°lipino knife fighting is as serious as it gets.

By Ryan Richard * Photos by Ichiro Nagata
"Move, move, move! Attack,
ttack, attack! Take his hand!"
yells Master blade-fighting instructor Tim Waid.
As the burned smell of rattan fills the musty air
inside the Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, in
rkeley, Calif., Guro Waid continues to yell out
his instructions over the distinctive popping
sounds of rattan sticks striking each other.
"He who controls the circle, controls the
ranging, controls the fight!" adds the Guro.
Guro Waid keeps a sharp eye on the speed,
power, and footwork of the students attending
the two-day combat blade-fighting seminar
based on the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system. Magi-
noo Tim Waid is a certified Master Instructor
of the system, president of the Pekiti-Tirsia Global
Organization (PTGO), and national director for Pekiti-
irsia USA. The term maginoo means "elder," and guro
eans "instructor."
He also serves as Director of Survival Edged SystemsI
ekiti-Tirsia Tactical Training Institute and is respon-
sible for all tactical training curriculums of the Pekiti-
Tirsia system. Guro Waid has extensive experience
in the Republic of the Philippines, where he cur-
rently serves as a Tactical Training Instructor to
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine
National Police, government agencies, and pri-
vate businesses.
Associate Instructor Mike Shimer and the
Pekiti-Tirsia Kali training group from San
Francisco invited Guro Waid to come and
teach, hosting the Berkeley event that I'm attending.
Guro Waid was kind enough to travel from his home in
Dallas to pass on his knowledge to his eager kalistas (kali
practitioners) of the Bay Area during this two-day event.
Guro Waid constantly reminds his kalistas of a fun-
damental principle of blade-fighting- you don't want
to be hit with any of these weapons. Protecting yourself,
through constant maneuvering and offensive striking,
should be your first priority.
A History of Kali
Kali is the ancient martiai art indigenous to the Phil-
ippines. It uses edged, as well as impact, weapons. Edged
weapons include spears, bolos, and knives, while impact
weapons include fire-hardened rattan and hardwood
sticks. There is also a complete empty-hands technique
(or "hand blade" system) that includes striking with all
natural weapons of the body.
Unlike other martial arts, such as Kung Fu or Karate,
which first teach empty-hand techniques before mov-
ing to any form of weapons, only the Filipino art of Kali
begins with a weapon. In Kali, the edged-weapon tech-
niques are taught first, which are easily transferable and
adaptable to impact weapons and, ultimately, to emp-
ty-hand techniques. As Guro Waid simply explains it,
"Nothing changes."
After all, the Pekiti-Tirsia system is employed with
many types and combinations of weapons. Pekiti-Tirsia
regards all weapons as havingthe same lethalityas edged
weapons. A steel bar, lead pipe, hardwood flat stick, or
rattan stick can all maim and kill just as easily as a bolo
or machete. It just takes a bit more forceful application
the farther away you get from a cutting weapon.
The deadly art of Kali was first introduced to famed
explorer Ferdinand Magellanand his Spanish conquista-
dors in 1521, when they invaded the Philippine Islands.
Armed only with crude swords, home-made spears, and
fire-hardened sticks, Datu Lapu Lapu and his fierce war-
riors prevailed against the finest Toledo steel and best
Spanish rapiers, killing Magellan and totally overpow-
ering the armor-clad Spaniards.
In the 1570s, the Philippines finally fell to the Span-
ish tactics of divide and conquer, pitting the different
island tribes against each other. However, the Filipino
blade remained a feared weapon throughout the Span-
ish occupation as the deadly art of Kali brought many
regional victories in the numerous revolts against Span-
ish subjugation. The Spaniards outlawed the practice
of Kali and banned the carrying of edged weapons.
The Filipinos preserved their martial arts by secretly
practicing it onlyamong the family clan and sometimes
within the close-knit Barangay (village) community.
Native dances also preserved the fast triangle footwork
techniques and patterns. Ironically, under the very
noses of their dictators, Filipinos performed the deadly
Kali movements within dances or mock battles staged
in religious plays known as Mora Moro for the pleasure
and enjoyment of their Spanish overlords.
In parts of the Philippines, the mother art of Kali
Technical sparring is the application Of specific tactics
and techniques on predetermined target areas.
Blocks are as much a part of the drills as strikes.
evolved into what the Spaniards called Eskrima or
Arnis de Mano. The term eskrima is thought to origi-
nate from the Spanish word escrime or esgrima, which
means to fence with a sword. Others believed the word
derived to mean any sort of skirmish.
Some believe that the term amis comes from the
word ames, which refers to the decorative harnesses
used by the actors in Moro Moro plays. The plays fea-
tured Filipinos, sometimes costumed as Spanish sol-
diers, wearing ames, the harness worn during medi-
eval times as part of a knight's armor.
De mana simply qleans "of the hands," so a literal
translation of Amis de Mana is "harness of hand."
Since the Spanish occupation, these have been the
three most popular terms generally used to describe
the martial arts of the Philippines.
Moro Uprising
In the early 1900s, the Filipino Muslims, called
Moros, rose up in rebellion. These early Islamic ter-
rorists violently opposed foreigners and were no more
ready to obey the Americans than the Spaniards. It
wasn't long before American troops took over fighting
the Moros where the Spanish had left off.
The Americans faced a frightening phenomenon
of the juramentadas, Moro fanatics who would whip
themselves into obsessed states of frenzy and stride
solo down the streets, chopping and hacking every-
thing and everyone in their path. These blood-lust-
enraged Moros would charge blindly into the ranks of
the American enemy, believing that every slain infidel
guaranteed their place in Muslim paradise because
they had been killed in battle against infidels. In their
religious fervor, the Moro zealots often raced directly
into heavy volleys of gunfire, shrugged off incredible
wounds, and had to be literally shot to pieces before
their attack ended.
These tenacious rampages led to hair-raising tales
from American soldiers that their .38-caliber pistol
rounds failed to stop the advancing Moros. This ulti-
mately led to the adoption of the Colt .45 ACP caliber
1911 pistol, a weapon having tremendous hitting power,
specifically to stop the Moros. The deadly art of Kali that
the Moros so precisely employed with the use of their
edged weapons was a crucial element, along with their
religious fervor, which allowed the bloody, fanatical
rampages to succeed in their path of destruction.
The Ginunting is the principle combat blade Of this art
(middle photo, man on left) originating from the province
of Negros Occidental. "Pekiti" means closeness or up-close
and "Tirsia" means quartering or cornering.
One set of mechanics with transferable skills, whether it
be knives, impact weapons or empty-hand techniques
using the hand-as-blade.



Even for an andent art, modem techniques such as a
"pistol disarm" are easily adaptedfrom the techniques.
f) GrtlSP the shooting hand's thumb and wrist. The thumb
is weak, so 1) pivot the barrel or slide awayfrom the trapped
thumb and 3) take control of the pistol. Note the control
of the opponent's eldow to control his body.
In World War II, the Philippines were occupied by
Japan, and once again the Filipinos were not willing
to obey the Japanese any more than the other previ-
ous invaders. Welcoming American intervention dur-
ing the war, Filipinos eagerly enlisted in the U.S. mili-
tary. The 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments, with
their favorite weapon, the bolo, fought in the campaign
to liberate their Philippine homeland. Filipinos also
established themselves as fierce guerrilla forces, some
known as "Bolo Battalions," with reputations for close-
in, hand-to-hand combat with bolo knives, marching in
triangle formation, with the point man disabling enemy
soldiers, leaving the other guerrillas to finish the job.
Following the war, many adventurous kalistas and
escrimadors left the Philippines for Hawaii and California,
which became the new homes to the largest Filipino com-
munities in the United States. With them, they brought
SureFire blades from the SureFire Edged Weapon Division may be either folders or
fixed blades, drop points or spear points, but they're all designed as no-nonsense
tadical blades and are ideal for use in arts like Pekiti-Tirsia.
the different Filipino martial arts styles stateside.
Pekiti·Tirsia Kali
The Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system originated from the
provinces of Panay and Negros Occidental in the Phil-
ippines and is one of the few remaining authentic and
complete Filipino combat systems in existence today.
Pekiti-Tirsia is a traditional family system, formulated
and perfected by the Tortal family, which traces its exis-
tence back to a time and era when the carry and use of
an edged weapon was common, even required, among
most men.
Pekiti-Tirsia is al close"-quarters, in-fighting combat
system against multiple opponents, based on the use of
a blade. Something called a ginunting is the principle
bladed weapon of Pekiti-Tirsia, originating from the
province of Negros Occidental.
The name Pekiti-Tirsia literally
means "to cut into pieces at close
range." It encompasses all tradi-
tional weapon categories and is for-
mulated on the strategic principle of
the triangle. The triangle serves as
the basis for footwork, striking and
the tactical principles of close-quar-
ters combat.
Meanwhile, back in Berkeley, if
a student dosen't understand some
fine point about the footwork, Guro
Waid patiently demonstrats and
works with his kalistas. When the
student finally gets it, Guro Waid
yells, "That's it!" before darting off
to another group. Guro Waid is con-
stantly on the move, demonstrating
and reminding the group of vari-
ous training points and fine-tuning
each student.
"Diagonal attacks are superior!"
Guro Waid proclaims as he care-
fully eyes another sparring pair of
kalistas. Diagonal attacks, the Guro
says, may destroy either vertical or
horizontal strikes or other diagonal
strikes. With proper body mechan-
ics, footwork, and timing, a particu-
lar strike may be used to destroy a
number of other strikes.
Guro Waid's seminar instruction
provides students with clear and
concise knowledge, understanding,
and the basic skills in Pekiti-Tirsia
combat blade-fighting. He gives you
what to train and how to train it.

Make no mistake though, Guro Waid stresses that these
techniques need not only training repetitions but also
training that is dynamic and realistic.
Guro Waid's seminar generally operates on the basis
that the opponent is armed, highly trained, and well
prepared. That's okay. For Pekiti-Tirsia, the best defense
is a good offense- direct and effective tactics designed
to instantly end an encounter.
Remember, you don't want to be hit with any of these
weapons, and protecting yourself should be your first
priority. Keep moving to the left. Range and timing,
range and timing. Explosive footwork. Make an entry!
Strike! Attack!
This is a weapon-to-weapon principle-based art.
Strike to the hands or arms, cut the nerves, sever the
tendons, break the bones that control the enemy's
weapon. "You have to be able to control your weapon!"
GuroWaid yells. He demands his practitioners to be able
to strike very precisely and quickly.
The seminar opens with a review of the grip and
basic strikes to ensure proper mechanics and proper
angles were executed. Transferable technology at its
best- the stick work transfers directly to the knife work
in the seminar. These edged-weapon techniques are
also easily transferable and adaptable to empty-hand
As GuroWaid later shows the students, a Pekiti-Tirsia
trained operator with a Glock in his hand, at close quar-
ters, can counter-attack a knife attack when an operator
is too close or can't shoot initially. Nothing changes. Tap,
trap and shoot! Dominate the combat.
His demonstrations are with the single stick, but then,
when he moves to double sticks, he left no doubt that
Guro Waid Can hit very hard, very fast, very accurately,
very many times! Any outsiders will never look at a rat-
tan stick the same, way again. Equally impressive is the
skill and grace with a razor- sharp Ginunting, a pair of
Spyderco knives, and espada y daga. Training with a
"live" blade is one way to validate skills.
The final point (no pun intended) was what Guro
Waid repeated as the Pekiti-Tirsia guarantee. No one
will remove the knife from your hand. The only way that
someone will remove the knife from your hand is if you
decide to stick it in and leave it in one of the vital organs
of your opponent. After all, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is a ..-....
complete combat blade-fighting system.

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