It has nothing to do with a family of canines but about friends of stick-fighting who desire to test their fighting under realistic conditions.

The Dog Brothers are a company of Stick Fighters founded in 1988 and became known through the video series “Real Contact Stick Fighting” released in 1994.

They quickly became known under the pseudonym “sweaty, smelly, psychopaths, with sticks”. However, this ironic definition doesn’t do justice to the Dog Brothers. Behind this at first glance rather wild looking group of men who try to hit as hard as possible is much more. Namely the desire for a deeper understanding of one’s self. It may be a surprise to many but philosophy and profound introspection are also involved.

In order to bring you closer to this fascinating group of Martial Artists, let’s begin with the story of the groups formation, which Marc “Crafty Dog” and Eric “TopDog” made essential contributions.

Marc Denny = "the Guiding Force"   

The “Ronin-Years”

Eric Knaus discovered stick-fighting through his instructors Leo Gaje and Tom Bisio. Through these two trainers, his physique, and a natural talent for fighting he became a feared fighter in a short time. While searching for more than just tournaments Eric rove through many Californian Martial Arts schools like a Ronin to search out like minded individuals as training partners. He approached them in a modest and friendly way; nevertheless his purpose was often misunderstood. One reason is that Eric wanted to spar using only a minimum of protective equipment and so there was less than a handful of comrade-in-arms, who shared the same opinion on how sparring should be performed.

It was at this time that Marc Denny, who trained Kali at the Inosanto Academy, started to notice some alarming haematomas on some of his training colleagues. On inquiry they explained that they had received them during Stick-fights. He became curious from what he heard and became determined to accompany them to the next meeting.

There, he met Eric Knaus. Eric convinced Marc to try it. Then and there Marc comprehended that he would never be able to free himself of this type of fighting.
In the course of training their friendship increased as well as their desire to find more like-minded individuals. In no way a simple undertaking…

Marc finally succeeded in convincing Eric to accompany him to the academy of Dan Inosanto. There it would be simpler to meet other open minded and enthusiastic people. A short time later they had a good group together. They were referred to as the “after midnight group.”

The after midnight group….

In order to protect the head from dangerous hits, they used very stable metal helmets that generated a completely wrong sense of security in Eric’s opinion. Eric, who always wanted to fight very realistically, grew anxious over the fighters increasingly tendency to ignore head shots. Marc came up with the solution to the problem through the use of a few old Fencing masks. The masks were perfect. They protected the head, but not 100%, so that one could not afford inattentiveness.

At this time the decision was also made to not interrupt the fight if one reached a Clinch, since in a real fight it would continue. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) still was unknown at the time and no one had a good understanding of ground techniques. However, this didn’t stop them from sitting down and taking the topic apart. The first contact with BJJ took place in 1987 as Carl Franks, student of Carlson Gracie, visited the academy and “played” with them.

The birth of the Dog Brothers

The “after midnight group” transformed into the Dog Brothers while at the “the Rumble at Ramblas” (the three day festival of fights) in 1988. This experience was very fundamental for all participants. Everyone fought many times with minimal protection. Among the fighters, a comradeship and a very deep sense of solidarity emerged.

In order to uphold this strong sense of solidarity, the wish of a formal relationship (organization) through which one continue to work together, was born.

They just needed a name. A humorous story explains the selection of the name. They could have simply called themselves the tigers, dragons, or wolves. However, after Marc read a “Conan the barbarian” comic in which Conan shouted at his comrade-in-arms: “Fight my dog brothers”! The animal selection was made. So the fictitious hero helped to reduce the many name ideas to, the one.

To understand the reason for the nicknames, such as Crafty Dog, Top Dog or Salty Dog, is easy. In the original group there were too many people with the name Marc/Mark and therefore the necessity to be able to differentiate between them arose and this was solved by the usage of nicknames.

The Founders from left to right:
Marc “Crafty Dog”, Eric “Top Dog”, Arlan “Salty Dog”

Gathering of the pack

Finally in the winter of 1993 the video series “Real Contact Stick Fighting” was produced and 1994 introduced to the market. Thanks to these videos, it became simpler to find like minded people for training and fighting. This is very important in order to support a continuous development. If the same people always fight together, they are not forced to look for new or innovative solutions. The more fighters with different Martial arts backgrounds test themselves against each other, the more they develop.


The reason to accept the dangers of “Real Contact Stick Fighting” originates from the desire to develop not just as fighters but as human beings. “RCSF” has an enormous effect on the person involved. Stick-fighting is a dangerous and adrenaline intensive experience, therefore it is critical to be internally centered during a fight. That is, the more deeply one finds his center in the fight the bigger the transformation is and more fundamental the understanding. This is explained in our Credo as: “Higher consciousness through harder contact.”

Dog Brothers have the codex during the stick-fight that;
– One should be friends at the end of a fight.
– Nobody should spend the night in the hospital.
– Everyone should go home with the IQ they came with.

This means that we never hit, if the opponent is in a hopeless situation and can no longer defend himself. Also, we adapt our fight to the level of the opponent. It is absolutely not in our best interest to break the fighting spirit of anybody. However, it is also a sign of respect to our opponent when we try to hit him as hard as possible because this shows we believe in his abilities as a stick-fighter. If we do not test them to their limit they will never know if their technique works or not. If however, we test him to hard, we risk breaking his fighting spirit and he will then never become a better fighter. The goal of a “pack” must be to carefully build up its members and thereby to strengthen itself.