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The Philippines has a tradition of combat that spans centuries, and from this came hundreds of martial art systems. However, blade culture stays the focus of training—its origins can be traced back to 2,000 years. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is the system of martial arts belonging to the Tortal family, which comes from the western Visayas region of the Philippines. They created the system in 1897. The Tortal family has vowed to guard this cultural artifact.

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is an authentic and comprehensive Filipino combat system. It is the only system that is used in training by the Philippine government, the US military, Special Forces Groups in India and Austria, and many other military and law enforcement authorities around the world. The marine force recon batallions of the Philippine armed forces, the Scout Rangers of  the Philippine army, the Special Action Forces (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were trained in in Pekiti-Tirsia Kali.


Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a comprehensive combat system against one or multiple opponents. Its specialization lies in  tactical weapon use and handling. It includes both traditional and modern weapon categories and employs the strategic principle of the triangle as its basis for footwork, weapon use, and fighting tactics. As such, it offers an all-encompassing concept in which weapons can be implemented from all distances. It doesn't matter if that means avoiding the opponent's weapon, destroying it, or controlling it—the system has proven itself  an effective tool to act in all sorts of dangerous situations.



Pekiti-Tirsia Kali deals with the circumstances and conditions of combat and battle analytically and takes into consideration the natural, tangible, and functionally correct human characteristics and capabilities. As successful battle is always waged with the goal of causing an imbalance in power, weapons are consistently the focus of training—after all, they pose the greatest danger and offer the most usefulness at the same time. 

Combat strategies and tactics have been developed alongside aspects of movement that adapt to the mechanics of impact, the flow of movement, and the properties of the respective weapon. It doesn't matter if it's a cutting, stabbing, impact, or thrusting weapon—or even no weapon at all—the principles of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali can be seamlessly transferred to all areas and distances. As such, tactical manipulations and applications to the human body always aim for anatomical weak points and make it possible to subdue stronger opponents.


As Pekiti-Tirsia Kali can be an utmost effective and lethal form of martial arts, the moral framework in which it is embedded is entirely dedicated to the well-being of one's family as well as the protection of life. The sense of responsibility that comes with the skills you learn is accompanied by a positive, optimistic attitude that manifests itself in a culture of respect, care, and hospitality.



We believe in life; we do not believe in death. Our belief in life is our highest imperative and permeates all aspects of our being.

We believe in health; we do not believe in sickness. Health and longetivity are our primary goals.

We believe in success; we do not believe in failure. With each action, we commit ourselves to achieving success.


Respect: We believe in life; therefore, we respect the lives of others.

Concern and care: This is the result of respecting others.

Hospitality: The combination of respect, concern, and care leads to hospitality for others.


PEKITI-TIRSIA: Pekiti is translated as "face to face," and Tirsia means "to drive into a corner and cut up." In other words, Pekiti describes the manner of using distance in fights to one's advantage to get closer to the opponent and end the confrontation. Tirsia describes the offensive nature of the system. It is based on the strategic principle of controlling the opponent through tactical movements and impact. Furthermore, Tirsia symbolizes the triangle, which builds the foundation for movements, body structure, and strikingmechanisms.

Kali describes old Philippine fighting methods. The term expresses the orientation towards blades—in other words, that all hand and body movements are geared towards using a blade. Originally, knowledge of the combat systems of Kali was kept a secret. It was only imparted within the family to protect themselves and others from oppressors. KA and LI are sounds rooted in indigenous Philippine languages and writing systems and are written in Baybayin as the following: Ka Li



As a traditional Philippine family system, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali throws us back to a time where carrying and using weapons were common and required for men. The Tortal family perfected their combat system over the course of generations. They kept on developing the tactics and techniques of their Kali systematically and tested it out in real-life fights for survival. Through amicable mutual lessons, sparring duels with other accredited family and system leaders, and full-on fights that led to the death of the enemy, the system of Pekiti-Tirsia was continually trained, performed, and validated.

The oral tradition of the Tortal family bore witness to four generations that practiced 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 the heir to the system, while Balbino was one of his most important training partners. Balbino was shot to death by Japanese soldiers in Barangay Conception, Talisay, Negros Occidental in 1945 after he had disarmed a Japanese officer of his samurai sword and killed two soldiers who had tried to spear him with a bayonett.

As the patriarch of his family, Conrado B. Tortal handed this system down to his only grandson—the sole heir and representative, Grand Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje Jr. 


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About Grandmaster Grand Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje Jr.