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"Kali, the original martial art of the Philippines in its truest form, is an art of combat based on the science of strategy and tactics. The fighting methods can be traced back to ancient times based on its historical and cultural developments, yet the techniques will always be so advanced that its fighting values will always remain timeless." - Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr

This description of Kali from Grand Tuhon himself offers profound insight, from the founding principles all the way to its modern applications.



Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is known for being the best system for close combat. Since the Pekiti-Tirsia program was incorporated into the Philippine military in 1998, the Force Recon Marines, US Special Forces, and other combat weapon units have been trained in the discipline. The superiority of Philippine combat technology has been acknowledged and adopted by trainers and commanders of US forces.

Currently, Grand Tuhon is the leading advisor of the armed forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. He implements programs for further education that are geared towards operative units taking part in the global war against terrorism.
Over time, Grand Tuhon has trained and impacted thousands of martial artists, some of which have moved on to develop their own styles. Some of his students included Edgar Sulite, Dan Inosanto, and Chris Sayoc, among many others. Grand Tuhon is, as ever, the leading authority for Philippine martial arts worldwide. His name is synonymous with the sharpness of a blade; as such, he has been given the title of Sword Master.

Although Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is not designed to be a tournament sport, it has proven itself to be effective in the arena. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali has produced many national and international champions in full-contact stick fighting, such as the Grand Champion of the first National Arnis Tournament (Kali, Eskrima), which was held in the Philippines in 1979. 
In the category Real Contact Stick Fighting—which is stick fighting with minimal to no protective gear—Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and its fighters are seen in high regard. Eric Knaus ("Top Dog"), a student of Grand Tuhon, was the founder of the Dog Brothers, which has since then become well known worldwide.


THE 1970s

In 1972, Grand Tuhon emigrated to the United States from the Philippines and settled in New York. In accordance with his philosophy on Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and his belief in life, health, and success, Grand Tuhon decided to share his knowledge and began teaching Pekiti-Tirsia Kali in New York. 

He became a worldwide leader in promoting and imparting authentic Philippine martial arts. He did not only teach those passionate about martial arts but also members of a wide range of military and law prosecution careers. In the 1970s, he was the leading Filipino martial arts master in the eastern United States. To this day, he still works with the highest levels of the Philippine government to promote, acknowledge, and protect the cultural heritage of the Philippine martial art.

Grand Tuhon was the first to make Philippine martial arts accessible to a wide audience by organizing and implementing large-scale advertisement campaigns and demonstrations on the East Coast of the US, in places such as the Lincoln Center in New York. He also organized the first public demonstration of Philippine full-contact stick fighting in the Playboy Club in New Jersey. He was the first to open a Philippine martial arts school in the Philippine Consulate in New York City, and as the first, he promoted the Philippine martial art to other national organizations of the discipline.

In 1979, Grand Tuhon—along with other grandmasters—was the main organizer of the first national Arnis (Kali) tournament in the Philippines.

THE 1980s

In the 80s, the first generation of Pekiti-Tirsia students and instructors dominated the full-contact stick fighting tournament scene in the US.

Grand Tuhon was the first to introduce the Philippine martial art to the New York Police Department (NYPD) as well as the first to develop and implement a training program for the NYPD. Building on the work of these programs, Grand Tuhon developed the "Safety Baton System," the first defensive tactical weapon system for security authorities that both maximizes the physical integrity of the offender and reduces the consequent risk of liability for the authorities. This happened at a time when security authorities were trained in combat systems that overwhelmingly aimed to attack vital regions of the body. This often led to significant liability claims against police officers and departments. Dr. Kevin Parsons, Exec., the director of the US Justice System Association, stated that the Safety Baton System is "without question the most dynamic, innovative, and certainly the most effective system that I have had the opportunity to examine in almost 20 years of educating police officers."

Grand Tuhon was later promoted to national instruction director of the Justice System Training Association and the US Police Defensive Tactics Association, which led to his position as technical consultant and his appearance in the video "SURVIVING EDGED WEAPONS" from Calibre Press in 1988.
This highly acclaimed video reinforced threats from blade weapons in law enforcement institutions and established Gran Tuhon as the leading authority in weapons defense tactics.

THE 1990s

Since the 90s, Gran Tuhon has been the leading representative of authentic weapon martial arts of hte Philippines.

Since the 90s, he has trained thousands of students all over the world. Through numerous appearances in radio, television, and print media as well as his participation in demonstrations, festivals, and tournaments worldwide, he has become the leading voice in indigenous Philippine martial arts. For his contribution to the worldwide promotion and fostering of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and Philippine martial arts, he is not only appreciated by martial artists all over the world but also by the Philippine government. He received—among others—a distinction from the office of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for spreading and promoting awareness of Philippine martial arts worldwide.

He has taught Pekiti-Tirsia Kali in 25 countries all over the world. His contribution to the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) community is unprecedented and makes him one of the greatest living legends of our time.
Pekiti-Tirsia Kali arms students with such effective techniques for using weapons and blades that is is utilized by military and law enforcement authorities all over the world, such as Special Forces in the US, India, Austria, and the Philippines.

As the highest grandmaster and representative of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, Gran Tuhon is the three-time award winner in the Hall of Fame and Weapon Master Instructor in the entire world.

Everything you need to know about our training concept

More background knowledge on Pekiti-Tirsia Kali

More background knowledge on Qigong and Tai Chi


Our head trainer
Tuhon Dipita Schäfer

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