Friday, June 29, 2012

Can You Be Obese AND A Martial Artist?

Someone recently asked me this question since I am not only a fitness coach but also a life long martial artist. To me the question is the same as asking, can you be obese AND a personal trainer?

With all roles, there are two sides: the idea, and the logistics.

For instance let's say a father. He is someone who nurtures and raises his kid(s). If he doesn't, is he still a father? Logistically yes, conceptually he is not living up to any of the ideals of fatherhood, so conceptually he may not be a father. Then the step dad who does do those roles, he may not logistically be the actual father, but conceptually he is the REAL father.

So let's get back to martial arts. This may offend a lot of people but this is just a philosophical train of thought and just my own opinion.

Fighting has been around since there has been human beings but martial arts as we know it now originated in China. The story goes, Bodhidharma, a monk from India came to China to visit a Shaolin temple. He noticed how fat the monks there had gotten, and he created a series of exercises and routines which became the basis of the first martial art. His reasoning? To make them get healthy and lose weight. His reasoning? The basis of their belief system is around enlightenment and a balance between mind, body, spirit, nature. Meaning the mind, the body, the spirit all had to be strong, in alignment, and able to move effortlessly like the rest of nature. This was not happening at the Shaolin temple.

Kung fu itself isn't a name of an art. It means "he who possesses skill or ability."

The martial artist was supposed to be a symbol and a living application of those ideals. Effortless movement, strong mind, body, spirit. Simple in eating and thought.

If this was its original intent, then the idea of being obese and a martial artist seems counter intuitive.

The fitness trainer is also a symbol. Are there overweight and obese trainers out there? Yes. There are obese people who are the heads of huge fitness companies and cultures. Logistically are they a fitness trainer? Yes. Are they a fitness trainer conceptually?

Why is this? A trainer is just a guide. Ultimately the client decides what they want to do. They are the master of their own ship, their ship being their body. If something they are doing hurts, it's their job to voice that. If they go home and think about eating a whole cake by themselves? It's their ultimate choice to do it or not to do it.

If the client is like a ship, then the trainer is ultimately like a lighthouse. They can guide and keep reminding but they can't force anyone to do anything, though some will try. Ultimately everyone has free will to do what they want. How does the trainer shine? By setting the best example they can and constantly coach and encourage.

I have known trainers referred to as "a great salesman" or "a good teacher" or "they make it fun." I have also seen trainers act like something they are not, like an actor who plays different roles, a cop or most often a drill sergeant. But they aren't playing their role, they are pretending to be something else. A trainer's job is to coach and to guide and to show their clients the way, to "shine."

Logistically you can still be a great teacher or make things fun or have tons of clients and be overweight. But that's not what a trainer does, a trainer is supposed to shine in the darkness and guide their clients home.

The martial artist is also supposed to shine.

What is martial arts? A practice in which you try to attain a level of mental, physical, and spiritual peak in your arts skill sets.

Why do most people start martial arts? Was it an attempt to become a healthier person in some way?

Why did a trainer start training people? Was it for the money? If so, you don't have to set an example. If it was to help people get healthy, because if you can get them healthy it will positively affect every aspect of their life, then you will also try to live healthy, because you believe being healthy will positively affect every aspect of your life for the better. And that is what you are ultimately trying to convince others. That is what you are selling, not just personal training sessions to gain money.

So it goes back to intent. If you started training people or started your fitness empire to make money, you can be called whatever you want. Your intent isn't to become a trainer though, it was to make money. Logistically you may be a trainer but are you one in concept?

Are you in martial arts just to be able to beat people up and learn moves? Or are you in it to improve yourself in every way and challenge yourself?

Both are about teaching mastery and self control. Are you the teacher or the student?

Now if you never find your physical peak, enlightenment, if you struggle, that's fine. You are human. It's the attempt and intent, you trying to live up to the concept that makes you the martial artist, that makes you the trainer. If you are in it for other reasons, then yes you might be called a martial artist or a trainer but you are not living as one.
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