Leopoldo Tortal Gaje, Jr. is the Supreme Grandmaster of the Pekiti-Tirsia
Kali System. Originally taught to him by his grandfather, Grand Tuhon
Conrado Tortal, to protect the family land, Tuhon received his
inheritance, not of money, but of knowledge. Moving to the USA in 1972
from his home in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, it was not
Tuhon Gaje’s intention to teach. But after discovering how much more
effective his tactics were, by providing martial arts instruction to a
group of children, Tuhon Gaje opened his formerly secret family martial
art to the world with a growing desire to share the beauty and
effectiveness of his art and culture.
Highly motivated with each success, Tuhon Gaje soon became a pioneer
teaching authentic Kali to a variety of enthusiasts in the both the USA
and Europe, where he introduced full contact stick fighting to the Filipino
Martial Arts community as well as a higher standard of performance. During
his passionate work and many years of promoting the Filipino Martial Arts,
he has been featured on the covers of a variety of popular magazines such
as Inside Kung Fu and Official Karate Magazine. Furthermore, he was is
awarded membership in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Karate
Hall of Fame 1988 as the only non-Karate member.
Pushing himself to make a greater impact on the community, Tuhon Gaje
revolutionized the training methods of U.S. Law Enforcement. He soon
became internationally known for his work as technical advisor and in the
1988 video "Surviving Edged Weapons," reviewed as "the
finest law enforcement training video ever made."
Dr. Kevin Parsons, National Training Director for the Justice System
Training Association and the United States Police Defensive Tactics
Training Association, stated, "The techniques of Leo Gaje have
revolutionized the use of force." He also said of Tuhon Gaje’s
teachings, "These tactical training programs are the most
progressive, effective and advanced methods for the application of
intermediate force, liability reduction and officer survival available to
the law enforcement community today".
Tuhon Gaje developed the Safety Baton System and the Edged Weapon
Awareness / Strategic Knife Defense programs from traditional Kali to
better serve Law enforcement needs resulting in a great improvement in
officer performance and departmental liability reduction.
Further promoting the art of Kali and serving the community, Tuhon Gaje
also developed training programs appropriate for military use. He
institutionalized Pekiti Tirsia as the official combatives program for the
Philippine Marine Corps and Special Action Force of the Philippine
National Police. He developed even more training programs for a variety of
security, law enforcement and military departments in the Philippines. His
efforts spread outside the Philippines as Tuhon Gaje has introduced Kali
to the U.S. Marines and Navy as well as a variety of special forces and
VIP / presidential protective details in Asia, Europe and the USA.
Today, Tuhon Gaje continues to spread his art of Pekiti Tirsia both to
students of traditional Kali as well as the Personal Security, Law
Enforcement and Military community for the benefit of all those involved.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given special recognition
to Tuhon Gaje for exemplary achievement for the worldwide propagation of
Pekiti-Tirsia and the indigenous Filipino Martial Arts.
Tuhon Gaje emphasizes the Philosophy of Kali so students benefit from
both the physical strengthening as well as the positive mental
development, confidence and empowerment learned from Kali. By following
the Philosophy of Life he teaches, one applies logic, reasoning and
judgment to his own development and thereby takes responsibility for his
own growth. Using the Thought Provoking Process, a method based on
Filipino culture, Tuhon Gaje encourages the student to develop his
critical thinking and evaluation skills by leaving certain questions
unanswered and guiding the student to discover the solutions. Students
initially apply these skills to the martial arts, but once one begins to
learn, then the skills become a part of everyday life.
Tuhon Gaje’s contributions to the art include organizing Pekiti
Tirsia so that learning is easier. He compartmentalized methods so
relative techniques and strategies could be more easily isolated and
practiced then assimilated back into the whole system. He also renewed
teaching methods to be more effective. No longer do students have to learn
solely by the "wisdom of pain," wherein one is pounded during
training until finding an escape or counter. That is the old way from his
early years, and by itself, is not appropriate for many. Also, Tuhon Gaje
has greatly developed the intellectual understanding of the art and
reputation of quality by developing effective methods to communicate the
principles of Kali.
When it comes to training with Tuhon, application is the key. In combat
with edged weapons, "A mistake is a blunder," resulting in death
so Kali is an "art of perfection." One trains footwork, body
mechanics and striking methods for coordination. One is taught to flow,
bridging movements and techniques and responding to attacks by reaction
conditioning. It is from this flow that advanced training begins and
application is learned "blow by blow." Techniques and their
counters are learned during the flow of movements by testing their
function on the fly. A sense of adaptability is developed which fine-tunes
the mental acuity and response time of a student. Attacks are varied and
techniques are performed differently in order to prepare the student to
apply his principles to something previously unstudied. Learning becomes
streamlined and the absorption of new tactics and strategies becomes
quick. A new technique becomes reaction and function immediately.
Ultimately, the motivation and support Tuhon Gaje imparts to his
students has in the past and will in the future continue to take them to
new levels of success and performance beyond what once seemed possible.
Training personally with Tuhon Gaje is indeed an inspiring and challenging