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Blue Belt
The Blue Belt is the 4th Belt in our system and the first of the advanced belts.  This test requires all material to be demonstrated with speed, intensity, control and power.  The physicality of this test requires 5 to 6 months of intense final preparation.  Because of this we do not view the Blue Belt Test as a single day event; rather, it is earned in part through months of dedicated training leading up to the day of the test.
The Blue Belt Test consists of an hour long demonstration of self defense techniques (basic responses to common attacks), forms (also known as Katas), and kicks.  The students must also demonstrate striking skills (similar to kick-boxing), grappling techniques (from Catch Wrestling), select techniques on a partner and then finish by showing that they can put it all together by sparring with full contact.  
In this way we instill in our students the skills needed to fight standing, on the ground or in a situations not addressed in combat based sports.
We are very proud of the following students for attaining their Blue Belts

Steven Espinoza
Deanna Hendricksen
Jason Blank
Brandon Norris
Oscar Ponce
Rodrick Bush
Christian Aguilar
Two of our younger students attained their Jr. Blue Belts.
Do not let the “Jr.” in front of the Blue Belt mislead you.  The Jr. Blue Belt Test consisted of over 60 self defense techniques, 5 Katas, and 34 kicks.
The students who attained their Jr. Blue Belts are as follows
David Aranda
Jordan Marez

The May 14 & 15, 2011 Tribal Gathering was a weekend of great fights, great people and good times.  Fighters from throughout the USA, Canada and Germany participated.  Local clans like NOHO and Mark “Fu Dog” O’Dell and Mark “Beowolf” Houston of the TTM Moreno Valley clan were also there. 
To see the pictures click here.

Training in the Martial Arts involves in large part developing the ability to respond and negate various forms of aggression.  Participation in a Dog Brothers Gathering does this and more by providing the opportunity to test and explore our ability to think, act and function while in conflict induced stress.  A Dog Brothers Gathering is not for everyone, and it is not meant to be, but for those who have the interest it becomes an invaluable tool for tempering ourselves against the violence associated with combat.

I think Toki “C-Mighty Dog” Tokijkla said it best when he wrote, “It was an experience and test of ability, pain tolerance, learning, pushing yourself when you think you have nothing left. New friends of great respect were made. Many lessons learned. Thanks for a GREAT weekend Crafty Dog!”

Many in attendance ascended in the Dog Brother Clan, including our own Mark Houston, now known as Beauwolf.  A partial list posted by Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny is presented below;

Randall "Wolf Dog" Gregory
Mark "Beowolf" Houston
Rene "Growling Dog" Cocolo
Tyler "Dirty Dog" Morin
Heiko "Crossover Dog" Zauske
Detlef "Sinatra Dog" Theim

Chris "C-Lazy Dog" Goard
Patrick "C-Green Mountain Dog" Gagnon
Shawn "C- (TBA)" Zirger
Thomas "C-Gong Fu" Holtmann
Yutthana Toki C-"Mighty Dog" Tokijkla

"Dog" Roy Starr
"Dog" Don Rammel
"Dog" Terry Crutcher

Congratulations everyone and thank you for the bumps and bruises (especially to you Poi for the great whack to the back of the hand) and thank you Crafty for the opportunity!  We look forward to the Open Gathering later this year.

The "Gathering of the Pack” is an outgrowth of the organization called the Dog Brothers.  The Dog Brothers were founded over 25 years ago by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny (known as the guiding force of the organization), Eric “Top Dog” Knaus (the fighting force) and Arlin “Salty Dog” Sanford (the silent force). It was their desire to develop a way to test themselves in reality based settings that was to eventually become the event called “The Gathering of the Pack”.  Full contact stick-fighting and knife-fighting (using mock blades) is the primary focus of the event but, exploration and experimentation into other weapons as well as the use of improvised weapons is supported and encouraged.  To keep the focus of the event on the development and tempering of the individual Marc Denny repeatedly stresses to all those in attendance, participants and onlookers alike, the importance of fighting for personal achievement and not for trophies or ego.
The Dog Brothers have been featured in numerous martial art based magazines throughout the years with Marc Denny appearing more than once on the cover of Black Belt magazine and/or Inside Kung Fu.  Recently National Geographic devoted an episode to the Dog Brothers with its focus on what “The Gathering of the Pack” was all about. 
This year the event was held at Gokor Chivichyan’s spacious Hayastan MMA Academy in Los Angeles, Ca.  Forty-five fighters from throughout the USA, Canada and Europe participated in over 4 hours of fighting. 

Mark O’Dell, co-founder and instructor of THE TRAINING MAT, participated and logged in 3 stick fights and 1 knife fight.  Due to conflicting obligations Mark Houston was unable to fight this time around but was on hand to assist Mr. Denny as timekeeper.
Acceptance into the Dog Brothers is earned, to quote Mr. Denny, through “Conduct, Character and Balls”.  Through continued perseverance from one Gathering to the next those interested in being accepted into the Dog Brother tribe must first progress through an entry level position called a “Dog” and then to a “Candidate Dog Brother”.  If the Candidate Dog Brother demonstrates the character and toughness deemed acceptable by Mr. Denny then they are given a name and accepted into the tribe as a full fledge member.  Mark O’Dell is now recognized by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny and the Dog Brothers organization as Mark “Fu Dog” O’Dell.  Mark Houston is not far behind and is at the moment a Candidate Dog Brother.

We would like to thank all our students who helped us prepare for this event and who also gave up their Sunday to attend the Gathering and show their support.  We would also like to thank all the fighters who participated in the event for making this Gathering the positive learning experience that it was.  Thanks to Gokor Chivichyan for opening his doors to us and allowing us to use his gym.  Finally, we would like to thank Guro Crafty.  Without his vision and guidance the Gathering of the Pack may not continue to exist and an instrumental method of testing and tempering would have been lost.

Advanced Belt Tests

Blue Belt

The Blue Belt is the 4th Belt in our system and the first of the advanced belts.  The belts leading up to Blue Belt are used to mark important developmental stages.  The earlier belts represent a fundamental understanding of the basics with subsequent belts representing the further development of those basics and the progression to more advanced skills.  The Blue Belt is the culmination of all the material up to that point presented at an intensity level that rivals that of an actual fight.  The physicality of this belt requires 3 to 6 months of final preparation to ensure the students are at the necessary level of cardio vascular conditioning needed for this test.  Because of this we do not view the Blue Belt as a single day test but rather something they earn in part through the time they put in leading up to the day of their test.
The Blue Belt test is an intense hour long test consisting of self defense techniques (basic responses to common attacks),  forms (also known as Katas), and  kicks.  The students must also demonstrate striking skills (similar to kick-boxing), grappling techniques (from Catch Wrestling), the application of select self defense techniques on a partner and full contact sparring. 
It is our intent to instill in our students the ability to handle a conflict no matter where it takes them.  In this way our students have the skills needed to handle a fight whether it remains standing, goes to the ground or results in a situation not found in combat based sports.
We are very proud of the following students for attaining their Blue Belts
Mike Parr
Sean Quinn
Jonathan Hewlett
Alex O’Dell
Cole McKenney
John Gonzales

Green Belt

The Green Belt is the next belt after the blue.  In this belt the student must demonstrate a greater level of refinement and an acute attention to detail.  The use of weapons is also incorporated into this belt and as part of their test our students must demonstrate an understanding of how to use, and defend against, the Bo staff and fighting sticks.
The by-product of this level of refinement is enhanced speed, power and control.  One of the methods used to demonstrate this level of technical skill is through the “old school” method of board breaking.  To perform board breaking effectively requires the application of velocity, impact and technique.
We are very proud of the following students for attaining their Green Belts
Bill Simpson
Peggy Ninneman
Arturo Madrid
James O’Dell
Joseph Knotts
Michael Simpson

Brown Belt

There is a responsibility shift that occurs as a student progresses.  In the earlier parts of the system the bulk of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the instructors.  As a student progresses that responsibility gradually shifts onto the student.  Attaining the Brown Belt requires a commitment on the behalf of the student that only the student can make happen.  This is the belt where the tempering process for the Black Belt and beyond becomes more finely tuned towards the individual and the student must dig deep within themselves to push back physical and mental boundaries.  This is the belt where fortitude, perseverance, mental toughness is the focus.
This is a belt of personal achievement.  This test is not solely about the belt, it is about what is accomplished in the process and what the student learns about himself/herself that matters most.
With great pride we would like to congratulate the following students for attaining their Brown Belts
Steve Dayeen III
Katrina Houston

Grappling X

On Sunday, April 18th, the Training Mat competed at the Grappling X Tournament at Fight Lab, in Murrieta, CA.  It was a large event, so large that the event had to be split into 2 days.

Eric Norris got third place.  He won his matches via a Top Wrist Lock and via points, winning 4-0 after excellent leg riding and getting his hooks in.  TWL's and leg riding are staples of Catch Wrestling.

Troy Castro got second place.  Troy moved up a division and went against tougher competition.  Troy also competed up a weight against larger opponents.  Troy had a fantastic tap out via a Top Wrist Lock to reach the finals, where he fought hard but lost 2-0 on points.

Josh Minder, with only a few months experience, had a great showing.  He wrestled in four matches, and had just completed a beautiful double leg takedown when his knee slipped and he was forced to withdraw due to injury.  Josh displayed great wrestling skills, hitting two double leg takedowns, a head lock throw and two high singles, one a nice leg-between-the-legs pigeon toe single.  He also showed good mat skills, transitioning from a cradle to side control and mount.  He even hit a reversal while being mounted to send his first match into overtime.  Way to go, Josh!  You made us all proud of you and everyone there commented on how well you listened!

Ana Murcia also competed in a hard fought match which was 0-0 and went to overtime. Sadly, Ana dislocated her arm shortly into the overtime period and had to go to the emergency room for X-rays and treatment.  We wish Ana a swift recovery and hope that she is able to compete again soon.

Overall, our team did very well and well represented the Training Mat and Scientific Wrestling.

Catch-As-Catch-Can in the latest issue of Fight!

Here is an excerpt from ‘Fight!’ magazine.

“In the late 1990s, Yuko Miyato established the UWF Snake Pit in Tokyo, Japan, in order to keep the sport of real wrestling and catch-as-catch-can alive.  The head coach was Billy Robinson, a wrestling legend who trained at the original Snake Pit in England and who was widely feared and respected in the wrestling community.  At the UWF Snake Pit, Robinson trained MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba and current top-ranked heavyweight Josh Barnett.”

To read the full article Click Here.

Kali Tudo Seminar

Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny is one of the founders and "Guiding force" of an organization called The Dog Brothers and he is also the creater of a system of fighting called Kali Tudo. Guro Denny will be conducting regular seminars for the students of THE TRAINING MAT so check back with us later this summer.






To read more about Kali Tudo Click Here.
To see the pics from our March 29th seminar Click Here

Catch Wrestling Seminar

On January 23 and 24 Jesse Marez traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to train in Catch Wrestling with Jake Shannon and Billy Robinson.  Billy Robinson is a British professional wrestler and catch wrestling instructor who is well known in Japan where he has trained mixed martial arts fighters in catch wrestling. Robinson is also an outstanding amateur wrestler: he was the British National Wrestling Champion in 1957, and in 1958 he was the European Open Wrestling Champion in the light heavyweight class, beating an Olympic bronze medal winner in the finals.  Mr. Robinson has contributed immensely to the training of several mixed martial arts legends including Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett.

Jake Shannon is the founder of Scientific Wrestling and a leader in the movement to bring authentic Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling back to the fore front of grappling arts.  The training was an overwhelming success, as a group of 14 talented grapplers got together for 18 hours of training over two days.  There were Brazilian Ji Jitsu Black Belts, Nationally Ranked Greco Roman Wrestlers, Professional Wrestlers, Professional MMA Fighters and Professional MMA Trainers present.  TTM is proud to share the valuable lessons and experience with our students.

Richard Lee

As stated in the description of our system what we teach has its roots in traditional Chinese Kenpo.  Our particular branch of White Tiger Kenpo is commonly known as Bok Fu Do (Translated as: The way of the White Tiger).  Its genesis began over 50 years ago by Grandmaster Richard Lee.  Grandmaster Richard Lee is one of the highest ranking Kenpo masters in the US and the Vice President to the international Kuoshu Federation. To learn more about Grandmaster Richard Lee click here.

Mark O’Dell and Mark Houston attended a holiday demonstration/party hosted for underprivileged children by Grandmaster Richard Lee.   We would like to thank Grandmaster Richard Lee for his generosity, hospitality and time.

On Friday June 12, 2009 THE TRAINING MAT honored its outstanding students with a demonstration and banquet.  Over 240 friends, family and students turned out to help us recognize 25 outstanding students, 1 outstanding parent as well as our youngest students. To see the photos Click Here. Our Outstanding Students represent the character, loyalty, camaraderie and work ethic we wish to promote in all our students.  This is our way to acknowledge their hard work and hold them up as examples for others to follow.

Listed below are the names of our Outstanding Students from 2005 to 2009.  They are as follows;

Outstanding Students of 2005
Kirsten O’Dell 
Katrina Collins
James O’Dell
Don Hudson
David Dayeen

Outstanding Students of 2006
Bill Simpson
Arturo Madrid
Peggy Ninneman
Joseph Knotts
Steve Dayeen III

Outstanding Students of 2007
Michael Simpson
Jonathan Patterson
Troy Castro
Deion Doan
Charles Caballero

Outstanding Students of 2008
David Aranda
Regina Marie Hoskins
Michael Parr
Sean Quinn
Ana Murcia

Outstanding Students of 2009
Cole McKenney
Alexander O’Dell
Rodrick Bush
Judy Moore
Robert Nolan

Outstanding Parent of 2009
David Aranda

The staff of THE TRAINING MAT would like to thank all those who donated their time and energy to participate in our demonstration.  They are as follows;

Rodrick Bush                                  Troy Castro
Katrina Collins                                Deion Doan
Steve Dayeen III                      Regina Marie Hoskins
Ana Murcia                                     Jordan Marez
Robert Nolan                                   Kirsten O’Dell   
Jonathan Patterson                          Mike Parr
Michael Simpson                            Bill Simpson
Skyler Reider

Special thanks to Cynthia Marez, Kirsten O’Dell, Katrina Collins and David & Peggy Ninneman.  Without the encouragement, support and behind-the-scenes assistances from all of you the banquet would have not gone off nearly as well.  All of you have my most sincere gratitude.

Recent video added to the Media section

MinderLooking back into the archives we found a boxing match with Brittany Minder in 2007. We cleaned it up and added some detail. Check it out here.