21 June 2009

Kali Tudo 2 (tm): The Running Game vs. The Guard

Kali Tudo ™ 2: The Running Dog, Dog Brothers explore fighting the guard, and incorporate functional Kali trapping

What I’m showing you is a way, not the way
-Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny

The internet, and martial arts instructional DVDs are not short on at least two things: delusional “anti-grappling” techniques, and impractical, and unrealistic trapping. Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny and Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMAs hereafter) have not, in Kali Tudo ™ 2, contributed to any of these over-represented content areas. If you are unfamiliar with DBMAs, and the Dog Brothers themselves you may be worried, about strategies for dealing with the guard being addressed by martial artists whose chief credentials come not from backgrounds long steeped in Judo/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Sambo/Western Wrestling. You might also worry further about the inclusion of trapping content. After all, you may say, what can guys who play with sticks know about either trapping or grappling? And what does the one have to do with the other? These aren't bad questions, and the short answer to both is that the Dog Brothers are much more than the sticks and knives that have informed much of their ideas. The more you examine and study DBMAs material the more depth you find in their system. It is Krabi Krabong, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Jun Fan, Pekiti Tirsia, Lameco and Inosanto Blend, but the experience of actual hard contact (that is to say as real as real gets sparring) has helped to craft a robust and substantial whole. In addition Denny’s brown belt in BJJ, not an arm chair understanding of grappling, is clearly informing this particular strategy for dealing with the guard. This is a component sorely lacking in much of what passes for strategies and answers to grappling that abound in the magazines, on the internet and in instructional DVDs. Anyone with a couple of years of experience in BJJ will see the MMA merit of the Running Dog (hereafter RD) posture as components of it are present in a variety of counters to numerous BJJ guard structures. As a purple belt, that got his guard from one of De La Riva’s protégés Marcello C. Monteiro, I will be loath to show this posture, and its attendant attacks to anyone but my close friends and fighters willing to pay me much more than my usual rate.

Unlike KT1, KT2 feels much less like a formal instructional DVD and more like a class or seminar. If you are used to other instructionals this may throw you off. The movements aren't quite polished by all involved. In my first viewing of the DVD this was unsettling, but the more I watched it, the more the approach made sense, and this informal structure became one of the many strengths. You may be like me and pick this kind of thing up pretty rapidly through instructionals, or you may struggle through it but either way, you are learning the material along with the various clans of the Dog Brothers. This necessarily means that you will not always see the moves at their most polished, but that is okay. Because what you get in exchange for everyone not looking polished is immediate identification of problems that people new to the movements (you the viewer included) are likely to have. The participants are learning the material too, and that provides for a very organic set of questions. I am unsure if Guro Denny had this in mind when they were cutting KT2 together, but it works.

The material itself is organized quite well and can be broken down into roughly three parts. First we get an older introduction to the basic RD posture (a punishing variant on the can-opener in which the person in the guard and appling the RD is keeping well aware of the arm-bar counter). This is very thorough, and fits the RD posture in the overall matrix of guard passing. Setting this context to me was very important. Sometimes people get attached to a new technique and forget immediately about everything else they know. When the rubber guard hit BJJ I remember people getting overly infatuated with it with forgetting that it was just a part of a broader guard game. Denny sets the RD in a larger context and thus heads off fixation. This makes the RD not the technique but another in an overall guard passing strategy. In this first section we see the RD pass and two swift leg attacks. In this section Denny covers not only MMA style usage, but straight BJJ/submission grappling applications too. We also get a very brief introduction to striking from the RD. The second section covers Kali striking principles and the unique approach to hand to hand that flows from the use of weapons. The name of the game is playing various angles of impact. Ideas about beats are covered. There is an intersting drill designed (I am unsure if this drill is the brain child of Guro Denny, or something he picked up but it is simple and quite brilliant) to facilitate a trapping crash. Denny is at his most articulate in this section. Clear, thought provoking and open, this section is, in my mind worth the price of the DVD. The third teaching section brings the RD game, and Kali striking concepts together in a way that will make you wonder why no one has thought of it before (Denny and the Hawaii Clan have an interesting discussion on this in the opening of the tape).

KT2, while heuristically different, is a worthy addition to the Kali Tudo (tm) library. Like the first it lays down a template that students will use to further their own understanding.
The Dog Brothers have done it again. Woof!

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