Growing up in hardship, reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is no stranger to adversity and overcoming the odds. He has had to work for everything in his life, and nothing has come easy.
Whereas some people would have succumbed to the constant pressures of society, the Baguio City native persevered. Today, the 33-year-old is a beloved world champion, a role model for the youth, and an inspiration to many.
“Landslide” will attempt to continue his rise on Friday, 10 November, when he defends his belt against ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD. The main event takes place in front of a hometown crowd at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Folayang believes his tremendous success can be attributed to the lessons martial arts instilled in him at an early age. Here are four reasons martial arts can have the same effect on you, according to the world champion.
#1 It Will Get You In The Best Shape Of Your Life
“The most obvious benefit of practicing martial arts is that it will get you in the best shape of your life — physically, mentally, and spiritually,” Folayang states.
“You will become faster, stronger, happier, and healthier. And you will look your absolute best, too. There is a certain degree of confidence you can get from this, which you can apply outside of the gym.”
Whether it is in martial arts competition, in the classroom, or at the workplace, everyone can benefit from a boost of confidence. After all, one of the most important gifts people can gain from martial arts is improved self-esteem.
“Martial arts will test you physically and push you to your limits, so it will help you discover what you are capable of as a human being,” he adds. “That is really important, because knowing and understanding yourself well is the first step to being successful in anything we do. Not only will martial arts get you in tip-top shape, it will also put you in the best frame of mind.”
#2 It Will Teach You The Value Of Discipline And Hard Work
“Training is not easy. There are days when you have to make tough decisions. Hitting the gym instead of hanging out with friends on a Friday Night, and waking yourself up at 5 a.m. to go for a run each and every day? These are some of the sacrifices we have to make as martial artists,” Folayang explains.
“But what martial arts gives us in return for our efforts is priceless. It teaches us a lesson in discipline — that through hard work, we are able to achieve anything.”
Like everyone else, Folayang admits he is only human. He enjoys sitting on the couch, putting his feet up, and relaxing just as much as the next person. But the champ acknowledges that without discipline and hard work, he would not have achieved the things he has today.
“Martial arts is an incredible journey of self-discovery. In martial arts, your success is tantamount to the kind of work you put in. No one can win for you. You are responsible for your own destiny,” he adds. “If you work hard and stay focused, keep your discipline and know when to relax, then you can be successful in anything.”
#3 It Will Instill Loyalty And Respect
One of the most important lessons Folayang has learned during his time practicing martial arts is that no one can do it alone.
“Yes, you are all by yourself once that cage door closes and the bell rings. But to get to this point, to reach your physical peak just before you touch gloves with your opponent, a lot of work preceded this moment,” the champion says.
“Countless hours in the gym learning with your peers, listening to your coaches, and improving together as a team, is a necessary and familiar sequence in every camp. Of course, in order to absorb all of the material, you must be willing to listen.”
Folayang, under the guidance of legendary Filipino martial artist Mark Sangiao, trains alongside his world-class teammates at the famed Team Lakay. A huge part of the team’s success stems from their time teaching, learning, and growing together as a unit.
“You have to always show loyalty towards your teammates. And above all, show respect,” he says. “It is easy to go in the gym and brag that you are the best and that no one can beat you, but that is not real martial arts. Martial arts is knowing that there are others who are better than you in some areas, and that you can learn from them.
“When you treat someone with loyalty, they treat you with loyalty in return. The same goes with respect. Be humble, and you will become the best version of yourself.”
#4 It Is Just Not A Sport, But A Lifestyle
Martial arts is not just a sport or a fitness program, but also a lifestyle. As the champ says: “Once a martial artist, always a martial artist.”
“Martial arts will change your life, as it did mine, and you will undoubtedly reap the benefits,” Folayang says. “Whether you plan to compete or not, martial arts will impact your life in more ways than one. It will help you achieve your goals, reach your dreams, and teach you valuable life lessons along the way.”
From a scrawny, young teenager who had just discovered wushu, to one of the most dominant martial arts champions in the world, Folayang’s story of success began when he first decided to practice martial arts.
With the odds stacked against him, “Landslide” defied adversity and strove to become the man he is today. “I would not be where I am now if it were not for martial arts. I owe it my life,” he says.
“I encourage everyone to take it up as a sport, or even as just a fun activity to do with friends and family. There are so many benefits, so many great things you can pick up from training in martial arts, that it is impossible to list them all down one by one. You will just have to experience it for yourself.”