Is Dog Kung Fu An Actual Martial Art Style?

Dogs are considered the scrappers and survivors of the streets of everywhere from cities to desert towns. Does this mean that the style bearing their name is meant for bullies and thugs? Is it even a martial art that parents should consider or adult students study?

Dog Kung Fu is a structured martial art like many of the animal styles in the Chinese tradition. It is based on low striking techniques, ground striking, and Chin-na based grappling for defense against attacks. It also utilizes soft tissue attacks against vital areas.

Parents of little ninjas and adult students alike should look into the techniques taught and the perspective of the instructor of the class before studying any form of martial arts. Here I will detail issues that may concern parents and the points that each older student should consider. Let’s sniff out the truth behind Dog Kung Fu!

What Is Dog Style Kung Fu?

Though Dog style is a ground or low line based martial art, it is not really the same as Judo newaza or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ground based grappling. So, if it isn’t the same as a grappling style in the sport based sense, what is the ground focus of the Dog style Kung Fu about?

Dog Kung Fu style bases its techniques on a low line or ground based boxing format. Chin-na or Chinese style small and large joint manipulation style grappling is added to the mix, but controlling pins and positions are less stressed. Soft tissue attacks are also incorporated.

The system is meant for a self defense or military application rather than a sport environment where a curtailed set of techniques can be tested at full speed without causing permanent injury. Though there are plusses and minuses of a sport style, the techniques they employ are rigorously tested against resisting opponents.

Much of the non-sports based strategy in Dog Kung Fu relies on small joint manipulation and soft tissue attacks that can leave an adversary permanently injured in some way. Though this is not the entirety of the system, it is a large portion.

The other side to the art is its striking. The lower body kicks and hand striking from squatting or kneeling positions can resemble some sport MMA or cage fighting matches. Though even here, many of the targets are the eyes, throat, and groin.

Though this can be modified like many martial arts for children, it is unlikely that you will find a suitable instructor that has put forth the effort with so many other animal systems in place that are more readily adaptable for a family environment.

For adults, it should also be noted that this is not the same as wrestling, Judo, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. These arts are intent on controlling an opponent to the point of immobility and applying a joint lock or strangulation.

Though those techniques are available in Dog Kung Fu, the complete control of an opponent is not sought and transitional submissions and strikes are applied as positions flow from one to another.

All of this is to say that Dog Kung Fu is not simply another version of MMA or submission grappling. For better or worse it has a different focus, one that developed independently of these other styles.

To see an in depth look at animals in the martial arts, I recommend my article…

Is Dog Kung Fu A Rare Animal Style Of Martial Art?

The are many animal systems in the Kung Fu or Wushu arts. Some are more well known like Crane or Tiger style. Others like Bat, Spider, or Bear style are less so.

The Dog style of Kung Fu is a rarer sub-style martial art that tends to be an addition to other larger, more well known systems. Its low to the ground base makes it less popular with some students and less applicable in some situations. Finding it taught in stand alone form is difficult.

This doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of the concept. Though many styles of martial art tend to be more performance base than grounded in practical application, sometimes this hides a sound defense or fighting strategy.

The next two sections are primarily meant for adult students looking to study with a master in Dog style or simply wanting information. For parents with children interested in the martial arts, the Dog style will more than likely not be offered in your area, and if it is, reserved primarily for older teen to adult students.

The Case Of Dog Brothers Martial Arts

Though the Dog Brothers Martial Arts system is not in any way related to Dog Kung Fu, a strangely similar fighting style emerged from the decades of gatherings and no rules fights that took place. When large sticks and dull knives are thrown into the mix, a completely different focus immediately takes shape in the heat of a bout.

The DBMA (Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association) teaches a style that was born out of many of these bouts. It combines most every style that will work in this environment and adds the weapons systems of Kali (stick/baton art) and Pekiti Tersia (bladed art) as its base.

I learned something about the fighting perspective that students training in Dog Kung Fu profess fighting with the Dog Brothers.

One strategy that I developed with my years of fighting with Dog Brothers inc. (the fighting organization) was the hovering or squatting positions. This gave extreme advantage over a prone adversary. Not only was leverage gained for empty handed strikes, but weapons became extremely effective and hard to block.

This is a similar thing, though not exactly the same, as exists in the Dog style of Kung Fu.

I played with the different levels of squatting to standing and believed I had invented something new and innovative. I thought I had found a rare gem. It only took a quick look at history for me to realize how silly it was to try and ‘reinvent the wheel’.

For centuries standing or squatting over a downed opponent with a sword at the ready was considered ‘check mate’. From the ancient Babylonians to the Egyptians and on through the highly dominate Greeks and Romans, this position was known and practiced.

Though the particular style of Dog Kung Fu may be rare in itself, some of the techniques and positions within it have thousands of years of military history.

Dog Kung Fu And The Dominate Position

The position that either was inspired by fighting dogs or simply named after them in Dog Kung Fu is a fairly historical and successful position. Their position entails hand strikes from low, squatting, or kneeling stance, whereas ancient examples used swords, shields, and spears.

This is in no way to state that any instructor or student employing the techniques of this system will be proficient in practice or have even been taught by someone that has tested the theory in actual resistance based situations.

My purpose here is to note the historical dominance that the positions in the more rare Dog Kung Fu actually hold. Though this style may be rare today, some of its techniques have been time and battle tested.

Although empty hand striking without gaining control while on the ground may be less than optimal, any weapon added to the mix makes it a lethal combination.

Here it needs to be reiterated that this part of the discussion only applies to adult students. Parents are strongly advised against allowing military style tactics to be taught to children who naturally posses malformed consciences and minds.

Is Dog Kung Fu The Same As Wolf Kung Fu?

If there is then a Dog style Kung Fu, does it have any relation to Wolf Kung Fu? And does a variation called Wolf Kung Fu exist?

Wolf style is not the same as Dog Kung Fu. Where the Dog style is a systemized lower body and ground striking style, Wolf style is reported to be a group based strategy. Wolf style is not seen as an actual style by some and to others it is a non-traditional group fighting tactic.

Nevertheless, some schools have systemized technique groups and defense strategies based on the wolf. There are even some schools that claim their lineage traces back to Ancient China.

Like with many eclectic or niche styles, these claims have to be taken at face value. The worth of a style like Wolf Kung Fu would have to be tested by martial artists to verify for themselves its effectiveness. This has already been done by many in the martial arts community with more popular styles, but with these smaller ones it falls to the individual.

Can Dogs Actually Learn Kung Fu?

This type of meme, question, video, or comic tends to float around the internet frequently. There are some that are funny, some cute, and some not worth the time. But is it possible to teach a dog a martial style and philosophy like Kung Fu?

Though it is fun to watch dogs learn to mimic some movements, or interpret their actions in a human framework, dogs simply cannot learn Kung Fu. You can teach dogs some amazing tricks like riding a skateboard, but learning a reasoned response with human action to a threat is not possible.

Sure you can call the dog’s natural attacking instinct with its biting and pouncing what you like. You can even term it Dog style Kung Fu. Yet, what the ordinary person asking this question really means by it is, “Can a dog do human style Kung Fu movements and strategies?”

To this the answer is, “no”.

That is not to say that this concept hasn’t made it into the world of fantasy. There are many dogs in movies and TV series that have captivated young minds for decades. Let’s take a look at a few.

The Kung Fu Dog In Movies And Television Series

I for one love to watch old ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’ that are now available to buy or rent. There are even some newer ones that I and my adult children like to watch together that remind them of their childhood days. There are a couple of these that have featured a Kung Fu dog.

The two more popular Kung Fu Dogs that appear in kids cartoons and movies come from the 1974 animated cartoon series, Hong Kong Phooey and the 2019 martial arts children’s animated movie, Kung Fu Dog. There are other notable mentions as well like Scooby Doo fighting a mummy wearing a Karategi.

Let’s look a little closer at these Kung Fu Dogs and their stories…

Kung Fu Dog: Hong Kong Phooey

In 1974 the ABC television network debut William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s children’s animated cartoon series featuring a Kung Fu Dog. Hong Kong Phooey ran for one season and featured the mild mannered janitor, who happened to be a dog, that became a crime fighter who was “quicker than the human eye.”

I saw the series as syndicated reruns from 1978 to 1981. With my already peaked interest in the martial arts, it was right up my alley. Though I though every episode was too short and it was a tragedy that it lasted for only one season, to this day I still hear the theme song in my head from time to time.

The Kung Fu practiced by the character in the movie were not particularly inspired by any one Kung Fu school or system. It was a comedic homage paid to the animal systems of Kung Fu as a whole. Even though the style was not specified as Dog style Kung Fu, he was a Kung Fu Dog nonetheless.

To check out all of the groovy Kung Fu canine action, get your copy of Hong Kong Phooey here at Amazon.

Kung Fu Dog – The Movie

The lesser know 2019 film with a noticeably smaller budget than others also featured a Kung Fu Dog. The title bears the same name and was made for younger children.

The story centers around the chosen one trope and features a young boy as the main character. The Kung Fu Dog of the story is the villain that has stolen an ancient artifact. The boy with his side kick bunny must reclaim the treasure and defeat the Kung Fu Dog.

The Dog Kung Fu Takeaway…

The styles that make up the animal systems of Kung Fu are numerous and extremely varied. It is natural that a Dog style came about in history. I would caution anyone that claims that any style definitively coined a specific technique or strategy.

Most all movements and focuses in the martial arts have emerged and disappeared many times only to be ‘rediscovered’ later under a new name. The movements in the Dog style do point back to effective techniques in history, though their application in this system must be evaluated by each student contemplating its study.

Whatever you choose, there is usually some good knowledge within. The trick is finding it and using it in the way it was intended.

Learn more about how animals have influence the martial arts with my article here…

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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