Years ago — wow, maybe a dozen years ago now — I went to one of the Dog Brothers‘ Gatherings of the Pack, back when it was an informal meeting in a park near one of the Dog’s homes. I simply had to see live stickfighting, especially since it was “no holds barred” — in the sense that grappling was allowed, and minimal pads were involved. It was an experience.
You’ll note that I didn’t jump in that day, and I didn’t ramp up my Filipino Martial Arts training in order to jump in next time either. Once you’ve seen a guy get hit hard enough that his fencing mask gets stuck on, you have to take the whole thing seriously.
The other night, National Geographic had an excellent documentary on the Dog Brothers, Fight Club: No Limits, which largely — with the exception of an interviewed professor or two — seemed to “get” the ethos of the event:
The “elders” of the pack run the event by these magic words: No judges, no referees, no trophies. One rule only: Be friends at the end of the day. Our goal is that everyone leaves with the IQ with which they came. No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way!
One element has changed over the years: the knife fights now use a Shocknife to keep things “real” — and it does hurt, from what I’ve heard. Too bad it’s $500…