By: Guro Dino Martinez, PTK-SMF Tampa 08-17-2011
Tenet 3: “We Believe in Health; We do not Believe in Sickness.”
Here we take a look at the final tenet of the PTK belief system and philosophy. This series of notes on the Tenets of PTK has attempted to address Grand Tuhon Gaje’s suggestion that we try to understand the system of PTK as a cultural discipline, as something descriptive or akin to a culture of Kali, perhaps harkening back to a pre-Hispanic era or before contemporary Filipino culture. As an intimate knowledge of the culture of that era is unattainable, one means by which to access this cultural perspective is by looking to the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali as a cultural remnant of that time, and to its guiding philosophy as a glimpse into the belief system of Kali. If we accept PTK as a valid system of combat that descends from the combat methods of native tribes of the archipelago, then by extension we can look to its guiding tenets for a better understanding of some aspect of the culture of Kali.
What is the weapon without the hand that wields it? If the 2nd tenet, the Belief in Success, can be viewed as the “total commitment to the preservation of Life”, then the 3rd tenet naturally follows as a necessity to prolong life. The Doctrine of Discipline that Grand Tuhon Gaje often refers to exerts its importance once more in this final tenet. The Doctrine of Discipline is a personal creed of self-mastery in all matters, and this standard is set firmly in a powerful belief in Life. The ability to preserve Life by way of combat demands the mastery of weaponry and the need for a fully disciplined approach, for as we know, a “mistake is a blunder”. The discipline required to master the weapon in hand, particularly the discipline to master a blade, migrates to the wielder of the weapon.
Our 1st tenet, a Belief in Life, prescribes that our commitment to Life is supreme, and that the primary goal of a combat system is the preservation or maintenance of Life, which is sacred. We are committed to Success in that regard, but in the case of the 3rd tenet we look beyond the framework of the system to the actual individual within that framework. As a vessel for the art that will preserve individual and collective Life, all must be done to maintain total health. The cultivation of Health (physical, mental, spiritual) in this regard would not be looked upon as a luxury but as a necessity, even a responsibility. The advent of modern healthcare, medicine and technology in industrialized society has relieved us somewhat of the strong personal sense of responsibility for our health, as we increasingly rely on outside sources to address the consequences of poor health. Put another way, many of us know we need to make better choices in regard to our overall well-being, but it is viewed as something of a come-and-go indulgence. This is a far different worldview than that posed by the 3rd tenet of the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali, where a Belief in Health is a total commitment to health and longevity. Remember here the role of a personal doctrine in which discipline figures as a central, driving force.
PTK practitioners familiar with Grand Tuhon Gaje are aware of the particular nature of his personal diet, and how his choices figure into his belief regarding health. Now surely every culture describes “health” very differently, but what’s important is that the individual is operating at the highest level of health that their culture prescribes. There is an alignment here between the personal protocol of the individual, his culture of origin, and that culture’s dictates of what constitutes good “health”. The discipline to live by this wisdom is what is meant by a Belief in Health, as an expression of our commitment to the goal of preserving and prolonging Life. As we train to successfully wield the weapon and prepare for the rigors of combat, we simultaneously strengthen and condition our physical capabilities. We cultivate and adhere to diets that promote vitality and allow us to meet the demands of training and of the fight. Again, because we know what is at stake via our Belief in Life, we cannot allow ourselves to be compromised by persistent unhealthy habits or vices that would undermine our commitment to the integrity of our physical beings.
In addition to the physical aspects of health, mental and spiritual health must also be attended to. The Greeks long ago knew the virtue of Mens Sana in Corpore Sano, “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. Tribal cultures everywhere have understood the importance of this principle as well, hence the role of the “shaman”, priestess, or medicine man and their intuitive understanding of the psyche and its influence on a person’s wellness. The key here is the cultivation of a clear mental state or a healthy mental attitude regarding the world around you. There is a responsibility to cultivate positive mental habits and attitudes in order to exercise judgment that is effective and reliable. The survival of the individual, clan or tribe depends on the ability to exercise sound judgments, from how a person responds to a perceived affront, how a family decides what crop it will plant in the coming season, or how tribal leaders interpret changing weather patterns and its effect on plans to migrate. A healthy mental state also guards against the corrosive effects of complacency and mental stagnation. It is a mandate to keep the mind sharp and apply the powers of inspection and analysis to the everyday world around us. Truly, to preserve and prolong Life depends on our functional ability to both physically and mentally engage our environments and respond effectively to its changing conditions.
Lastly, spiritual health is also a vital aspect of overall well-being. I will define spiritual health here as being in possession of a strong personal belief system. Spirituality often implies forces deemed to be “outside” of the strictly biological human experience, yet with great influence on the individual in the material world. A belief in a specific deity, or in a universal value of Goodness or Altruism, or in a certain ethical code, all qualify as spiritual or metaphysical expressions. Whether the belief system is religious or philosophical in nature is not as relevant as the fact that some belief system is firmly in place as an integral and satisfying aspect of the individual. If we define belief system as a collection of tenets to which we are fully “committed”, then we are referring to living a purposeful life, a life with a course and with a meaning. It is commitment once again which energizes our thoughts and actions, aligns them with purpose and infuses them with meaning. This can make all the difference in coloring how we view the world, indeed even in our will to live, as it ultimately gives us something greater than ourselves for which not only to live but to thrive. The presence of a strong, clear and personal belief system unifies the various physical and mental aspects of the individual. It is vital to the overall functioning of the whole person. In other words, what use are the physical skills or mental acuity if the very “fire in the belly” has been snuffed out? As it pertains to the combat system of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a central Belief in Life acts as the philosophical foundation for a personal belief system.
We Believe in Life…We Believe in Success…We Believe in Health…
This philosophical outlook can express itself through various avenues within a culture. It can guide reasoning and action in a multitude of ways unrelated to combat, but with significant impact on the overall way of life and survival of the clan or tribe. As Grand Tuhon Gaje has urged, this series of notes has attempted to look more closely at how this philosophy manifests specifically through the family art of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali as a cultural remnant of a certain bygone era. While the combat methodology of Pekiti-Tirsia reveals the physical systemization of the native fighting methods of Kali, through the philosophy of the art we get a glimpse of Pekiti-Tirsia as a cultural expression of Kali as well. In this way perhaps, we come to have a better understanding of the cultural roots of PTK and of the Doctrine of Discipline as a creed of personal commitment.