Leader of the Pack
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“It was almost a psychedelic experience,” Denny says. “As one of our guys put it: ‘There’s no meditation that will put you in the here and now like the silence around the sound of a stick buzzing by your head.’ You experience yourself without the words. There are a lot of people who chant up in the mountains for years to get a glimpse of that.”
In that intensity, Denny had found a way to move forward as a martial artist: “higher consciousness through harder contact.” The phrase became the Dog Brothers’ credo.
Alongside fellow martial artists Arlan “Salty Dog” Sanford and Eric “Top Dog” Knaus, Denny began fighting regularly. (Most of the pack members pick up “pack” nicknames over time. Denny got his “Crafty Dog” nickname for his fighting style and philosophical bent). Over the months they attracted others to their core group and developed the philosophy of the Dog Brothers. Denny explains the canine allusion on the group’s Web site: “The dog is the interface of man and the wolf, and we can connect so strongly because our dynamics are so similar. … Just like dogs, there is the bond of the pack …” Even though men are civilized, they still have wilderness inside them, he writes, and the best way to hone this innate aggression is through the group. “The solution is to ground aggression in a ritual expression that also prepares it for functional application.” For Denny and his companions, this solution took the form of Dog Brothers.
Dog Brothers took another step when Denny began to videotape some of their techniques and training sessions. Recovering from a serious knee injury, he was able to devote himself to editing the material. The results were far in advance of typical martial arts videos of the time, in which “the teacher stands in front of a wall and beats up his students,” says Denny.
Videos with titles like Die Less Often II, Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack, Dogzilla’s First Day, and Lonely Dog in Action sold in large numbers and drew students to the growing pack. Denny was able to phase out his job in real estate and devote himself to Dog Brothers full time. As the business side expanded, Denny and his partners also continued to learn new skills from across the martial arts universe, including Brazilian jiujitsu and krabi krabong, the forefather of Thai kick boxing.
Dog Brothers now has an international following, and Denny teaches his techniques to martial arts groups and law enforcement agencies worldwide—as well as the United States Army. The group has also had the distinction of being turned down by the Ultimate Fighting Championship—the premiere mixed martial arts organization—for being “too extreme.” This is like the pope calling someone “too Catholic.”