isn’t static.
- 11:00 – Consistency over time trumps the effort and hustle most people exert over a short period. “It’s better to do a little bit a lot, than a lot a little bit.”
- 19:00 – Is it possible to lose what you’re learned? A valuable lesson in consistency comes from a traditional dyeing process in India and an old Filipino guru.
- 35:00 – Building on your experience is the key to creating new experiences and adding variety to your training.
- 37:00 – Burton talks about his new course on Silat for practical street defense. And how technology is making it easier than ever to find a great coach and program for training and mastery.
Burton Richardson has studied extensively with many of the finest instructors in the world. He’s a certified instructor in Jeet Kune Do, Filipino Martial Arts, Thai Boxing, Penjak Silat, Kali, and has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s been featured extensively in Black Belt Magazine, Inside Kung Fu Magazine, and Budo Magazine.
Burton enjoys sharing his good fortune through seminars worldwide. He is known for teaching a dynamic seminar in a relaxed atmosphere, with ample time taken to highlight the fine points of the arts.
Be sure to catch the next episode by subscribing to the GMB Show:
How To Have A Lifetime Of Successful Productive Training
Jarlo: Hey, everybody, this is Jarlo at GMB Fitness, and I’m really happy today on this podcast to be with my teacher, Burton Richardson. Hey, Burton, how you doing?
Burton: I’m fantastic!
Burton: As usual. How are you, Jarlo?
Jarlo: Yeah, I love your positive attitude all the time. Positive all the time. That’s what we should do, right?
Burton: It’s our choice.
Jarlo: It’s our choice. That’s exactly it.
Burton: Right. You know, when somebody’s asked me, “How are you,” we have to realize that’s actually, the answer is compared to what?
Burton: We get to choose what we compare it to. Am I going to compare how I am today to the best day I’ve ever had on this earth or I’m going to compare it to my worst day? It’s like, “I’m great, man.”
Jarlo: Right. It’s your choice, and you’re in Hawaii. Right?
Burton: Which helps a lot.
Jarlo: And you’re in Kailua next to the beach in Hawaii.
Burton: Helps even more. I mean, yeah. Wow. Best place that I know.
Jarlo: A little bit about my teacher, Burton, for people who are just kind of tuning in and not really have that extensive martial arts background that some of our listeners have, Burton’s been intensively training for over 30 years now. Instructorships in JKD, silat, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black belt, and so many different teachers. Primary one Guro Dan Inosanto, but also so many different wonderful teachers, and I’ve been lucky to be training with Burton since 2004 now. It’s been 12 years since I started.
Burton: Jeez. Twelve years, wow. Amazing.
Jarlo: I was lucky to, most of that time in Hawaii, and then I’m still learning from him, even though we moved back with the family to Seattle a few years ago. I’ve been very lucky in that. What I’d love to do now is have you talk to us a little bit about what’s happening with you in your last couple years.
Burton: It’s pretty much the same thing of constant improvement in research and development. My instructor, Dan Inosanto, who was Bruce Lee’s best friend and training partner, for those who don’t know him, one day, back in the late 80s, he was giving us a little lecture. He stopped the actual training. He says, “What is Jeet Kune Do, the art of Bruce Lee, really?” A bunch of people said different things, and finally, he just said, “It’s research and development,” and it’s like, “Wow, that really hit home with me,” so that’s what we do. I constantly research and develop, and I’ve been doing that in all the arts from the Filipino to the Indonesian to the JKD to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, fitness, health, just constantly trying to improve myself so I can have better ideas for my students to help them improve themselves, too.
Jarlo: That’s what I’ve loved about training with you, even from the beginning. It’s not like we’re doing the same thing every time. I started with you 12 years ago and it was great during that time, that first year, and then it just seemed to not say that you were getting rid of things, but it just seemed like you were expanding and the details got better and better, and a lot of it, too, is we knew you had a very big background, a very broad background, but sometimes you didn’t teach one thing or another until a little bit later on. Right?
Burton: That’s right.
Jarlo: It seemed interesting to me. We’re coming to class and we’re like, “Oh, this is new to me,” but it was obviously not new to you, so one of the things is you obviously haven’t been complacent, and 30 years of training, it’s easy. I don’t know if it was Tony Blauer who first said it, but he had that quote about, “What’s your 20 years of training? Is it 20 years of real training or are you repeating your first two years 10 times?” You know, something like that. I’m not sure he was the first one to say it, but I remember him saying that. I was like, “That makes so much sense.” Are you just repeating yourself? It’s not just experience, but it’s your research and development in your experience.
Burton: That’s really true. The great, late Ed Parker, Kenpo Grand Master, he said something, sort of similar lines, where he said, “Have you been in the martial arts for 20 years or at the martial arts for 20 years?”
Jarlo: Oh, yeah.
Burton: Huge distinction. “Sure, I’ve been in fitness for 20 years,” you know, “Don’t actually go to the gym but …”
Jarlo: Right? You can’t just record your starting point and then you’re going to automatically get better.
Jarlo: You got to show up, and you got to do your work. That speaks to longevity and training. Thirty plus years of training is a long time, and you’re showing you haven’t been complacent, and you’ve been consistent and progressing. Can you share with us a little bit about how it has to be adjusted over time? It’s much different. You started when you were 18, was it? Eighteen?
Burton: Seventeen, actually.
Jarlo: Seventeen, right. You’re in your late teens and your early 20s and you went into 30s and beyond, so there has to be a change. Can you share with us a little bit about those changes you had to make?
Burton: Yes. I would say the most important change was understanding the effects of wear and tear and how the intensity of your exercising, from the fitness world, you know that I had the good fortune to get to train with Mike Mentzer for weightlifting, and that was high-intensity training where you push yourself to the limit, but then, his whole theory was, it was the recovery time. You don’t go back at it two days later. You have to give yourself six or seven or sometimes 10 days to recover before you hit that body part again, which to most people was crazy, but he was all about that recovery. I really feel that in my other training, too.
When I was in, I think, my late 30s, maybe about 40 or so, my training had to change. My Jiu-Jitsu training, especially, or MMA, because I would go in every day and be training with guys in their mid-20s or early 20s that were bigger and stronger than me, and go all out. Day after day after day after day, and then I got injured. Okay, well, I heal up, a couple weeks later I go back, start that cycle again, a couple weeks later I get injured again. This kept repeating, and I realized after a while that, you know what, I cannot maintain this kind of intensity anymore because my body doesn’t recover as quickly as it did when I was younger.
For longevity, one thing is just making sure as you’re doing your exercise that you don’t overdo it. You listen to your body and you do it at a good pace. The other thing on longevity is you just have to enjoy it. You need to find a way to enjoy it. Many years ago, I didn’t enjoy lifting weights at all. Zero. When I was younger, I would lift for a while and then stop, and then have to start again, and I really did not enjoy it until finally I came up with this little thing. You got to learn to love the burn. Once I could just train myself to actually enjoy that feeling, that burn, then I could do it consistently.
Like running, I hated running. Somebody came out with this amazing Walkman, so Sony helped me with my running because then I could listen to music, and, “Oh, wow, this is a whole different thing compared to running behind buses in Los Angeles with no music.” I’d say just really find a way to enjoy it. Focus on those details and don’t go in and go, “Okay, I’m going to get in shape and I haven’t worked out in 12 years, and I’m going to get in shape in two weeks.”
Jarlo: Right. Exactly.
Burton: Not going to help it. It’s the long run. It’s the long run. Long outlook.
Jarlo: It’s definitely an adjustment of expectations. Even me, I’m going to be 42 this year, which isn’t too old, but it’s a lot different than I was in my 20s. I remember we talked about this before, you know, training for six, eight hours a day. I’ve done that for a bit, but not really a long, extended period of time. Definitely not to the point where these pro sports players are, but even then when I was doing it in my 20s, it was not enjoyable. Like, I wanted to. I knew I had that drive to get better, but it wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t sustainable at all, so it would kind of changing your goals and changing your expectations of what you can do.
Burton: It’s really true.
Jarlo: Doesn’t mean you’re settling for less, though.
Burton: No. Absolutely not. That is such a good point of changing your expectations. I had to change my expectations of how much I trained because I was in that mindset, the more training, the better. You can’t do more intense training, so now I probably train, if you look at it, still, I train maybe four or five hours per day, but three of those hours or four of those hours are watching video, or reading books, and researching because I can do that without damaging my body or going too far. For me, it’s not saying, “Well, I guess I’ll never be this good. Well, I’m just not going to have the expectation that I can get on the mat and grind it out with the 20-year-olds for five hours a day.” That’s not going to happen.
Jarlo: I like that. Even just what you’ve just said, you’ve changed the definition of what training is. Even in my head, training, I still think, “Oh, it’s working out hard and doing things,” but it’s actually everything you can do to get better. You’re training that way.
Burton: The goal of training is to improve yourself. That’s it, and that’s what I tell people when they come in class. I said, “The goal of the class is not to win. It is not to show how great you are. It is to improve yourself.” If you have that mentality, you will improve much quicker because, for example, martial arts-wise, maybe somebody has a favorite move that they use all the time and they’re really good at it, and it’s important to hone what you’re best at because that’s what you’re probably going to use, but to actually expand and have more options, you need to put yourself in positions where you’re not good. You go in and you train areas and you look bad and you quote “lose” because you’re not doing too well, but now you’ve improved yourself, so it’s all about improving. I played baseball at USC, and my baseball coach at that time was the winningest college baseball coach in history, Rod Dedeaux, and this guy had all these great lines, which made him a great coach, and one thing he said is, he said, “Tigers, practice what you’re not good at. It’s more fun to practice what you are good at, but that’s not going to make you a champion. You’ve got to practice what you’re not good at.”
Jarlo: What a great attitude.
Jarlo: It’s just that attitude of, “Okay, what can I improve about myself, and not just working on the things that are fun?” You have to enjoy yourself, but maybe finding, like you said before, these little tricks to make it a little more enjoyable. It’s not the best thing in the world.
Burton: Right. Anything you can do to make it more fun. That’s why we play music in our classes, everybody has a great attitude, we’re having fun. Bruce Lee said, “Train seriously, but don’t seriously train.” You get in there and we’re serious about our training, we pay attention to details, we really work at it, but we don’t do it with a grim look on our face because willpower is finite. You only have a certain reserve of willpower, and once you use that up, you’re just going to stop. You’re going to quit. We were talking about one of the things that I see that’s common to all my students who have become very successful, and I studied, of course, successful people, it’s consistency. That is the one trait.
You are better off going, say somebody’s doing one of the GMB workouts, you are better off going and doing that one workout every day or however you have it set up, but just keep doing it consistently. Consistent, consistent, consistent. Instead of saying, “I’m going to do five of these today and five of them tomorrow,” you just do what you can do consistently, and over time, there’s the compound effect, like compound interest, and you improve yourself one percent today, now you’re better. When you improve yourself one percent tomorrow, you’re improving one percent on 101% instead of 100% you were yesterday. Enjoy it and be consistent.
Jarlo: I like that. You’re investing in yourself.
Jarlo: Remember that quote from Robert Follis that year, MMA camp in Vegas, and he said, “It’s better to do a little bit a lot than a lot a little bit.” I thought that was great.
Burton: You know, that’s such a great way. Robert Follis is awesome. What a simple way to look at it.
Jarlo: His success now, I’m gratified to see it.
Burton: Me, too. He’s finally actually getting credit because he was doing so well for so many years, coaching. Now Robert’s getting actual credit. They’re like, “Wow, this is one of the best MMA coaches in the world for a long time,” so he sure deserves it.
Jarlo: Yep. Miesha Tate.
Burton: Miesha Tate. World champ.
Jarlo: Yeah, look what she did. Unreal.
Jarlo: Along with that, consistency and adjusting your expectations as needed, it’s not that you’re not striving for excellence, but you sort of have to change your attitude towards it, and we can’t be excellent in one day.
Burton: Yes. We are still striving for excellence. That is what we’re about, is excellence. We have to make these mental adjustments, and then physical adjustments, as such, in order to continue on that path to excellence. Let me just talk about Jiu-Jitsu a little bit. Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s a rarity in the martial arts world. If you go to a lot of systems now, you go down to your local martial arts school, you can expect to get a black belt. If you apply yourself a little bit, you’re going to get a black belt in two to three years. If you really apply yourself, definitely you’re going to get it in two years. In Jiu-Jitsu, the norm is eight or nine years if you’re training very diligently. You think about that. Eight or nine years? That’s like going to college, then going to post-grad, becoming a doctor, and a specialist. Eight or nine years? I happen to have an aptitude for certain parts of martial arts. I was a baseball player, I could swing a stick, I could kick, I could punch, and all that. That I could do pretty well. Put me on the ground and I was absolutely out of my element. I had zero aptitude for grappling. Just zero. It was horrible. Really, it was terrible.
It took me over 12 years to get my black belt, but the thing was, as lousy of a student as I was, I just was consistent and I kept doing it. I would just finish another session of just getting crushed, the whole session I would say to myself, “I know I improved. I can’t feel it,” but I know I had to get better. Regardless of your talent, you start wherever you are. Talent is just what it is. You might have talent, maybe you don’t, but it’s the consistency. I saw guys who are much more talented. They’re just killing me at the beginning, and slowly, they stopped coming so much and this and that, and they never achieved the black belt. Now, if I were to grapple with them, I would handle them quite easily just because I didn’t give up and I just kept going. Again, that consistency, but striving for excellence, really studying it, doing my best with the time I have. Very important. Not everybody is going to have 10 hours a day to train in whatever it is. You may only have 15 minutes or 20 minutes a day that you can set aside, but you can do your best in those 15 or 20 minutes, and that’s what’s important. That makes you excellent. That is excellent.
Jarlo: I remember all of these lessons you’ve given us over the years, and just show up, do your best with your expectations, try not to get too frustrated, and it’s easy to get frustrated. We were doing this for years. Some days you feel really good and some days you don’t.
Burton: That’s just the truth of it, though. That’s what’s beautiful about the way we do it, of going out and actually trying it out. We actually do a lot of sparring, safe sparring, it’s fun, but you try it out and some days you just are not successful at all, and then some days you go in and you’re like, “Wow, everything worked today. Everything worked. What was that all about?” Just wait a week or two.
Jarlo: Right? You can’t predict it. It’s really hard. It’s really hard to predict. You just have to keep going and do the best you can. I remember in between classes, I would do judo with Shelton.
Jarlo: I called it my isometric workout because in at least two and a half years, I think I threw him twice.
Burton: Yeah. Wow.
Jarlo: Working all those hours and I did twice, so if I measured myself on my success on how often I threw him, then I was a complete failure, right?
strong>Jarlo: I remember I would go and I would clench with someone else, and I would be throwing them around, right, because I had that experience.
Burton: Right. I found that interesting, too, with me with my Jiu-Jitsu. What I didn’t realize was at the beginning of my training, I was training with people that were all more experienced with me. It wasn’t a big group. They were all more experienced. As I got better, they got better. I was always getting wiped around the mat with everybody. I never really tasted much success, and then one day after two years of dealing with this, just going, “You know what? I’m just basically the worst grappler in the world. That’s just the way it’s going to be, but I’m going to keep training,” I went to a different school and was having a great time until they said, “Okay, let’s spar a little bit.” I’m like, “Oh, gosh, here we go.” I couldn’t believe it. I arm barred the guy. I’d never arm barred anybody. I just, boom, I arm barred him. Then I went with somebody else. Boom, I arm barred him. Then, the last round, they put me with a blue belt, and I was still a white belt, of course. I’m like, “Well, I had fun, but here we go.” I dominated him. I didn’t submit him, but I dominated him. I’m like, “Wow. Somehow, even though I was getting killed every single day in training, I was improving.” If you have a good program, well thought-out program, you’re going to improve if you just do the program.
Jarlo: That’s right.
Burton: Pretty simple.
Jarlo: Related to that, one of my favorite stories that you had was the dyeing of the fabric.
Jarlo: You mind relating that to everybody?
Burton: Yes. This is an analogy for seasoning because in martial arts you will learn that you’ll learn a technique, and you’ll do it, and then all the sudden it kind of goes away, and you can’t apply it, or you forget it. Then you keep working at it, or any attribute that you’re trying to ingrain in your body or your mind, you need to keep doing it. In India, they have this cloth. It’s white, and they dye it for turbans and for sarongs and such. They take it down and they put it in the dye. For example, let’s say they’re going to dye it red, and it becomes this brilliant, brilliant red after they dye it. Then, the next step is to take it and you wash it. They wash it and they pound it with the rocks and all, and almost all of the dye goes away. It becomes white again with just the slightest hint that there’s a little bit of red, and then they go and they dye it again. Becomes brilliant red, and they repeat that process of washing, and it goes boom, boom, boom, and it goes back to white and goes back to white and goes back to white. Suddenly, one time, bang, it holds, and it becomes brilliant red, and it will never fade.
That’s what we’re doing in our training. We keep doing the repetition and the repetition and the repetition, and at some point, it gets so ingrained that you become seasoned with it, and it won’t leave you. Dan Inosanto, again, went, found a man in Stockton, California, an old Filipino man that had been a Grand Master of Filipino martial arts way back, he fought in the wars, and after the wars were over, he just put it away because it wasn’t a pleasant thing to him, what he had to use it for, but he did it, and he was very successful, and saved people’s lives. This guy had not picked up sticks in probably 20 years. Inosanto convinced him, so he said, “Okay,” and he said he picked it up, and he started moving, and he actually dropped the stick. It came out of his hand. He was in his 80s, I think. He picked it up again, he started moving, and all the sudden it became magic, like it was all there again.
Burton: He had trained so much as a young man; it was just part of him. Everything was there. Everything was so smooth and beautiful. That’s what we want to do. We want to season ourselves by just doing those repetitions and getting them ingrained.
Jarlo: Yeah, I love it. That goes to, a lot of times, when people write into us or we have our clients, and they ask, “I’m afraid to lose this.” They think that taking a vacation for a couple weeks or switching to something else, we like to cycle things. It’s really important, again, for longevity, is to cycle. You have one focus for a few months and then you can go onto another, and they’re like, “I’ll lose what I gained,” but really, you don’t. We retain so much more than we think. If you just continue to practice, how can you get weaker when you are actually doing something? You have to have that in your head: “If I’m doing something, I am getting stronger. I am getting better.” You might get a little rusty in some of the other things, but you’re improving yourself even just by the fact that you’re working and you’re focusing.
Burton: Absolutely. Talk about the longevity and the recovery of the body, if you keep pounding that same exercise over and over again, there’s a point where your body gets that repetitive disorder, you know, like carpal tunnel syndrome or something. You know more about that than I do, but yeah, it’s interesting how people are like, “Oh, gosh, if I go do this,” but yeah, the truth is, as long as you are working, your body’s going to remember. You create set points for your body, whether it’s flexibility or if it’s in strength or it’s in body fat percentage, you get these set points, and your body wants to go there. You have to change the set point. Takes a lot of diligent work, conscientious work, and over time, you can slowly reset your set point for your body fat, for your flexibility, for your strength, and if you go away for a while, your body’s going to want to come back to it, and it comes back quite quickly.
Jarlo: Absolutely. Not just physically, but in terms of thinking and your knowledge and the things you’ve done like that. That comes to my next question. I know because you’ve done so many different arts over the years and tried to go on the path of that real application. You know, not just the art, and that’s an important part of our training, as well, what you had referred to as performance and the art of moving your body and honoring the culture. For me, a lot of the Filipino martial art, it’s because it’s my culture, as well. It’s effective and it works, and that’s why I’m in it, but also, it’s a part of our history.
Burton: Right. Absolutely.
Jarlo: That’s an important thing to know, that there’s that. There’s this kind of theatrical, cultural element to it, but I’ve really appreciated that over the last dozen years with you, it has to be functional. The fact that it works means that it’s real.
Jarlo: When people talk about traditional versus modern, to me, that doesn’t mean anything. If it’s traditional, then it had to have worked.
Jarlo: If what you’re doing now isn’t working, then I don’t think it’s traditional.
Burton: I totally agree.
Jarlo: That leads me to my next thing. What are some of the instances where you’ve learned all of it? You’ve learned all of it, and some of it you had to put away for a while because you said, “Oh, it wasn’t really working at this point,” and then I know you’ve come back to it, so can you share a little bit with us about coming back to certain things?
Burton: That is a big advantage of training for over three decades is you get a different perspective. When I was younger, I did that whole thing. For example, Bruce Lee. He passed away at a very young age. He was, I think, 33 when he passed away. An amazing, amazing guy, and one of his mottos was, “Absorb what is useful. Reject what it useless. Add what is specifically your own.” He’s all about making sure you can actually use it, so it’s about “useful.” I, at this point, some years ago, actually, I realized that I had to change that for myself, so I absorb what is useful. Instead of rejecting what is useless, when I find something that I deem quote “useless” that’s not functional, I put it aside because I know now sometimes later on you go, “Oh! I see how that can work now.”
I was just discussing this with my wife, Sarah. Sarah taught class for me the other night, and we were discussing a certain clinch grip and all that, and I said, “It’s not, ‘Is this technique better than that technique?’ The question is, ‘When do I use this technique? When do I use that technique?'” Grand Master Tatang Antonio Ilustrisimo, in the Philippines, most people say, “Okay, here are the basics and here are the intermediate techniques and here are the advanced techniques.” His thing, there were no basic or advanced. It just depended on where you were. You might have a technique that looks very advanced and fancy, but if you’re at a position, and the guy’s sword is coming toward your neck, at that point in time, there is only one technique that is going to save you, and it happens to look kind of advanced and whatever. For him, it was just, you do whatever you need to do in the moment. Yeah, I think it’s really important to not throw stuff away. Especially, again, in martial arts. People do make crazy stuff up, but there are also things that we just don’t understand when to use it.
Jarlo: The context of it.
Burton: Correct. Not the content, but it’s the context, which David Giomi, my friend and training partner, said that to me recently. Content and context are so important to understand. Yeah, when do you use it? When is this a good exercise for you? When is this a good technique? When does that technique fit in? For example, I’ll give you a quick example for the martial artists out there. Arm bar from the guard. If I’m laying on my back, there’s someone I have at my feet or at my legs, he’s on his knees or standing up. For tournaments where there’s no striking and rules and all that, an arm bar where you get the guy where you extend his arm and make him tap, very, very, very important. For me, for street self defense, for street, not a priority. In the sport, the arm bar is a priority from the guard. In the street, you put an arm bar on someone, and there’s a chance they’re going to stand up, especially if they’re bigger, lift you off the ground, and slam your head in cement. Now, this is not a priority. We’re trying to stand up and all.
That was a big turning point for me where I really saw how that was different for the street. Guess what? Less than a year ago, I realized the arm bar from the guard is absolutely essential and a huge priority for street self defense. Why? Because I was grappling, and I gave a training gun to my partner, and I realized from my back, I could not take the gun out of his hand. I could not not disarm it. I didn’t have the leverage just to do it with my hands because his arm was too moldable. Then, as we were actually wrestling for the gun, my body just went “voom” and threw an arm bar on him because he’s not having great Jiu-Jitsu because he’s worried about the gun. Through the arm bar, I get the leverage, boom, the gun comes out of his hand. What’s more dangerous, having a guy in your guard in the streets that’s going to try to punch you, or a guy in your guard that just pulled a gun on you?
Now, more from the guard, priority. That’s the most dangerous situation. We have to have it. As long as you are continuing to evolve and you don’t get stuck in your ways and say this is the only way to do it, you’re going to evolve, and you can find better ways through experience. Not through just making it up in your head, but actually trying it out, see what really works, and you go, “Oh, I see. That’s where that is important.”
Jarlo: Right, that context. So important. So good. It comes back to, I really like over the last few years, what we’ve been doing with your silat. I remember you saying a lot of that came because you spent all that time, those years ago, drilling, doing the moves, doing all the techniques, getting your leverage, getting your body mechanics working, and really honing those skills, but it was when you spent that time later on doing the clinch and the Greco Roman with Randy Couture and all these people that you realize, “Here is where we can really make it shine.” Oh, man, it just changed my, immediately, the silat was just so good. I didn’t see it before, so I’m like, “Look at that. He’s moving his arms around. He’s kind of this guy just standing still. How can you do that? How can it work?”
Burton: Exactly. That was such a good example for me of being known for being really proficient in silat, being able to train with great, great instructors. Very fortunate. Paul de Thouras and Herman Suwanda, of course, Guro Dan was the first one, Dan Inosanto, and other people I did in seminars. Then, learning it, being able to apply it in various fight situations and a couple challenge matches, and a stick fight match in the Philippines, and Dog Brothers stick fighting, all that, being able to apply it, and then going to the MMA realm when MMA was very young, it wasn’t called MMA yet, and finding I couldn’t apply it against these guys because they had such a strong wrestling base. Then, kind of putting it aside, again, not rejecting it, but putting it aside, and then years later, realizing that once my clinch was really good and I was able to start doing certain things in the clinch, the silat started showing up again. I started-
Jarlo: Was that a surprise? Was it a big surprise?
Burton: Oh, I’ll tell you the story, so I’m there clinching, and I’m there with my friend, David Giomi, and he’s a big guy, real strong-
Jarlo: Yeah, David’s big. He’s not a small person.
Burton: No, and so we’re clinching like we did every week, and we did all our sparring every week and all, and I made a move, and he made a counter-move, and I made a counter-move, and all of a sudden, I was in silat position, like, “Oh, wow. That’s interesting.” We went back at it and I got to it again. He was surprised, too, and then it really made me started thinking, so then I started kind of looking for them, and I went for an arm drag one day, and he did a really good classic counter, and I came up with this cross arm lock, which was crazy. It’s one of those things, you know you can’t do it for real. I came up with it right there, so again, that context thing, going, “Oh, this is where,” but having that clinch where you actually know how to deal with someone who’s fighting back against you, you can then control position.
I’ll tell you a little story about that with Richard Bustillo. Richard Bustillo, one of Bruce Lee’s students, also, like Dan Inosanto, training partner of Dan Inosanto, and he comes over to Hawaii every once in a while, and I saw him a few years ago and I said, “Gosh, you know, I was able to actually pull off in the boxing gym some compound trapping for those people to do martial arts,” which is very complicated. You trap a guy’s arm down, and then you try to punch, and then you trap his other arm, so you have both of his arms immobilized for a little bit, and it really looks good in movies, when someone’s feeding you, it’s really, really cool, but when someone’s punching at you like a boxer, really difficult to do. I was able to actually pull these things off in the boxing gym against a boxer in the ring. I mentioned that to him, and he looks at me with this funny look, and he’s like, “Well, yeah, because you know how to fight.” The whole thing was, when you really learn how to really fight and you’re good in all the ranges, you really have that fighting thing down, you can start applying other techniques that most people-
Jarlo: We see that in UFC, right? What are we seeing now? We’re seeing spinning kicks and twisting things and stuff that you would see in movies. Jumping off the cage and all of that. It’s because they can fight.
Burton: They can fight.
Jarlo: Right. The people that can’t fight, there’s no way that they could try to do the same thing, but they don’t have the timing, they don’t have the knowledge of when to do it, and it’s amazing. Right now, it’s so interesting to watch now.
Burton: Right. I think of it sort of like, you know, the water gymnastics or dancing that they have in the Olympics. They go and they do these amazing things with their body, synchronized swimming, and if you don’t know how to swim, you’re not going to be able to do any of that, right?
Jarlo: That’s right. You’ve got to be able to swim. You can’t just go in there.
Burton: “Oh, I’m just going to do that thing.” You have to first keep yourself from drowning, so once you learn how to swim and you can handle an MMA environment where someone’s trying to punch and kick and take you down and grapple and such, “Okay, I’m in comfortable environment. Now I can start adding all this stuff into it, and I can apply it.” Not until you know how to swim.
Jarlo: That definitely goes back to, for the old silat men and the old Filipino martial art, the colony men, they were fighters first.
Burton: Fighters first, correct.
Jarlo: They were fighters first, and then some other things come on, and then if you don’t know the context, some of these techniques, maybe they had to develop something for one particular reason. Never come out unless that one particular situation comes up.
Burton: Right, but that one particular situation is life and death. You’d better know it. I know in my own sparring, and I often videotape my sparring, that every once in a while, something comes up that I wouldn’t teach, actually, but it’s actually from all my old training and from all that relation, just being able to relate in the moment. Something comes up, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I just did that block check, move the hand away, and this and that?” Again, it’s good to have options. Well practiced.
Jarlo: Good to have options. You need it.
Burton: Good to have options, yes.
Jarlo: That’s what I really enjoy about this training is just there’s something new almost every time. Even if you feel like you’re doing the same things, some little detail comes up. It was like last year, it was great, we were able to go to Black Belt Magazine and shoot a video series for them for the silat, and that’s just come out this month, earlier this month, yeah?
Burton: Yeah, the video program came out, and I’m very happy with it. You did a great job assisting me, as did Scott and Israel, and then the book comes out, the companion book, I think August first it comes out, so yeah.
Jarlo: That’s great. Yeah, so, I remember that because we were going through it and we were shooting for, what was that, six, seven hours, and a lot of it, I’d say a quarter to a half of it, I’ve already learned from you over the years. I was like, “Oh yeah, this is good, I remember this,” but then there was some times where I was like, “Oh, wait a minute. I know where I could use that a little bit better now.” It’s just that sense of going back in that kind of experience, and even though I’ve learned it before, it was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s kind of good,” but then I just had these little revelations. I was like, “Oh! Wait a minute. That’s really good.” Even though I knew I had it in my head, I thought that was really interesting. We just keep going and we keep training, and these little revelations just kind of spur you on to keep going and want to keep doing more.
Burton: That’s the mastery path. That’s the revisiting something that you already know, and now you go, “Oh, right, I understand it better, and now I’m going to be able to apply it better and have a couple more details on it that really make it work.”
Jarlo: Yeah. This video course that Black Belt has, with a streaming video, it’s also interesting in their format that they have a section on notes. You’re going on the technique, and you can make little notes, and it’s right there on your computer. I think that’s super important, too, because it’s not that you view it once, right, and you go, “Oh, I got it.” You got to take notes, you got to be attentive about it, and really apply some critical thought to it. I thought, “Wow, this format. Technology is just amazing now to be able to do that.”
Burton: Isn’t that nice? I think a lot of times people will get videos, and they watch it as entertainment as a spectator, and they watch. That’s not going to make you better. You may pick something up. You have to take that, like, for myself, I think what’s really helped me is, I watch a video, and I see something that I can improve a technique I already do, then I go out and I go practice that, and I actually work on trying to ingrain that, again, that seasoning thing, so I can do it without thinking about it.
Jarlo: Before, like, remember VHS’s, you have to stop it, and hopefully it was in the same place and you remember where it was, but now with our iPhones and everything, you can have that video right in hand, you know exactly where it is, you can scrub to the right place. Technology like this, the streaming and all of that, it’s just great. It’s just so helpful now.
Burton: The amount of information we have access to, there’s no excuse to not have the information because it’s all out there.
Jarlo: That’s right.
Burton: Like with GMB, you have so much high-level, beautiful, concise information. You don’t have to go and try to figure it out for yourself. You just have to go, “I already have an expert teacher. I don’t have to travel across the country to find an expert and go train with him for a week and take notes and come back.” You have it on your phone. It’s unreal. Right? It’s like magic.
Jarlo: It is. Finding a good coach, finding a good teacher now is just, yeah, it’s like magic.
Jarlo: Thanks so much for coming on. I know you have a busy schedule. I really appreciate your time.
Burton: It is my pleasure, and thank you, Jarlo. You are exemplary. As an instructor, as you know, you just love it when you find the exemplary student who is very accomplished but always a student. It’s such a pleasure, so thank you for being such a good part of my life.
Jarlo: Thanks so much, Burt. Okay, everybody, if you guys have any questions, you can definitely contact us, info@GMB.io. Also, we have links and the transcript here if you want to go and check out some of Burton’s other material, and especially that new course from Black Belt on silat for the street. We have that right there for you, so for everybody, I’ll talk to you next time. Thanks a lot.
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