The Dog Brothers are a group of martial artists that have gained notoriety in the Filipino Martial Arts community for the group's annual "Gathering of the Pack" collectives. These collectives feature dangerous weapon-based sparring matches that they have copyrighted as "Real Contact Stickfighting".
Real Contact Stick Fighting
This form of fighting takes place primarily between two practitioners who agree to enter into a no-holds-barred match, with the understanding that they will be "friends at the end of the day", wearing very little protective gear and fighting with single or double sticks. Matches between opponents have been held using a variety of weapons including staff, bokken, whip, shock knife, aluminum practice knives, Nunchaku, mae sawks, chains and three-section staff. Impromptu, unorthodox weapons such as canes and garden hoses have been used as well.
Defensive gear usually consists of light gloves, soft knee and elbow pads, and a fencing mask but some fighters choose to fight solely with a fencing mask for protection. If the mask is removed the competitors make a choice to continue or stop. The kali sticks can be any length, circumference and density as long as the opponent approves. The average length of the sticks is between 30 and 36 inches and fighters can fight with one or two sticks. The participants are not expected to have matching weapons; in fact, experimentation is encouraged. A competitive round lasts from two to three minutes but the ringmaster may let the fight go on longer until it reaches a conclusion or the action stalls.
Dog Brothers Martial Arts
Many members in the Dog Brothers practice Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA), 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.
Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny is known as the founder and head instructor of DBMA. Instructors are distinguished by "Dog Tag" which is DBMA's version of ranking similar to belt ranking in other arts. Dog Tag Ranking starts at Yellow and ends at Black (equivalent to Black Belt). After "Black Dog Tag" is "Guro." In order to be a "Guro" in Dog Brothers Martial Arts you must also be part of the Dog Brothers Tribe. Other notable "Guros" in DBMA are; Guro Guard Dog (Ryan Gruhn). Guro Sled Dog (Phil Gelinas), Guro Lonely Dog (Benjamin Rittiner), and Guro Dogzilla (Mike Tibbitts).
The Pack, Clans and Dens
There are three distinct ways that Dog Brothers / DBMA groups differentiate.
The Pack - This is specific to Dog Brothers and includes all "Dogs", "Candidate Dogs" and "Full Dog Brothers."
Clans - Differentiates regions. For example; The Midwest Clan, The West Coast Clan, etc.
Dens - Used specifically to label a Dog Brothers Martial Arts school under a certified Guro in Dog Brothers Martial Arts; Lonely Dog's Den, Guard Dog's Den
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 when 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.
Denny also assisted in the production of Practical Unarmed Combat by SouthNarc from ShivWorks.
Carlos Machado supports "Eskrima Kombat" Martial Art system of competition combat with weapons in South America.
Gatherings of the Pack
Four times a year, the Dog Brothers hold the "Gathering of the Pack," which is an open invitation event where a practitioner of any art may come and test him or her self in a weapons fight. The rules are those of a "Real Contact Stick Fight". These Gathering are divided between Los Angeles, California; Montreal, QC; and Bern, Switzerland. Three of these Gatherings are open to the public and to a public audience, and the fourth (one of the two in Los Angeles) is a closed door Gathering reserved only for members of the Dog Brothers Tribe. Good performance in these Gatherings can mean induction into the Dog Brothers Tribe, though induction is dependent on character in addition to fighting skill.
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.
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