Origins of the Dog Brothers

The Dog Brothers were born in May 1988 during three days of non-stop fighting organized by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny and Eric “Top Dog” Knaus, known within the group as the “Rumble at Ramblas”. These fights became the core of the groups video series with Panther Productions, featuring Knaus, the group’s best fighter and an outstanding technician trained by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje of the Pekiti Tirsia system from the island of Negros in the Philippines.

Most of the fighters came from Knaus and Denny’s “After-midnight Group” at the Inosanto Academy, as well as Knaus’s friend from his Pekiti Tirsia days, Philip “Sled Dog” Gelinas and Arlan Sanford, who Knaus and Denny had met the year before at the national “full contact stickfighting” tournament, (which Knaus won for the third time). Sanford, soon to be known as the “Salty Dog” would become a co-founder of the group along with Denny and Knaus.

The founding Dog Brothers: Arlan “Salty Dog” Sanford, Eric “Top Dog” Knaus, and Mark “Crafty Dog” Denny.

The intense crucible of fighting for three days forged a special bond amongst the men there. The “Dog Brothers” name came about because there were three fighters with the name of Mark/Marc. “Somebody would say ‘hey Mark’ and three guys would answer, so we started looking for some nicknames,” explains Denny. “Well, something happened that led to someone calling me ‘a crafty dog.’ So that became my name. Mark Sanden was 18 years old so we called him ‘Puppy Dog.’ Mark Balluff always fought with a mix of everything so we called him ‘Mongrel.’ During an interview Mongrel spoke well of the feeling of brotherhood that the group was developing and that evening I was reading a Conan the Barbarian comic book.

Top Dog and Crafty Dog


While leading his men into battle Conan said ‘Come on you dog brothers!,’ and there it was. The combination of three nicknames based around dogs plus Conan’s call to arms gave me the name I was looking for. Eric obviously was to be “Top Dog” and so the dog thing was off and running and “the Dog Brothers” were born. Since then the name has revealed itself to be a more fortuitous metaphor than we realized at the time.”

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