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Preview – Zeroed In – Richard Bustillo

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Master Class – Whether it’s training police officers and special forces as a defensive tactics instructor or teaching students at his International Martial Arts and Boxing Academy, Richard Bustillo uses his law-enforcement background, decades of fighting experience, and love of firearms and weapons to help modern-day warriors find their own ways to adapt and evolve — just as Bruce lee taught him years before.

There’s a chance his face won’t seem familiar to you. His name might not ring a bell. But, the defensive tactics, fighting strategies, and weapon techniques that he’s learned, mastered, and taught over the past four decades are some of the most sought-after in law-enforcement and military circles around the world.

His name is Richard Bustillo, and he’s taught everyone from the U.S. Navy Seals to the German counterterrorism unit GSG 9. His instruction and consultation are so in demand globally that he’s trained cops and soldiers in countries such as South Africa and as far north as the Norwegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic circle — not to mention numerous nations in between.

Bustillo is among the rare breed of warriors who are masters at all ranges of personal warfare. shooter, knife-fighter, kickboxer, wrestler — he is all of those and more. so, whether it’s quickly drawing a pistol, using effective gun-retention techniques, swinging a baton, disarming a blade-wielding robber, grappling an attacker on the ground, or standing and striking bare-fisted, Bustillo is a walking encyclopedia of combative knowledge.

RECOIL Magazine: Did you ever have to use your firearm or martial arts when you were with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department?

Richard Bustillo: I drew my duty-issued Beretta 9mm many times but never fired a shot while on patrol duty. I did use my martial arts skills many times. And I won all my fights without fighting. I used restraining and control submission holds against abusive husbands, uncooperative drunks, gang members, and suspects of crimes against the elderly and children. I’ve used my straight baton a few times against combatants’ wrists, hands, or legs to stop suspects from fighting.

How did you first get into teaching defensive tactics?

RB: I was really quiet about my martial arts background, and some of the guys in the sheriff’s department asked, “Are you that guy, Bustillo, who teaches martial arts?” I said, “Yeah, you got the right guy. That’s me.” “How about showing us some of that stuff?” so, I showed my unit some techniques. Some of the Special Enforcement Bureau guys were training with us at the time, and they said, “We got to get this guy into the Force Training Unit.” Way back in the ’80s there weren’t too many changes in defensive tactics. So, they wanted to know how to roll and fall, gun takeaways, knife disarms, and weapons defense.

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