MANILA - Off the streets and in the cage-- this is where fighting skills are supposed to be used, according to fighters competing in the biggest mixed martial arts event for students in the Philippines.
They spoke out following the viral bullying incident at the Ateneo de Manila High School, where a student used his skills in taekwondo to beat up a schoolmate.
The finals night of the second Forza Underground league at the FilOil Sports Arena in San Juan City on Saturday saw amateur competitors leave the arena as winners, losers or injured.
But organizer Gino Roque IV said this physical competition was best kept within sports where it could be controlled.
"Plain and simple: Keep it out of the streets and in the cage," he said.
"What if there are 3 or what if the guy is so much bigger than you? Unlike here, it's regulated, it goes through a rigorous process to make sure people are on the same playing field."
Roque, an alumnus of the Ateneo De Manila University, called out the aggressor in the bullying video for picking on someone who could not fight back.
"Bullying is wrong, no matter how you put it," he said.
"When I saw the video a few hours ago, I was really appalled because the guy had no chance. He [the bully] should have stepped into one of my fighters in the cage, he would've seen something else."
'NO RESPECT' FOR MARTIAL ARTS
The MMA competition is open to students aged 18 and above from across the country.
From the 60 entrants who went through training tests, 34 fought in the 17 matches.
One of the bouts had female competitors.
At the main event, defending light heavyweight champion Kashmir Yap slugged in out against challenger Kevin Chad Guevara. Yap was mounted and caught in a vicious ground and pound, prompting the referee to step in. Yap claimed the championship.
Before their match, Guevara said the student caught in the bullying video should be held accountable for what he did.
He said martial arts should only be used in competitions like this or for self-defense.
"Sa laban or kelangan mong depensahan ang sarili mo pero hindi mang-api ng isang tao na wala naman ginawa sa 'yo," he said.
(In a fight or in self-defense, but never to bully another person who has done nothing against you.)
Yap, meanwhile, said the student had no respect for martial arts or for people.
"Martial arts and fighting is about development ng character mo," he said.
"Kapag may nakikita kang binubully dapat ikaw ang tumulong kasi responsibility mo yan as a martial artist."
(If you see someone being bullied, you should step in because that is your responsibility as a martial artist.)
Other fans of the sport also weighed in.
"Nasa discipline talaga nila yun, yung tinuturo sa kanila," said JJ Torres.
(It's really in their discipline, what they are taught.)
Jeleen Itaas, whose brother Mike won the flyweight division match that night, agreed that coaches should instill limitations on their trainees.
"Dapat yung mga taong sumasabak sa mga martial arts and sport na ganito, dapat alam nila na hanggang doon lang yun. Sports lang talaga," she said.
(People who delve into martial arts and similar sports should know the limits. It's a sport.)
The Philippine Taekwondo Association on Thursday also condemned the bullying incident involving a young taekwondo practitioner.