Okay. My life as a Dog Brother. I came to martial arts pretty late. One day, working out in the gym, 33 years old, I met Ralph “Fire Eagle” Ledger carrying some rattan sticks. Hmmm. What do you use those sticks for? Ralph showed me some basic techniques, and took me to a class where Arlan “Salty Dog” Sanford was teaching.
Arlan’s class was friendly, but kind of intense, too. I heard these guys actually go at it full blast! I wonder … I just wonder. (One of those moments when you know you’ve been captured by something that’s going to scare the hell out of you and cost a lot of time and effort.) I studied techniques with all the teachers I could find in the area, and I’m grateful for their help, but it was Arlan that taught me how to *fight*. Not only that, but his generosity of spirit, combined with his unrelenting focus in a fight, has made him a great model for me of what Dog Brothers’ fighting is all about, and what it means to be a warrior. I feel fortunate to know him. It has also been my good fortune to be associated with a few other of the Santa Fe clan of Dog Brothers. Dave “Wild Dog” Crosby, Mike “Rain Dog” Florimbi, and “Dog” Michael Blake, all exemplify courage and heart. Arlan and Mike and I have had many, many fights. In fact, the tip of my left thumb is cracked, right now, from a fight a few weeks ago. I’ve learned a lot from these guys. (For example: don’t get hit in the thumb. Also: don’t get hit in the head, don’t get hit on the elbow, don’t get kneed in the ribs, and many other secret lessons.) And Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny has made some key observations about my fighting, at important moments in my development, which have helped me grow. Finally, of course, I soak up every bit of guidance I can get from Eric “Top Dog” Knaus.
A Dog Brothers’ stickfight is a crucible. (I’m being figurative, here.) It’s an intense, sometimes chaotic, scary and dangerous test. What attracts me is the challenge of developing consciousness and balance in a tense, dangerous situation. I figure if I can learn to be fully myself under that kind of pressure, I will have developed something that is durable and worthy.