One of the common sights in the world of martial arts is the sight of martial arts instructors who sport what I would call “buddha bellies.” Others would call it a “beer belly.”
I am not talking about the slight paunch that comes with age for most people. I am talking about massive bellies that a number of instructors have. Quite frankly, it’s quite appalling to see these high ranking instructors sport such physiques. For one thing, they are part of the increasing numbers of people who are becoming morbidly obese. That’s right, morbidly obese.
For those who don’t know me, I was a hearing officer for the Industrial Commission of Ohio adjudicating workers’ compensation cases for 16 years before I moved to Canada. Over those years, I saw more and more obesity among injured workers. Invariably, the more obese the person was, the more difficult it was for them to return to work. The main reason, besides a lack of motivation, is that the obesity significantly delayed their recovery from their injuries. In any case, by the time I left in June 2007, there were significantly more obese people in the workers’ compensation system than at the time I started at the Industrial Commission in October of 1991.
This appears to be the case among martial arts instructors. It’s distressing to see them in a state of morbid obesity. For one thing, they are endangering their health. There may be a certain amount of irony here as they spend years training for various self defense scenarios, while ignoring the most obvious danger to their well being, the obesity. It has been amply established by various medical studies and from my experiences in the Ohio workers’ compensation system, that obesity has devastating consequences, ranging from increased stress on your knees and lower back, significantly delayed recovery from orthopedic injuries, a higher risk for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, stroke, and a whole range of other medical problems.
Besides ignoring or overlooking the obvious danger to their own health, there is another issue and that is, what kind of message is that instructor sending to their students, particularly to children? It has been documented that children are becoming more and more obese at alarming rates. One would hope that, in some cases, a fit and trim instructor would provide a positive message to counter the societal pressures of junk food and drink. I think that it’s a crime for an obese instructor to be teaching children.
Just my two cents !