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Hopping On a Plane to the Philippines to Search For Martial Arts Training

A while back, I had the good fortune to connect with Simon Payne who is one of the oustandingly cool and interesting guy. I know a lot of people want to do meaningful thins with their lives, but are scared to take risks. Simon saved a small amount of money and just jumped off into the void... and it worked. I hope his story inspires you like it does me, here's Simon -

My story begins when I decided to quit my job, sell most of my things and move to Philippines to study original martial art called Kali (also known as Escrima or Arnis). For those who doesn’t know it, it’s a kind of fencing but with rattan sticks. It’s an offensive, fast and extremely effective martial art. The training includes even fighting with steel blades, knives and many different weapons including bare hands. I’ve been studying the modern version of Escrima in Czech Republic for last 8 years and before that historical and sport fencing.

I've always had rich imagination and before arriving in the Philippines I assumed that everyone would know where to find where to find some Escrima schools. I dreamed about finding some old skilled grandmaster that would teach me.

I decided to travel to Davao City which is in the south of Philippines. I knew that my friend John will be there at the same time. I didn’t know him in person but that was my only contact. He was just starting a company there. Looking back at my decisions I obviously didn’t use my brain as much as other people would. If I did, I’d choose bigger city like Manila or Cebu which are well known for martial art schools.

I searched using pieces of information from web but it wasn’t helpful, most information were outdated or useless. I wandered the streets and asked people for any leads. Sometimes at night searching trough dark corners and shady streets where I felt uncomfortably insecure. Sometimes I’d find an abandoned gym where someone used to practice but they must have moved somewhere else.

Cellphones and Sexualization

On Sex and Toys

I recently read an article on USA today that offered an interesting debate on why child sexualization is so prevalent in today’s society; as children have increasing opportunity in today’s society to access media outlets through devices such as cell phones and laptops, they are in turn subject to more of the sexual content the media has to offer. And, let’s be honest, sex is everywhere on the Internet. You can’t escape it.

I purchased my first clunky Acer laptop when I was 15 (I’ve recently upgraded to a Macbook air. I’ve never released how slow my laptop was before that). Before that, I had to do all my internet browsing on the family computer in the living room where you could always be sure someone was looking over your shoulder. The parents so worried about child sexualization only had television to deal with as a social influencer when they were children, and that TV probably only had two channels and static-inducing bunny ears. But today, hand-held min computers allow us to be constantly glued to popular media. I’ve decided to opt out of the cell phone culture for two reasons: A) it is no means a necessity to survival. Our parents did just fine without one. And B) I’m not fond of spending extra money to do everything I can do on my laptop. But now parents are buying their children cell phones in elementary school (!) for fear that they won’t be able to contact them at every second of everyday. To bring a little sociology into the argument, it would seem that today’s parent is suffering from “mean world syndrome” from watching too many television programs that depict the world in a negative light (the news, for example). In turn, such people see the world as more dangerous place than it really is. Hence, cellphones.

Being cell phone free gives me a lot time think. Like when I’m waiting for the bus, or for a friend, or for anything really, instead of checking Twitter or Facebook I’m forced to contemplate my existence. Well, usually I just have hypothetical conversations in my head, but I’m sure at some point I’ve contemplated existence while freezing at the bus stop. Perhaps I have more time to form views about my sexuality and myself. I’m rarely sad about not being beautiful because I don’t spend every spare minute being bombarded by stereotypical images of beauty and female objectification. Instead, I can create my own hierarchy of what is important in a person without being completely swayed by society. And beauty is nowhere near the top of that list. Yes, I’m no stranger to the Internet, but not having a hand-held computer forces me to think when I’m in a state of waiting.

I have to agree with the aforementioned article in that the constant bombardment of social media at every waking minute of the day does force a definition of “right” onto children and adolescents, especially considering the impressionable nature of this age group. Perhaps if we kept the cell phones away from children who are starting create opinions of themselves and society, they would be less likely to listen to the nagging voice of the media that tells them they have to be “sexy” and “irresistible”. So next time you find yourself with nothing to do, put down the social media machine and have a empirical debate of philosophy. You’ll thank me later.

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