Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a system of Kali, a style specific to the Filipino Martial Arts which contains hundreds of systems and varied styles. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali was founded in 1897 and is the family system of the Tortal family. The sole heir and guardian of this system is Leo T. Gaje, Jr. who is referred to as the Grand Tuhon.
Pekiti-Tirsia Kali was developed and improved during the years 1930-36 by Conrado Tortal. Tortal was from Panay, the island that the chieftains from Borneo settled on when Kali came to the Philippines. The Muslim chieftains established a colony on Kalibo, Aklan—this is sometimes cited as the origin of the name "Pekiti-Tirsia Kali" (which means "little cuts"). Another reason is that a practitioner of the art is trained in carrying a knife, which is called a "kalis".
All fighting ranges are integral parts of the Pekiti-Tirsia system, but special attention is given to close-quarter fighting. Pekiti Tirsia is about quartering the opponent, or 'cutting up into little pieces' total destruction with counter offence while not getting hit. Pekiti-Tirsia is a true martial art to defend your country, person or family, it is not a sport.
In traditional practice, Kali techniques—a ritual dance with sharp weapons—are performed at sunrise. The Kali student whose strengths are supposed to be drawn from the sun also directs his eyes towards it, and avoids blinking for as long as possible. He also accustoms himself to seeing sharp swords swinging towards him without fear.
Pekiti-Tirsia's movements are based on the traditional blade art of the Philippines—Kali, involving slicing swords in a circular motion, symbolic of the orbits of the moon and the planets. They also incorporate triangular movements symbolic of constellations. In ancient times, Kali was taught in rituals and were then used pragmatically to survive against adversaries and wild animals.
Pekiti-Tirsia Kali incorporates 5 main weapon categories (including the human body):
- Solo—Single stick, sword or spear
- Doble—Double stick or sword
- Espada y Daga—Sword and Dagger
- Daga y Daga—Knife to Knife
- Mano Mano—Hand to Hand
The Pekiti-Tirsia methodology originates from offensive and counter offensive principles against attacks from all ranges, angles and threat levels. There are no separate or specific defensive techniques as such, as the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali man is always seeking ways to end the conflict.