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Counter-Terrorism In the Jungle

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Counter-Terrorism in the Jungle

Waterbury Martial Artist Teaches Kuntao to, and Trains with the Filipino Military

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

WATERBURY, Conn. ¾ Living in the jungles of the Philippines may sound like an adventure, but for martial artist and Waterbury native Ron Kosakowski it’s just another day at work. He was invited by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje to train with the Filipino military in counterterrorism applications of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a martial art native to the Philippines that emphasizes “offensive defense” against edged weapons, such as knives, and impact weapons like sticks or clubs.

Most of Kosakowski’s time in the Philippines was spent training with the Filipino Recon Force Marines. “Members of the Filipino military have come under attack by terrorists and been stabbed to death. A Marine colonel and tactical trainer saw [Pekiti-Tirsia Kali] as a way to counter this—he felt that the Judo, Jiu Jitsu and Karate they were learning in the past was not effective for what they are now up against,” Kosakowski noted.

In addition to receiving training, Kosakowski had the opportunity to do some teaching of his own. “Tuhon Gaje also asked me to teach the CRG (Crisis Response Group) another Filipino art, Kuntao. I began training in Kun Tao over thirty years ago under Grand Master Joe Rossi, who used the art very effectively against the Japanese during World War II. I was happy and felt honored to be able to bring it to people in its native culture.”

Kosakowski noted that, though enjoyable, the experience was rather demanding. “Our days began at five in the morning, and we trained until dark every day,” he said. “Living in the jungle meant dealing with poisonous snakes, scorpions, centipedes and spiders. We also did water training in the ocean to develop strength and endurance with weapons—we worked with knife, stick, sword and spear every day.”

When asked if he planned to return, Kosakowski said he did. “Some of the people who train with Tuhon Gaje were interested in the Jeet Kune Do, Thai boxing and integrated grappling methods I teach at my school [in Waterbury] so I gave a demonstration. They enjoyed it so much they are planning to fly me back to teach a seminar,” he said.

Ron Kosakowski was presented with a sixth degree black belt in Filipino Kuntao under the late Grand Master Joe Rossi back in 1994, and Manundlo Unang Hagden Guro under Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje in Pekiti-Tirsia Kali back in 2006. He is a certified full instructor in Jun Fan Gung Fu/Jeet Kune Do, grappling, and Kali/Arnis/Escrima under Larry Hartsell, an original student of Bruce Lee, and certified in Jun Fan Gung Fu/Jeet Kune Do and Kali under Bruce Lee protégé Dan Inosanto. He is also a certified senior instructor in Jeet Kune Do Concepts and Kali under Paul Vunak. With over thirty years of martial arts experience, Ron has trained law enforcement and military personnel, as well as having instructed dozens of child abduction and rape prevention seminars. He has also trained fighters in no holds barred, Thai boxing and grappling tournaments. Recent projects also include an antiterrorist training program for airline employees.

Grand Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr., is the grandson and heir of the Great Grand Tuhon Conrado B. Tortal, and the present keeper of the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali System. In addition to his work with the Filipino military, he pioneered the teaching of Kali in the United States and introduced real contact stick fighting to the US. He is an accomplished member of the law enforcement training community, and is certified by the US Criminal Justice System Training Association and the United States Police Defensive Tactics Training Association.

For more information about Ron Kosakowski or the Practical Self Defense Training Center, visit the PSDTC Web site at http://www.psdtc.com or call: 203-596-9073. PSDTC is located at 847 Hamilton Avenue in Waterbury.

For more information about Grand Tuhon Gaje or Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, visit the Pekiti-Tirsia Web site at http://www.pekiti-tirsia.net.