Kostas and friends
This week I'm pleased to present a guest post from Kostas Tountas in Greece.
Kostas and I have become fellow Dojo Rats and exchanged much information over the years. As you will see, his specialty is training and fighting at events hosted by the famous "Dog Brothers" fighting club.
While the training is intense, the fighting is brutal and as real as it gets. Traditional weapons of all sorts are used, and the painful results can be seen in the photos below.
I've got to give Kostas some major cred here; he's my age (53) and still fights in the most brutal martial-sport I can imagine. As he describes, the friendships acquired during these sessions are as long lasting as the valuable fighting lessons learned.
This is simply great stuff, here's Kostas:
"Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may recall a post entitled "Kostas Fights at Dog Brothers Euro Gathering".
In the three years since, I have returned to Bern faithfully each summer – to be with my “brothers of the stick” with whom I share the same "madness". We greet each other warmly, catching up on news, and discussing whether there will be any unusual weapons, in this year’s fights.
Indeed, a Dog Brothers Gathering is not just about stick fighting. It’s also about three-section staffs, spears, halberds (edges and points blunted), etc. Furthermore it’s not just about stand-up - many fights end up on the ground - and yours truly has been there on several occasions.
A fight at a Gathering is also about learning to deal with pressure - as soon as we tap sticks, I can feel that one wrong move and my opponent will not simply "come at me", he will try to go RIGHT THROUGH me.
Several fighters come prepared with specific strategies and techniques that they want to test under realistic conditions. The fact that there are no winners or losers encourages people to experiment but at the same time, they know they can't afford to get let their guard down.
For example, one member of the Dog Brothers tribe is an expert with the three-section staff – travelling regularly to China to train with his master. The Gathering provides him with the opportunities he requires in order to further his skills.
But at the same time, one not-so-obvious benefit is that by helping prepare this fighter, Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny gained new insights into a less-well-known weapon, and in so doing expanded his own area of expertise – and that of the tribe as well. So the Gathering serves as sort of “fight laboratory” for both coaches and fighters alike, in which various strategies and techniques are pressure-tested, and fine-tuned till they are practical and effective.
As for myself, in four Gatherings, I have had fourteen fights. I am now a candidate Dog Brother. Though this is not so remarkable, it hasn’t been easy. At 53 years of age, training injuries are more frequent and take longer to heal.
There have been and there may yet be times when I think to myself that this will be my last Gathering. In this, I am not alone. One fighter was so known for this, that he was given the name “Sinatra Dog”, in memory of the famous singer who, near the end of his career, became known for his numerous “last” performances.
But the fact is that when preparing for a Gathering, I feel motivated. The realization that I MUST be on the ball or I am going to get my ass handed to me, has re-invigorated my training. I still have much to learn and some things I need to RE-LEARN - but that’s the beauty of it - that after many years of martial arts, I still feel excited about getting in there and being a part of it!
I hope to be there next year, to see my brothers, to fight well, and then to return home with colorful bruises and a big BIG smile on my face".