Martial arts is powerful and considered as one of the world’s most valuable treasures, with the ability to transform people’s lives for the better.
It provides discipline, self-confidence, and equips people with self-defense skills. The benefits are endless.
For Filipino prospect Rockie Bactol, martial arts continues to transform his life on a daily basis. The 26-year-old native of Pasig City in Manila also admits that when life seemed in its darkest, it became his key to unlocking brighter days.
Eldest of three children, Bactol found it difficult to be accepted by his classmates at school. He was willing to do anything to fit in with the other kids. Despite his best efforts, he was mocked by his peers.
“I didn’t have friends. I would go to this cool group of people. I wanted to be friends with them because I was alone. They would tell me to do stupid stuff, and they would hit me or kick me, but I was a part of their crew,” Bactol shared.
“I was that guy who they made fun of, the guy they would hit. I was like their television. I was their entertainment.”
Despite being treated badly, Bactol continued to see these friends until his mother was relocated to Bangkok for work. In 2013, their whole family moved to the Thai capital, where he would get the opportunity to build his confidence and sense of self-worth.
Bactol and his siblings struggled with homesickness when they first arrived in Thailand, but at the age of 14, he started to adjust when he began his martial arts journey with Muay Thai.
“I have always wanted to be a fighter because of my grandmother and my lineage,” Shared Bactol
Time passed, martial arts transformed Bactol into a determined and fearless competitor. It also helped him to grow outside of the gym.
“At first, when I started doing this, I wanted to come back and show [my bullies] what I’d become,” Bactol said.
“It turned out a different way. Martial arts taught me how to be humble, how to forgive, how to be kind to others, and how to respect an opponent and shake hands after a fight.”
To be a well-rounded martial artist, Bactol added catch wrestling, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his repertoire, which gave him the foundations of a well-rounded mixed martial arts skill set.
Considered as one of the up-and-coming talents of the sport, the former ONE Warrior Series Season 1 winner believes that without martial arts things could have gone differently in his life.
“Martial arts totally change my life because if wasn’t for it, I may be dead or living my life in a very different way. Now, every time I compete I feel the presence of God. For me martial arts is a way of life.”