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Pekiti Tirsia Kali History
847 Hamilton Ave (Rt 69).
Waterbury, CT 06706


Written By: Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr.

Edited and Provided By: Ron Kosakowski


Click on each picture below to read the plaque on the statues


Click here to see the inscription on the statueKali is the true Filipino culture and discipline expressed in the principles of respect, concern and care represented by the carrying of the Kalis as the status symbol of every Kayumanggi living in the Island. “Kayumanggi,” is the original name of the now called Filipino nationality, long before they were referred to as Filipinos." Kali was originally a Hindu influence brought to the Islands over 800 years before the Majapahit Empire that ended back around 1500 AD. The influence of Kali as a culture was deeply rooted among the inhabitants of the 7,100 Islands. It was a culture because it expresses the Philosophy of life with the elements of belief that only life no death, success no failure and good health no sickness. Its not that every human being doesn’t feel this way, it is a strong mentality and belief in this philosophy what keeps the Philippine warrior alive and very healthy. That is because Kali, as a belief, is also a metaphysical energy. If and when you will further your study with Pekiti Tirsia you will then understand the effect of Kali in the area of metaphysics.

Kali, the word can be authenticated in the use of the Filipino language. A Filipino alphabet includes the word Ka as the first letter words of Tagalog is expressed in A-BA-KA-DA-E-GA-LA-MA-NA-SA-TA-U-WA-YA. There is no C in Filipino replacing the letter K with significantly meaningful to the culture of the true discipline, the Kali culture. The word Ka is a prefix meaning Sir, Your Highness, Your Majesty, Your Excellency. Then the word “KALI” is also a prefix to words that describe as adjectives like KALIPAY MEANS HAPPINESS, KALIBUTAN THE WORLD, KALISUD MEANS SADNESS and KALIRUNGAN MEANS KNOWLEDGE AND MORE. Not meaning thatLapu Lapu KALI, the martial art, is the prefix to these words...this just shows that KALI as a word, is in the language and a part of the culture. And in Negros Occidental in the mountainous town of Salvador Benidicto, the yearly celebration of Kalikalihan is held every February, every year and this has been done for the past 15 years.

A Kali landmark is found in the Island of Panay called KALIBO, capital city of Aklan province and KALINGA-APAYAO, the province in the north of Luzon representing the indigenous artifacts and tribes that till today still practices Kali under the system called Peka-Peka and in the Island close to Mindoro Island to Manila where the inhabitants still practice the system called ALIMASAG KALI.

Lapu LapuKali as a fighting system was kept secret when the Governor Disilio of Manila back in 1776 threatened the Filipino people, “all citizens should not mentioned the word Kali, and carrying of the Kalis was forbidden or else they will be arrested and brought to prison.” So the inhabitants kept it and under the pretext of a cane with pointed blade inside the cane. The Filipinos encountered the Spanish soldiers with these weapons which in turn, a lot of Spanish soldiers died. That was a major factor that ignited the Filipino/Spanish revolution in the Philippines which lasted till 1889. This is when Spain lost the revolution and then saved the face of King Philip and Queen Isabella by selling the Filipinos to the Americans in the Treaty of Paris of 1889. 

Kali was and still is to this day, considered to be a sacred art by the Filipino people. Every drop of blood that falls to the ground from the Kali warrior was dedicated to the Gods with the utmost promise to revenge and to avenge the death of the Kali warrior. It is well known today that the Kali warriors didn't stop fighting even when a bullet was piercing through their bodies. This is the real proof of the Kali warriors, deep in the provinces of the Philippines, who were true to their beliefs in their philosophy, continued to kill the Spanish soldiers until they won. That is because of that strong belief in life and success made them invincible warriors. Kali was so sacred that due to the many different metaphysical practices. The power to disappear in front of the enemy. The power to hack with the Kalis and cut a body in half. This did not exclude the cutting right into a Spanish helmet as well as cutting into the Spanish Toledo blades in half. If the Filipino warrior was injured there was and still is, the use of special oil to stop the bleeding that would occur during the close quarter encounters. It is well known by many Filipinos about the use of the metaphysical power by killing the enemy at a distance.

Kali warriors of today carry the spirit of the forefathers who watch the activities of every person that teaches or professes the Kali as their own fighting system. It is strongly believed they watch with care and concern that nobody abuses or commercializes the system with the intention of forgetting the Philippines and by remembering the duty to help the children, the poor families and the indigents whose life is miserable because of extreme poverty. Few have met their destiny in the USA as well as in the Philippines because of the wrongful use of Kali. The few had their destiny died in a premature death because they rejected the responsibilities and ignored the power of Kali. Not to mention those people without sense of gratitude and/or the recognition to the old men who taught the true warriors of the Philippines.  

As you can see, Kali is a very powerful martial art compared to many of the other Asian martial arts from the physical and to the metaphysical elements of combat. In modern times, this is proven fact because, for the past six years, the Force Recon Marines training under the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali System in the Philippines, there has been no casualties against the many encounters in Mindanao Islamic rebel wars. It is important to understand that once the purity of the practices are followed religiously then there are the feelings of security and confidence within the atmosphere of training and in the execution of Kali techniques. But if Kali is practiced with the mixture of the word Arnis and Eskrima, which are Spanish words, then the wisdom of the martial art will never find the ancient Filipino purity in a person’s heart.

Kali, as well as Kun Tao has a long history as successful fighting methods and as a lifestyle  in the Philippines. It was the Kali warriors that killed Ferdinand Magellan; as a matter of fact, the research done by the oldest University in the Philippines, UST-University of Santo Thomas recently found evidence that the name of the Datu that killed Ferdinand Magellan is Kalikulapu. So it is evident that the KALI word was significant long before the changes that were made back in 1521. These latest findings by the Arts and Museum of the Philippines, the Laguna copperplate in the beach shore of Laguna de Bay close to Manila, explains the engraved writings in Babayin, the original Filipino language.

Now, after hearing how Kali is a very common word in the Filipino language and present in the true Filipino culture, you can see how Kali is also a Filipino sense of courage within  the culture. It is well known that the Filipinos cannot be united religiously, politically or socially. But if there is war to fight, all Filipinos can be easily united together in force to fight against any nation of the world if need be. 



More history as told by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje: 

The amazing story of Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje’s Grandfather and what the Japanese put him through during WW2 is amazing. You will see by this is his heroic story he was a true Pekiti Tirsia warrior! 

Pekiti-Tirsia system is one of the systems that had its personal experiences of encounter during the heyday of development when my grandfather was the first chief of police of the town of Victorias, a town of 50 kilometers away from the city of Bacolod, Negros occidental. It was those days that the sugar mills were constructed in a town where people of different environment start to find works in the sugar mill. Working in the sugar mill during those times is a privilege and for one to be accepted, he must possess not only to work but must the guts to protect your job. People from different towns come to Victorias to grab the work from the residence depriving the Victorias resident to get the job. So every now and then there are riots and people fought with bolos and knives. My grandfather’s job was to settle the warring factions and made them understand that there is a law to follow and to be civilized and obey the laws. It was a rough mission for my grandfather but with his police men, he drove the invading Sacadas back to their town’s ands barrios with the use of horse whips and Kaboratas. He also whipped his policemen if he caught them sleeping on the job. He was a notorious police chief giving no quarters for the bad elements to stay in the town of Victorias. 

The year was 1936 to 1939 when the Japanese invasion of the country expanded to the island of Negros and in each town, there is an organization by the civilians called "Guardia Civil." It was an intelligence network of local resident to report the activities of the Japanese. My grandfather was the head of the civil guard in the Sitio of Isio, the far southern portion of Negros Island. And during this time he was responsible in building a strong civil guard against the Japanese patrol and on many occasions, the encounter was more of a secret for other people not to know since the Japanese had their own Kempitai - meaning an appointed civilian acting as the spy of the Japanese against the Filipino guerillas. In one of the accounts, the brother of my grandfather Balbino Tortal was caught by the Japanese including three friends. Their hands were tied and told to walk many kilometers without food and at the end of the journey, the Japanese wanted to execute each one of them, the brother Balbino was able to parry his body from the incoming bayonet thrust and got his arms caught where the ropes are tightening his wrist and that time the timing was he able to insert the bayonet into the rope and cut the rope , he took the bayonet and fought the Japanese bayonet to bayonet and killed three Japanese but he had not eaten anything he felt so weak and the Japanese soldier hit the head with the rifle bat and he fell and died. But never the less, he still took three Japanese with him!. His brother was his best sparring partner under the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system.


Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje Tells us what he had to go through to learn his family system of Pekiti Tirsia Kali:

Even as a young boy, training Pekiti Tirsia Kali was as hard as it was painful. From the age of six years old, standing on a table performing Pekiti Tirsia triangle based footwork on a daily basis from 5:00 am to 7:30. And if my grandfather is not in a good mood, it was to be repeated again in the afternoon. This routine continued until I was nine years old. It was at that time when I took the first stick for the first time and start to swing under my grandfather’s guidance.

It was beginning with no ending even up to the time on his death bed his words of wisdom was, “never neglect your training and be prepared at all times.”  A friend is your enemy in the future, an enemy is pretentious he can be a traitor, before any fight with anyone he is your enemy but if there is a fight then you will know if he a true enemy or just nobody.


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Pekiti Tirsia Kali

847 Hamilton Ave (Rt 69).
Waterbury, Connecticut 06706
203-596-9073 or 203-802-8533





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