The Dog Brothers are a group of stick fighters who gather together on a regular basis, be it in large scale events or in smaller training groups, and put their fighting abilities and aptitudes to the test through real contact stick fights with minimal protective gear. The protective gear being used consists of a fencing mask and lightly padded gloves.
They have gained notoriety within the Filipino Martial Arts community for this very aggressive approach to sparring. The group was also approached by the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and WCC (World Combat Championship) to be part of their program but that idea was soon abandoned, as the Dog Brothers were deemed too extreme at the time.
The DBMA (Dog Brothers Martial Arts) group was first started in 1988, at the Inosanto Academy, where a group of martial artists had been meeting after classes on Wednesdays under the name “After Midnight” Group. Marc Denny and Eric Knaus, both from the Inosanto Academy, then joined up with Arlan Sandford and called upon all kali practitioners to gather at San Clemente Ramblas Park for three days of real contact stick fighting. The grueling days of fighting, where each fighter would average about 20 fights, forged the group who would go on to be known as the Dog Brothers. That event would become the first “Gathering of the Pack”.
The Dog Brother names came to Marc Denny from the Conan the Barbarian comic where the expression “dog brothers” was used. The usage of nicknames/dog names was needed to distinguish between three fighters of the same name at the first Gathering (Mark/Marc). All fighters who attended the first Gathering became Original Dog Brothers, with Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny (Guiding Force), Eric “Top Dog” Knaus (Fighting Force) and Arlan “Salty Dog” Sanford (Silent Force) recognized as the founders of the group.
Similar to a pack of wolves, the dog brothers have a tribe that people can join. All fighters of any styles are invited to fight and eventually be accepted into the tribe as long as they keep the “right “attitude. In the words of Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny: “No judges, no referees, no trophies. One rule only, be friends at the end of the day. This means our goal is that no one spends the night in the hospital and that everyone leaves with the IQ with which they came. No suing no one for no reason, no way, no how!”
To be accepted into the tribe of dog brothers, one must fight at several gatherings. First get to know the members and then let them get to know you. Once someone’s name is placed in front of the Council of Elders, he/she can become a “dog”, which is the first level within the group, and then is officially adopted into the tribe. The second level, after “dog”, is “Candidate Dog Brother”, where one chooses his/her dog brother name but is still being evaluated within the tribe. At this point, a certain level of fighting spirit, ability and attitude is expected and must be increased or at least maintained for at least three Gatherings. Then the status of full Dog Brother can be attained.
The group’s credo is “Higher Consciousness Through Harder Contact”. This reflects the unusual settings for learning. In a fight, which is a high paced adrenal experience, the fighters are be put into a heightened state of awareness. This stressful environment forces the fighters to constantly adapt and move to avoid damage. The members of the tribe are there to help each other improve their fighting abilities by pushing each other to their physical limits, without doing any permanent damage, thus becoming stronger as a pack.
At this point, the Dog Brothers now organize two kinds of yearly events: Tribal Gathering (events exclusive to member of the tribe) and Open Gathering (all are invited). There are currently three venues in the world: Los Angeles in the US, Montreal in Canada and Berne in Switzerland.
Punong Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny is the current Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers, and runs the DBMA association (for training schools in the Dog Brother method) with both headquarters based in Los Angeles.