Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a style specific to Filipino Martial Arts which contains hundreds of systems and varied styles. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali was founded in 1897 and is the system of the Tortal family. The sole heir and guardian of this system is Leo T. Gaje, Jr. who is referred to as theGrand Tuhon. Pekiti-Tirsia is a combat-oriented system, as opposed to sport-focused, style.

Pekiti-Tirsia’s movements are based on the traditional blade art of the Philippines – Kali, which involves slicing swords in a circular motion, symbolic of the orbits of the moon and theplanets. It also incorporated triangular movements symbolic of constellations. In ancient times, Kali was taught in rituals that were then used pragmatically to survive against adversaries and wild animals.[1]

The Muslim chieftains established a colony on KaliboAklan — this is sometimes cited as the origin of the name “Kali”. Another reason is that a practitioner of the art is trained in carrying a knife, which is called a “kalis“.[1]

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali specifically was a family system that goes back at least four generations, starting with Norberto Tortal. It was further developed and improved during the years 1930-36 by his grandson Conrado Tortal. Tortal was from Panay, the island that the chieftains from Borneo settled on when Kali came to the Philippines. The system is now headed by Leo Tortal Gaje Junior, the grandson of Conrado Tortal.[2]

Gaje introduced his system to North America after arriving in the US in 1972. His style earned recognition and respect from major martial arts organizations such as the Jewish Karate Federation, the United States Karate Association International, and the United States Karate Federation. His system has been an influence on the Dog Brothers, Dan Inosanto and other FMA practitioners. He has since brought the system to various European countries as well.

In 1995, Pekiti Tirsia International was formed in the US. In 1997, this organization went its own way.[3] It is currently headed by Tuhon Guro McGrath (President and Chief Instructor). Other Directors include Mataas na Guro Erwin Ballarta (Law Enforcement Director), Magino’o Dan Inosanto (North American Director), Sifu Manfred Steiner (European Director), Ralf Beckmann (Director for Germany), and Guro Roberto Bonomelli & Guro Attilio Acquistapace (Co-Directors for Italy).[4]

In 1996, Pekiti-Tirsia Europe Organization was formed, with Maginoo-Mandala Uli Weidle as Managing Director.[5]

In the year 1997 the Centennial Celebration for 100 years of Pekiti-Tirsia was celebrated in Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines last October 25, 1997. Pekiti-Tirsia was the only Filipino Martial Art officially recognized as having a centennial.

In 2003, Pekiti Tirsia Global was established.[6] PTGO National Directors include Leo T. Gaje, Jr. and 2nd Maginoo-Mandala Rommel Tortal in the Philippines, Maginoo-Mandala Timothy D. Waid in the United States, Mandala-Tuhon Philip Gelinas in Canada, and Maginoo-Mandala Uli Weidle in Europe.[7]

Pekiti-Tirsia is currently the only Kali system recognized by the Philippine government used to train Force-Recon Marine Battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Special Action Force (SAF) contingent of the Philippine National Police.



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