As many of you may know, the words on this shirt are the opening words of our "Real Contact Stickfighting" video series.
Here is the story behind them:
In the mid-1980s I was training with Paul Vunak. I incorporated PFS for him and, along with his then girlfriend Brenda, became his business partner. We received permission from Guro Inosanto to do what was to become the first JKD video. With a budget of $3,000 (in current numbers, the equivalent would be a much larger number , , , but I digress , , ,) we found a director via my sister-in-law Susie, who had been women's world wind-surfing champion and a swimming coach at the local high school. In this context she had been in charge of the people in the water in the background of shots in "Jaws III" where she had met a grip (or was it a gaffer?) fresh off of SEAL Team Six with visions of becoming a director some day, so our little project was perfect for him. Paul and he hit it off and so was made the connection for Paul with Team Six. (This same man later opened the door for Top Dog and I to work with this team. We brought Rigan Machado along with us.)
The video brought Paul to the attention of Panther Productions (1985? '86?) which was then THE dominant force in martial arts instructional videos and Paul did a six tape series for them (with Paul and I doing the edit) The series was a great success for Panther and so when I approached Panther 1987 about doing a series based upon Eric, I was given a green light.
We went in for the shoot and it was a disaster. Not only did Eric not have any experience teaching, it was only a month after Eric's mother had died of cancer and contrary to his protestations, he was not "fine" and it showed.
So Eric and I resolved to prepare thoroughly before going back in to the studio. This we did with him coming over to my house one or two times a week for about a year. I was a bachelor then and my living room was a quasi-gym and studio.
The beginning was the hardest part, because Eric was still searching for his "voice". This was because unlike most people who do instructional videos (DVDs now) he was not a teacher and lacked the experience explaining what he was doing. I would video his efforts and we would both be unsatisfied with the results. Sometimes I would pretend to be him while he videoed. Again, we would both be unsatisfied.
Finally one night it came to me. I was thinking of Eric's perennial rant about twiggy sticks, the lack of power, flowery movements that treated the stick as if it were a magic wand, the mere touch of with would drop the mightiest of opponents, and how what we did was not sword technique, it was stick technique.
For some reason I flashed on the scene in the movie "The Deer Hunter" where the band of friends goes deer hunting while drinking. Robert DeNiro's character fires his rifle unexpectedly and, their ears unprotected, his friends howl in protest. He turns to them, while holding up a round (perhaps a .308) and says several times to their befuddlement, "This is this."
So I put the two together and added some words based upon my readings in evolutionary psychology.
"This is this. It's not a sword. Its not a magic wand. It is a stick. Probably the first weapon- the first tool!-- that we picked up when we fell out of the trees."
Eric loved it right away. Combined with the man-ape footage from the movie 2001 and the footage of the two Surmese men (southwestern Ethiopia) stickfighting over a woman we the "voice" we were looking for. Once Eric had his sense of the voice with which he would be speaking, the rest of our work preparing Eric went quite smoothly and when we went into the studio, most of time only one take was necessary. With Eric's extraordinary performance and the fight and interview footage I edited in, so was born the "Real Contact Stickfighting" series that launched the Dog Brothers into public awareness.
The drawing is by Marlon "Red Dog" Boettger of Switzerland. For me it perfectly captures the "This is this" of primal man with a big stick incarnated as a Dog Brother. T-shirt is sold in grey.