MARC "CRAFTY DOG" DENNY
Dog Brothers Martial Arts
After spending my 20s in the typical merriments
of the '60s and '70s, (e.g. I was at
Woodstock.) in my final semester of
law school (spring '81)I noticed Sifu
Paul Vizzio teaching Fu Jow Pai (Tiger Claw Kung Fu—taught
only in the NYC area) in the gym. I
was impressed with the man, (after beginning
with him I discovered that he was the PKA World Lightweight Champion)
and certainly growing up in NYC had given me many experiences to
appreciate the need for skills. The class was rigorous and I had
to give up cigarettes.
After graduation, I moved to Washington
DC for work and at Sifu Vizzio's suggestion
("you need to work on your legs,
try the "X" TKD schools")
started in a yuppie chain based in the
DC area. I knew it wasn't what I wanted,
but it was the most productive use of
my time available to me.
After a year, I outgrew
lawyering and moved to California. I
met a guy on the beach who told me about
Academy". I had never heard of Kali,
or Dan Inosanto, or any of arts it offered,
but wandered in to check it out and have
It was at the Kali Academy
that I met Paul Vunak, who was very articulate
about the benefits of trapping, so I
trained with him for a few years. A very
lively time and lots of learning. Paul
spoke about the benefits of training
stickfighting for developing trapping,
so when one day Bill Gaye and Chris Markus
came in with some BIG bruises saying
they had actually been stickfighting
I was intrigued. I had read about the "death
the Philippines in Guro Inosanto's book
and was kind of surprised that they were
still alive. Next time Bill and Chris
went, I tagged along to "just watch".
This is how I met Eric,
who talked me into giving it a go. I
had envisioned myself as quite the Sombrada
stud, but somehow NONE of it showed up.
This was a very sobering thought and
I mulled it over for a couple of months.
Already in my mid 30s, kickboxing seemed
to offer a limited lifespan, yet I wanted
to make sure that my skills were real.
I resolved that stickfighting would become
my vehicle to true fighting skill. Frankly,
for the first couple of years, I was
more determined than brave or talented,
and I appreciate the way that Eric never
Eric and I became good
friends, and he was always complaining
of the difficulties of finding playmates.
So I talked him into the Inosanto Academy
with me where I knew we would be able
to find more playmates. Guro I. already
knew Eric through his teacher, Tuhon
Leo Gaje, and he was allowed to jump
into Guro's class with me. We were trusted
to stay after classes were over for the
night and use the school for sparring
and then close up the school. In addition
to the flow of adventurous visitors that
a legendary place like the Inosanto Academy
attracts, a small group of regulars (Mark
Balluff, Mark Sanden, & others) now
known as the "After Midnight Group" evolved.
In the beginning the head gear was hard,
and one night when Mark S. was exploiting
this Eric grumbled a bit, so I reached
up on the shelf and grabbed some very
old fencing masks. It was also at this
time that I suggested that we allow grappling,
although none of us had a clue. Our first
exposure to BJJ came probably around
1987 when Carl Franks, a student of Relson
Gracie in Hawaii was visiting and played.
We were intrigued.
The After Midnight group
Dog Brothers" at the three day fight
fest in May '89. This was a transformational
experience for all concerned. Everyone,
except for one fighter who could only
make the last day, averaged at least
20 fights. To go out to fight again and
again, day after day, is an experience
that is hard to describe. It is a crucible.
In the summer of '89,
when I was attending my second Pekiti
Tirsia summer camp in Tennessee, I was
introduced to Punong Guro Edgar Sulite
by Guro Inosanto and began extensive
private training with him. Although I
am an instructor in his Lameco system,
I must say that our emphasis was on helping
me as a fighter—there
is much of the system that I do not know.
A good man as well as a talented fighter
and teacher, his untimely loss is a reminder
to seize the day.
In the summer of 1990,
Chris Hauter introduced me to the Machado
Brothers, and influenced by the results,
I began to train BJJ in earnest. Studying
with my good friends the Machados has
been a truly wonderful experience.
With the advent of the
UFC, somewhere around UFC 3, we were
approached about being a special event
between the semi-finals and the finals,
but ultimately were turned down, in the
words of their letter, because we were "just
too extreme" and
would get them shut down.
The Dog Brothers videos
were edited the winter of '92-'93 (I
was laid up by a severe knee injury,
so I was to finally get around to it)
and released fall of '94. They have made
it much easier to find playmates, and
of the Pack" now regularly draw
20-30 fighters from around the country,
and an audience of over 200.
What a long strange
trip this is! An amazing thing that started
as some sweaty, smelly psychopaths with
sticks. I doubt I could play my part
without the help and guidance of my teacher,
Guro Dan Inosanto.