Eduard “Landslide” Folayang may be the Philippines’ biggest mixed martial arts star, but that does not stop him from taking the time to enrich the lives of people from his community.
The former ONE Lightweight World Champion – who will return to action against Pieter “The Archangel” Buist next Friday, 31 January at ONE: FIRE & FURY – has a passion for passing on his knowledge he developed as a teacher before he arrived on the global stage for martial arts.
Though he may have left the classroom behind – for now, at least – he loves to help students at Team Lakay become better martial artists and lead better lives.
Folayang first studied criminology at the University of the Cordilleras with an eye on a career in security or law enforcement, but his schedule with the national wushu team stopped him from sitting the course’s major exams.
He valued earning a degree as much as representing his country, so he looked for an alternative subject to study. Inspired by his martial arts mentors, he settled on a degree in education.
“I appreciated how the coaches imparted their knowledge to us,” he says.
“My collective experience as a member of the team gave me the opportunity to see how much education can impact one’s life… There were a lot of programs, but I wanted to choose something that I would be passionate about. I appreciated teaching, so it felt natural to choose education as the course I would shift to.”
“Landslide” earned his degree in 2008, and after three months of further study, he passed the board exam, received his license, and started to teach physical education at high school.
- Pieter Buist Steps In To Face Eduard Folayang
- Gina Iniong Excited For Stand-Up Battle With Asha Roka
- Top 5 Performances From The Heroes Of ONE: FIRE AND FURY
The children knew he was an athlete so gave him a lot of respect for the most part, and Folayang looks back at that time in his life with a lot of fondness.
“It was nice because the kids at that stage in their lives are very curious about a lot of things,” he says.
“There are a lot of naughty kids, but whenever you see that one kid who is really interested to listen to what you are saying, it’s a great feeling to have. It compensates for all the trouble the others are causing.
“I think it’s fun to look back at those times when I was checking papers and some of them had scribbles of hearts from the kids. Those were thrilling moments, getting to know that some of the kids admire you.”
Despite his satisfaction with his profession, Folayang ran into a familiar problem as he found it impossible to balance the demands of the job with the time he needed to invest in his burgeoning mixed martial arts career, which was starting to pick up steam after his debut in 2007.
“The life of a teacher is difficult – you wake up early in the morning to prepare for a long day, and when you go home you still have tons of stuff left to do,” he explains.
“Your time is really filled up with everything that you have to do. I believe that it is a noble profession, and I look up to those who have given their lives to teaching.
“My time and focus were divided between those two passions, and it wouldn’t work. I thought I could still teach even if I grew older, but competing in martial arts isn’t forever. I don’t want to look back and think that I wasted the opportunity to compete while my body still allowed me to.
“I decided then that I would pursue my passion for martial arts, because eventually, I could still go back to teaching.”
Fortunately, as he racked up the wins, won the most prestigious prize in his sport, and became an icon across Asia, he found the opportunity to follow his other passion. He might not be in a classroom anymore, but he teaches by coaching classes and passing on his knowledge to teammates at Team Lakay.
In fact, what he does now may have just as much of an impact on his community as any other career he had considered.
“Martial arts teaches values that give clarity to its practitioners that they can apply in their daily lives,” he explains.
“Punching and kicking are skills that can easily be taught. However, the challenges and sacrifices that one has to endure in order to acquire those skills teach people how to live by the values of martial arts.
“Training teaches one how to manage their time wisely, ignites competitiveness, teaches discipline, promotes respect, improves communication with others, and much more. I think these build character in a person to be more productive members of society.
“It inspires me to know that my students are also learning from me, which fuels my desire to teach even more. Seeing my students become successful or excel in their field is a fulfilling reward that I enjoy from teaching. It’s not because I single-handedly improved their lives, but rather, because I became a part of their road to success.”