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Pekiti Tirsia
Chief Instructor: TUHON Mike Popolizio


Dear PTI Members,

After two decades of study and service to the Pekiti-Tirsia system I have promoted Michael Popolizio to the rank of Tuhon. Mike is one of the most skilled instructors I have ever met, a man with the rare combination of both fighting ability and communication skills at a master level. If you ever get the chance to train with him, I highly recommend you do so.

Regards to all,
Tuhon Bill McGrath

Michael Popolizio - Tuhon

I grew up in The Bronx, N.Y. and began training in boxing in 1964. I entered the New York City Police Academy in 1965. I have worked street patrol during assignments throughout N.Y.C. and was assigned to the Brooklyn North Task Force.

I began training in Senso Aiki Jutsu under Master Richard Beherns in 1974 and found that it worked very well with my previous boxing training, marrying stand-up and ground fighting, for an effective empty hand system. Jujutsu training continued in Oshiki-uchi under Miyochi Sensei. In 1984 I began a Jujutsu school in New York.

I was introduced to the Filipino Martial Arts in 1989 by Scott Carpenter, later training in Arnis with Scott Walter (Kobe System). I trained in Kuntao Silat under Tuhon Roberto Torres which included training with Ba Pak Willem De Thouars in Pentjak Silat.

I had the good fortune to train with Tuhon William McGrath in N.Y.C. where he taught classes beginning in 1992. A few of us were invited to train at Tuhon McGrath's home, where the training was intense, with the main focus on material contained in the "Blue Book" (PTI test book). We learned the forms, worked them into effective applications, used sparring as a tool to see what worked with full contact. He drove us hard, demanded excellence, and accepted nothing less. His standards on testing and promotions always remained high. We paid with sweat, bruises, blood, sprains and calluses ... the rewards were new technique.

Tuhon Bill McGrath was always giving in both technique and encouragement, never holding back as we went from page through page in the "Blue Book", and for this he has my utmost admiration and respect.

I now teach Pekiti Tirsia six days a week on Long Island, N.Y., and am very proud of my students, who through dedication and hard work, have risen through the ranks to become Guro's and Mataas Na Guro's, finishing the entire system, and are now in turn, teaching Pekiti Tirsia and helping others to become Certified Instructors, Guro's, and Mataas Na Guro's.

I admire and respect Tuhon Bill McGrath for all the years of dedication he has given to Pekiti Tirsia, seeing to its continuance and growth. I hope I can show him that respect by passing on the Pekiti Tirsia system to my students, and have them pass it on to their students.

Tuhon Michael Popolizio

Joseph Nasta - Mataas Na Guro

I grew up on Long Island, NY and I am a Correction Officer for the Suffolk County Sheriff at the Maximum Security Facility in Riverhead, NY. I began martial arts training in 1980 in Shorin-Ryu Karate under 5Th dan Al Irizary and 2nd dan Steven Bevel. Over the four years I was there Sensei Al instilled in me a training attitude of inner strength and discipline that I still draw on today.

I began training Senso Aiki Jutsu under Sensei Frank Perso. I trained for the next 12 years where I attained the rank of 2nd degree black belt. At about the ten year mark in my training I began a two year blitz of training, going to any and all schools in the area and all seminars to see what else was out there. Traveling as far as Rivervale NJ for Soke Michael Depasquale Jr’s third Sunday of the month JuJutsu classes. At this point it became clear to my instructor that I was looking for more than he had to offer so he introduced me to then Mataas Na Guru Mike Popolizio.

I began training in Pekiti-Tirsia in June 2000 under Mataas Na Guru Mike Popolizio and was hooked immediately. After three weeks I decided to dedicate all my available time to training in Pekiti-Tirsia. Mike was straight to the point with a no nonsense approach to training. He gave all the tools necessary , and made the entire system available for you to earn. He is a stickler for detail and only values technique that “can be done in real time fighting”. He opened my eyes to the idea of attack, counter, re-counter, re-re-counter, eliminating the pit falls of being “a one trick pony.” He has also instilled in me a discipline for study and testing that given the size of this system I could not have completed without.

I have tremendous respect and admiration for Magino’o Mike Popolizio and can only hope I can do him the honor of properly maintaining and passing on the Pekiti-Tirsia system to my students as he has to me.

Randy Kirschner - Guro

My interest in martial arts began in 1987 when I was 10 years old. I first started with the local martial arts school which was teaching Shotokan Karate at the time. As time went on I would train wherever I could.

In my teens I was introduced to Kung-Fu and spent time training with various disciplines such as Choy Li Fut, Tiger/Mantis, and Wing Chun. It was with in Wing Chun that I spent about 5 years training under Sifu John Crescione. I really enjoyed the in close aspect of Wing Chun but I felt it was limiting in many areas. The weapons were antiquated and the training itself wasn't grounded from a realistic fighting perspective. While I enjoyed it, I was searching for something that fit my personal style and interests.

I was always interested in the Philipino martial arts so after Wing Chun I began looking for another system to train in. I came across Pekiti-Tirsia and started training under Magin'o Guro Mike Popolizio in March of 2003. Right from the start I knew this was the system for me. Pekiti-Tirsia is completely laid out in an organized system (blue book) so I knew exactly what was needed to get ranked in the system. The approach is realistic and practical. Every technique is tested from a real life perspective.

Mike's approach to the art is also unique. While most instructors with can teach you how to do the "form" Mike holds nothing back and coaches you in the inner workings of the application of the form. By imparting an understanding of physics, lines, and angles, Mike not only teaches how to effectively apply the technique but how to see flaws and take advantage of those flaws in other people's techniques.

Mataas Na Guro's

  • Joseph A. Nasta (bio above)
  • Roy Bocina


  • Jason W. Szela
  • Randy Kirschner (bio above)
  • Christopher Baumeister

Certified Trainers (PTI Authorized to instruct in specific material listed below)

  • John Hasiotis
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1&2
    • Advanced Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 3
  • Richard Fescina
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
    • 5 Attack System
    • 64 Attacks
  • Allan Spierer
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
    • 5 Attack System
    • 64 Attacks
  • Nick Owczarek
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
  • John Papadakis
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
  • Dominick Panetta
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
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