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Tattoos And Bodybuilding

My first was a bible verse, Philippians 4:13. Now as I write, I can see it peeking out under the sloping sleeve of my uniform. It winks at me sporadically throughout the day whenever my focus wavers or my confidence falters. Life is rife with pitfalls and potholes, yet with Christ, who strengthens me every moment of my life, from here to Heaven, I can achieve all. Others are spread rebelliously across both forearms, on the thick bellies and rippling tops. They were placed here for a reason, to tell the world to bring it on, essentially. After my anchors were completed, brandished proudly across the surface of my wrists, the bottoms poking out onto the beginnings of my hands, I read a study on the psychology of those who get tattooed in certain places, what their choices reflect about their hidden characteristics. Those who emblazon their forearms with ink are aggressive and confrontational in nature, unafraid of violence and eager to bleed. This could definitely define and describe me accurately on many levels, both vaguely and astutely. I view my tattoos as armored artwork, declaring to humanity that I am a warrior, a fighter and solider. A Sailor. Initially, I planned on tattooing only my lower arms, covering them totally before capping them at the elbow and top of the bicep. Perhaps the hands would follow later, perhaps not. But my forearms would be a martial spectacle, a cacophony of brutal art and tragic beauty. Then I started reading the magazines. Lustful, gorgeous women that oozed sin tempted me with seductive, baleful eyes and penetrating stares while one page over muscular, powerfully developed men, the ones I sought and still seek to emulate, radiated strength and masculinity, whether gripping a barbell or a tattoo gun. I always believed, due to a childhood permeated by bodybuilding in both passionate pursuit and supercilious superstition, that tattoos would obscure the fruits of my pious dedication to iron and calisthenics. But here those fears were assuaged and that ignorance was laid to rest permanently. Dave Bautista, a favorite wrestler of mine since the beginning of my adolescence, stood boldly and proudly, a litany of inked art adorning his imposing arms and shoulders. Crimson tribal bled into Grecian geometric design, outlining, not obfuscating, his muscular development. I looked at my rapidly improving form, and decided right then that I would one day be enhanced by my own personalized, intrinsic sleeve tattoos. Thus, another unhealthy obsession was born that will only cease to burn the moment the candle of my own life is snuffed out.

Writing and art are inextricably intertwined. They are siblings borne of the same creative spark, weaned from the breast of self nourishment. The two trail behind the other, and its rare to find a writer who doesnt paint, sculpt or tag as well. Similarly, many artists from the wide swathe of disciplines the archetype embodies occupy their free time writing lyrics, screenplays, scripts and short stories. Modern day emotional renaissance men and women, drawn from an eclectic background so diverse that the demographic seems invisible to the naked, untrained eye. Tattooing, however, combines the bests of both arts while eschewing the undesirable aspects. The image engraved indelibly on the skin reverts to a hieroglyphic, its original meaning. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a tattoo is worth a thousand novels. An entire saga or era of ones life, captured seamlessly in one condensed portrait. Invigorating. Meanwhile, the piece captures the poeticism of a well written sonnet while catapulting the needless verbage and pointless hyperbole into the abyss. Sweet, simple and succinct. From the artists perspective, the tattoo gives credence to their passion and pastime. After all, what canvas is more organic yet eternal than the human body? It justifies their sacrifices and pays homage to the sagacity of their talent. The starving artist is a cliche and stereotype for a reason, as, like all timeless tropes, it was plucked inconspicuously from harsh reality and thrust into pitiful immortality. The chances of a painter, illustrator or impressionist having their work framed, hung and salivated over in a modern museum is distant and fleeting. But what does that matter if someone trusts in your skill and believes in your vision enough to allow you to irredeemably alter their skin with your art? Art imitates life, and tattoos are art given brilliant, swift mortality.

I plan on sinking a fortune into a full body suit eventually. This will be a momentous project, with a projection leading decades into my future. Danny Kavadlo, one of my favorite calisthenics athletes, is completely covered head to toe in intimidating, breathtaking ink. Lithe like a prize fighter with the comportment of a panther at rest, eternally ready for the hunt, his art dances and ripples as his body moves deftly over the bars at Thompson Square Park in his native New York City. Seeing him and others like him, tattooed athletes like Dr. Jim Stoppani, Randy Orton and Roman Reigns, further sped my descent into tattoo degeneracy. In todays world, we are often pulled in numerous directions at once, left beleaguered and exhausted by the routine of it all. The average man, dubbed Exhibit A by Victor Pride, is gross to behold, with a sunken chest, dead to the world and lacking a vigorously beating heart, stooped, narrow shoulders bequeathed by a sedentary, immobile job, and a paunch where his abs should be. Id rather die than be a literal exhibit showcasing mundanity. But these men and others of their breed are living legends, vital paradigms of the gospel of masculinity. Live according to your own terms and tenets. Inscribe your own precepts and ethics, beliefs and focuses on your skin. Feel your arms quiver from the sheer force of another torturous rep, and scream in delicious agony as those same arms become living statements to your testimonial of strength. They frown upon tattoos in the corporate world. Good, let them. Barbarians exist and thrive on the fringe. Join them in the brotherhood of Iron, Muscle, Blood and Ink.

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