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Author Topic: How Often to Fight?  (Read 10188 times)
Power User
Posts: 42462

« on: January 09, 2012, 04:43:53 PM »

How much to fight?
By Guro Crafty Dog/Marc

One of the questions that I am asked from time to time is “How much, how often, should I fight?”

As is always the case, “Only you are responsible for you” but perhaps some of the following ruminations may be of help to some of those with this question.

As many of you may know, The Dog Brothers came into being over the three day Memorial Day weekend of 1988 (for our non-American friends, this is the last weekend in May).   As our Creation Story goes, what began as hard sparring on day one evolved into true fighting somewhere on the second day.  Eric was already at that level, but had had to hold back with the rest of us because we weren’t ready yet to go there.   

If I were to pick the one fight where it happened, it would be the one between Arlan (to become Salty Dog) and Philip (to become Sled Dog) on the afternoon of the second day—which can be seen in the “Power” DVD of the Real Contact Stickfighting” series.   By the third day, every one was there and stepping out to fight no longer was a big deal—a powerful experience this is!

The process of going out to fight again and again for three days is a transformational one.  That said, our three day session of 1988 was not repeated until twenty years later!!!  (more on that some other day).

I am reminded of a passage from one of Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan books wherein Carlos learns that unlike the many times Don Juan had him take psychedelic mushrooms, another apprentice had been given them only once.   Carlos asked Don Juan why he had been give the mushrooms so many times.

“Because you’re stupid” came the answer—the point being that the other apprentice had learned what the experience had to offer right away and that for Carlos the amount of time it took him to forget the lessons of the mushrooms was rather short.  (I’m riffing here on our aphorism that “Intelligence is the amount of time it takes to forget a lesson.”) In short, he was stupid-- while the other apprentice was moving forward, he was still at the same lesson and his health being burdened with the costs thereof.  Or to put more succinctly, as Mongrel did in the “Power” DVD, “Some of the guys seem to like getting hit, but me, I think after a couple of times I get the gist of it.”

The risks of fighting too much, too frequently, for too long are obvious: becoming emotionally overwhelmed, becoming burnt out, getting injured too much or too lastingly (including brain damage) and in general paying a price too high to be consistent with the idea of longevity as a warrior.

In equal measure the risks of fighting too infrequently and too little are obvious:  to not truly experience what you can do, and what it takes to do it to someone else; to not truly experience the crucible of higher consciousness through harder contact— in short to not have the place within you that is forever young to call upon as warrior needing to defend his land, woman, and children.

The moth-and-the-flame nature of this dynamic is obvious and balance is not a constant over time, but for those who travel our path there is a time where each of us one tests himself as much as makes sense for him.

What triggers these ruminations is the return of Salty Dog after many years away. 

One of the advantages of the Dog Brothers tribal structure is that the natural ebb and flow the various clans of the Tribe tends to balance out and the Tribe flourishes.   And so it is that the Tribe is there for Arlan/Salty Dog and we are there for him as he returns.
It HAS been a long time since he has been  around  (10-14 years as best as I can recall) and so for the many of us who have gotten involved since then, I’d like to say the following:

While Top Dog is the best we have ever seen, one of the reasons we know this is because he fought Salty Dog during the days the Dog Brothers’ reputation was forged.    Although Top Dog usually had the edge, the challenge was always there—successfully too from time to time!  As I said in the voiceover to one of their fights on one of our DVDs, he was “the Joe Frazier to Top Dog’s Mohammed Ali”.

While the fights of the Dog Brothers Gatherings are usually the ones that appear in our DVDs (mostly because DB Inc hired the cameraman and the serious professional camera necessary to use footage in a DBMA DVD), plenty of serious fighting was done in the early days in small get-togethers, often at Salty’s home in Santa Fe, NM.   The now famous footage of Top and Salty fighting siniwali wherein Salty gets dropped and has blood spurting out of his head and is bandaged up to the point of “looking like a Sikh” was in a small park up the street from Salty’s house.  Wild Dog, Sleeping Dog, Rain Dog, and Poi Dog (who later on moved to the Hawaii Clan, the Hermosa Clan, and the NoHo Clans) all got their start there.

Salty Dog is also the one who brought Krabi Krabong to the table.  As those of you who also follow DBMA know, KK is part of our “Los/Dos Triques” blend and that that one of the fighting structures I teach is named “the Salty Game” precisely because it draws so much on what Salty does.

So, for those of you who are at a point in your warrior trajectory where it makes sense for you to fight more than you are now with someone who can take you further than you are now, know that the Salty Dog is having a fight weekend on Saturday March 3-4.  If you are interested get in touch with Arlan “Salty Dog” Sanford at 505-795-0986 or at

Also, for those you looking for more fighting, of course there is the legend himself, the Top Dog, in Houston TX.   At random intervals he too organizes fight days and he can be reached at

To round things out, there are also the “Beat the Crap out of Cancer” days.  Started by Growling Dog of Toronto, and having spread also to the NoHo Clan in the LA area and Dog Terry and other DBMA folks in the IL area, these too  are good days, and those looking to get started may find the wider variety of fighting options make for a good idea.  Stay in touch via our newsletter, our forum, the DBMA FB page, and the DBMA Association for notification about upcoming events.

Of course, in all of this, as is always the case with anything having to do with us, “Stickfighting is dangerous.  Injuries will happen (No deaths so far!) Only you are responsible for you, so protect yourself at all times.  No suing no one for no reason, for nothing, no how, no way. If you can’t agree to this, you should just watch.”   

“The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation: Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact” © DBI
Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
Guiding Force
Power User
Posts: 134

« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 07:54:20 PM »

Guro, Im looking forward to more fights, eventhough I have only one knife fight and one stick fight which I got my asp kicked byHowling Dog. But yet still motivates me in doing it. As for me to know how many fights I would do, only time will tell as I'm getting older and heal slow.
Power User
Posts: 155

« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 01:39:56 AM »

i liked this, and it's great to know Salty Dog is fighting again, i loved watching his fights on tape.
The topic has often weighed on my mind. I still practice martial arts several times per week, but the itch of testing myself at a Gathering comes from time to time. I think during the first few Gatherings the chatter in my head cricled around doubt and fear, then the fighting became fun/enjoyable (with the chatter becoming whispers instead of shouts). With a long lay off the chatter has time to come back (watching the highlight videos of the past few Gatherings is intense  shocked), but now i can recognize it and manage it for what it is. the issue of fighting too little has occured to me (last stick fight was in 2008 i think and before that 2004. damn), though i think i got what i came for during those years (as a young man). Fighting in Gatherings have been some of the most memorable and profound experiences I've had, it's great to know that more and more people and places are participating in RCSF
Posts: 1

« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 07:12:12 PM »

Sorry to be a little slow to throw my 2 cents in, but this weekend really clarified a few things on how I view this. I was unable to fight do to smashing my hand at work (but will be training for this June and the fall Gathering) but I got to watch Eric fight for the first time in years. Eric is in his mid fifties and has been fighting since college, and I have to tell you, he has lost nothing that I can see in his fighting! Smooth, powerful, fluid. it was all still there. This is someone who has fought hundreds and hundreds of fights over decades! Which brings me to my thoughts on how much to fight. I think the first question to ask yourself is what am I fighting for; because I love fighting? to be the best fighter I can be? To prove something to myself? To prove something to others? Recognition?  Probably, for most of us , some combination of all of these comes into play. I think, in the end, it's about how good you really want to be. I don't think anybody would argue that someone who fights once a year will be as good as someone who fights 10 times a year or 20 times a year. and it's the time you put in fighting that will make you a better fighter. There was a period of several years that Eric and I (and others) got together every 6 to 8 weeks and fought, usually over several days. It wasn't uncommon to have 7 to 10 fights in a weekend.  We fought the night before every gathering as a warm up. There was one week early on we had to have had 10 or 12 HOURS of fighting. This was what took me, an uncoordinated, un-athletic wallflower (maybe a little exaggeration, but not much) to a place I would not of thought I was capable of going. Of course there is the risk of injury, but we are participating in a violent sport and that is a risk you take fighting once or dozens of times. And as I got more fights under my belt, it seemed injuries were less often a certainly less serious. Again, I think it all comes down to what you want out of this and what you want to put into it to achieve it, nobody said it would be easy!
Smiling Dog
Posts: 35

« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 08:34:23 PM »

FMO...  Fight More Often

Oh, now there's an idea for a t-shirt  grin
Power User
Posts: 42462

« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 04:43:37 PM »

Woof Arlan: 

Similarly my apologies for also taking a while to respond.  In addition to the usual demands of daily life, the themes in thread thread have gotten my thinking and I am working on a "Rambling Rumination" that will look to continue the conversation here.

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