The Core

The Cortés Defense System (CDS), is a martial arts system focused on close-quarters combat (CQC) which merges empty hands combat, Filipino martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and movement-based physical conditioning. Our goal is to prepare CDS practitioners to effectively defend themselves against real-world attacks by developing their fighting skills, phycological readiness, physical fitness, and spiritual awareness.

CDS Levels

CDS Curriculum

Students will learn multiple self-defense disciplines, how to integrate each with the other, and how to become independent of what was learned.  There are four levels, each made up of sublevels which can visually be tracked by using the traditional belt system when using a martial arts uniform, or a training t-shirt with a “level logo” when using a tactical uniform.

Level I – Foundations of the core martial art disciplines that constitute CDS
sublevels – white, yellow, orange

Level II – Advance development of the core disciplines
sublevels – purple, green, blue

Level III – Integration of the core disciplines
sublevels – Brown, Black, 1st degree black

Level IV – Mastering and Independence
sublevels – 2nd degree black – 10th degree

Training Format

The CDS training format has been designed to meet today’s “new normal”.  Our training incorporates online and in-person learning.  Students will review and study each lesson online at their own pace.  We’ll also stream a live class session once a week. The lessons learned will then be reviewed, perfected, and evaluated during in-person training.

Because our students may be located in different parts of the world, the in-person training schedule will vary per location, making sure that local regulations are adhered to.  During an in-person training session, it should be expected to see some students using traditional martial arts uniforms and others using a tactical uniforms. 

Each student is given a training card according to their rank. This card will help the student keep track of their training and achieved milestones. Once the card has been fully checked-off, verified, and signed by an instructor they would then be eligible to test for the next rank.

In order to ensure that all our students receive the same high-quality training, regardless of their location, and instructor, each in-person lesson will be based on a lesson plan that has been prepared in advance and carefully crafted by Sensei Cortés.

CDS Kids

A modified version of the CDS Core curriculum for children ages 6 to 12.  Since CDS is a self-defense/combat system, many of the techniques, offensive approach, and weapons used may be of and adult/mature nature.  The idea is to protect our kids from harming themselves or others by mistake with techniques and skills that require mature and advance decision-making actions to be taken. Sessions are slightly more relaxed than the main curriculum, filled with various activities that make the learning process fun and engaging. We incorporate Piaget’s teaching methods into the CDS Kids curriculum.

CDS Nomad

CDS Nomad refers to our continuous efforts to provide students that travel, or change residence frequently and routinely, such as military members,  an opportunity to complete our curriculum no matter where they go.  These efforts are inspired by sensei Cortés’s own experience of moving frequently and not having the opportunity to settle long enough in one location to complete a martial arts curriculum.  It took years before he finally obtains his first black belt and almost impossible to get certified in other disciplines.

Our current efforts include:

– Create a network of martial arts schools around the globe that can proctor CDS Nomad students, allowing them to continue their training where ever they go.

– CDS is currently in the process of associating with two well-known martial arts organization that already have a large network of associated schools around the world, and specialize in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Pekiti Tirsia kali.

– Establish a network of CDS practitioners where members are able to easily help each other, coordinate training meet-ups in their local areas, and motivate each other as they learn and progress in our curriculum.


CDS Family

We use Facebook social networking tools and other social media platforms to promote and develop the bonds and friendships that would traditionally occur inside the school.  It is not required but highly encouraged to join and participate in them. These platforms are a great tool to get to know other CDS practitioners, share your experiences, accomplishments, ask questions about areas you need help with and reinforce your skills and knowledge.

We want our CDS family to stay safe online, and just like in the real world, we want you to know how to protect yourselves from the dangers of the web and social media by practicing adequate Cyber Hygiene.  Every so often we’ll post articles with information on how to Stay Safe Online.