Sunday, November 23, 2008


Kuya Doug Marcaida

Thanksgiving. Of the many things we have to be thankful for this year, we have to give recognition to one individual in particular to whom we owe an incalculable debt. Our friend, teacher, mentor, and “senior advisor” to the Detroit Maphilindo Pitbulls - Kuya Doug Marcaida.

Kuya Doug has been a Guiding Light to us since the earliest days of our training. He is a flawless practitioner, brilliant strategist, master tactician, and tireless researcher into the theory and practice of the Art of Kali. As someone who I feel embodies the spirit of The Thought Provoking Process, to say that Kuya’s ideas are out-of-the-box would be a gross understatement. He destroyed the box!

In our formative years, we literally followed Grand Tuhon Gaje all over the Midwest, interacting with different Pekiti-Tirsia “clans” both large and small. In the Fall of 2003, after training with Kuya Doug in person for the first time, I asked for Tuhon’s blessing to bring my students under Doug’s banner (along with Ka Jay Saludo). Tuhon gave his blessing, and added “You know Jeff, you are very wise to follow the Filipinos!” Indeed.

So Kuya, thanks for another great year of learning, growing and sharing. I am certain we will have many, many more to come - God Willing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Self Defense over the Next Four Years

This website is primarily one to promote the art of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali. Keeping that in mind, our Grandmaster, Leo Gaje Jr, often says, "I believe in life, and you believe in life. When I carry a blade and you carry a blade, I have to respect you, and you have to respect me. So this philosophy is the bridging mechanism for developing respect. After we have practiced respect, it [this philosophy] brings about care and concern."

We have just elected a President who hates the notions of self defense and gun control. Senator Obama's record on gun control is as follows (from
  • 1994 to 2001 - Obama was on the board of the anti-gun Joyce Foundation. This foundation is the largest funding source for radical anti-gun groups in the country.
  • 1996 - Obama supported a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.
  • 1999 - Obama proposed a 500 percent increase in the excise taxes on firearms and ammunition. This tax would effectively punish gun owners for buying guns and ammunition.
  • 2003 - Obama voted in support of legislation that would have banned privately owned hunting shotguns, target rifles and black powder rifles in Illinois.
  • 2004 - Obama voted against legislation intended to protect homeowners from prosecution in cases where they used a firearm to halt a home invasion.
Senator Obama's stance has no logical explanation behind it. A recent Free Press article declared called "Michigan Sees Fewer Gun Deaths... With More Permits" declared that

"Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.

But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.

The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.

More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records. About 25,000 people had CCW permits in Michigan before the law changed in 2001."

Contrast this with the violent crime rate of Washington D.C. or Chicago, places with the strictest gun control laws in the country. Gun crime has also been soaring in the UK, an entire country with strict gun control laws. It's clear that the logic behind gun control is false. So, why would Senator Obama want to proscribe the ability of people to defend themselves?

Occam's Razor would state that, if gun control doesn't reduce gun deaths, then there are only other two possibilities for Senator Obama's opposition toward firearms ownership. One of them is ignorance, which I refuse to believe. I don't think it's possible that a man in his position can be that grossly misinformed. The other possibility is simply a desire for control over peoples' lives. That seems to contrast what I always thought the Founding Fathers had in idea for this country.

Self-defense is the most basic of all human of rights. Without the ability to defend yourself, you don't have any other rights. After all, what good are they if you aren't physically able to exercise them?

Buy your guns and bullets now before Obama, Pelosi, and Reid ensure that it's too expensive for you to do so. Then ride out the next 4 years until we get a new president.

I leave you with this short documentary on how Gun Free Zones work:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Rave Review

Here I am stealing a post from our own private forum. One student's feeling's on the recent Gathering in New York:

Hey everyone, just wanted to share a thought about the gathering. My start in PTK began with touring a couple of the other seminars with my buddy Anthony. But it wasn't doing it for us, then we found Kuya Doug. I bring this up for a reason. Watching Tuhon at the gathering was awesome, he was demonstrating at top form and looked as slick and deadly as i've seen from him yet! If you have been to other seminara, you may have noticed the difference. There's a lot of drills and Tuhon is more reserved. Now i'm not downing any other group but I just want to point out what we got from him was a privilege. I think the personality and spirit of the Brotherhood brings out a certain side of Tuhon that not every PTK student gets to experience! The attitude of the Brotherhood seemed to open up a window into just how amazing of an instructor and practitioner Tuhon is. So thanks to the leadership and students that inspired Tuhon to share his best with us. I look forward to seeing you all again and can't wait to see what we can pull out of Tuhon next time!


"The Video" - Compiled by Kuya Doug

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Best Gathering Yet!

In a word, it was simply the best. To my students who are reading this - please send me your pictures so that I can do a more illustrated review.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Seeing is Believing

At a recent class, we were working on Pekiti-Tirsia's "3d Hand" principle against multiple knife thrusts. The usual plan is to render the opponent blind, or otherwise knock him senseless and then range-out in an explosive manner to "welcome" the next opponent. For this particular class however, I decided to show how kuncian (locking) from Silat Kuntau Tekpi could be applied against a knife attack. After waylaying the knife, instead of ranging-out you immobilize, then lock him down from his core. Some of the newer students were seeing (and feeling) Silat Kuntau Tekpi for the first time.

The next day, one of the students sent me the following note:


After bugging you for awhile to demonstrate Silat Kuntau Tepki to me, now that I have seen it, I am almost sorry I asked. I can only describe this martial art in one word, cruel.

I have been exposed to joint locks, but it appeared that almost every technique you demonstrated worked on destroying the entire body rather than focusing on a single point.

The interesting thing about this was the simplicity of getting the opponent - actually victim - into the positions you want them in. Unlike some of the grappling arts I have seen, most of these moves happened without any setup, you just went directly into them.

After seeing this I must say that I would rather be beaten with a stick or cut up with a knife than face a Tepki practitioner and have my body broken in this ferociously painful manner.

With all of this being stated, I will say that everything I was shown was brutally effective. If a person wanted to end a fight immediately in such a way as to make even the onlookers wince in pain, then this is the art to use.

Just my thoughts on what I witnessed.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Take note

It’s Thursday night. You put on your black BDU/cammo pants, or maybe some sweats. You run downstairs to that pile of clothes near the washing machine - surely there has to be one Pekiti-Tirsia t-shirt in that pile that doesn’t still reek from a previous training session. Ah - this one isn’t so bad! Now, step into those comfortable training shoes and you’re ready to proceed...

You give your gear bag a quick once-over: sticks (check); training knives (check); folding knives (check); balisong (check); tekpis (check); long staff (check); bolo (check); gloves (check); eye protection (check); mouthguard (check); bottle of water (check); notebook (check); money to pay dues (check); money for going out after class (check); You make a mental note to wash your mouthguard tonight...

Ignoring the nagging feeling that you forgot something, you hurl your gear bag in the backseat and take off like a bat-out-of-hell for class. You want to get there on time, because you know what happens to people that arrive after warm-ups have started. Your mind is racing...’what will we do in class tonight?’ Will it be knife-tapping? Footwork? Maybe those double-stick drills we’ve been doing all summer? Or perhaps tonight’s class is going to be one of those ‘burn sessions’ that push your endurance to the edge. Good thing you didn’t eat before training. You silently hope that one of the instructors will finally teach you that hand combination you got creamed with last week.

Great! You pull up to the training hall with 15 minutes to spare. Why is it so easy to find a place to park tonight? You sprint toward the door, wondering who is already there warming up. Why isn’t the back light on? Something’s not right...With a sense of urgency you try the door - only to find that it’s locked! What? Hello? It is’s 7pm...did they cancel class? Did I miss a call?

No. You just forgot that starting this week we will training at the Philippine American Community Center in Southfield on Thursday nights! Class is 7:30-9pm. See you there...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Improve Your Golf Game with Pekiti-Tirsia

I received the following letter from one of my long time students, who marvels at how training in Pekiti-Tirsia can improve your stick work outside of the training hall:

Hey guru,
I know golf isn't your game, but i just wanted to pass on this bit of info that I have been forgetting to mention in class. Pekiti-Tirsia has totally improved my golf game. How you ask, well i will tell you. On my drives especially, i used to be tense and keep my shoulders up, this is not good for either Pekiti nor golf. Since working with you on keeping my shoulders down during Pekiti, i have done the same for my golf swing and it has made a huge difference. Plus, i practice the different angles with my golf clubs on the course between shots, this brings some pretty strange looks from both my playing partners as well as the other golfers on the course, but f**k 'em.

Thanks again for your help with the shoulder thang,

Well done Larry! Please keep us posted on your progress and we'll see you on the links.
Mabuhay! - Guro

Sunday, August 24, 2008

...'The Summer's Goooooone...'

This summer has been busy as heck and I have had no time to update this blog - since my last post. Things aren’t any less busy now, but anyway:

* We promoted 3 well deserving individuals to the rank of Instructor (Guro), and one to Apprentice Instructor (Lakan Guro). Congratulations guys. You sure as hell earned it.

* We strengthened ties in various ways with our brethren in the United States, Europe, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

* Cikgu Omar Hakim and I recorded another Silat Kuntau Tekpi podcast by popular demand. Omar will hopefully have it up soon.

* We wrote and produced an official student manual with Rules and Regulations, History, Terminology, Lineage, and Protocol for our club.

* We accepted an unprecedented number of beginners this summer, and it looks like everyone is hanging in for the long haul.

And most importantly - we are teaching less and less. What this means is that every year or so, we are constantly revising our curriculum to include less ‘material’. The challenge is to produce a fully competent practitioner in a shorter period of time. It can be said that our Craft is not based on techniques, but rather on an understanding of theory and crucial body-mechanics. Therefore we have greatly stripped down the syllabus to address the core requirements, allowing the student to develop faster - plus there’s less stuff for us teachers to have to remember!

Alas, on a sad note, it looks like starting this week we will be back to training inside (damn!)

We have a busy fall lined up. I’ll try my best to keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"A Mouth That Turns Into a Knife Will Cut Its Own Lips"

The full discovery of Leku led me to the mysterious world of herbs and magic, secrecy and healing. She was a supernatural being, but not the kind described in the literature. Indeed, no literature then or now has been able to record, capture or analyze the women in Leku’s category. And half of what I later found out I cannot reveal. Each time I feel like revealing the full essence I am tormented by an over-powering feeling of awe and danger. Most of my misfortunes, all my negative feelings, and my anticipation of troubles I attribute to a part of me that desires to reveal what I know about her. Perhaps I will, but not today...not even tomorrow. Nobody tells all he knows.

Toyin Falola
A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt: An African Memoir

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pekiti-Tirsia Michigan Q and A

I’m far too busy [lazy] to write something new for this blog so I will post some of my responses to an interview of sorts that took place via email:

What has your training been like in Michigan with Grand Tuhon Gaje?

I believe it was in 2001 that we started bringing Tuhon Gaje here. From 2001 to about 2005 we would bring him in 2-3 times per year, as his schedule permitted. Typically he would give a weekend group seminar, and generally stay at my house for up to 2 weeks. I learned so much in those days. The best training happens at odd hours and strange places. Seminars are good for what I would call a part-time student. If you are really serious however, get as much one-on-one time as you can handle. You will treasure it forever.

There was a guy I remember from the 2001 seminar who came in from out of state. As I recall he had studied Pekiti with a 3d or 4th generation instructor and this was his first time meeting Grandmaster Gaje. During a break, he said to me “I’ve been doing these techniques for 15 years and I’m just now seeing how it’s supposed to be done.

The thing about Tuhon Gaje and seminars is that if there are people present that he has no history with, he can be somewhat reserved about what he shows. That’s one of the reasons we eventually decided not to open his seminars here to the general public. My senior students decided that they were willing to make the extra financial sacrifice in order to keep the seminars strictly in-house. In fact, as far as public relations go my students are complete failures. A few years ago we used to share space with a branch of the Kronx Gym, but in 2004 the students decided to build a training hall so that we wouldn’t be working out in public. At the end of the day, it all paid off in spades. Now when we have seminars, instead of trying to figure out who’s who, we pick right up from the last one.

How is he as far as critiquing?

As much as Tuhon Gaje tears you down physically, he also encourages you. He’ll pat you on the back and say “You are the best!” Now with that, you can take it the wrong can walk away saying to yourself ‘Wow, Tuhon says I’m the best’ and let it go to your head as you go off the deep end. I’ve seen that happen many times. Or, you can take it with a grain of salt and stay humble and keep learning.

So you never allowed his compliments to go to your head?

Actually, in my case, he pretty much said “You know, you’re not that good now but you have potential.”

So how did you set about to develop that potential?

Pekiti-Tirsia is a big pond. There are a lot of sub-groups and not everyone is on the same page. I had the great fortune to establish ties with Jay Saludo in Canada and Doug Marcaida in New York. The three of us have always shared common goals as far as development, and we corresponded for months before we all met for the first time - sharing and testing ideas. Not only is Kuya Doug a flawless practitioner, but he lives by what Tuhon Gaje calls the Thought Provoking Process. Without the TPP, the Art can become dogmatic and cease to be functional. Kuya Doug is fully functional in every aspect of weapons and empty hands. He’s always testing, always researching.

Later when I went to Texas to train with Guro Omar Hakim and I met Ricky Rillera and Robert Slomkowski - that gave me an additional perspective. Those guys are all about footwork, timing, and explosion. They do drills in the same spirit that professional athletes prepare for their events...the drill is NOT the fight...the FIGHT is the fight! Any coach will tell you that its all about form. Even an untrained person can see that the guys in Texas are absolutely brutal, but until you train with them you don’t realize how concerned they are with form as well.

Do you incorporate Silat Kuntau Tekpi into your Pekiti-Tirsia practice?

The short answer is yes, but you have to view Silat in its proper context. Just like Kali, there are styles and there are systems, and they can vary greatly from one to the next. Generally speaking on the physical level, you can blend silat techniques with other martial arts pretty smoothly if you know what you’re doing. On a philosophical level, what I have been taught in terms of the combat rationale of Silat is very different from Pekiti-Tirsia. I believe Silat is a cultural/religious expression first and foremost. In my experience very few Indonesian and Malaysian pesilat consider themselves “martial artists” the way people here think of themselves. Silat is a component of their way of life - it’s not the Way itself. This context is missing in Silat in the United States.

So is it cultural or religious?

Both. Traditionally, Silat informs the way you relate to your religion and your community. I don’t know if we need to import all of the cultural decorum associated with Silat in Malay lands, but it would be nice if we could use the traditional model to create something of that here. That’s what I’m trying to do with my students.

It makes for better students?

It makes for better human beings.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Unfortunately most people remember this date only as May Day, but May 1st is also Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I'm glad that there is a day set aside to remember and honor those who suffered and died during those horrible years. However, as far as I'm concerned, every day is a day to remember the Holocaust. To me, "Never forget" means don't ever forget. Ever.

To anyone who ever lost relatives in the Shoah, I salute you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lest We Forget...

WARSAW (AFP) - The last commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, Marek Edelman, on Saturday honoured the memory of his comrades who died fighting Nazi Germany in the doomed Jewish stand against the Holocaust.

Joined by family members, hundreds of bystanders and city officials, Edelman marked the 65th anniversary of the revolt at the imposing monument to the ghetto fighters, unveiled in 1948.

Braving driving rain, the silent participants first laid flowers at the monument.

The frail Edelman, 85, was then pushed in his wheelchair to the site of the bunker where the leader of the revolt, 24-year-old Mordechaj Anielewicz, and 80 comrades had committed suicide as Nazi forces closed in.

The crowd then walked to the site of the "Umschlagplatz", the railway siding from which the Nazis sent more than 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp in northeastern Poland.

Edelman, who took command after Anielewicz's death, rarely attends high-profile official ceremonies, preferring to remember his comrades in a lower-key fashion on April 19, the day the revolt actually began.

This year's official event was held on Tuesday, in the presence of Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and Israel's Shimon Peres.

That ceremony had been brought forward because the actual anniversary fell on a Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath.

On the eve of World War II, Poland was Europe's Jewish heartland.

It was home to 3.5 million Jews, and Warsaw alone had a community of around 400,000.

After invading Poland in 1939, Nazi Germany set up ghettos nationwide to isolate the country's Jews and facilitate the "Final Solution" -- half of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were Polish.

At its height, more than 450,000 were crammed into the walled Warsaw ghetto.

About 100,000 died inside from starvation, disease and in summary executions. Most of the rest were sent to Treblinka in mass deportations which began in 1942.

In the ghetto, a handful of Jewish paramilitary groups, mostly made up of young people -- Edelman was just 20 -- coalesced into a poorly-armed force of around 1,000.

The banner of one group was a blue Star of David on a white background, which caused Nazi ire when it was hoisted during the revolt. It became the flag of Israel.

On Saturday, youths handed out paper armbands emblazoned with the symbol, which participants wore as they formed a human chain around the monument while sirens wailed and a Polish army honour guard fired a salute.

The ghetto fighters first clashed with the Nazis on January 18-22, 1943, managing to hinder the deportations.

On April 19, 1943, they took up arms again, as the Nazis moved to wipe out the remaining 60,000 ghetto dwellers.

"We knew perfectly well that there was no way we could win," Edelman told AFP in a recent interview.

"It was a symbol of the fight for freedom. A symbol of standing up to Nazism, and of not giving in," he said.

The fighters held out as 3,000 Nazi troops razed the ghetto with explosives and fire.

Following Anielewicz's suicide on May 8, Edelman and several dozen comrades escaped through the sewers. The Nazis marked their "victory over the Jews" by blowing up Warsaw's main synagogue on May 16.

Around 7,000 Jews died in the revolt, most of them burned alive, and more than 50,000 were sent to Treblinka.

Besides denting the Nazis' sense of superiority, the fighters managed to inflict some damage, killing and injuring a combined 300 troops.

Sporadic clashes continued in the ghetto ruin until the autumn.

Edelman and many other survivors later took part in the Warsaw uprising, launched on August 1, 1944 by the Polish underground.

That failed 63-day revolt and the Germans' brutal response cost the lives of 200,000 civilians and 18,000 resistance members, and saw the near-total destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis.

Friday, April 18, 2008

THE SECRET - according to Tuhon

"The highest form includes everything: the techniques, the strategy of combat, awareness, anticipation, and control of one’s mind. All these come together to form the highest level of the Art.
Meditation becomes the natural tool of the trained fighter. It is the control and calmness of the mind that can make one victorious in combat. I do not consider meditation to be the end all of learning or of martial arts. It is a tool, a medium to be used to achieve the highest levels of skill.
One must combine his physical, mental, and spiritual being to become complete and attain the higher levels of learning. Without spiritual strength, mental and physical strength wane and disappear with age without any trace."

From an interview with Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. in Masters of Arnis, Kali, & Eskrima by Edgar G. Sulite

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For Clarification!

For the past week I have been having a very exciting and informative exchange via email with a Malaysian Silat Kuntau Tekpi Cikgu (teacher) who read my description of SKT in the previous post, and was kind/concerned enough to bring the following points for clarification.

So...everybody take note:

- While Panglima Taib is indeed considered the Pengasas (Founder) of the Art known today as Silat Kuntau Tekpi, it is certain that he did not learn it from Panglima Ismail.

- While it is accepted that three of the main systems comprising ‘Silat Kedah’ - ie Silat Kuntau Tekpi, Silat Kalimah, and Silat Cekak Hanafi - have a common origin, the story varies slightly from school to school. The legend according to Silat Kuntau Tekpi has not been shared with the general public.

- The Senaman Tua that we perform before each class is not part of the traditional Silat Kuntau Tekpi syllabus. It is actually from the Silat Seni Lok Sembilan of Cikgu Azlan Ghanie. Cikgu Azlan taught it to my teacher, Cikgu Omar Hakim, who passed it on to us. We consider it part of our broader Silat Melyu practice.

- Senaman Tekpi refers to striking/parrying/twirling techniques and exercises with single and double tekpi.

- Silat Pulut is a artform unto itself with deep cultural significance. We here in Michigan have “adapted” a method of Silat Pulut that we (like to) think is true to function, if not strictly adhering to the classical form of the traditional method. Plus we have a lot of fun doing it!

I thank my friend for taking the time and energy to share these and other aspects of his noble cultural heritage with us. We are grateful.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yoruba Martial Arts

My good friend Asis - Blacksmith and Martial Artist

I took a serious interest in the culture of the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria in the late 80's. Throughout the 1990's I was fortunate to be able to study under some very knowledgeable Elders such as Medahochi Kofi Omowale Zannu, Chief Adebolu Fatunmise, and Dr. Afolabi Epega. I made my first “pilgrimage” to Yorubaland in 2001, and have returned every year since with a new group of select, intrepid students for continuing education.

The Yoruba have an indigenous martial arts tradition that is largely unknown outside of West Africa. Interestingly enough, their arts appear quite different that the Muslim-influenced martial traditions typically found in the North. A close parallel to the Filipino Martial Arts is that the Yoruba styles are essentially the same theme with variations from village to village. I have observed these fighting styles in Ode Remo, Sagamu, Ile Ife, Ibadan, Abeokuta, as well as in ethnically Yoruba enclaves found “next door” in the Republic of Benin.*

The Yoruba word for warrior is Akin (literally “A Brave Person”). Akin can refer to a prolific military leader or even a distinguished hunter (Ode). In traditional culture, hunters exist on the very fringes of society, and have an extensive awo (secret knowledge) pertaining to fighting and combat, yet are not what we would think of as “martial artists” in our common usage of the word. Some of the terms used to describe martial arts practitioners as we would think of them are: Oniijakadi, Alonilowogba, and Eleeke.

The umbrella term for the martial art of the Yoruba is “Gidigbo”. If this word has an exact translation, I am unaware of it. Gidigbo encompasses various sub-disciplines such as wrestling (catch-as-catch-can), punching, and kicking - similar to the neighboring Hausa martial arts of Dembe, Ishakafa, and Kukawa - as well as fighting with machetes. Gidigbo matches are sometimes organized around important social functions, although regional tournaments just for the sake of sport are also common throughout the year. The bout typically begins with both opponents facing off, hands crossed (Enter the Dragon style) and quickly closes to all-out grappling - with elbows and head-butts added for good measure. When one of the wrestlers is thrown or otherwise knocked to the ground the match is concluded. Its all in good fun, but take it from me they do it with great gusto and it is very easy to be injured. Broken fingers, dislocated elbows/shoulders and torn knees are quite common.

The savvy Oniijakadi does not rely on mere physical strength alone, but brings all manner of strange charms (juju), incantations (awure) and paraphernalia obtained from a trusted Onisegun (medicine man) to the fight in order to gain an edge over the competition. This is very similar the concept of orasion (prayers) and anting-anting (amulets) in Filipino martial culture.

Whenever I go back to Nigeria and Benin, I have a number of teachers and sparring partners that I hook up with to learn new techniques or to rekindle old rivalries (strictly in a friendly way!) Of course, I spring for the refreshments afterwards, and I also reciprocate by teaching them some Kali in return (there is no problem finding sticks). On our most recent trip to Ijebuland, I had the teenagers collect old pillowcases, rags, and sandals and with some duct tape that I had brought we had a perfectly functional outdoor boxing gym - complete with heavy bag and focus mitts - and were soon working on punching drills. Being that I neglected to introduce the concept of a mouthguard, I hope those kids still have their teeth by the time I go back next year.

* I am in the process of editing footage of West African Martial Arts including matches, festivals, interviews with fighters and teachers, and other cool surprises that I have filmed during my travels. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Al Fatihah

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of, Allahyarhamah Che Puan binti Matdin, the wife of Allahyarham (late) Pak Guru Zainol Abidin Endut and mother of Pak Guru Sani Zainol Abidin of Silat Kuntau Tekpi on March 30, 2008.

She was the pillar that supported two generations of masters and she will continue to be so in our hearts. The Tekpi family will miss her greatly.

The students and members of Silat Kuntau Tekpi Michigan send our most sincere
condolences to our family in Malaysia.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Viva Kali De Leon!

We have just returned from yet another awesome seminar! I rarely write seminar reviews for two reasons. First, there are my own time constraints. Second, if you were present at the seminar, you know how it was…if you were not present, you probably don’t need to know. Besides, we have a private forum to discuss things amongst our students. I am going to make an exception in this case however.

On Friday, March 28th, the Detroit Maphilindo Pitbulls crossed the border into Canada where we joined Kuya Doug Marcaida of Rochester Kali and his students in Toronto for an action packed weekend of training with none other than the great and incomparable Guro Jun De Leon.

The fact that we drove for 6 hours in harsh conditions, and arrived after midnight did not dampen anyone’s spirit. As soon as everyone was checked in, sticks, training blades and all manner of exotic weapons were produced on the 6th floor of the Wyndham Hotel as the groups from Rochester, New York and Detroit, Michigan prepared for the challenge ahead. Sometime around 4am we finally decided to eat dinner and rest up for work in the morning.

Bright and early on Saturday, we joined Guro Jun and his capable assistant instructors. The seminar was a tight ship from beginning to end. From the moment we threw the first angle, each segment of the program was tightly regulated. Fluid single stick combinations segued into double stick patterns, culminating in the strategic free-flow drills that are the mainstay of Kali De Leon. At the end of the day, each participant was called up one-by-one to demonstrate their “integration” of the skills learned throughout the seminar. That was the final exam, as it were.

Following the brief rest periods, Guro Jun and his seniors demonstrated the way the drills should look. What has always impressed me about Kali De Leon is that even the intermediate students seem to be on a very high level. Talk is cheap, but seeing is believing. The key is in their training. By the end of the seminar we were exhilarated as well as exhausted.

Sunday morning, Kuya Doug (as tired as any of us) was gracious enough to conduct a Dumog clinic for my students. His lesson expounded upon some of the techniques that Tuhon Gaje covered with us in August. Believe me when I say that not one of us wanted to leave. Finally, after bidding farewell to our brothers from Rochester, we set out on the road back to Michigan.

When we arrived home, we trained again.

Pekiti-Tirsia and Kali De Leon
You may already know that Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. and Guro Jun De Leon are close compadres. My students and I have always thought of them as two sides of the Kali coin. Tuhon Gaje has the commanding presence of a Field Marshall – Guro Jun is somewhat reserved and soft-spoken. Tuhon Gaje has an incredible flair for promotion, and has gone to great lengths to make his Art available to a large number people all over the world – Guro Jun has gone to equal lengths to keep his hand-picked student base decidedly small.

Even in terms of theory and technique, PTK and KDL seem worlds apart. Pekiti-Tirsia specializes in the subtle body mechanics of extreme close quarter combat – Kali De Leon focuses on devastating power at long range. The signature weapon of Pekiti-Tirsia is the knife – the trademark of Kali De Leon is the double sticks.

There are however, definite similarities. Both Tuhon Gaje and Guro Jun have refined their respective crafts to an elevated (almost dizzying) level. Both Masters cherish Kali and their proud cultural heritage with a burning passion. Both have a wicked sense of humor (often at our expense!) And finally, the end result of dedicated training in both disciplines is the same: a competent, deadly practitioner who possesses a highly refined sense of timing, rhythm, and body mechanics.

Our “Little Secret”
We were first introduced to Guro Jun De Leon about 5 years ago in upstate New York. At that time, he took us through some of the rudimentary elements of his system. Looking back, it was the martial equivalent of rocket science as far as we were concerned. It did however give me a keen insight into the way my own mentor Kuya Doug Marcaida had developed as a Kali practitioner. Kuya Doug’s expression of Pekiti-Tirsia is highly influenced by his training under Guro Jun.

Over the next 5 years we would meet up with him in various locations: Baltimore, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; even while training in the Philippines. Each time, he revealed another small piece of his Art, carefully checking our progress since the last training.

Anyway, at the Brotherhood of the Blade 2006 Gathering in Michigan, Kuya Doug took us through an extensive, tour-de-force teaching block of Kali De Leon drills and theory that left all of us physically and mentally exhausted. At the same time, we took it as the Gauntlet of Challenge. After that seminar, my advanced students and I made an oath to train that material…and train it…and train it…and train it…

In fact, for most of the summer of 2007 a good portion of our closed door advanced classes were devoted to the Kali De Leon drills - for our own development – but also in preparation for our next meeting with Guro Jun.

Part of the Family
Guro Jun is a compassionate and meticulous teacher. He is also brutally honest and you can count on him to give you an honest evaluation if you dare ask. As it happened, we got what I consider to be a stellar compliment following our performance. Guro said directly to me “I have seen some progress with your guys.” That coming from him, I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest.

So, after careful deliberation by our students, and with the gracious acceptance of Guro Jun we have made the commitment to formally study and support Kali De Leon – not only as a perfect compliment to our Pekiti-Tirsia training – but on it’s own merits as one of the finest systems of Filipino Martial Arts we have seen.

Our thanks first and foremost to our teacher Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Jr. for his blessing, encouragement and support of our Brotherhood;

Thanks also to my mentor Kuya Doug Marcaida for vouching for my students and giving us a foot-in the-door in so many ways;

Thanks to my senior students, who remain relentlessly committed to our mission and goals

And of course, thanks to Guro Jun De Leon, Guro Rommel, Guro Burton, Rafael and Tucker for the opportunity to be a part of your family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

For the Community!

Hi Jeff,

Arnis or Eskrima is an indigenous martial arts of our Filipino people. Learning Arnis is touching back to our roots. My million thank yous for your workshop given to the Filipino Youth Initiative group last Sunday. The teachers and students enjoyed the time with you. From what I heard, they commend your work and dedication. I, especially appreciated the brief history of Arnis that you gave. I did not know any history before the workshop. I learned a lot from it. Your generosity of time, talents and expertise are very much appreciated.


Fe Rowland

Philippine American Community Center
Southfield, Michigan

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Badik

Some badik(s) from my collection:

From the top:

- "Raja Beradu" (The Sleeping King), a gift from Mas Martin Lubis of Pojok Keris Singobarong in Solo, Java.

- "Kiai Bugis" (The Honorable Bugis), a gift from Mas Reno Notohardjo.

- "Mayimbe Venenoso" (The Poisonous Vulture) forged by Manong Panday Stephen Renico.

- "Etutu" (Atonement) forged by Manong Panday Stephen Renico.

The Badik is a traditional dagger which originates from the coastal tribes of southern Sulawesi such as the Bugis and the Makasarese. Because of their trade relationship with other tribes, it has reached the coasts of Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and to some extent Borneo, Java and Bali.

The blade can be in iron, steel or pamor. It is also believed the Badik has mysterious power such as for the Keris.

The Bugis Badik has a 90° pistol grip with round edges, whereas the Makasarese badik has a 45° conic pistol grip. The Sumatra and Peninsula Badik is very similar to the Bugis.

The Badik is also part of the traditional clothing and is wear by the bride for the wedding ceremony in Sulawesi or Sumatra. It is worn in front of the stomach into the pleats of the sarong.

One of the traditional way of fighting with the Badik is to have the two opponents enclosed in sarong with a Badik in a hand while the other hand holds the sarong with no possibility to escape.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

First Silat Kuntau Tekpi Podcast

Cikgu Omar Hakim

We are pleased to have completed the first (of what we certainly hope will be many) podcasts. In this first episode, I have the pleasure of interviewing the great Pekiti-Tirsia/Silat Melayu practitioner and teacher Omar B. Hakim as he describes his early development in the Southeast Asian martial arts under Tuhon Gaje, and his later experiences in Indonesia and Malaysia. You will hear some fascinating insight into the theory and practice of the Malay fighting arts from Cikgu Omar's unique perspective.

Omar is very highly regarded in Pekiti-Tirsia circles - and deservedly so. I am happy that you guys will be able to benefit from his knowledge via this podcast.

Go to WWW.TEKPI.ORG and follow the NEWS link to the podcast section.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Official Announcement of Next Secret Gathering

Since I know damn well that more of you guys read this blog than come to class, I decided to tell you here. This week we will be firming up plans for our next annual Brotherhood of the Blade Gathering. It will be in the month of March - the date will be set in stone (unless Kuya Doug changes it).

I am not disclosing the location, but there is a roadtrip involved and in addition to your weapons you will need a pair of chopsticks. Call, email, or bring your lazy ass to class next week for details.'s not open to the public so please don't tell anyone about it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


became famous in the 70s and early 80s for his work with law enforcement. While they may not recognize Tuhon Gaje's name right away, almost any law enforcement officer in the country will know him from the 1988 police training film "Surviving Edged Weapons". While this film has dated clothing and hairstyles, the information and footage never goes out of style and it's still shown in police departments all over.

Have a look at Tuhon Gaje, 20 years earlier, showing why, at close range, one can bring a knife to a gunfight.