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. 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, let’s begin with the story of the groups formation, which Marc “Crafty Dog” and Eric “TopDog” made essential contributions.

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 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.

Eric “Top Dog”

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.

Marc “Crafty Dog”

There, he met Eric and he convinced 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

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. 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 “Rumble at Ramblas” 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 or dragons. 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.

Marc “Crafty Dog”, Eric “Top Dog”, Arlan “Salty Dog”