top of page



The philosophy of Pekiti Tirsia Kali is best summarized in the article, “Life, Death, and Personal Philosophy in Self Defense” November 2015, by writer Leslie Buck and found at the following webpage.

“Life, Death and Personal Philosophy in Self-Defense Aligning your training with your values”

You can train your physical skills, martial arts, self-defense, firearms, fitness, emergency preparedness, etc. until you are a machine, but you must have your mind in the right place or it may all be for naught.  You need to cultivate your cognitive skills under pressure, and you need the right mindset.  Without that proper mindset, you will not be able to apply your skills when you need them.  Perhaps even more important: You not only need to address your physical skills, cognitive skills and winning mindset, but also your religious or philosophical values. 

You must identify and align your personal beliefs with your training to be able to defend yourself.  If the actions required to apply your skills does not align with your beliefs, then you are setting yourself up to freeze when you are under pressure.  Also, if you do not have the right values in place, then you may not train hard enough to reach your full potential.  A complete approach to self-defense will include defining your personal beliefs and your personal philosophy of life.

Belief and Personal Philosophy:

Without belief or a philosophy of life, you will have no significant direction.  You will drift through life.  You may have a career path, or a plan to develop your hobbies and pursue your interests, but you may be missing a real sense of purpose. 

Identify your values and determine if the way you live your life is consistent with those values. Whether you take your values from your religion, your culture, your parents, or your personal philosophy, you need to identify them to live by them.  Once they are identified, you can structure your priorities, your approach, and your methods of training self-defense accordingly.

Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje, grandmaster of the Filipino martial art Pekiti Tirsia Kali, taught me what he calls the philosophy of the Filipino warrior.  It is a great philosophy that can be translated into action and can fit anyone regardless of culture or religion.   We can examine this as an example to understand how values can translate into actions related to self-defense and martial arts training.

Below is the summary of beliefs, followed by a short explanation of each in terms of self-defense.

  • We believe in success, not failure.

  • We believe in good health, not sickness.

  • We believe in life, not death.

Believing in Success

Believing in success will help you build your skills in training, overcome an opponent, and solve any problems in your life.  It defines how you approach a problem and gives you a mindset that will look for the positive in everything you do.  Recognizing these positive elements will give you the fuel to continue.  You do not see failure as defeat, only a part of the process to reach success.  Believing in success is a matter of proper focus.  

Focus on finding a solution, rather than only thinking about the problem.  Being focused on a solution will keep you from being limited or boxed in by the specifics of a problem.  This focus will give you direction when facing an obstacle or challenge. When you approach a challenge in life, rather than thinking "what happens if I fail", focus on thinking "what will happen if I succeed.”

Let your opponent be concerned about failure.  His worry about failure will only lead him to it.  Our beliefs feed our reality.  It is important to anticipate problems and prepare for them, but worry is useless. 


Belief will lead to action.  Your belief in success will lead you to make decisions on the things you can influence and prepare for those you cannot.  If you believe in success you will be drawn to it.  If you really value success, then you will take the steps required to reach it.


Believing in Health

Believing in health results in making conscious choices to be healthy.  If you believe in health, then you will not make choices that will lead to sickness.  You will not eat unhealthy foods or eat excessive amounts of food.  You will focus on good nutrition.  You will not abuse your body with harmful drugs or excessive alcohol.  You will get the right amount of rest and play to manage your stress.  You will exercise and maintain your body so that you are ready for any challenge.  If you expect to protect yourself and your family, then you must be healthy.  When you value health, you will make choices that lead to fitness of both your body and your mind.  

Believing in health will strengthen your physical and mental capabilities.  On a physical level, we address our health so that we are prepared to act.  We need our bodies to be healthy and strong to win a fight. However, a by-product of a healthy body is a healthy mind.  Your mind will operate more effectively when you are healthy.  Your ability to think and make decisions under pressure will improve.  Your awareness and your mindset will be stronger when your body is fit.  

Believing in Life

The purpose of self-defense and martial arts training is to preserve life, not to kill.  If you believe in life, you are training to use your skills to protect your family, your community, and your country.  You are not developing those skills to prey on others.  If you believe in life, you avoid conflict when possible to preserve life.  Rather than fight to protect your pride, you diffuse a confrontation or evade it altogether.  

If your opponent believes in death, then you must be prepared to stop him.  Your belief in life is what will preserve you.  You will not accept your own death as an option.  If your opponent tries to hurt you, you must be mentally prepared to use violence against him.  If you believe in life, your goal is not to kill him, it is to preserve your own life.

It is already too late if you are trying to decide your life views when a threat of life and death appears. If you are to use lethal force, you must already believe that you can hurt another and be prepared to take the life of another in order to preserve your own.  If you have not thought through your values to see if your training is consistent with your beliefs, then you may have wasted your time and money on that new gun, expensive knife and lethal force training.

If you really examine your values, you may decide that you are unwilling to use lethal force.  Knowing that will help you make the right self-defense training and security decisions for you.  We do not all have the same values.  You must decide on your own.  If you do, then you will have more peace of mind and be better prepared in times of crisis.

bottom of page