2016 Dog Brothers Open Gathering

Dog Brothers Gathering

Call of the Wild

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Dog Brothers gathering here in Los Angeles, in North Hollywood. I’ve heard of this organization before and have watched quite a few Gathering videos (1), but have never attended one in person. Some of you know that I recently joined a Kali school (2), and two of our instructors are Dog Brothers (3).

The Gathering was held at the Hayastan MMA Academy, and I’ll have to say, the place is a top notch facility. All you have do is look on the walls of the place and see pictures of great fighters that train there; people like Rhonda Rousey, Manvel “Manny” Gamburyan etc. I’ve seen Manny driving around town before, but didn’t know where he trained. The layout of the facility has a full ring on the north side–a few rows of bleachers just below it (where I sat) with a fence shielding spectators from the main fighting area. On the east side, there is an upstairs seating area, which is a balcony that gives one an eagle’s eye view of the action, on the west another seating area (with a short fence) which is where the fighters sat, and lastly, the main fighting area in the middle.

Dog Brothers: A Family That Fights With Respect

It was fascinating to see fighters there from various places. There was a contingent from Italy–including a bad ass woman fighter, more on her later–that came to fight, folks from Canada (Montreal?) as well as people from various states. One thing that I noticed right away, was the friendly atmosphere and jovial nature of the fighters. They were there to beat the hell out of each other but showed sincere concern/respect for each other; a tight knit family. On a quick side note, ahem a rant even, I’m burning out on the arrogant ill-will attitudes that I’m seeing from the various MMA organizations that seem to be replacing the honor and respect of yesteryear. For example, compare old pre/mid/post fight antics (or lack thereof) of early UFC to what we see now. Big contrast in my opinion, but hey that’s progression, right? Uh hum. Ya you’ve always had tools in martial arts, but now there seems to be a tool factory at play here. Who’s fault is that? You decide. Rant over.

Choose Your Weapon Wisely

The first series of fights were knife fights, the second of which included one of my teachers “Pappydog”, who fought the girl from Italy. This girl had stamina for days, I don’t know how many fights she did that day, but it was quite a few. (I guess you don’t fly thousands of miles for nothing eh?) She did mostly knife and sword fights, as coed fights with other weapons weren’t allowed. I did see her fight another woman with sticks later on. The blunt weapon fights, e. g. rattan sticks, staffs etc often went to the ground, whereas the knife fighting was focused on standup. The implications are obvious that a big dude has an unfair advantage using blunt objects and with grappling.

Photo courtesy of Dog Brothers Martial Arts (Used with permission)

Photo courtesy of Dog Brothers Martial Arts (Used with permission)

While I’m speaking on it, there can be no doubt that this fighting was not without its risks. There was a guy there that apparently broke a rib or two (I’m only guessing of course but they wrapped him up thoroughly) and he had to end his day early. A lot of folks had welts (4) all over their body (I’d image most), one guy probably broke his toe, and there was a blood drive with donations coming from a number of fighters. You expect this kinda thing in full contact fighting, but the brutality was a sight to behold. One guy even had his mask dented in by a powerful strike to the face! Some people used rubber knives while others used aluminum ones with blunted ends–no tip but ya that’s gotta hurt anyways. After one of the fights, the founder of Dog Brothers, Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny, advised a fighter to not use a rubber knife, as it doesn’t inflect any pain. Rodger that! My favorite fight though, was a 2 on 2 double stick fight, a complete riot which left the audience begging for another one. It was wild haha!

Dog Brothers Gathering

Photo courtesy of Dog Brothers Martial Arts (Used with permission)

Something that stood out to me, was that Marc would often give pointers to the fighters during and after the fight. You could see his genuine concern for his people, their well-being and development. Additionally, there would be catcalls from fellow fighters who were watching, it was quite interactive. The humor of these folks was awesome, and an interesting contrast of humor and brutality. On a side note, there was a guy behind me (a spectator like myself) coaching seemingly every fight. For awhile it was cool, but in time it started to grate on my nerves. Eventually he ended up moving to another location, and to that, I was grateful. (At least he was a nice fella)

Though I would’ve liked to have stayed for the entire event, I ended up leaving after watching 4+ hours of action. I wish I could say I know how long the fighting continued after I left. I hope in the near future to be skilled enough (and healed) to partake in the festivities.

Would you fight in one of these events? Share below!



(1) Here’s a documentary of Dog Brothers made by National Geographic.
(2) I have my eyes on the BJJ program too at VMAC–in time I’ll add that on to my training.
(3) It was Nick “Pappydog” Papadakis that told us about the Gathering after class. He ended up fighting–multiple times–at the event, despite an injured shoulder.
(4) One particular guy took quite a beating, and as a hefty dude he muscled his way to close the distance of his opponent after being disarmed, he paid the price for this and was punished greatly.

8 Responses to 2016 Dog Brothers Open Gathering

  1. Well done Sir!
    Thank you

  2. Dog Howard Vitkus says:

    Nice write up. I fought.at this event. I’ve fought in DB for 3 years now and your comments on both the brutality and the positive brotherhood are accurate. Be sure to write up your own DBOG fight(s) when the time comes 🙂

  3. I fought in my first Dog Brothers gathering in 2010.

    I will only say that it has changed my life profoundly, on and off the mat.

    If you think you lack the skills, go and fight anyways. You will never regret it.

    Ps. I have broken several bones, they heal. What I have learned, remains.

    • “If you think you lack the skills, go and fight anyways. You will never regret it.”

      At this point I’m much more concerned about my back injury than my lack of skill, which is quite limited too. Stamina is something I need to work on as well. You can have good technique, but with low stamina that technique goes right out the window and breaks down. Thank you for reading 🙂

  4. To give credit where due, I’m in the photos attributed to me, but I did not take them. The photographer did a great job.

    James ForPTK

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