Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali: RFA Martial Academy: Addison, IL

Background: I have loved fighting with weapons for as long as I can remember. However, most of my introduction to weapons had come in the form of Medieval Martial Arts and Chinese Martial Arts. I had almost no experience with Filipino Martial Arts. Sure I had heard of Kali but other that knowing they did “stick fighting” I couldn’t have told you much about it.
Paul Ingram charging forward to slash me to ribbons.

Kali has many other names and you will sometimes hear of it referred to as Arnis or Escrima due to the Spanish influence in the Philippines. Like all of the Martial Arts I visit I was surprised by how rich and diverse the culture of fighting goes in Kali. This was anything but mere “stick fighting.” Filipino Martial Arts are as different and incredible as any of the Chinese Martial Arts I have studied. 

What I have always found extremely interesting is how cultures adopt from each other. During the colonial era Spain influenced the Philippines enormously. The sea-faring nations exported their cultures around the globe bringing various ideologies and technologies with them. Today, the situation is reversed. Kali is being exported around the world and has become a part of the Martial Arts of several militaries.
We started warming up with a basic pattern to develop timing. 

Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is one of main systems of Kali and was officially created by the Tortal Family in 1897. The current head of the system is Grand Tuhon Leo Gage Jr. who has been extremely devoted to growing this system of Kali. Beneath him gentlemen like Tuhon Tim Waid have been teaching the Filipino Marines and giving seminars around the world.

Paul Ingram was one of the people that got hooked on Tim Waid’s teachings and has dedicated himself to PTK. Paul is quite short and sought to level the field between him and larger fighters. When confronted with kickboxing or grappling he found they favoured a larger fighter. Indeed, the UFC will never place Demetrious Johnson against Jon Jones. Weapons provided that equalizer he was looking for. Suddenly speed killed and every strike was devastating. PTK turned a smaller fighter into a human weapon.

Tom takes my wrist. 

What I Learned: Pekiti-Tirsia Kali is described as a system not an art which I found very interesting. Paul stressed several times throughout the evening that a system is what you use and an art is what you create. The example that stuck with me the most was that of a painter. A painter / artist will use a system to create the piece they are working on. A baroque painter and a modern painter will both create “art” based on how they approach the canvas yet the result will be radically different.

The same is true with Pekiti-Tirsia Kali. Students are encouraged to learn the system and then create their own expression of the art. Larger fighters, like myself, might hit harder and stronger whereas a smaller fighter becomes fluid and flows faster.  It was this incredible dynamic of structure mixed with self-expression that I really enjoyed from RFA Martial Academy.
Paul and Tom working at full speed. 

The name stands for “Require Further Achievement” and is designed to push you and to not except limits. The limitations we face are largely self-imposed and RFA Martial Academy asks you to always continue learning and growing. There is no end just simply a new challenge to look at and conquer. Paul Ingram lives the philosophy that you should never stop growing and improving.

What was Similar: RFA Martial Academy matches some of the top schools I have been to because of their openness to questions. Paul is a believer that you should challenge and push your teacher. The strength of any system, whether it is Kali or another Martial Art, is its ability to withstand questioning. If your style and primarily your teacher cannot accept being pushed to answer hard questions then perhaps there is a fundamental flaw in what you are learning.
Tom slashes my face. He stopped with perfect precision. 

Teachers need to be open and welcoming with their students’ questions. It is something that my first teacher, Sifu John Hum, strove to install in me. When I took up grappling, Coach Eugene Shewchuk, was always there and answering questions. As an instructor your students should be helping you grow and making you a better teacher. 

Conclusion: A big reason I try to train with new groups and new people all the time is because it helps pull back the veil of ignorance and helps me grow as a Martial Artist. RFA Martial Academy showed me that Kali is way more advanced then I had ever imagined. I can't wait to see more of it. 
Awesome night training with a fantastic crew of people at RFA Martial Academy. 

Best regards and keep training,

Martin "Travelling Ronin" Fransham

If you are interested in training together I would love to get together with you. Drop me a line on facebook and we can connect. I would love to learn from you. 

Check out RFA Martial Academy:

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