A seasoned fighter and trainer, Raysaldo Biagtan is a native of Malabago, Mangaldan, Pangasinan. He won a muay thai championship in South Korea in 2001 and the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) Dutdutan in Baguio in 2009. He is also a guro of cinco teros (literally “five strikes”), an old style of arnis-escrima endemic in Northern Luzon particularly in the province of Pangasinan.
Biagtan is the creator of Biagtan Martial Arts, a synthesis of muay thai, cinco teros arnis and dumog (Filipino wrestling). He reveals that in his native dialect “biagtan” means “our life.” Noting its significance, he said: “It’s very appropriate because I am espousing martial arts as a way of life.” In an interview with FIGHT Times, Biagtan reveals his philosophy and training secrets as a fighter and a trainer.
FIGHT Times: Besides being a professional martial artist, you are also an Evangelical pastor; how do you reconcile these two contrasting aspects of your life?
Raysaldo Biagtan: In martial arts we have the so-called inner power and we must exercise meditation to develop this, and the outside power is done through physical training. In doing these, you must employ the dynamic discipline, which is found and flows from your inner self. As an Evangelical pastor you meditate through the Word of God, open you heart, let it manifest in you and preach through your action so that you preach the Word powerfully to the people. Martial art is for physical- mind and body, being a pastor is spiritual—heart and soul. Reconciling these two are simply a way of life, as we live in physical and spiritual. In Team Biagtan my young trainers and fighters are trained both being a worshiper of God (spiritual) and servant for people (spiritual/physical fitness).
FT: You are a champion fighter and also one of the most sought-after trainers in the national and regional mixed martial arts (MMA) circuit; who among your students do you think has the qualities to make it big, say, fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship?
RB: Rolando Gabriel Dy, the son of the world boxing legend, Rolando “Badboy from Dadiangas” Navarette, Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) fighter who holds a record of three wins and, beaten the No.1 featherweight of Guam Kyle “The Boom” Reyes. Rolando got the fighting spirit of his father, when hurt in battle you must knock him out or else he will knock you out. He is talented and potential to be one of the biggest fighters in the Philippines and in the world, like his father.
FT: What is your philosophy in training fighters?
RB: Discipline is the number one tool in training, spiritual discipline and physical discipline. Spiritual is God first, second is the physical life, as Christian we always put God first in our life. We let the steering wheel of our life be controlled by Jesus, so physical principles would be more effective as guided by the Holy Spirit. As a fighter, we always focus on building up stamina and resistance, by applying speed, power and strategy, if your stamina is poor even if you are the most technical fighter in the world, you can‘t beat the fighter with high cardio capacity. Round 1 will not always be yours when you are a knock out artist by using your one punch KO or submission by using your strength, you must consider the ability of your opponent, especially his stamina. Most MMA fighters today focus on grappling and what I’ve heard is they’re developing stamina by grappling long hours and do sprints for 20 to 30 seconds. And so during actual fights, stand-up fighting is their nightmare when their opponent possessed high degree of stamina. Rolando Dy prepared for his PXC 39 fight against Kyle Aguon by doing long runs plus sprints before his tiring circuit training, which is composed of shadow boxing for five minutes, five rounds of bag work (five minutes per round), five rounds of pad training (five minutes per round), five rounds of sparring (five minutes per round), plus five rounds of ground and pound drills (five minutes per round). These are his daily training programs in addition to his ground game in the evening. In our team, we punish fighters during training, as two martial arts quotes say: “Train hard and fight easy, train like a champion and fight like a champion.”
FT: You are also a noted teacher of Filipino martial arts (FMA), which is a weapons-based system; how do you think FMA training can complement MMA and other martial arts?
RB: In FMA, we consider polishing our skill in speed and timing especially edged weapon based arts like my system Biagtan Cinco Teros. In actual fight, especially the real thing when an attacker got a bladed weapon, long or short, react explosively and do not let the weapon of your opponent hits you. Because if he cut you or stabbed you, you will be either seriously wounded or dead. If that happened, you can no longer bring back the moment that you are still complete. So in MMA or muay thai, improve your speed and timing with devastating and explosive execution of techniques with the legs, the body and the head of your opponent as your targets.
FT: What are your thoughts on traditional martial arts and MMA?
RB: Traditional martial arts like FMA and muay thai would always bring life, self discipline, honor, fame, wealth and health, so with MMA. It goes beyond the urge of combat sport people to make a name. There are many hopeful fighters today especially here in the Philippines; most of them are now in big MMA promotions and making names. The biggest and pioneer of pro MMA event in the Philippines is URCC. Ten years after, it paved the way for foreign MMA leagues like the PXC and King Of the Cage to penetrate Philippine market. Now, along with URCC, ONE FC, Asia‘s biggest MMA promotion is now here. Every Pinoy fighters now have a chance to showcase their skills in the world with these big promotions. It’s a big help for us. We must erase the crab mentality among us, let us help each other for the betterment of each one, being negative will not make us famous and wealthy—a quote in the Bible says, “What you sow is what your reap.” Renew our mind, our heart, submit to the principles of the Almighty.” Peace and God bless us all.