Pekiti-Tirsia System of Kali

Blade-oriented Filipino Martial Arts

Pekiti-Tirsia kali is the core martial art taught at maelstrøm Martial Arts.  Instruction is offered by all of our instructors (or guros).

“Kali” – otherwise known as arnis or eskrima/escrima –  is a family of systems and styles, not a specific art, and can mean many things depending on the particular style of kali, and the particular instructor.  What they all share are deep roots in the weapon arts of the Philippines and South East Asia more generally.  While styles vary, the world-wide reputation of kali is founded primarily on its mastery of the blade and rattan stick.

Kali in general typically includes 12 different areas of application:

  • solo baston (single stick)
  • doble baston (double stick)
  • daga (knife)
  • espada y daga (knife and stick, shield and stick)
  • mano a mano (empty hand)
  • sikaran (kicking)
  • sibat (staff, spear)
  • dumog (grappling)
  • panyo (and other flexible weapons)
  • projectile weapons (archery, sling shot, spear)
  • meditation
  • hilot (healing)

Instructional emphasis at maelstrøm is on the first five weapons applications with some dumog, sikaran and panyo as time permits.  As Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a close range combat system, corto (short) range is emphasized, with medio and largo ranges and transitions between all three included.

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.

        Guro Dan Inosanto



Pekiti-Tirsia crest



The Pekiti-Tirsia System of Kali is famous as an in-fighting combat system.  Its name is roughly translated as to cut into small pieces, up close. It is primarily concerned with close quarters combat. It is well known for its knife (daga and doble daga), but also employs the traditional full-length stick, typically 28-30 inches in length.

It was founded in the Negros Occidental of the Visayan region of the Philippines. Today its tradition survives in the many students of the system, headed by Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, jr. of Bacolod City.   The Canadian director for PTK is Mandala Tuhon Philip Gelinas of Montreal. 

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is based on the the Doce Methodos. These are the 12 methods or sub-systems of the Pekiti-Tirsia System of Kali. Each is a distinct grouping of techniques and related application methods which represent the core principle of that sub-system.

A condensed form of 64 movements called the 64 Attacks illustrates many of those subsystems. They include abecederio, quatros cantos, dakup y punyo, etc. Most stick styles possess an 8 or 12 move attack form, but no other has such an extended form. Grand Tuhon Gaje developed this form as a learning aid, allowing beginners to access some measure of the body of knowledge that might otherwise be overwhelming.

The footwork of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali often distinguishes it from other styles.  At close range (or corto), the posture is similar to a cat stance with most movements executed from a coiled position, the body loaded to generate power from the abdomen instead of purely from the arms or shoulders.  In corto, there is neither the time nor the space to wind up for strikes so the body delivers the critical reaction and power advantage.

The diagram below shows the structure and the relationships between its components.



PTK System