Lonely’s

Lonely Dog is the guiding force and coach for many European training groups and clans. He has been studying martial arts since 1983 and has been a student of “Crafty Dog” and the Dog Brothers since 1998. He did his first Gathering in 1999 and got his Full DB dubbing just 3 years later. In 2006 he was honored to be inducted into the Council of Elders.

Lonely Dog is truly a passionate martial artist, teacher and fighter. Over the last three decades he has dedicated his training and development primarily to Stick Fighting. During this time he developed his own expression of the RCSF not only as a fighter but also as a teacher. His teaching style and interpretation of 42 Stick Fighting has manifested itself in a way that has become a style in its own right.

As such, he currently primarily teaches his interpretation of stick fighting. Lonely’s RCSF wants to be seen as an open minded, pragmatic and undogmatic Martial Arts system. His curriculum has a plain ranking system of 4 colour Dog Tags.

Yellow Tag  “solid foundation”
– good basics and fundamentals
– solid defence
– emphasis on footwork & range control
– capable to show the techniques in conceptional sparring

Blue Tag  “fundamentals & broad knowledge”
– very solid fundamentals
– proficient in the footwork progression
– solid defence & great offence
– wide array of technical knowledge
– capable to show the techniques in sparring

Red Tag  “well versed martial artist & skilled fighter”
Movement and momentum is key tenor of the red level, emphasis is in developing a great offence. You begin to combine your actions. Red is a sign of danger, and the red level practitioner should be very dangerous with their knowledge and abilities. This is the stage where you move sophisticated and you discover how to manipulate your opponent to their disadvantage. You start to look at everything with a fresh set of eyes. You can take the most basic movement that you already have practised thousands of times and realize that you are still able to refine it. The red level seeks for new, more profound knowledge of the Art. By now you have perceived your own style.

Black Tag  “achieving mastery while staying curious”
The colour black is created when all the colours of the light spectrum have been absorbed into an object. That object has taken control of the colours and retained them. If one colour was to escape, the object would no longer be black but would appear as that colour. You have absorbed all the knowledge of the colour ranks, means you have truly mastered the art. Your understanding of weapon fighting is deep and precise. You should have full control over your body, your movements and your ego. You are in love with the learning process.  As often lower ranks are looking for a destination, you understand that there is no destination – the journey never ends. The black level knows that everybody needs to return to be a white belt and consistently learn new things. Improvement means change, change means to learn, and to learn means to be a white belt all over again.

 

How did you first get involved with Martial Arts?
My first contact with the martial arts was at school when I was around 8 years old. We had a school project to make a short (Kung Fu) movie. Sadly I was one of the younger children tied to the tree awaiting the heroes (the older children), to come rescue us…

Two years later I started my first martial arts training with Karate. A few years later I devoted myself to other Japanese martial arts such as: Judo, Ju-Jitsu, and Weaponry.
As a teenager I discovered full contact fighting such as boxing, Thai boxing and Sanda. Above all I felt comfortable as a boxer and attended a variety of boxing tournaments as an amateur boxer.

How did you first come into contact with Stich Fighting and the Dog Brothers?
1992 I was attending a Tai Kai Seminar in Luxembourg my teacher had a friend who trained in Inosanto Blend so we went to his Gym to train for a couple of hours on some basics, Sumbrada and Heaven-6 etc.

I became interest in Kali and I wanted to continue training in FMA but I couldn’t find a teacher near me in Switzerland at the time. I started to collect as many instructional videos on FMA so I could continue to learn. It was in 1994 that I bought the Dog Brothers “Real Contact Fighting” Series and it suddenly hit me “that’s awesome, I want to do this!” and realised that this was the direction I wanted to go, so I started to train with some friends for about 4 years with these videos.

So this was before you had any direct contact with the Dog Brothers or DBMA?
Exactly, until 1998 I trained just from videos. I would watch them again and again, hundreds of times, perfecting each individual move until the tapes eventually wore out. By then it was clear that if I wanted to go any further I would have to go to the USA to learn directly at the source. So I wrote a letter to the Dog Brothers… Marc “Crafty Dog” replied to my letter and invited me over. Some months later I found myself in an aircraft headed to California.

Los Angeles 1998 (Benjamin, Oli, Jérôme, Marc and Moro)

How did the training differ from what you had been doing on your own?
It was pretty interesting, first Marc “Crafty Dog” asked me to do some Carenza (stick shadow boxing). He commented that I moved quite well and he asked me who my teacher was, to which my reply was “my teacher is the VCR”.

While the 5 day private training we covered a lot of material and mostly he was surprised how fast I could adapt the material. All over all he was impressed that someone could learn so much from just videos.

This first training with “Crafty Dog” changed a lot in my understanding of Stick-fighting. As far as the fighting went I had already developed a pretty solid structure in “Regular lead”. He taught me to use both leads, means that I could fight with the right foot forward but also with the left foot as a lead. This knowledge of using more sophisticated footwork helped me immensely with my fighting game.

The most important knowledge that I received through all the years of training with “Crafty Dog” was the understanding of the various fighting styles and the capacity to analyse my opponents. To understand that I will face different structures and the better I can analyse them and the more solutions I have against these different structures the better it is. It’s truly like Sugar Ray Leonard once said “You don’t beat the man, you beat his style.”

Was it hard to find training partners to help you keep progressing when you came back home?
It was harder to keep them because in the beginning we would train just a few techniques and we sparred a lot. I think that in those days because of my inexperience but strong motivation to make full contact sparring, I may have pushed things a little to hard and this is why people gave up and stopped training.

Today I know how important it is to train in an intelligent and careful manner. Efficiency is not the most important thing in training, I think it is just as important to motivate the student and to make the training fun, one of the basics concepts in what we do is: “Fit, Fun, and Functional”.

How important is it to spar in stick fighting, and when should it begin?
My opinion sparring is an important part of each training. However it has to be bulid and guided carefully. For example, in Boxing or BJJ it is easier to start sparring straight away. On the other hand if the student has little control in stick-sparring, it can quickly become painful… A clear progression from drilling to sparring must be maintained. I developed several sparring exercises that make it possible to do sparring from day one.

Why “Lonely Dog”?
It was because of the feeling of brotherhood I felt with the Dog Brothers. It was such a great feeling to be part of this tribe, that when I flew back and saw the vast distance between California and Switzerland, I felt somehow alone and isolated from the “pack”.

How dangerous is Real Contact Stick Fighting?
Of course it’s quite dangerous, we hit each other with sticks. But there are two things that reduce the risk.

First of all, there is our code of not breaking the opponent mentally or physically. but to push each other to the appropriate limits… more about that here: http://dogbrothers.ch/dogbrothers/codex/

The second is how you fight. I want my students to fight in an intelligent manner, to use defence first and to have good strategy. The smarter you fight, the better you use strategy, the lower the risk. But, a fight is a fight and Real Contact Stick Fighting remains dangerous. If you take the risk away then it would not be the same experience…

How to prepare for a gathering?
Keep your fitness at a basic level. Do a lot solo trainig, shadow training, hitting tires, etc… there is no hard sparring for the last 8 weeks prior a gathering, just light sparring and conceptional sparring. Work on your strategy when you do solo training and partner training. The most important attribute is to have your head right and to be ready for the Gathering mentally.

The Dog Brother fights are frequently criticized as being nothing but a wild slug-fest that lacks any technique or finesse. What do you think about this?
Most people have problems to recognize techniques or strategy in a real fight. It takes a certain “fighters eye” to recognize the details of how technique and timing is brought to bear as everything is happening so fast. But for sure does a fighter need to have a certain ability and a minimum of strategy in order to succeed in a RCSF fight without injury.

Is it true that anyone can train 42 Stick Fighting and do so without fighting in RCSF?
Absolutely, 42 Stick Fighting is an art that anyone can train. In fact many practitioners just train Stick Fighting without  participating at gatherings or fighting with real contact.

Just as the production cars we all drive have benefited from racing experiences, the 42 practitioner benefits from the experiences of others fighting RCSF in gatherings. The curriculum and practitioner program enables people who want to train and grow in areas such as functional stick fighting, self-defense, physical fitness and spiritual fulfillment.