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Training Review: Jared Wihongi and Marc Denny’s Tactical Clinch

Topic: Close Combat, Unarmed

Instructor/System: This course is co-taught by Jared Wihongi and Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny. Jared is a Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK) practitioner with some broader background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, and working door as a bouncer. He’s been a police officer, including SWAT, and now makes a living as full-time combatives instructor — a telling note, given how little money there is in martial arts. Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny is one of the founders of the Dog Brothers, a group borne out the Filipino martial arts community who, a few decades back, decided to don fencing masks and hockey gloves and lay into each other at full force to learn “what would really work under fire and what would not.”

Content: Jared leads this two-day course and gives it structure and pacing. Marc chimes in regularly with variations on a theme, war stories, or little pearls. Of interest — with Jared coming from a more formal kali background in Pekiti Tirsia Kali and Marc having spent decades in the stylistic mish-mash crucible that is the Dog Brothers — the two have very similar approaches to nearly everything. We don’t think this was deliberate to keep the class uniform, but rather a reflection of how similar PTK and the scrappy ‘Real Contact Stickfighting’ of the Dog Brothers still are. (You’ll remember, dear reader, that the founder of the Dog Brothers, Eric “Top Dog” Knaus, was a PTK practitioner first.)

As the name implies, the class is focused entirely around one thing: the clinch while in a weapons-based environment. “Weapons” here refers to knives and guns, primarily, but could include other options as the principles of controlling the weapon hand/arm, accessing the waist, etc, should be sufficiently similar. The class follows a format of a two to ten minute discussion and demonstration followed by “play,” paired off with other students.

The didactic portion of the class starts with what the instructors refer to as the “preferred position” for the tactical clinch, an entry from the false lead in which you land a blow to the opponents neck while obtaining an above-the-elbow grip on the opponent’s proximal arm, pressing it across their body. The first day is spent largely on variations from that theme, most of which revolve around controlling the elbow, the shoulder, body positioning, and transitions into other attacks.

The second day involves more of the same, this time going a bit deeper with retention of weapons, stalemate positions, and time to “play” where you dynamically clinch in whatever method desired and just move — letting the classes techniques, and the principles underlying those techniques, come out in new, organic ways.

The techniques taught are trained within a paradigm of self-defense or “control” of the opponent, as a law enforcement officer might be interested in. Little is taught as being directly offensive, though obviously control of your opponent does lead to offensive opportunities, if that’s your bent.

Jared and Marc both demonstrate mastery of the subject matter, while also both being willing to discuss the how/why, and while adhering to good principles of combatives: simplicity, versatility, gross motor actions only, techniques proven against live/resisting opponents, etc.

There’s additional value here in that this course can act as an affordable way to decide if you want to further pursue training with Jared/PTK and/or Marc/Dog Brothers. While their unarmed combat techniques are very similar, their teaching styles and personalities are not and students may well resonate with one approach or personality and not the other.

RMSR Recommended: Yes. Like all other open enrollment classes of this format, choose your partner carefully to match your own desired level of training intensity, speed, and safety requirements.

Pre-requisites: None, officially, but some familiarity with kali vocabulary and concepts like the false lead will serve you well. Bring and use all the gear you normally would — duty, EDC, and otherwise.

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