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Team Lakay champs oppose controversial combat sports bill

Joshua Pacio shared how his life changed after learning martial arts at age 11. One Championship (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--More combat sports experts expressed their dissent about the proposed congressional bill banning minors from competing in such events.

Two mixed martial arts champions said on Monday that they are not in favor of passing the now controversial bill.

"This bill kills that chance for us to change and grow starting from our younger years," said Joshua Pacio, the current One strawweight champion.

"Obviously, this will prohibit minors from learning different kinds of combat sports starting at young age and this means they won't be able to evolve their skills, not only physical but also mental and emotional skill when they grow up and become adult," added Stephen Loman, the current Brave bantamweight champion.

Both Pacio and Loman are part of the fabled Team Lakay stable of Coach Mark Sangiao.

"Our children need to develop character and the best time to instill this to them is at their formidable years. Let's not miss this opportunity to help our kids to be responsible individuals in the future by restricting them to learn and be involved in combat sports at a young age," Sangiao said.

Pacio, Loman, and Sangiao made a joint statement two days before the said bill will be tackled at the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development.

Pacio said that learning martial arts at a young age was a life changing move for him.

"I started martial arts at 11 years old and it changed my life. I think when you do martial arts, it’s not just about punching and kicking but it’s about developing self-discipline and attitude. In fact, when we all learn martial arts, I mean all, from children to adult, regardless of age, I believe that Philippines will improve because we already have that self-discipline that was developed from doing martial arts," Pacio further stated.

Loman agreed, adding that learning martial arts "is important for their self-growth."

On the other hand, Sangiao said that the said bill, officially called House Bill 1526, will deprive the Philippines of future martial arts champs who will follow the footsteps of the likes of Pacio, Loman, and Manny Pacquiao.

"These kids will 100 percent bring honor to our country in the future. We have no right to take this great vision away from them," Sangiao further said.

The Team Lakay guys are not the only practitioners who openly expressed their disagreement to the bill as URCC founder Alvin Aguilar also announced on Thursday his own dissent.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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