Keshia Richmond speaks with Sifu Lamar Bruno, owner of Elizabethtown, North Carolina based, The Shaolin Experience / Onpoint Executive Protection. They discuss his martial arts lineage and the start of his work as a stunt coordinator in film.
Keshia: Hi Sifu Bruno [Sifu Lamar Burno].
Sifu Lamar Burno: Hello, How you doing. How are you?
Keshia: Burno! I’m sorry.
Sifu Lamar Burno: That’s alright
Keshia: I’ll get it right. Forgive me.
Sifu Lamar Burno: You’re forgiven.
Keshia: Okay. So I just wanted to come on to this live and introduce Sifu Bruno. Burno. Oh Gosh. Sifu Burno. He’s going to be joining us as a guest instructor Oh Do Kwon Tae Kwon Do – Tazewell Tae Kwon Do.
I am the owner of this martial arts school that my father founded in 2005 as a sister dojo to his Bluefield, West Virginia location and I inherited it once he passed. And, my first act as the new owner is to have Sifu Burno come and give a workshop. And I’m just really excited to be able to work with you.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Well I’m honored. I’m honored. Definitely I’m honored that you would even contact me to invite and give me the opportunity to carry on your father’s [Grandmaster Roy Richmond] legacy.
Keshia: Well you have so much great experience in martial arts and what makes you so unique in your experiences is that you didn’t just train in a dojo, you actually have practical, practical use of those skills in so many real world environments. And, that is so impressive. And that is why I think that you are a great benefit to myself and to anybody who trains with you which is so important in these times, obviously.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Well, thank you. Thank you. Being raised in an upper middle class home, my parents made it a great asset to train hard and be the best at whatever we did. We were in to martial arts. I was into gymnastics. I always made that a part of everything that I’ve done and in some of my activities.
Keshia: I just want to tell everybody a little bit about you. I want to brag on you a little bit. Because sometimes its better for other people to brag on you a bit because I know you are super, super humble as you said most martial artists should be. But, one of the reasons why is that you have a great, great, long impressive resume. And what I’ve learned from knowing you, coming to know you some things about you is that your father himself, he was a black belt in judo. He signed you up for courses for you to study Tae Kwon Do and you became a 6th dan black belt in that and from there you went on…
Sifu Lamar Burno: Yes.
Keshia: to study and become…
Sifu Lamar Burno: Hung Gar Kung Fu
Keshia: Black Sash that you are under Shaolin Kung Fu, right?
Sifu Lamar Burno: Yes. That is correct.
Keshia: And then after that you became an electric knight in Ninjutsu.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Yes.
Keshia: So overall you’ve been studying martial arts for forty years.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Yes.
Keshia: Okay. And so tell us a little bit about you being like, applying that to your body guard work because you were a celebrity body guard with some well known celebrities.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Correct.
Keshia: You were also a stunt coordinator on some movies that we all know and love. So we want to hear about your experiences in those areas. You also worked with the Guardian Angels as a regional director and you also were a Philadelphia police officer and a military policeman. So, we want to hear a little bit about that. All of that.
Sifu Lamar Burno: Wow, you have my whole resume.
Keshia: I do. I know who I be working with.
Sifu Lamar Burno: I started out learning Tae Kwan Do under my Sensei Madison Nelson. After I reached my black belt I still had a hunger that wasn’t being fulfilled in the art. My brother came home, Kenneth, came home and said, “Hey man, look, I have this man that you need to train with. You hungry. He will bring the hunger out of you.” I said well look. I met Sifu Romeoletti (Sifu Rome). Me being a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I thought I was the man. And, when I start training with Sifu Rome, I realized all that I knew, I didn’t know what I thought I knew.
Sifu Lamar Burno: So through blood, sweat, and tears. I must add tears. I realized that karate works in straight lines and kung fu works in a circle. So I started utilizing the things learned prior to Sifu Rome. And on my free time, I would study and apply what I’ve learned before to what he was teaching me. I would go to class an hour and a half early and after class I would train and extra hour and a half later. And he always asked “Why do you do that?” I said because I want to be the best in whatever lineage I’m in. And he said, “Okay, you want to be the best? I’m gonna train you to be the best.” Sifu Rome is the one who introduced me to the movies. He started working on the Last Dragon. Took me along on the set with him. He was the actual stunt coordinator and he made sure I assisted him on the movies that he did. So, I was learning to apply…you know, I was an actor but I wasn’t a stunt coordinator. So he a said, I’m going to bring you in to see the other side of things so that you can see how they are.