If martial arts factions were judged base on notoriety, then the Dog Brothers would win swimmingly. Their reputation stems from the group’s willingness to test their skills in “gatherings of the pack,” wherein members fight each other full-contact using a variety of weapons such as sticks, staves and training knives.
One of the founders and the “guiding force” of the Dog Brothers is Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny, a long-time student of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) luminaries such as Dan Inosanto, Leo Gaje of Pekiti Tirsia, and the late Edgar Sulite of Lameco. He is also a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) under Rigan Machado, and won a medal twice in the Pan Am Games.
Fight Times caught up with Crafty Dog for an interview, where he shared his thoughts on training, his influences, and his system.
Fight Times: What attracted you to FMA?
Marc Denny: The origin of my interest had to do with dealing with street crime in New York City, where I grew up. The problem presented usually had to do with uneven numbers and weapons. A worthy solution will require weapons skills and anti-weapons skills, and should be usable throughout one’s life.
FT: What can an FMA practitioner find different in Dog Brothers Martial Arts training?
MD: Although the FMA are the core of Dog Brothers Martial Arts we also have a strong influence from krabi krabong, BJJ, silat, and some other things as well. Whereas many FMA systems tend to prefer a particular range (largo, medio, or corto) our range theory is a bit different: we have seven ranges, and have quite a bit of training method and technique for scientifically closing, so that we have that option when we fight.
FT: How important is sparring in weapons training?
MD: In a real threat situation, the adrenal dump is going to be very, very high. You do not want to experience the skill degradation and the oxygen burn of a serious adrenal dump for the first time when the situation is real.
FT: How did your training in BJJ influence your thinking and approach toward FMA?
MD: In my fighting I always sought to accomplish three things in a fight: first, I would look to hit my opponent well in the outer ranges without getting hit in return; second I looked to close technically, i.e., without getting hit in the head; and third, to finish him with stickgrappling. If I could do all three of these things consistently, then I felt I had a well-rounded game.
FT: BJJ supposedly answered the question of how a weaker person can defeat a stronger opponent using technique. What fundamental question or problem in fighting has FMA addressed?
MD: I would note that BJJ, as it is practiced today, is a combat sport. What we might call the “the fighting face” of BJJ is mixed martial arts (MMA) and that MMA now has weight divisions. With the necessary modifications, my training in BJJ with the Machado Brother has been of great value to me in my Real Contact Stickfighting.
That said, BJJ/MMA is about young male ritual hierarchical fighting whereas the FMA, having their origin in territorial tribal combat have a different inner essence that is more applicable to the multiple player realities of the street—these realities including weapons.
FT: How can FMA training improve the performance of combat sports athletes such as MMA fighters?
MD: For someone looking for an edge in MMA, in my opinion we have quite a lot to offer. Bantamweight RFA [Resurrection Fighting Alliance] champion Pedro Munhoz of Team Blackhouse has worked with me and has endorsed Kali Tudo (Dog Brothers’ blend of FMA and Brazilian vale tudo, or full-contact unarmed fighting) and I hope to soon begin working with a very big name. This may or may not happen. It is understandable that a successful fighter will be leery of adding something different to that with which he has already had good results.
FT: What counsel can you give to FMA practitioners who want to cross-train with other disciplines?
MD: These are questions each person must answer for himself. What is true for you may not be true for me and vice versa. My idea is that I search for truth as best as I can, wherever that may lead me. My understanding is that this is how the FMA got to be so good.
FT: Do you see Dog Brothers gatherings as a continuation or revival of the juego todo culture of the Philippines?
MD: Our values are not those of the “death matches” of old; our credo is “Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact” but I would feel deeply honored if we were so perceived here in the homeland of the Art.