By: Guro Dino Martinez, PTK-SMF Tampa 08-17-2011
Tenet 2: “We Believe in Success; We do not Believe in Failure.”
Grand Tuhon Gaje often calls upon us to understand the art of Kali as a cultural discipline. To do so, we’re examining the philosophical tenets of the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali as a glimpse into a particular cultural perspective. These tenets are:
We Believe In Life; We Do Not Believe In Death
We Believe In Success; We Do Not Believe In Failure
We Believe In Health; We Do Not Believe In Sickness
The 2nd tenet of PTK flows as a seamless extension of the first – “We Believe in Life…” As outlined in the previous post, the notion of a belief in Life as a philosophical approach suggests a core understanding of what is at stake in combat. It is akin to the power and necessity of the “Moral Influence” put forth by Sun Tzu in The Art of War. A belief in Life is far more than just the desire “not to die”, but a grounding and irrepressible motivation to acknowledge and celebrate the “aliveness” of any moment. An elemental awareness of the presence of death as a part of Life purges any fear of it and elevates the sanctity of Being. Again, we must place ourselves within the context of a culture in which survival depends so heavily on the technology of the edged implement, and it is probably not a stretch to say that nearly every surviving tribal culture maintains a powerful ideological value much like what we describe as a “Belief in Life”.
PHILOSOPHY AS A BELIEF SYSTEM:
The word philosophy can loosely be translated as a “love of wisdom”. The American essayist H.D. Thoreau took this a step further when he proposed “To be a philosopher...is to so love wisdom as to live according its dictates…” He suggests that true philosophy is to live deliberately by a doctrine, with such a passion for wisdom that it influences action in every dimension of life.
“Our belief in Life is supreme, and permeates all aspects of our being”. Therein lies the guiding philosophy of the tribal blade culture, and to live “according to its dictates” gives rise to the 2nd tenet of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali: We Believe in Success, We do not Believe in Failure.
BELIEF, SUCCESS AND PTK:
A central belief in Life demands a powerful belief in Success. We identify concepts such as Belief and Success as integral parts of a warrior’s creed. It’s essential to define Belief in this context to better understand its role in the philosophy of the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali. To believe in success – not to want for success or hope for success, but to have a belief in it – borders on the sacred. It implies a kind of fundamental faith and expectation. Belief is a transformative force with transcendent power – the impact of a single, strong belief in one’s life can affect dynamic change, as our actions are motivated beyond the mundane. To believe in something is to commit our actions to it. Rarely do we commit ourselves to something because we know it; we almost always commit to something because we believe in it. Success, as a specific principle of the cultural art of Kali, is defined as the preservation of Life. So what is it then to have a Belief in Success? A Belief in Success equals a total commitment to the goal of preserving Life. Protective methods of combat succeed if they are devised and executed in such a way that it accomplishes this goal. These are two key ideas relative to Success as we are describing it here, and are manifested in the formulation of the system, and how it is utilized. If either of these fail, the consequences are potentially catastrophic.
Success in Formulation:
If Kali, as a native method of blade fighting, contributed significantly to the preservation of Life, it follows that it was predicated upon the most accurate information, the keenest assessment, and the most intelligent design. Tribes, clans or families, committed to protecting their land and preserving their way of life, distilled key, correct principles of edged-weapon combat, based on functionally accurate premises of human anatomy and movement, of geometry and physics, of weaponry and psychology. This is critical, because only from true and exact premises can relevant plans of action, or strategies, be constructed. These strategies, in turn, dictate more detailed and precise maneuvers, or tactics. At every turn in the process of constructing a combat system of Kali, i.e. Pekiti-Tirsia, there must exist a fully operational understanding of every component of the developing technology. Any flaw in design can cause the system to eventually fail in real-time execution.
A Belief in Success is the disciplined application of one’s highest observational and analytical abilities motivated by the total commitment to securing the desired outcome. The organization of well-founded combat methods into a working composition, in short, creates a system. And while our desire to master the system is fueled by our Belief in Life, it is the actual quest itself that represents our Belief in Success. To be sure, it is our developmental journey through the system’s complete methodology of combat that gives us command of the full capabilities of its technology.
The value of a systematic approach is that it best ensures success. For the PTK system, as a direct remnant of the combat methods of Kali, we know this was the case. Oral history of the Tortal family testifies to the fact that generations of family practitioners utilized a laboratory method of research and development in order to systematically organize native methods of blade combat. Only a true and prevailing Belief in Success, in order to preserve Life, would fuel the discipline necessary to cultivate a method of combat that was tactically valid, combat proven and repeatedly verifiable. When we examine and adopt Pekiti-Tirsia Kali as our “system of combat methods”, we put our lives in the hands of these forefathers, and in so doing we acknowledge and rely on their effort, sacrifice, intellect and commitment to Success.
Success in Utilization:
With regard to how the system is utilized, our belief in Success is represented and defined by the discipline we instill into even the most rudimentary aspects of our individual training. Tuhon Tim Waid of the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali Global Organization has commented, “It’s called the discipline of steel, not the discipline of the stick”. His quote advises that the immediacy and finality of bladed combat requires strict attention to the basic details of execution.
For example, a challenge frequently encountered by both new and veteran practitioners of PTK is the difficulty in executing accurate 45° angles on the # 1, 2, 3, 4 strikes. It might not at first seem like a relevant skill to master, yet there is an utterly essential reason for it. This is a movement that must be attended to and installed as an instinctive skill in the PTK fighter, thus often requiring thousands upon thousands of strikes precisely executed. The discipline to acquire this and other indispensable skills can only be summoned out of a personal doctrine in which Success is not simply sought after, but believed in, with an exact understanding of its implications for our personal practice, as any neglected skill of execution can abolish even the best laid plans. Compelled by a Belief in Success, we focus our training to develop the physical and mental determination not just to survive, but to dominate any combative encounter. Even as we are aware of the potential prowess of our enemy, we expect the attainment of our goal to be total and absolute, for we realize any small mistake is a potentially life-ending blunder.
We Believe in Success, We do not Believe in Failure. At every level, from the formulative process of a valid system of combat to the individual discipline required to effectively execute it, a Belief in Life compels the complete commitment to Success as a measure against the consequences of Failure. Most of us in the modern era are not subject to the continual pressures of tribal warfare and survival. Yet, the presence and reality of the edged weapon resonate today as they ever did. Thus the principle of Success (defined as the preservation of Life) and our Belief in it (defined as a total commitment to what is necessary to achieve Success) still profoundly inspires our study and practice of the Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali.