The Dog Brothers are a group of martial artists that have gained some notoriety in the Filipino Martial Arts community for their annual "Gathering of the Pack" collectives which feature dangerous weapon-based sparring matches they have copyrighted as "Real Contact Stickfighting". They are a self-described band of "sweaty, smelly psychopaths with sticks" who are interested in applying their various arts in real time and under adrenal circumstances in order to better understand both themselves and how their arts will manifest in the face of real danger.
Many members in the Dog Brothers practice Dog Brothers Martial Arts, a system of many styles that have proved to be effective during Gatherings of the Pack or other full contact ritual events like the UFC. However, this is not a requirement, and many members bring other arts to bear including Chinese Traditional Martial Arts, Krabi Krabong, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kajukenbo or individual kali/arnis/escrima styles. Many of these influences have been incorporated into Dog Brothers Martial Arts through the years, expanding the system from a hybrid of Inosanto blend Kali-Silat, Lameco Escrima and Pekiti-Tirsia Kali to include elements of Krabi Krabong and the street appropriate components of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This form of fighting takes place primarily between two practitioners who mutually enter into a no-holds-barred sparring match wearing very little protective gear and fighting with single or double sticks. They have also held matches between opponents utilizing a variety of weapons including staff, bokken, whip, shock knife, aluminum practice knives, Nunchaku, mae sawks and three-section staff. On occasion, more unorthodox or impromptu weapons such as canes and garden hoses have made appearances.
Gear consists of a fencing mask, gloves and knee and elbow pads, though some fighters will fight with only the fencing mask and no other protection. If the mask is removed it is up to the fighters whether or not they will continue. The kali sticks used can be of any length, circumference and density with the opponent's approval. Usual length for sticks is between 30 to 36 inches, and fighters can fight with either one or two sticks. The participants do not have to have matching weapons, and experimentation is encouraged.
Round times last from two to three minutes for a fight, though if the action is intense the ringmaster may let the fight go on longer until it reaches a conclusion or the action stalls.
During its inception, the group who would become the Dog Brothers formed at the Inosanto Academy in 1986, a school in California owned and operated by Dan Inosanto where it was simply called the “After Midnight Group”. The Dog Brothers came into formal existence in May 1988 with three consecutive days of fighting known within the group as the Rumble at Ramblas. Its founders are Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny (the Guiding Force), Eric "Top Dog" Knaus (the Fighting Force) and Arlan "Salty Dog" Sanford (the Silent Force). The “Dog Brothers” name came about as the result of synchronistic events during the Rumble at Ramblas. There were three fighters with the name of Mark/Marc, and in an effort to resolve the confusion the group began searching for nicknames. After one of the fights, someone made the remark to Marc Denny that he was a "crafty dog" for his use of cleated athletic shoes on the slippery ground where the fights took place. During this time, Denny was also reading issue #148 of Savage Sword of Conan, where a call to battle by Conan to a group of warriors takes place: "I hear the pounding of hooves. Our relief is coming! Hold the gate, Dog Brothers!" After seeing this, Denny began to dub the fighters with "dog" nicknames, which has continued and evolved into a rite of passage and mark of ascension within the group.
The Dog Brothers Martial Arts video library has seen several guest instructors dating back to Real Contact Stickfighting Series 1 as taught by Eric "Top Dog" Knaus. Carlos Machado and Burton "Lucky Dog" Richardson teach specific segments in this series, with Machado's segment being the first example of the pre-UFC Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling influence in Dog Brothers Martial Arts that proved controversial to some in the greater Filipino Martial Arts community. This grappling influence continues in the DBMA empty hand subsystem Kali Tudo™ with the appearance of wrestling coach Kenny Johnson in Kali Tudo™ 3: The Striking Game. Johnson has coached many UFC veterans including BJ Penn, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida.
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny also worked with Gabe Suarez to film and publish the DVDs Die Less Often and Die Less Often 2. The videos primarily focus on combining counter knife defenses, unarmed combat, and firearm skills for those who carry a concealed weapon as part of the "Die Less Often" series offered by Dog Brothers Martial Arts. A third title in the series is already out and a fourth and fifth one, featuring retired Green Beret and combat veteran Frankie McRae are scheduled for release in late 2013.
National Geographic did a one hour documentary of the Dog Brothers based around a Gathering held in Los Angeles.
The group has appeared many times on national and international TV including FOX Files, the Fox Evening News, CNN, and more such as Time Warp, demonstrating strikes and blows as well as sparring. At one time the UFC considered featuring fights from the Dog Brothers. In 1995, they turned down this idea, citing that Real Contact Stick Fighting was "too extreme" due to the sensitive situation the UFC was in with anti-no-holds-barred politicians. Tait Fletcher from the Spike TV reality series The Ultimate Fighter 3 has trained with the Dog Brothers. Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny served as a judge for UFC 10, and Lester "Surf Dog" Griffin began judging UFC fights at UFC 58.
- The Manila Times - November 23rd, 2013 - ‘Crafty Dog’ preaches higher consciousness through harder contact
- National Geographic - Fight Club No Limits
- Too extreme for the UFC
- Tait Fletcher and the Dog Brothers