Phil “Sled Dog” Gelinas

Tuhon_Phil_220x300

Philip Gelinas (born 1952) began his training in the Chito Ryu style of karate, at the age of fourteen.  Since then, he has trained in many other fighting methods, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Filipino Kali, Muay Thai, Judo, Kempo, Kajukenbo, Jun Fan-Jeet Kune Do, Silat, and Capoeira. He earned black belts in Kempo (1973) and Kajukenbo (1975).In 1985, he received his Muay Thai instructor credentials from Tom Harink Jr.

Philip’s training in the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) began in NYC in 1981, under Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje Jr, head of Pekiti Tirsia Kali. Although Phil was living in Montreal, he made regular trips to New York to train with Tuhon Gaje and with Tuhon’s top student, Tom Bisio.  One of Tom’s students at the time was Eric Knaus who would go on to become “Top Dog”, one of the co-founders of the Dog Brothers.

By the early-to-mid eighties, Pekiti Tirsia practitioners were already engaging in full-contact stick fighting, but with more protective equipment than the Dog Brothers now use.  It usually consisted of thick felt covering much of the torso, thick hockey gloves, and possibly forearm guards.  It was a running joke as to which was worse: The pain of getting hit without wearing such protection, or the suffocating heat  felt from fighting while wearing all that.
A chance encounter in the mid-1980’s led to a California trip which would be a major milestone in Philip’s martial arts journey. This happened one day, when a student of Guro Dan Inosanto’s, walked into his martial arts school in downtown Montreal. His name was Robert “Bob” Reish, and he worked as an airline pilot for American Airlines.  At the time, Bob was assigned to the Los Angeles / Montreal route. By coincidence, Phil’s martial arts school was close to the hotel where the fight crew were staying.  One day (like all curious martial artists) Bob decided to visit.  They quickly discovered that they had much in common.  Bob had long been involved in Danzen-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu – which had certain similarities to Kajukenbo as practiced by Phil – plus they both loved Filipino Kali.
A few months later, Philip and his family were invited by Bob to visit him in Los Angeles. Bob lived near the Inosanto Academy, and by then, Eric Knaus had moved out to the west coast, and was training there.  So when Phil looked Eric up, he was invited to take part in the “After Midnight” stick fighting group that met after hours on Wednesday.

Back then (1984-1989) at the Inosanto Academy, there was a lot that went on after classes were over for the day. To begin with, there were visiting students from abroad who were sometimes allowed to stay for weeks or even months at a time. As a result, a lot of things happened there that no longer do so.  It would be fair to say that the After Midnight group was a part of the culture of that time and place.  No official membership in the Academy was required for participation.

Philip was also allowed to participate in other Academy classes.  This was a major turning point for Philip, and it opened his eyes to a lot of new material and training methods.

Over time, the weapons fighting as practiced by the “After Midnight Group”  evolved towards less and lighter protective equipment. Fighters would wear gloves, but no body armor. Eric had constructed headgear out of stainless steel mesh that were patterned after fencing masks. Some fighters would use these, while others preferred the heavier Doce Pares helmet. Different weapon combinations were also tried out. Ground fighting had not yet been introduced. Philip returned to Montreal and introduced these ideas to his FMA class. 

The following summer he once more journeyed to Los Angeles, and spent many hours with the members and associates of the “after midnight” group, further developing his stick fighting abilities.

Later that same summer, Philip was asked (by Eric and Marc Denny) to take part in the video shooting of Real Contact Stick Fighting series.  This project was the result of Eric being approached by Panther Productions to star in a series of videos which would highlight the stick fighting that had won him so many Eskrima Championships. Eric, Marc, and (now) Arlan Sanford had decided that rather that just being about Eric, that it would be about the (still evolving) Stick Fighting training methods that they had developed.

Plans were set to do the first video shoot in San Clemente at Rambles Park. Though lots of people were invited, far fewer actually showed up.Those that did,  fought for three days and the results were recorded on that first series of tapes. During the filming, Marc approached Philip, and after explaining the Conan The Barbarian Comic book story, asked him to choose a “Dog Name”. And so Philip became an ODB, (Original Dog Brother) henceforth to be known as “Sled Dog.”

When he is asked how he became a Dog Brother, Philip’s reply is “I showed up”. In other words, he answered the call to fight at Ramblas Park, and at other venues – a call NOT answered by most Kali practitioners. Philip believes that his involvement with the Dog Brothers was a prime factor in his winning the 1989 Pekiti Tirsia Kali (stick fighting) Grand Championships in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a few more years until the Real Contact Stick Fighting video series was ready for release. More material was filmed that Philip was not involved with. The complete set was finished and available by 1992.
Its effect was to forever change the practice of stick fighting. Many people who do not engage in Real Contact Stick Fighting as practiced by the Dog Brothers have, nonetheless adopted it’s credo, and fight with just a fencing mask, gloves, no body armor, and a stick that doesn’t look merely like a fat pencil.
Philip was named a 1st Tier Fighter by the DB Council of Elders in 1995. He is also a Teacher/Guro in DBMA, and in 2012 was named to the Council of Elders itself.

He has been directly or indirectly responsible for the training of a number of Dog Brothers, including: Loki “Tricky Dog” Jorgensen, Tyler “Dirty Dog” Morin, Chris “Lazy Dog” Goard, Rene “Growling Dog” Cocolo, Pat “Green Mountain Dog” Gagnon, and Randall “Wolf Dog” Gregory, among others.

Philip’s other martial arts accomplishments include receiving the Pekiti Tirsia Kali rank of Mandala-Tuhon from GT Leo Gaje Jr. and Full Instructorships in FMA and JKD from Guro Dan Inosanto. He holds a high rank and sits on the Kajukenbo Board of Advisors (BOA) to the KSDI.

Active in BJJ, he was one of the founders of the Brazilian Top Team Canada network of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academies in Canada. He holds the rank of Brown Belt in BJJ.

Currently, Philip  owns and runs the Gelinas Academy of Mixed Martial Arts (GAMMA), in Montreal.