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About Pekiti Tirsia Kali

Pekiti pekitii : to get in close (Ilonggo)
Tirsia tir=siy : to quarter (Latin)

Pekiti Tirsia means to close in with the purpose of quartering the opponent through multiple combinations of offensive attacks, leaving no chance of escape

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (PTK) is a highly effective close-quarters fighting art indigenous to the Visayan region of the Philippines.

Based on tactics and strategies derived from edged weapons, it is a complete system incorporating both weapons and empty hands methods. Designed for both single and multiple attackers, it is an ancient art that has evolved to stay relevant for modern combat and self-defense scenarios.

PTK is proven effective in combat and invaluable for preparing Operators of the law enforcement and military community. In the country of origin, it has become the basis for the official combatives programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police. Internationally, it has been taught to thousands of police and military Special Operations personnel in the United States, Europe, India, Russia and across Asia.


Officially founded in 1897 by Grand Master Conrado Tortal. Pekiti-Tirsia was reserved in secret as a family system to defend the Tortal land until the art was brought to the U.S. in 1972 by Grand Master Leo Tortal Gaje Jr., the grandson of Conrado Tortal and heir to the System. Since then, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali has expanded worldwide and influenced the creation of dozens of off-shoot combat systems.

Source: Pekiti Tirsia Tactical Association

History of Pekiti Tirsia:
as told by Grandtuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr.
Pekiti-Tirsia is a family system under my Grandfather's technical management had brought a in-depth structure of discipline in the true indigenous traditional fighting system known to the Philippines. It was a secret system only dedicated to the Tortal family that originated from Tigbawan in the Island of Panay. Due to the transmigration movement of the people of Panay, the head of the family Segundo Tortal, the father of my Grandfather the late Supreme Grandmaster Conrado B. Tortal with his brothers Balbino, Teodorico and Francisco had settled in the town of Talisay, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Negros had flat lands and few valleys and mountains; ideal for sugar cane plantations. The Tortal family had one common principle and that the unity of family must be strongly maintained, and that since they were not members of the rich icons of Negros, they relied on family land of about 24 hectares (1 hectare is equal to 2.47 acres) in Conception, Talisay.  The growing family relied on this land for support through little farming and gardening.


It was during those times that the domination of the rich families managed to occupy vast track of lands with the point of a finger; the rich can point his finger and tell every one living in the territory close to his land, which was as far as his eyes can see, “that is my land and all that lives within the site of my finger must vacate”. About twenty families were told to vacate the area but not the Tortal family. My Grandfather together with his brothers with the ginuntings stood on the corners of the land and told the administrator to “get out or else we will chop all of you to pieces”.  With a truckload of men, the administrator left and reported to the rich Haciendero what took place. Out of fear, the Haciendero offered my Grandfather the position of administrator in an area of hundred hectares and a contractor for roads and bridges going to all the haciendas. The only family that remains in that area is the Tortal family.

(via Maelstrom Core)

The Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system is one of the few remaining authentic and complete Filipino combat systems in existence today. Pekiti-Tirsia is system and technology of combat fighting with the Blade. It encompasses all traditional weapon categories and is formulated on the strategic principle of the Triangle. The triangle serves as the basis for footwork, striking, and the tactical principles of close quarters combat.

The Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali originated in the provinces of Panay and Negros Occidental in the Philippines and was formulated and perfected by the Tortal family. The family patriarch and Grandmaster of Pekiti-Tirsia, Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal, passed this system and its attributes onto his only grandson, the sole heir and its present guardian, Grand Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje, Jr.

Pekiti-Tirsia is a traditional family system of Filipino martial art that traces its existence back to a time and era when carry and use of the bladed weapon was common and required among most men. Oral history of the Tortal family testifies to four generations practicing the family system of Pekiti-Tirsia. Norberto Tortal taught the system to his son Segundino Tortal. Segundino taught his five sons; Balbino, Tedoricio, Francisco, Quirino, and Conrado. Of the five brothers, Conrado was chosen as inheritor of the system with Balbino as one of his principal training partners. Balbino was later shot and killed by Japanese soldiers in the area of Barangay Conception, Talisay, Negros Occidental, in 1945 after disarming a Japanese officer of his samurai sword and killing two soldiers who attempted to bayonet him.

These generations of Tortal family leaders utilized the laboratory method of research and testing of combat Bladefighting tactics and techniques. Through friendly instructional exchanges, sparring duels with other recognized family and system leaders, and direct combat resulting in the death of the enemy, the system of Pekiti-Tirsia was continually trained, executed, and validated.

Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal or “Tay Dadoy” as he was popularly known, was a highly respected man in the western Visayas and northern Mindanao regions of the Philippine Islands. Born in 1897 in Tigbawan, province of Iloilo, Panay, the Tortal’s later emigrated to Negros Occidental where they owned and cultivated several agricultural properties. As was common for the time, Tay Dadoy was fluent in English, Spanish, and his native dialect Illongo, as well as Cebuano and other regional dialects of northern Mindanao where he travelled for commerce and as a Christian Missionary. Grand Tuhon Tortal later served as the first Chief of Police of Victorias, home of the largest Sugar Central (Mill) in Negros Occidental with a reputation as a strict disciplinarian yet compassionate mediator. Tay Dadoy’s expertise in the Filipino Fighting Arts was well known and recognized through several encounters such as his public defeat of two of the Lizares brothers, a prominent political ruling family from Talisay, Negros Occidental, in 1928. After attempting to take control of a Tortal property, Conrado, with hardwood Espada y Daga engaged both the Lizares brothers armed with Bolo’s and disarmed them by direct strikes to the hand and body yet spared their lives. In 1933 Conrado Tortal defeated Tansiong Padilla, authority for the Aldobon style from Panay, in a highly publicized duel arranged by the mayor of Bago, Negros Occidental.

In 1938 in Legaspi, Albay, Grand Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje was born to Feliza G. Tortal (the daughter and only child of Conrado Tortal) and Leopoldo P. Gaje, Sr. Shortly after his birth and the subsequent death of his twin sister and his mother Feliza, Leo was taken into custody and raised by his grandfather Conrado. From the age of six years old Leo was trained in the system of Pekiti-Tirsia. From the ages six to nine he was trained exclusively in footwork. Daily he was placed on top a wooden table with Conrado striking at his feet as he mastered the strategic maneuvering patterns that remain one of the signatures of the Pekiti-Tirsia system. Leo was then trained in the Doce Methodos, Contradas, and other advanced combat methods twice a day beginning in the mornings before school and continuing late into the evening throughout his secondary, high school, and college studies.

At the passing of Tay Dadoy, Leo Tortal Gaje, Jr. inherited the treasure and legacy of Pekiti-Tirsia. At this time, family combat systems in the Philippines were closed to only those that shared genetic history and chosen for their discipline to keep and protect the family secrets. For the next decade Tuhon Gaje kept this promise and soon entered business where he served as President of the Confederation of Free Trade Workers Union and Executive Vice-President of the Bataan Free Trade Zone Industrial Development Corporation. Here he trained his own Security Forces for the escort of cash funds, trained Bodyguards and Protective Teams for local and provincial politicians, and, in his own words “my wrecking crew” of confidants that provided his personal security.

In 1972, Tuhon Gaje emigrated to the United States of America and settled in New York City. Upon seeing the popularity of the martial arts sweeping America at the time, he envisioned the success of Filipino martial arts and recognition of the cultural and martial achievements of the Filipino people through the superiority of its combat systems. In keeping with the philosophy of the Pekiti-Tirsia system and its belief in Life, Health, and Success, Tuhon Gaje opened the door of knowledge to a select few of advanced Black Belt students and embarked to offer to the world, those that persevere, the mastery process of Kali.

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