Jim Liguori at Catalyst

Taoists practice a philosophy they call, "Beginner's Mind."  In essence, they believe that every situation is unique, and should be approached with the open eyes of a beginner.  There's education in everything, including scenarios you've seen a hundred times before, and especially in your rival.  Jim Liguori is all that and then some. Jim's philosophy of inclusiveness is not only rare in the martial arts community, but also in the fitness world.

While we at Catalyst have always embraced different philosophies of fitness, only recently have we started sharing some of our influences with you, the reader.  Jim, though, has always been very open about accommodating and incorporating different styles into his training.  And now, it's really paying off for his athletes.

Paraphrasing one of his students: "When I came back to town, I went around to different clubs.  I'm a wrestler, and Jim was interested in what I could add to the group, instead of trying to convince me that his way was best.  I thought, yeah, this is the place for me."

Jim owns Ho Shin Sool Martial Arts and Fitness Centre.  Ho Shin Sool is a Korean phrase, meaning "Protect Mind and Body."   Even in choosing a name, Jim Liguori emphasizes balance in everything.  From their website: …but it is also important to keep an open mind through various cross-training programs and adapt the program to suit the individual as everyone is different and unique.

He's talking about martial arts, but couldn't the same be said about fitness, your career, or your life?  To paraphrase Greg Glassman (another excellent coach,) in general, nature abhors the specialist.  Specialization in one area, by definition, means the exclusion of another.  

Jim is a fifth-degree black belt, father of two exceptional girls, and, as he puts it, "very lucky to have a wife who shares the same values."  The martial arts community, and the city, are lucky to have coaches like Jim.  Preamble over.  Watch below:

Some additional thoughts on Beginner's Mind, from Jim Liguori in various emails to me:

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup." 

This is the speach I sometimes use with my students. "theory of empty mind" or "beginners mind". In todays society it's sooo hard to keep that simple way of thinking. We are all overexposed to an abundance of theories, studies, ideas, etc. Sometimes less is more for sure.

too much clutter? empty the mind
too much stress? empty the mind
too many worries? empty the mind
take time to stand back, and see things for what they are. a little swirl on the planet earth. the long lens of time will show the trivialness of all things.
meditation and peace – empty the mind
eternal joy – empty the mind
the rain drips outside. there is no fight. the laws of nature are as they are. be pliable. bend a little. the struggle will only snap you. be at peace.
empty the mind. empty the mind. empty the mind.
peace and oneness. back to the eternal zen state. one. all. unity. there is nothing else. oneness.
empty the mind. the mantra calls. empty. the. mind.
EMPTY. peace. balance. oneness. THE. eternal. tranquility. bliss. MIND.
the universe has spoken.

Anyway, there are many variations of the "concept" – empty mind or beginners mind or simple mind etc, and many translations. I think the "just of it" is that "the more people tend to learn, the harder it is for them to learn, and harder it may be to teach them". If you remember my telling you that my instructor told me I was about to start learning upon receiving my black belt…..I think he was telling me to approach things with an "open mind". This is what he meant but I didn't quite understand it at the time. So now with my students, I use this concept in trying to explain that. I hand one(1) translation out to those who test for their black belt as well.

I've trained with many great people over the years and also with many people who thought they were great! The "great" ones keep in close grasp with their empty mind…..the "not so great" have some skills, but fail to see the full potential of ones life.

Breaking out of "the box" is sometimes hard, regardless of how hard you punch!