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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 - Tuhon

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 Tuhon Mike Popolizio.

I began training in Pekiti-Tirsia in June 2000 under then 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 Tuhon 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.

Roy Bocina - Tuhon

I was born and raised in New York. From 1988 to 1991, I served In the United States Army
and after commission and Infantry, Airborne and Ranger training I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne 1/1504 PIR. Led a 38 man Airborne Infantry Platoon during Operation Desert Shield/Deseret Storm in Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

I worked for N.Y. State from 1992 to 1996, as an investigator, and have conducted investigations resulting in arrests, and prosecutions in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office, for the Department of Motor Vehicles, Excise Tax, and State Workers Compensation.

In 1996 entered the NYC Police Department. I have worked street patrol, during assignments throughout N.Y.C. I was promoted to Sergeant, assigned to Brooklyn North Narcotics, and in 2013 retired from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit.

I began my martial arts training in jiu Jitisu, and after years of training, attained a 3rd. degree Black Belt. Although Jiu Jitisu proved to be a great empty hand system, it did not include effective defense against weapons, and/or multiple attackers. I looked to Scientific Fighting Congress (Knife/Stick), Inosanto Academy, and then had the good fortune to meet Tuhon Mike Popolizio. I started training in Pekiti Tirsia and found that it covered everything I was looking for. Pekiti Tirsia had tactical applications for empty hand, weapons, and multiple attacker training.

During training I would ask the what if’s. What if I came at you for real empty handed, what if I attacked you with a weapon, Mike’s answer would always be, don’t ask me, just come on, full contact, full resistance, let’s go. That’s how I know it works. Tuhon Mike has my admiration and thanks for the intense training, and his Applied Practical Application Controls, APAC, to any combative scenario.

Thomas Fressle - Tuhon

I have been training in the Martial Arts for over 37 years, beginning in 1982. My training has taken me to Japan, Europe, and the Continental United States.
In 1982 I began training in Kempo Karate and attained Black Belt rank in 1987, Instructed American Olympic Karate through 1989.

Training continued in Goshin Budo Jujutsu​ under Shihan Robert Hansen. Head Instructor at Silent Flute Self-Defense through 1991. Training continued with Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura. Instructor for Department of Homeland Security. Have taught self defense courses for the Nassau County PD, Pasadena Academy of Self Defense, Arcadia Police Department (Arcadia, CA), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and Instructor for Department of Homeland Security.

Current Ranks and Certification include;

  • Tuhon Pekiti Tirsia International, APAC ​
  • Nidan (2nd degree Black Belt) Hakko Denshin Ryu Jujutsu ​
  • Shodan (1st degree Black Belt) Yoshitsune Jujutsu​
  • Level One Certification in Koho Igaku Shiatsu​
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jujutsu​
  • Niden Liscense (2nd degree instructor level) Asayama Ichiden Jujutsu
  • Niden Liscense (2nd degree instructor level) Hanbojutsu​
  • Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) Goshin Budo Jujutsu​
  • Instructors Liscense in Goshin Budo Jujutsu​
  • Shodan (1st degree Black Belt) Kenpo Karate​​

In 1993 I started training in Pekiti Tirsia with Tuhon Bill McGrath. In 2005, I opened a Martial Arts School in Nassau County, N.Y, Head Instructor, REAL Self-Defense, Syosset, NY.

I presently teach, and continue training in Pekiti Tirsia with Tuhon Mike Popolizio, APAC System.

Randy Kirschner - Magino'o Guro

My interest in martial arts began when I was 10 years old. I first started with the local martial arts school which was teaching Shotokan Karate at the time. I really enjoyed the martial arts and as time went on I would train with whoever and 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. While I really enjoyed the in close aspect of some of those styles, especially Wing Chun, I felt it was limiting in many areas. The weapons are antiquated and the training itself isn't grounded from a realistic fighting perspective of what works in today's environment.

I came across Pekiti-Tirsia and started training under Tuhon Mike Popolizio in March of 2003. Right from the start I knew this was the system for me. Pekiti-Tirsia is laid out in an organized system (blue book) so I knew exactly what was needed to learn the system. I achieved my Guro rank and then went on to study the more advanced and practical side of Pekiti-Tirsia, the APAC system as created by Tuhon Mike.

Tuhon Mike's approach to the art is unique. While most instructors can teach you how to do "forms" and "drills" Mike holds nothing back and coaches on in the inner workings of the application of the form. Mike asks one thing - that the technique works in real life practical situations. If it works then we use it, if it doesn't we fix it and if we can't fix it we discard it. By imparting an understanding of physics, lines, angles and controls, Tuhon Mike has synthesized a martial arts system that works and keeps you safe in today's day and age.

Mataas Na Guro's

  • John Papadakis


  • Jason W. Szela
  • 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
  • Dominick Panetta
    • Empty Hand vs Knife
    • Knife vs Knife Level 1
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