The Authentic System of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali

by Tuhon Tim Waid

The Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali remains today one of the most comprehensive and advanced Filipino combat systems ever developed.  Pekiti-Tirsia encompasses every form of individual combat weaponry employed from the principal bladed weapons of ancient times to advanced firearms of the modern day.

The authentic and complete system of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is comprised of three systems. One (1) the Doce Methodos, or twelve methods of Pasugat, two (2) the Contradas, comprised of the Contradas, Recontras and Recontradas of Pasunod, and, three (3) the Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos.

The foundation or nucleus of Pekiti-Tirsia is the Doce Methodos of Solo Baston/Kalis.  Doce Methodos defines the full spectrum of striking methods, applications, and capabilities of the long bladed weapon.

These methods address:

1. Angles of attack

2. Targeting / target areas

3. Counter-offense to different angular attacks

4. Attacks according to weaponry employed

5. Attacks according to range

6. Attacks according to weapon manipulation

The Doce Methodos address combat from the strategic principle of Contact or Pasugat.  Every combat method, principle, tactic, and technique can be classified under the principles of Pasugat or Pasonod.  The definition of these principles are simple yet the tactical definitions are precise and extensive.

Strategically, the Doce Methodos serves as the guide for the use of all other weapon categories.  Once the Doce Methodos is thoroughly understood through the single blade then the Doce Methodos transfers to all weapon categories.  This is possible because bladed weapon principles transfer to impact weapons and larger or longer weapons principles transfer to smaller or shorter weapons.  As shown in the diagram, the methods transfer directly to Doble Baston and Daga y Daga and to the auxiliary systems of the Bankaw and Malayo Sibat.  Espada y Daga, the most sophisticated weapon category, is learned from the combined Doce Methodos of Solo Blade and Daga y Daga and then executed with the combination Espada y Daga. The structure diagram further shows that Mano y Mano/Pangamut/Dumog or empty hands combative strategy and tactics are derived directly from the knife to knife system and not Solo Baston, Doble Baston or Espada y Daga.  The strategic reasoning for the structure is simple.  Knife to Knife close-quarters tactics and techniques involves the primary principle of tapping or forearm to forearm contact in the application of direct destructions, counter-offense, and recounter-offense – the same limb to limb contact and application as in empty-hands combat.  Solo Baston, Doble Baston, and Espada y Daga have no such contact applications except at extreme close quarters range where the techniques have likewise knife applications (example: Solo Baston Sagang Labo to Pakal knife).  Empty hands technique can be taught from the basis of solo or doble baston, although it is not the most strategic or practical method.  Flexible weapons, Projectile weapons, and modern firearms tactical applications are further extrapolated from the Daga y Daga and Mano y Mano/Pangamut systems with the tapping methods serving as the basis for the employment of these weapons.

Many other Filipino martial arts or styles structure their counter and recounter technique from the scheme of the Abecedario with twelve (12) attacks (average) then twelve (12) counters, recounters, disarms and other continuing technique. This limited structure addresses specific angular attacks to specific areas of the body.  Pekiti-Tirsia classifies specific attacks according to form and function. The Abecedario of Pekiti-Tirsia not only includes diagonal, horizontal, and vertical slashes (the only true angular classifications) and the three principle thrusts with the long blade, but more importantly specific target areas identifying anatomically vulnerable areas of the human body for disabling or fatal strikes.  Furthermore, the methods that teach counter-offense do not use the Abecedario as the specific reference scheme but again addresses counter-offense through the classification of its form and function (diagonal, horizontal, and vertical slashes and thrusts) and instructs how to execute the counter offense and protect the entire body instead of one specific point.  Each of the Doce Methodos has been scientifically developed whereby each method identifies and classifies a specific combat strategy – combative plan or principle and accompanying tactics, techniques and skills of execution.

The process for understanding the Doce Methodos is to first understand precisely the translation and definition of the title of each method.  For example, in the method of Dakup y Punyo, Dakup (also spelled Dakop) literally means “to catch.”   If one examines the exact strikes and movements of this drill, the fighter that delivers the #5 thrust is countered by a lower counter-offense back of the blade Payong (umbrella) which then is instantly turned in to a backhand punyo to the bridge of the eyes.  The first fighter then counters this back-hand punyo with his third hand by Dakup / tapping (catching between the forefinger and the thumb, palm down) the opponent’s wrist or forearm at any point of delivery.     He then delivers a forehand punyo to the opponent’s temple or bridge.  The opponent then “catches” the horizontal punyo with the same hand and weapon position as window or position 4 of angle 1 in Pekiti Disarma.  These are the first counters taught in this drill, yet Dakup tactics and techniques later include the full applications of striking, tapping, trapping, locking, disarming, throwing, and grappling.  One can now understand the essence of this drill is the method of attacking with, and countering, close quarters horizontal forehand and backhand punyo attacks.  Additionally, the application of principles, tactics, and techniques from the previous Abecedario, Quatro Cantos (Four Wall counter-offense), and Payong (Umbrella counter-offense) methods are all applied when the #8 and #9 thrusts are added to the drill.

To advance within the Doce Methodos we move to the eleventh method of Pekiti-Pekiti. Pekiti-Pekiti is defined as extreme close-quarters range where the principle weapons are the punyo and the witik along with all of the natural weapons of the body.   “Pekiti” alone can identify close quarter slashing and thrusting attacks, where as Pekiti-Pekiti is even closer.  The principle drill of this method is Sagang Labo, Labo Sagang.

Sagang Labo = Counter-offense and Strike

Labo sagang = Strike and Counter-offense

sa                 = at

Sera Sera      = Close, Close (extreme close-quarters range)

Sagang Labo, Labo Sagang identifies the principles of the simultaneous offense and counter-offense.  This strategic principle is executed in the diagonal and vertical punyo strikes of the Sagang Labo drill. After the counter for counter punyo applications are learned the witik strikes are added.  These defined attacks of Pekiti-Pekiti, diagonal and vertical punyos and witiks, not slashes and thrusts, are executed at this extreme close quarters range.  Furthermore, this method and drill includes the full application of tapping, trapping, locking, breaking, choking, takedowns and throws utilizing the third hand and the long blade/baston as a controlling lever once the opponent has been hit and disabled.  Sagang Labo also introduces the Sikaran system of low line kicking, stomping, trapping, and sweeping.  Obviously, this method presents the key to the close quarter applications of Pakal Daga y Daga.  Lastly, Sera Sera identifies the strategic combination of the principles of the punyo with the long blade/baston and the daga that are applied within Epada y Daga combat.

The tactics and techniques that comprise each method are not listed in numerically finite form but are rooted in the principles of the primary attacks within each combative drill. Once the fighter knows and understands these principles structured in the proper order of progression, they serve as the keys to unlimited technique magnification.  This is truly one of the “secrets” of the Filipino martial arts.  If the fighter comes to a full and complete understanding of the methods and their principles, then the techniques will always be applied with the proper tactical execution.


The Doce Methodos of the Pekiti-Tirsia system are:

1. Abecedario

2. Quatro Cantos

3. Payong

4. Dakup y Punyo

5. Tirsia Corto

6. Tirsia Largo

7. Panastas/Sungkete

8. Orassan

9. Florete/Echekete

10. Pekiti-Disarma

11. Pekiti-Pekiti

12. Seguidas

Each method and the components of each method are aligned in the correct instructional process according to timing, range, and engagement of the opponent’s weapon.  The Doce Methodos begins with basic angular attacks and target areas.  Next are introduced counter-offense methods against all angular attacks.  The remaining methods are all attacks based upon range and weapon manipulation.

The Footwork system of Pekiti-Tirsia is entirely separate and taught first before the Doce Methodos.  Following the traditional and correct instructional sequence, each method has advanced footwork techniques and is where the strategic combination of striking technique and footwork for quartering is presented.

Each method not only identifies what each specific strategy and tactical technique is by title by answers the investigative questions.

How – The physical execution of techniques are contained in short solo forms or two man drills

When – The timing of offensive and counter-offensive tactics and techniques and variations of timing.

Methods 1-4 Behind Timing

Methods 5-6 Equal and Ahead Timing

Methods 7-12 Ahead Timing

Advanced Methods 1-12 All Methods executed Behind, Equal, and Ahead Timing

Where – Designates the range for technique execution and the fighters’ position in relation to the opponent(s) and his weapon.

Methods 1-4 Close-Quarters

Method 5 Corto – Strike to the Weapon and Body

Methods 6 Largo – Strike to the Hand Only

Method 7 Largo to Corto

Method 8 Corto to Largo

Method 9 Largo to Corto

Method 10 Corto

Method 11 Extreme Close-Quarters – Punyo and Witik Attacks Only

Method 12 Largo to Corto

Why – Why the execution of each technique contains the components of all combative tactical applications of:

1. Self protection

2. Neutralization of the opponent’s weapons

3. Direct offense or Counter-offense

History and Formulization

The system of Pekiti-Tirsia, including the Doce Methodos, Contradas, and other advanced methods, were directly taught to Grand Tuhon Gaje by his grandfather Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal.  A system as scientifically developed and structured as such (a progress that evolved over hundred of years from the experience of many combat encounters and during a time when the blade was the principle individual weapon, unlike today) cannot be “improved” or “modernized” but can be magnified.  This has been defined earlier by Grand Tuhon Gaje by his statement “Kali, the original martial art of the Philippines in its truest form, is a systematic art of combat fighting based on the science of strategy and tactics. The fighting methods are ancient from its historical and cultural developments, yet the techniques are forever ultra advanced that its fighting values always remain new.”

The best example of a magnification of the system is Grand Tuhon Gaje’s development of the Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Safety System.  This system was specifically formulated for the employment of modern law enforcement Use of Force tools (Baton, Flashlight, Handcuffs, Firearms and other control tools) together with physical skills (Empty-Hands control methods and Edged Weapon Awareness/Strategic Knife Defense) according to the legal environment that officers must work in.

The first system Grand Tuhon Gaje used to introduce Pekiti-Tirsia was the 64 Attacks.  The 64 Attacks system is a composite of the Doce Methodos that gives the student and fighter the essential skills for combat that includes drills for all ranges of combat (see Origins of 64 Attacks diagram).  The Doce Methodos is a rather large system in overall content and was not an appropriate format for commercial introductory instruction in the early 70’s.  At the time when Grand Tuhon Gaje was a pioneer in the teaching of the Filipino martial art across the U.S. he knew the system has to be presented in a complete but condensed form.  The 64 attacks accomplished this task.  The majority of Grand Tuhon’s students were Black Belts from other styles and the 64 Attacks was a common “bridge” for instruction.   After the 64 Attacks, Grand Tuhon Gaje did teach components of the other methods such as the Florete technique, Pekiti-Disarma system, Sagang Labo drill, and the Seguidas sets.

The Advanced Systems: Contradas and Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos

The advanced systems of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali introduce the fighter to advanced strategy and tactics of blade to blade combat.    After completion of the foundation system Doce Methodos, the practicioner has accumulated a comprehensive understanding of the system and the capabilities of all weapon categories.  This point of progression within the system of Pekiti-Tirsia is represented at the center of a diamond.  The systems of Contradas and Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos streamline this knowledge into it’s simplest yet most advanced form.

The advanced strategies of Contradas are direct counter-offense and the application of the Pasunod.  As Pasugat or contact is the central principle in the Doce Methodos, Pasunod is the central principle in the Contradas system.  The Contradas system includes the systems of Contradas, Recontras, Recontradas, and advanced combat methods such as the Pasunod Echekete and others.  Each of the Contradas, Recontras are comprised of three (3) sets of twelve (12) Attacks, and Recontradas with one (1) set of three (3) attacks.  The attacks of each set are NOT technique sequences of multiple counter-offense attacks but are single strikes and attacks that are later combined through a strategic formula. These systems are also termed “Contradas” as a whole.

The Contradas is executed with strategic footwork that evades the bladed weapon strike of the opponent and positions for a direct strike to the opponent’s weapon hand.  This system differs from the Doce Methodos where the tactical application is offense vs. offense and then counter-offense.  Contradas enables direct counter-offense to the opponent’s weapon hand without blade to blade or weapon to weapon contact.  The entire Contradas system is structured with tactics where all entries and Tirsia, or quartering, is accomplished without blade to blade or weapon to weapon contact.  One has now reached the level where complete mastery and control of the weapon is attained.

The Contradas encompasses all ranges of close, medium (bridging) and long range offense and counter-offense and the tactics and techniques enable quick fluid transitions from all ranges ending in Pekiti-Tirsia (close-quarters) and closing and quartering the opponent within the triangle.  At its highest level of application, and at the same time the simplest, the Contradas system enables the effective counter-offense of any and every conceivable attack with only the 1 and 2 diagonal strikes.  As shown in the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali systemology diagram the Contradas system of Solo Baston/Kalis transfers to the entire system, through all weapon categories, in exactly the same manner as the Doce Methodos.

Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos

The Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos is accomplished through the combined mastery of the foundation and advanced systems, the Doce Methodos and Contradas.  One has gained full knowledge, understanding, and mastered the execution of both systems resulting in the ability to attack and counter with or against these systems.  Contra-Tirsia Dubla-Dos contains the central strategy in the ability to execute Tirsia or counter (Contra) Tirsia.

This level of expertise is displayed when an opponent cannot find, or create by feinting or faking, an opening for an attack, when the opponent’s entry attempts are immediately countered and rendered ineffective by counter-quartering footwork and or counter-bridging attacks, while you completely control the opponent through range and timing, and have the ability to execute a direct offensive attack or counter-offensive attack at will.

This attainment marks the highest mastery and skill of close-quarters edged-impact weapons, and, empty-hands combat.  This is one of the treasures of Pekiti-Tirsia, and the secret of many authentic Filipino Fighting Arts and other Blade Fighting systems from around the world now lost.

© Copyright 1996-2016 Timothy D. Waid/PTKGO, LLC

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