Richard Branden was an amazing performer and martial artist who inspired everyone who met him.  Though dynamic and powerful on stage, by nature he was quiet, shy and unbelievably humble. When I asked why he didn't hold onto all his awards, trophies, plaques and accollades he simply said "I know I did it and that's enough."  He could never tell me how many dumpsters worth of stuff he tossed or how many he gave away to the aspiring kids he met.  I can say with complete conviction that I have never met someone who lived with so much passion, integrity and honor.  Within three months of dating, he told me he was going to marry me.  I laughed in his face and told him he wasn't my type.  Needless to say he stole my heart and I never stood a chance.  His affection, love and humor never faded through the years and only overflowed with joy and adoration to his children.  He is the only man that I know that would dress up as a fairy after our daughter insisted he be "Terrance" from the movie Tinkerbell so he could "match" her Tinkerbell costume that Halloween.  Thank you for your blessings and support during this unbelievably difficult time; it is our wish that his legacy will endure and we can all represent him with dedication, passion, honor and love - and to be reminded daily to pay it forward as Richie did so many times. 

- With deepest gratitude, Lavinia Branden



We are deeply saddened and shocked by the unexpected passing of Rich Branden Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer this past May, we were hopeful that despite the odds - if anyone could beat this it would be Rich.

It was his desire and request to keep it a private matter as he was always considerate and didn't want to burden others with the news, in addition to being fiercely protective of his business and family. He didn't want people to get caught up in the drama of the illness and always wanted the studio to be a positive sanctuary to focus on their health and physical and mental well-being. His attitude is "the studio is strong and my staff is incredible so things should always run great and normal whether I'm here or not."

Despite his decline and severe weight loss, he always had a positive attitude and was determined to continue to do what he loves - teach, motivate and inspire. There would be days where Lavinia would suggest he stay home and rest but unless he was truly physically incapacitated he would tell her "I'll just go in for a little bit to check things out."


Although the past month had been difficult for him we were still optimistic and hopeful as the recent scan was overall positive, and miraculously he was approved to try a new drug that had encouraging off-label use for pancreatic cancer, after the previous two regimes had become ineffective. Though he had been feeling better the past few days a trip to the ER late Tuesday night showed he had developed a serious infection which caused pneumonia and other complications.

An excerpt from a student's post sums it up:
"Cancer has the insidious power to take over one's identity, defining you and how people relate to you, initiating a suffocating wave of scrutiny, and a total invasion of physical and social boundaries, especially from those well meaning.  After learning of your passing, I am in complete awe of the fact that in so many ways, although it took you too soon, you kicked cancer's ass - you never let it become the primary lens through which people looked at you, you commanded the respect of those around you enough for us not to pry, even when it was evident that you were fighting for your life.  You didn't let cancer stop you from doing what you love, you faced your illness on your own terms with dignity, and you continue to teach us what real courage and tenacity look like.  You kicked cancer's ass because even today, you are still Mr. Branden who can do anything, and who motivates us, just as you were yesterday, last week, last year, and as long as you've been here."

It was his desire and plan that the studio will always continue to flourish and grow, and that his staff and students should always represent him to the fullest. We thank you all for your continued support of one another as well as the studio, and for keeping his amazing legacy alive for many generations to come.

In Rich's memory, please consider giving to the Richard Branden Memorial Fund.   The money will be used to support the education of the loves of his life - his children, Lulu (6.5) and Becks (3) in addition to helping alleviate the burden of medical expenses.

Our sincerest gratitude and appreciation for your continued kindness, support, love and well wishes.