PROGRESSING THROUGH THE PTI RANK SYSTEM: A HISTORY
(PTI Test books. Lt to Rt: Test Book 1, Advanced Test Book, Current test book).
FROM TUHON BILL MCGRATH:
When Tuhon Gaje was learning the Pekiti-Tirsia system as a child from his grandfather Conrado Tortal, there was no rank structure. Young Leo was taught all of one weapon "A to Z" in the order of Solo Baston/Espada (single stick/sword), Doble' Baston/Espada (double stick/sword), Espada y Daga (sword and dagger), Daga y Daga (knife vs knife), & Mano y Mano (hand vs hand).
Leo told us that the names of the ranks he gave us where taken from the public school titles used when he was a child, so an elementary school student was called a "Yakan" (student), while a high school student was a Lakan (lit. "first step"). The school principle was addressed as "Tuhon" (From the Malay "Tuan" lit. "lord" and used for "chief.") Teachers were addressed as "Guro" which of course means "teacher." Mataas is literally "master' and was the equivalent of the Spanish "maestro." Magino'o is a term for the pre-spanish nobility among Tagolog speakers in the Philippines and is used in Tuhon Gaje's rank structure to mean "elder"or "respected person."
Our first test book in PTI was Test Book 1, from 1995. This book covered all the rank material up to Guro Isa (Instructor, 1st level). I based the requirements of each rank approximately on the material I had learned when I was given each rank by Tuhon Gaje. The times listed in the chart were my approximations of how long a student should practice each set before they might be ready to test in that material. The belt rank equivalents came from requests by seminar hosts to show their students how ranks in PTI would correlate with ranks they were already familiar with.
The two major changes from how I learned the system were the addition of the 5 Attacks Subsystem (1) at the beginning of the curriculum, and the move of the Pekiti-Disarma from the end of the solo stick/sword material to a place in between the 64 Attacks drills and Seguidas. When I had first showed the proposed rank chart to Tuhon Gaje, he asked that the Disarma be moved to its current place in the curriculum, so it would act as a gatekeeper for Seguidas; ("If they can get through Disarma, then they will deserve to learn Seguidas." was how he phrased it at the time.)
TEST BOOK ONE RANK CHART
The Advanced test book covered the ranking requirements from Guro Delawa through Tuhon.
ADVANCED TEST BOOK RANK CHART
Interior of new test book.
NEW TEST BOOK
The current test book is a spiral bound booklet that shows the requirements for all ranks in PTI and contains the following changes:
Things removed: The sash/belt colors were removed as most FMA schools don't use this system. Also removed were the training time suggestions, as few people train in the 4 to 8 hours a week format those suggestions were based on.
EYD changes: In the old test books, EYD set 2 material was split between Guro Isa and Guro Dalawa. In the new test book, all the EYD 2 requirements have been put into the Guro Dalawa section.
Spear: Tuhon Gaje had only taught me the first two sets of spear and told me I should be able to figure out the third set on my own. Since the spear sets were based on Seguidas, (or maybe visa versa, see note 2), this seemed workable when I first learned them. However, I decided I probably should have help on this, so I waited until I had several instructors in our group who had all three sets of Seguidas before working on this set.
Doble' Daga: It was common for Tuhon Gaje to teach a set of Espada Y Daga and then teach the double knife versions of the same material while training us on variations. While this did help reinforce the gross motions of each technique and gave you a deeper understanding of the material, it proved to be extremely time consuming to teach this way. When I was teaching small private groups at the same pace I learned the material (often one technique per hour), all went well. However, when I tried to fit all of a EYD set (12 attacks, 12 disarms, 12 Contradas & 12 Recontras) in a weekend seminar, along with all the corresponding double daga work, it always seemed that I had to "rob Peter to pay Paul" between the two weapon systems.
I've also learned to be increasingly careful about teaching Pekiti knife work as the years go on and thought it wise to separate the double knife work from the Espada y Daga material.
Much like Tuhon Gaje made Pekiti Disarma the gatekeeper for Seguidas, I decided that the EYD material would be the gatekeeper for Doble' Daga. Therefore, the other change I made in the new test book was to reflect how I now teach Doble' Daga today and reserve it for those with a career path towards learning the full Pekiti-Tirsia system.
PTI RANK REQUIREMENTS (Newest version)
YAKAN - FULL STUDENT
Tempering and Kickboxing,
Solo Baston 5 Attacks Subsystem,
Doble’ Baston Basics,
Empty Hand vs Knife
LAKAN - FIRST STEP
Solo Baston Abcedario,
Abcedario de Mano
LAKAN GURO ISA - ASST. INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 1
Solo Baston 64 Attacks,
Solo Daga Levels 1, 2 & 3
LAKAN GURO DALAWA - ASST. INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 2
Doble’ Contradas & Recontras,
Pekiti de Mano
GURO ISA - INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 1
Espada Y Daga Level 1,
GURO DALAWA - INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 2
Espada y Daga Level 2,
GURO TATLO - INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 3
Espada y Daga Level 3
GURO APAT - INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 4
Alphabito, Numerado, Offensa-Defensa,
MATAAS NA GURO - MASTER INSTRUCTOR
NOTE 1: I developed the 5 Attacks subsystem back when I was doing followup seminars for Tuhon Gaje in the 1980s. The idea was that most weapon based arts I encountered had the same basics; four diagonal cuts and a thrust. Therefore, if I could use that format as a template, I could add more advanced Pekiti principles on top of something these other arts were already familiar with.
NOTE 2: If you have trained in Seguidas, you may have thought that some of the techniques seemed a bit strange to use with a baston or sword. These techniques make a whole lot more sense when used with a spear. This leads me to wonder which was the chicken and which the egg between Seguidas and spear.
Train Hard, but Train Smart,
Tuhon Bill McGrath
FROM TUHON JACK LATORRE:
When first coming to the system in 1993 or so and seeing this chart, I was very excited to undertake this system.
When I started completing the first few curricular blocks, the design of each block made so much sense for both learning and application.
After starting some of the intermediate material, I was drawn in by the level of detail and efficacy. But seeing what was required of each new block, it seemed almost daunting to learn everything.
Sticking with it and having the guidance of Tuhon William McGrath and the cooperation of my classmates really made for a quality and enjoyable experience.
Going through the rigorous and detailed testing of knowledge and application required of each block not only confirmed the quality of training, but brought more and more connectivity between curricular blocks.
In 2003, upon completing successful learning of, training in, and testing of the entire system, it became apparent to me that I was a merely a beginner in the system. Now I had a finished road map that I had been piecing together from parts I had been given from which I could begin to REALLY explore...to draw parallels between blocks, to distill technical essence from the physical exemplars given. Also, I learned to improve my methods to explain and teach others what I had been given and worked for.
2017 was the promotion of Scott Faulk and I to Tuhon rank.
One of the many things that made it odd compared to us testing out of the system for our Mataas Na Guro ranks was that there was no test. Tuhon McGrath simply thought both Scott Faulk and I were ready. Neither Scott nor I thought we were ready for such an honor.
But what came to pass afterwards helped to add perspective.
Both Scott and I became more involved in leadership roles...to help make decisions for the improvement of the organization, of the student body, and of our diplomacy in the greater FMA world.
Scott and I were making more connections for ourselves as to how the system could be taught, how it could better serve the membership, and how quality could be maintained as we grow as an organization. Both Coach Danny Terrell and Mataas Na Guro Christophe Verdot became part of the process and now we have a PTI Council to help guide you all.
After going through the system, looking at this chart is a fascinating practice.
All PTI members are somewhere on here in varying degrees. Your jobs are to learn the most salient parts to you in a quality and ethical way.
Look at it closely and carefully. It is a sort of mountain to climb...with several paths you can navigate.
What the PTI Council does is help you figure out which paths are best for you...what you might experience going one way or another on divergent paths...what paths are more "scenic" and which paths are more "direct"...and what's to be gained by following certain paths.
With the COVID-19 health crisis, our paths might alter some...but they are still paths nonetheless. We will help you progress in whatever way we can. There are the downloads of Tuhon Bill, free video tutorials that Coach Danny and I make, Zoom classes that some of the assistant instructors and Certified Trainers do, and this Facebook group. You can still progress.
Looking at this chart makes me envious of the paths you are on.
Wishing each of you health, safety, and sanity.
Jack A. Latorre