The Burton-Bruce Connection

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”– Bruce Lee

Math pupils are often taught the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B is a straight line. Martial arts disciples adhere to the same principle in the form of straight kicks and punches delivered to an opponent.

And in Richardson’s case, the doctrine of being as direct as possible apparently applies to dating as well.

Back in 1997, he was invited to teach a seminar on Reunion Island (in the Indian Ocean), where he was introduced to a woman named Sarah Badat. A native of the French island, Badat wasn’t really interested in meeting this “American martial arts star,” but felt pressured into doing so because the event’s co-host had been dating her sister.

From Badat’s perspective, there were no sparks at first sight. But Richardson obviously felt differently.

“Not five minutes after our introduction, Burton asked me to take a photo with him. I was surprised, but accepted,” she recalls. “As I stood by his side, he gestured that he didn’t want to take the photo with me at his side, but rather, he wanted to put his arms around me.”

Although she hesitated at first, Badat chose to accept the embrace. She didn’t regret it.

“We ended up spending the whole day together,” she says, “and by the time dinner rolled around, we were both definitely smitten with each other.”

Yet after many months of maintaining a long-distance relationship, Badat was ready to end it because, as she explains, “Our relationship didn’t seem viable – he in L.A., me on Reunion Island.”

Richardson, however, was undeterred when Badat expressed her concerns about their relationship. Rather than wasting another moment and in perhaps his finest non-lethal move ever, he bridged the gap by uttering these very direct but heartfelt words: “We don’t have to be long-distance, Sarah. You could come back (to L.A.) with me.”

Her heart melted. Three days later, she found herself on a plane headed to the United States, and within a month, the couple was married. Shortly thereafter, Richardson and Badat, with the help of Inoue, who allowed the newlyweds to stay at his home on Oahu while he and Richardson trained, planted their roots in Hawaii.

For Richardson, the journey has been wonderful and worthwhile.

“I’ve been really blessed to pursue an endeavor like martial arts and feel fulfilled by it,” says Richardson, who today makes his home in Kailua with Sarah and daughter “TQ.” “I’m enjoying my life, and I’m so thankful for it.”

Martial arts instructor Burton Richardson will discuss Bruce Lee and the fighting system and life philosophy Lee developed during a workshop titled “The Evolution of Jeet Kune Do,” Saturday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at the UFC gym in Kakaako. The seminar costs $10, with all proceeds going to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hawaii. For more information, call JKD Unlimited at 864-1620 or visit