Filipino Martial Art Pekiti-Tirsia Lakan-Kali Now Being Used by the Philippine Police Force



Older generations who have seen the movies of Steven Seagal would probably remember the actor employing a certain kind of martial art during many of his fight scenes. Do you know that it's called Perkiti-Tirsia Lakan-Kali and that it originated from the Philippines? For my younger readers, know that this martial art has also been used by Matt Damon in the Bourne movies.


Recently, I got to visit Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna where the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) and the Police National Training Institute are located. They were having their Sportsfest that day and we were invited to watch a demonstration of Lakan-Kali by 2000 men in uniform. It was very impressive to see them all move in unison under the heat of the late morning sun.


Later, individual policemen showed various moves using different weapons such as sticks, swords, guns, and daggers aside from hand-to-hand combat. Police Chief Inspector Serafin Petalio II concluded the demonstration by showing us how Lakan-Kali can be used to defend oneself from an attacker. I would love to learn those moves myself! I'm sure they would be handy for women like me who sometimes go home from work late at night.


PCI Petalio II described in a past speech that the varied styles and techniques as well as all fighting ranges are integral parts of the Pekiti-Tirsia system although special attention is given to close-quarter fighting. "Integral to this is a coiled close quarter stance that allows evasion and generation of a powerful strike even in close range," he illustrated pointing out that Pekiti-Tirsia is about quartering the opponent, or 'cutting up into little pieces' which emphasizes destruction with counter offense while not getting hit. 


"The Pekiti-Tirsia methodology originates from offensive and counter offensive principles against attacks from all ranges, angles, and threat levels," explained PCI Petalio. "There is less emphasis on purely defensive techniques per se, as this is not seen as an effective survival strategy."


The day's special guest was Mikee Conjuangco-Jaworski, daughter of PPSC President Margarita "Tingting" Conjuangco. I, and several members of the media, got to chat with her about Lakan-Laki. 

In her opinion, martial arts are not necessarily used in violence or fights. "At the same time, I think it's a way of staying more physically fit. It's also something na, may pride tayo, like kung nakakapanood tayo ng mga Kung Fu or Karate na martial arts ng ibang bansa, meron din tayo," she acknowledged. "Yung kay Steven Seagal, yun ang ginagamit n'yang technique dun sa most popular movies n'ya. Tayo, hindi natin alam na sa atin pala yun."


"Personally, kailan ko lang naman nalaman na may ganung klaseng martial art na Filipino talaga. So I was excited to discover na may ganun pala. I can't see why there shouldn't be a push for it to be given a little bit more attention and importance in the Philippines. Bakit hindi?" reasoned Mikee. "If Hollywood uses it because it looks good, and if our police force can use it because it can be effective, then the results of using this martial art should speak for itself."


According to Mikee, like everything that's truly Filipino, the martial art should be known all over the country.  At the moment though, she thinks the biggest push for it right now is what was already started within the police force "which is to train them to use it and, hopefully, maturuan din na it's not just a matter of being physically capable to do the skills or the moves, but to know when to use it, and what to use it for."


Having had the chance to meet her mom, Tingting, last month, we couldn't help asking Mikee what she thinks about her mom running for senator and she admitted that, ultimately, she and her sisters can only give their support. "In the end, [my mom] is the one in the frontline. So, no matter what anybody says or does, she's the one who'll ultimately be the one to do that work that she needs to do. She's the one who'll go through every single experience of preparation, election, campaign and everything so we're there to support her."


"Pero kilala naman namin s'ya at napakasipag n'ya. She really does her homework," said the proud daughter. "She is someone who really loves to learn from every person and every opportunity that she sees. And she's someone who knows how to fight for what she believes in so, hopefully, she'll have that opportunity within government."

* To see more photos from the Lakan-Kali demonstration, please click here


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