The Learning Through Comparisons principle: There are great benefits to be had for both students and instructors when they experience different ways of solving the same problem. I first saw this during my teacher’s joint seminars in the early 1980s with Eddie Jafri and Guro Dan Inosanto.


Lt to Rt front row: Tom Bisio, Eddie Jafri, Tuhon Leo Gaje, Bill McGrath.
In the 2nd row you can see Akmeed “AK” Boouraca on the left and a very young Phil Gelinas on the right.



Sparring during the 1981 Pekiti-Tirsia summer camp. Bill McGrath (white vest) vs Akmeed “AK” Boouraca (black vest). The referee is Tom Bisio. This was Tuhon Gaje’s famous training camp in Oneonta, NY. These were amazing camps where Tuhon Gaje and Penchak Silat instructor Suryadi “Crazy Eddie” Jafri used to take turns working us near to death on dawn warm ups and then train Pekiti and Penchak techniques until midnight. It was a great time to be involved with these arts.



It was during the late 1970s and early 80s that I learned Silat weapon work from Eddie Jafri. This video shows an empty hand version of a karambit technique I taught a few years ago at Guro Rick Faye's MKG school in Minneapolis, MN.



(Left to Right) Tuhon Leo Gaje, Eddie Jafri, Guro Dan Inosanto.

The 1982 & 83 camps were held in Big Spring, TX. These were Tuhon Gaje's first truly big camps was when he moved his family to Big Spring, TX in 1982. The 1982 camp focused on basics from each teacher, while the 1983 camp continued onto more advanced material.

Some of the drills taught at the 1982 camp.


Pekiti-Tirsia counter elbow drills using the platform of the Sagang-Labo drill. This is the type of drill we practiced at the 1983 camp. 


Left to Right: Phil Gelinas, Guro Dan Inosanto, Bill McGrath, Omar Hakim. Our practice time during this meeting focused on Advanced Doble' Baston material in the Pekiti-Tirsia system.

A drill and technique 1 from Pekiti-Tirsia Doble' Baston Recontras. In Pekiti-Tirsia, Recontras techniques are used when you have a heavier/stronger weapon than your opponent, or when he is faster than you are, or has better endurance and you have to shut him down quickly. Recontras techniques are aggressive and committed to the attack. It's not about charging straight in though, but using the weight of the weapon to your advantage at an angle that limits the opponent's counters.


 Group photo from the June 2022 Kali Evolution 5 seminar, where Tuhons Ray Dionaldo, Jared Wihongi and myself taught with a focus on knife material. The two videos below show samples from the principles I taught at this seminar.

 The relationship between Pekiti-Tirsia Hand vs Knife and Knife vs Knife.

Pekiti-Tirsia empty hand vs knife is based on its knife vs knife principles. There are several reasons for this. One is that the type of knife commonly carried, such as a pocket knife or balisong, will not function the same way as a large knife, such as a bolo or bowie; in that it is much harder to instantly stop an opponent’s attack with a small knife than it is with a large knife. That is why you see a combination of evasive footwork, to move you out of the line of attack and parries with the forearms or hands, to help control the opponent’s weapon arm, used in both empty hand vs knife and in knife to knife training in Pekiti-Tirsia. Notice how both the empty hand hits and the counter attacks with the knife in this video are not relied upon to stop the opponent’s attack, but are done when the footwork and parries have brought you the time and space to use them. If you follow the same principles and gross motions in all your weapon platforms of the same size, you will have a much easier battle plan to follow during the stress of a fight.



LT to RT: Mataas na Guro Chris Verdot, Tuhons Jack Latorre, Bill McGrath, Scott Faulk and Magino'o Danny Terrell.

The two big camps for PTI are the Spring camp in Luisiana and the Summer camp in New York. Even after 48 years in the Pekiti-Tirsia system, I still find myself learning something new, or at least seeing a technique from a new angle, whenever another teacher shows how they teach the material. If I can learn something new after all this time in the art, so can you.

One of the subjects taught at the 2024 Spring camp will be Double Stick Fundamentals. 


 One of the subjects taught at the 2024 Summer Camp will be the 3rd Set of Espada y Daga.


2023 Joint Seminar and Classes:

Here is a list of the Zoom classes and the in-person seminar I did in 2023; along with some samples of the material my co-instructors  and I have taught at these events.

My intro video for Bowie, Axe and Kukri, explaining the Learning Through Comparisons principle:


1. JANUARY, 2023 BOWIE KNIFE: with Bryan Cannata
Guro Bryan Cannata: Bryan is a US Army veteran, a classically trained saber fencer and has trained in several styles of FMA, along with traditional American Bowie fighting. He is the founder of Kalis Americano (a blend of HEMA and FMA).

Here is the list of bowie books recommended by Bryan.
“Cold Steel” by John Styers
“Cold Steel” The art of fencing with the Sabre by Alfred Hutton
“Bowie knife Fights, Fighters and Fighting Techniques” by Paul Kirchner.

Contact Bryan through his Facebook group "Atlanta Monthly Meet Up."

2. JANUARY, 2023 TWO HANDED AXE: with Coach Russ Mitchell: Russ is a 30-year "HEMA Dinosaur" and Feldenkrais Method Practitioner, who has trained in a variety of eastern and western lineages. He is the founder of Winged Sabre Historical Fencing, where his teaching focuses on the Hungarian sabre and the Fokos Axe. Another great instructor with (warning!) a sense of humor similar to my own.
Visit his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@russmitchellmovement/featured


3. FEBRUARY, 2023 WALKING STICK: with Instructors John Borter & Trish Chiovari of Doyle Style Irish Stick Fighting. I’ve done two seminars with John and Trish. They know their subject well, are great communicators and are very easy to work with.
Contact them via their Facebook group: “The Irish Stick.”

Principles of PTI Walking Stick:

4. APRIL, 2023 PEKITI-TIRSIA SPEAR & ITALIAN PARTISAN: Maestro Devon Boorman. Devon has 30 years experience in Italian martial arts including swordplay, polearms, wrestling, and mounted combat. He is the author of “Introduction to Italian Rapier” and “Introduction to Italian Longsword”, as well as the Director of Academie Duello Center for Swordplay in Vancouver Canada.


Sample techniques from Pekiti-Tirsia Spear sets.

5. MAY, 2023 KUKRI/KHUKURI: with Sayaji David Daniel. David is a direct student of Mahasayaji Dr. Maung Gyi in the American Bando Association and National Bando Association of America. He has over 45 years of experience in martial arts with additional experience as a Sifu of Hsing-I and Ba-Gua under Allen Pittman and Tibetan Lion's Roar under Charles Daniel. For more info on David Daniel, join the Facebook group: The American Bando Association and Friends.

Crossdraw and walking guard/carry of the kukri.


6. MAY, 2023 AXE/TOMAHAWK & KNIFE: with Dr. John Lennox. John has trained in various forms of swordplay for over 40 years. Beginning with the katana, he later moved into the western weapon styles. He is a black belt in Kenpo, an instructor with the Historical Martial Study Society, and an expert level knife and tomahawk instructor for the School of Two Swords. Over the past few years he has focused on unarmed combat theory. His recent research includes Aztec, Mayan and Inca combat systems. Since 2006 he has been teaching at workshops all over the world, including the The Shenandoah Project, the Symposium on the Western Arts of Swordsmanship through History (S.W.A.S.H.) in Leeds, England, and numerous workshops in Scotland, England, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Canada.
He is the author of Combat Theory: The Foundations of the Fight, and is the editor for the posthumous work of Colonel Dwight C. McLemore, The Dagger/Counter-Dagger Concepts of Joachim Meyer.
He is routinely called in to colleges and universities for workshops on historical combat and stage combat. John holds a PhD in Theatre with cognate studies in historical fencing from Wayne State University.
Website: https://schooloftwoswords.com/

Drawing and use of the hatchet for self-defense purposes. 


7. JUNE, 2023 SPEAR-STAFF-CANE: with  Punong Guro Marc Denny & Instructors John Borter and Trish Chiovari.

Punung Guro Marc Denny is the founder and head instructor of the Dog Brothers Martial Arts organization. For more info on DBMA, visit: https://dogbrothers.com/

Guro Marc teaching Dog Brothers Martial Arts Short Staff.

How to draw the spear from its carry position to its guard position in the Pekiti-Tirsia system. 


A sample from a class on Doyle Style Irish Stick Fighting, taught by Instructors John Borter & Trish Chiovari. For more info on Irish Stick Fighting, join the Facebook group "The Irish Stick."

 A sample from the PTI walking stick class in Wappingers Falls, NY on June 10th, 2023.

8. JULY, 2023 MACHETE: with Joe Flowers for self-Defense and Bushcraft use. Joe Flowers is the owner of Bushcraft Global.  As a knife designer, Joe Flowers has over 150 Knife and equipment designs for various knife and outdoor companies. Joe’s love for machetes and the outdoors teamed him up with companies like Condor Knives, and his machete and knife designs are well known throughout the knife  and outdoor world.

At Blade Show in Atlanta, Joe teaches Blade University bushcraft classes. He was also on the board of directors for the first Global Bushcraft Symposium in 2019, and is on the board of the UK Global Bushcraft Symposium in England, as well as teaching there. Joe was a Subject Matter Expert (SME) at the 7th Special Forces Group, Jungle Warfare Symposium on jungle survival in 2022.

A sample from Joe's lecture on the history and survival uses of the machete in various cultures around the world.

Contract Joe through his company, Bushcraft Global https://bushcraftglobal.com/

The Machete; a bridge between stick and sword for FMA practitioners.
A sample from my class on the self-defense use of the machete.


9. February 25th 2024 Zoom class with Guro Bryan Cannata on improvied weapons in the Medusa System, Guro Dean Franco on use of the tactical flashling in the Piper System and Tuhon Bill McGrath on 3 tools used in the Pekiti-Tirsia system.


For information on upcoming Pekiti-Tirsia classes, seminars and camps, visit:


Here is the playlists page from my YouTube channel with some sample techniques from the material shown in this essay.

Train Hard, but Train Smart,
Tuhon Bill McGrath