This video contains samples from the Alphabito, Numerado and Offensa-Defensa sets; one of the last techniques I learned in the Pekiti-Tirsia system.

Here’s an interesting story about the Alphabito set. I learned this set in 1989 from Tuhon Gaje in his back yard when he was still living in Nashville, TN. He told me that the original Alphabito used ancient Filipino letters that were cursive writing and looked something like Sanskrit, (I later learned this was the Baybayin script). He said that originally Alphabito was used like a magic spell and you would attack a opponent with the letters formed into words like “die” or “kill.”

Tuhon Gaje told me that later, “someone” changed this concept to Roman letters and to a more practical structure as he was teaching me. I never asked who changed the set and always assumed this was done by his grandfather Conrado or one of his great uncles, as these were the men he always spoke of as contributing the most to the Pekiti-Tirsia curriculum.

Several years later, I was teaching the Alphabito set and a friend at the class told me the following story. Around 1980 or so another FMA Guro was helping Tuhon Gaje at a joint seminar given by several FMA masters in California.

The day started with demonstrations of their systems by each FMA master, after which the students would break up into groups and train under a different master. One of the masters did a set of techniques he called “Alphabito.” After the demos were done, the group divided up and went off to different parts of this large hotel to train with the masters. On the elevator up to the room they would teach in, the Guro asked Leo if Pekiti-Tirsia had an Alphabito set. Leo replied “of course” and then looked away deep in thought and began to move his finger as if writing the letters of the alphabet in the air.

I immediately thought of two possibilities when I heard this. Either Leo was reviewing the Alphabito techniques in his mind, in case the Guro asked to see them later, or (and knowing Leo this is equally as likely), he did the translation of the whole Alphabito from the old set to the new set on the short elevator ride up to the class.

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Train Hard - Train Smart,

Tuhon Bill McGrath

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