Interview with Sifu Richard Bustillo
by Paul Borrett
Date : 30th April 1999
RB : Richard Bustillo
PB : Paul Borrett
PB- Could you recap, for people who haven't met you, how you first got involved
in Martial Arts?
RB- I first got involved with martial arts when I was a kid. When I was eight
years old I accompanied a Japanese friend to his Judo classes. I wasn't formally enrolled, but the sensei saw me with my friend
and invited me onto the floor. I practiced Judo for almost nine months. At ten years old I got involved with boxing because
my cousin, who was into boxing would throw jabs at me. I couldn't grab him and throw him with my Judo so I trained in boxing
from ten to thirteen years old. My other cousin who was practicing Kajukenpo started kicking me in a friendly sparring match.
Kicking was something I had never done before so I took up Kajukenpo at Waipahu Kempo/Karate Club. After graduating from St.
Louis High School in Honolulu I came to California for my college education. I saw Bruce Lee's awesome exhibition in 1964
at Long Beach. I searched him out to study his method of martial arts. In 1967 I was invited to the first orientation class
at his new Jn Fan Gung Fu Institute in the Los Angeles Chinatown area.
PB- What ould you say was your first impression of Bruce Lee?
RB- Awesome! My first impression of Bruce Lee at the exhibition was awesome.
I liked his philosophies, explosive speed and power. His one-inch punch! His ability to non-telegraph his kicks and punches
and still maintain speed and power. Bruce displayed an unbelievable exhibition of coordination, flexibility and strength.
Everything he said about the martial arts were the same things that I believed
in. I liked the part about the individual being more important than any established system or style.
PB- Would you say that the different training that you did as a youth
set the seed for cross training?
RB- Actually no. Because in those days when you boxed you just boxed, when
you did judo, you restricted yourself to just judo techniques. At that young age it was to concentrate on one thing or one
activity at a time. It wasn't until I met Bruce that I actually started cross training. When we sparred in Bruce's classes
we could punch, kick, trap or grapple. Bruce Lee's way was a case of being well rounded in all those fighting ranges and adapting
to the changes.
PB- So although you had trained in all those different styles it wasn't
until you met Bruce that somebody encourage you to put it all together.
RB- Yes, it was Bruce and Dan Inosanto who taught me to adapt to the changes.
PB-What would you say was Bruce Lee's biggest influence on your martial
arts growth and development?
RB- Having an open mind and being honest with yourself.
PB- To the best of my knowledge Bruce Lee integrated boxing into his
repertoire mostly during his L.A. period. Where did he get his technical knowledge of boxing from and was any of it from your
RB- Well I like to think that! (Laughing ) But you know a lot of the guys that
trained with Bruce had some boxing background. Bruce Lee was his own best boxing coach. Our class got into boxing right at
the start of our training because Bruce wanted us to understand the combative way. Full contact, really hitting each other
not practicing like the points system. To know what it felt like to get hit and to learn how to hit without getting hit back
was our first encounter with Jeet Kune Do.
PB- Where do you think he learnt the technique for the various boxing
combinations and punches?
RB- You know a lot of his stuff came from self-knowledge, he used to watch
a lot of 8mm film of boxing matches. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano etc.
PB- How would you describe what you have done with your Jeet Kune Do
since Bruce Lee's passing?
RB- I think I have grown. All because of Dan, God bless Mr. Inosanto (Daniel
Inosanto); he's the one who showed me how to practice with an open mind in martial arts training. To look at other arts and
to see what best fits me. Mr.Inosanto would tell me, "you can't criticize any martial art until you have practiced it."
PB- I know you have a very tight training and teaching Schedule, but
do you continue to train with other Nucleus members when you can?
RB- Yes I'd like to practice with other guys. But because of time and schedule
conflicts, I get by best training with my own students. My goal in the martial arts is to have my students surpass me and
to introduce them to masters of different styles, that way we are all growing.
PB- One thing that struck me while you were teaching me some movements
on the wooden dummy (mook jong). Bruce already told you that you had alive hands so I am curious as to what interested you
in the Wing Chun influenced movements?
RB- Because I had never done it before, I found it interesting. To explore
the different techniques and incorporate them into my JKD, and on the other hand see how it can be beneficial or restrictive.
Now if I had never learnt it I would never understand the pros and cons of the Mook Jong Dummy.
PB- Since Bruce's death a lot of JKD practitioners have incorporated
Filipino Kali and Escrima into their trapping arsenal. Do you favor Wing Chun or Kali styles trapping? Or is it too difficult
to dissect once you get going?
RB- Eskrima or Kali empty hands techniques are similar to Wing Chun or any
other hand trapping arts. It can be hard to tell the arts apart once you get flowing. In midflow you don't know which art
you are practicing, its instinctive, that means that JKD is doing its thing. The hands can only move certain ways. In the
end, it makes no difference which art I favor. The important thing is to freely express yourself.
PB- Lately a lot of JKD students are cross training everywhere. Do you
think there is a danger that new students are not getting as much of the basics as perhaps a lot of the original students
were getting. Perhaps to the point where something could be lost in the next generation?
RB- Yes, you're right. New students can get lost by cross training. It is happening
now. New instructors are watering down Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do. However, students who have been there and done the basics
enjoy trying different arts to increase the knowledge level in all different ranges.
PB- I noticed that you taught a children's class. A lot of children's
classes have to be very structured. How do you manage to keep the children disciplined and train them responsibly in an all-encompassing
RB- At that age they don't know what is and what isn't the standard way. They
do what you tell them. If you start training them in different ways to be elusive and diverse in the different arts they pick
it up real quick. I don't want my students to be restrictive and bound by set standards. I want them to change and adapt to
the long range, close range, or grappling range on any given day.
PB- What do you think is the most satisfying thing you get out of teaching?
RB- There is a lot of gratification in teaching. Seeing the student grow above
and beyond his potential is the biggest gratification any instructor can receive.
PB- You started out in Judo as a child. Lately Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has
become quite the flavor in grappling and I understand that it was originally brought to Brazil in the form of Judo.
Did you find that it was significantly different or did you find that the judo actually helped you to understand the Brazilian
RB- When I was a kid learning Judo it was just playing for me. I wasn't really
in to it in the same way that I am into Jiu Jitsu as an adult. Also I never knew that today I would be a martial arts teacher,
had I known that then, yeah, I would have studied it intensively.
PB-What would you want to see in the future for Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do?
RB- Since we are expanding rapidly, more of the public will see our side of
the martial arts. I would like to see others witness more of the same kind of atmosphere we experienced at the Seminar and
Banquet in Seattle last week, or the ones we previously held in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. We had fun, we worked out,
we cried, we laughed. I would like to take that same attitude outside of our seminars and share it with the general public
and martial arts community.
PB- Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and in particular
what you have done for me here at the IMB academy.
RB- Oh, you're very welcome Paul. Come back anytime. Our doors are open to