The Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a specific style of Filipino Martial Arts that was developed by the Tortal family. Pekiti-Tirsia is a visayan term which means “to cut in small pieces in close range”. This translation holds the style true to its name as the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a combat-oriented system (as opposed to sport-oriented) specializing in the close quarter range, and focus’ on edged and impact weapons such as (but not limited to) knives and machetes/swords.
This style, being a family system, can be traced back at least 4 generations, to Noberto Tortal (1897). It was further developed by Conrado Tortal during the 1930-36 and is now led by the current grandmaster, Grand Tuhon Leopoldo T. Gaje Jr of Bacolod City. Leo Gaje Jr was born in May 5th 1938 and started training at the very young age of 6 years old under the guidance of his grandfather Conrado Tortal.
Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje moved to New York City in 1972 where he taught his family martial art system and earned respect from major martial arts organizations such as the Jewish Karate Federation, the United States Karate Association International, and the United States Karate Federation. Being featured on the covers of top martial arts magazines and in documentaries, Grand Tuhon is also a member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and the Karate Hall of Fame.
The Pekiti-Tirsia foundation is in the “Doce Methodos”, the twelve methods or sub-systems, each having its set of techniques, drills and applications. When Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje introduced this system to the US, he would present a condensed set of 64 attacks, a succession of the PTK methods in a form, as a learning aid. Through the principle of the Triangle, the application of its footwork, striking ranges and tactical quartering, the Pekiti-Tirsia system has proved itself to be highly effective. This can be seen in 1979, when GT Gaje participated, with other grandmasters, in the First National Arnis Tournament in the Philippines. Tom Bisio, his student of 3 1/2 years, would go on to win the tournament. After this other students (such as Tuhon Philip “Sled Dog” Gelinas, winning the International Kali Grand Championship in Nashville TN, in 1988) would continue to prove the effectiveness of PTK, solidifying its reputation for footwork, speed and timing.
Gaining global praises and recognitions for its deadly applications, it is of no surprise that Pekiti-Tirsia has influenced prominent figures in the Martial Arts world such as Guro Dan Inosanto, Tuhon Bill McGrath, Tom Bisio, Tuhon Philip Gelinas, Edgar Sulite (of the Lameco Eskrima) Chris Sayoc (of Sayoc Kali) and many more. It has also been recognized by the Philippine government to be suitable to use as training for the Special Action Force (SAF) contingent of the Philippine National Police.
Even currently, Grand Tuhon and his organization continues to teach his system to martial artists, personal security, law enforcement and military forces around the world.
In the words of Guro Dan Inosanto: “In the field of strategic knife defense, the Pekiti Tirsia System of Kali is THE most progressive, practical and sophisticated system of tactical knife self-defense and edged weapon awareness that I have ever encountered.”