A lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds came from a lot of different places to study Pekiti-Tirsia with us this year. It’s been a while since we’ve had this many beginners. It forced us to really nail down a standard curriculum based on what Grand Tuhon Gaje has shared with us since 1999. One of our main goals was to maintain the “unique-ness” of our own Pekiti-Tirsia training – based on the Tri-V and Contra-Tirsia methodologies with the baston and daga. As I’ve said before, some people expect something a little more ‘familiar’ when they come here for Pekiti-Tirsia. We follow the curriculum exactly as it was given to us – for us - by Tuhon, and I’m not one to second-guess him for our training.
In particular, we put a lot of emphasis on codifying and refining our practice of Dumog (grappling), and Pangamut (striking). I have always been in awe of Tuhon Gaje’s hand-to-hand combat. In my opinion, it stands right up there with – and surpasses – even the best of the Southeast Asian, East Asian, and Western “hand systems”. We have been joined this year by practitioners of such diverse arts as: Hsing-I and Tong Bei Kung-fu, Muay Chaiya, Pukulan Betawi, Silat Mustika Kwitang, and Greco-Roman wrestling. Some of these good people had a harsher introduction to our empty-hands than others, but the consensus is the same in the end: "F#$k! I didn't realize you guys could fight without knives!"
There is a misconception that Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is strictly a “weapons system”, and that one needs to supplement it with some other martial art to be ‘complete’. I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all. Dumog and Pangamut may not be the best choice to help you win an MMA contest, but it will give you the perfect, and necessary compliment to your weapons training – for COMBAT – not sports.
The highlight of this year for us in Pekiti-Tirsia was the opportunity to train with our old friend Mandala Rommel Tortal. In our informed opinion, Rommel has the most fluid (virtually seamless) integration of knife-stick-empty hands of anyone next to Tuhon Gaje. He is also a great and very energetic instructor. In our last training session, he indulged my urgent request to go deeper into Pekiti-Tirsia empty hands. It’s been a long time since someone has thrown me around like he did, but it was worth every bruise, strain, and contusion. My advice is to seek him out if you can. I promise he will remove any shadow of a doubt regarding the viability of Pekiti-Tirsia as an empty-hands system.
The good news is that we expect to be seeing a lot more of him right here in the United States. I encourage you all to come out and show your support. My students and I are ready and willing (just next time someone please remember to bring the ibuprofin).