One of the first things you feel when you meet Edwardo ‘Edwin’ Frias is his positivity. A gym owner, trainer, USA boxing coach, yogi, meditator, and artist, he's committed to supporting people in moving and feeling their best and invites them to unleash the inner warrior inside them. To him, that is #worththefight.
Interested in unleashing your inner warrior? Read this week’s inspirational Worth the Fight spotlight on this self-described spiritual samurai…
MATT DOYLE FOR YORK ATHLETICS: What does the word fight mean to you?
EDWARDO ‘EDWIN’ FRIAS: The word fight to me means a gear, it's a gear for self-discovery, it's an option, it's a commitment. It's passion, it's love, it's art. It's electricity that comes from within. The word fight to me means that inner being, that soul that wants to escape out of your system. Fight sometimes ends up being a specific color that day, so as an artist sometimes a fight is something playful, sometimes a fight is straight grit, and when other energies are not available, that light, that grit is always inside you. It's another gear, it's being able to access that gear when you don't have perhaps anything left and then there's always that extra gear. One of the fights is surrendering, it's knowing when not to fight. It doesn't always have to be an area of contention, it can be like more like no, not this one.
MATT: Taking a step back, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself. What it is that you do?
EDWIN: I'm a painter, I'm an artist, I'm an expressionist. My background is in Martial Arts. My dad is a 7th-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was where my tutelage began. I boxed and practiced Jiu-jitsu so all of those together were major passions of mine. As a young man I always wanted to be a ninja so here I am in the living flesh.
I always loved Ninja Turtles so that was a thing. It was a youthful plaything at first and I started realizing how cool it was and how confident it made me. I didn't know in the space where I was born, that it was something that I could always go to and almost take a playful approach to something that was perhaps serious, you know I was homeless twice.
We grew up in New York and then from New York we ended up coming here and it wasn't up until we moved to Boston that we finally had enough breathing room to get our head above water and move forward. That was a blessing, ever since then, I had this affinity and passion to share my blessings because I am super gifted. That is a drive of mine to be able to support and be a glue or any kind of grease that helps someone get to the next level. Whether they need the help or not, it's an option and I'm here.
MATT: What is your most important fight?
EDWIN: My most important fight is the fight within myself. In terms of what gear to access. When to fight and when not to fight, when to surrender, when to know that nothing that I have is about me. Like if I existed here today and then didn't exist, the world would go on. So, the hardest portion of the fight is letting the higher power do her job. Essentially if I have faith in that, then I have faith in the divinity that created me and that's the hardest thing is knowing when to just surrender and have faith. It's like finding the harmony and balance between all that.
MATT: How do you go about that fight?
EDWIN: Falling on my face. Straight up eating something or getting choked. But that was a former way of it, now I have more options than I think like being more mindful, being more aware. I've always felt I've been a Yogi my whole life, trying to find the balance and harmony and all that, because it's a thing. One of my instructors told me: “You're too tense, you're too tight.” And I'm like, “Duh, that's why I'm here.” Having a mindful approach, almost like organizing. Going back to meditating, I have always meditated, even when I was younger.
I've always been super religious, finding that inner light, meditating so I can focus on paying attention, having a strategy, and then taking it from there. Rather than taking action on everything, not everything is an actionable thing. Sometimes you don't take action. That's being more mindful, being more aware and doing everything for a reason. In martial arts, everything exists for a reason. In nature, everything exists for a reason. It's just in this world, the calamity that we live in sometimes is kind of hard to not be involved in and sort of detached.
MATT: You mentioned that sometimes it can be hard. What is it in those moments that keeps you going?
EDWIN: The edge, finding the edge. My mom, my sisters, it's innate, there's no switch off on that. Actually, it has become like another level of my fight knowing that they got it. I got it, we got it, we're here together. But it's challenging. It's knowing when to pull back, knowing when to stay.
MATT: There are times when it's not super easy, it's not innate, it's not second nature. There are times when it's difficult. So what is it about you, in those moments, that enables you to come through on the positive side? What is it that enables you to fight in those tough moments?
EDWIN: Just knowing that I have these gifts and that they aren't going to do anything if I don't share them. There are a lot of people out there who aren't emotionally aware. Emotional intelligence is a new thing and us guys, we're told things like don't throw like a sissy, don't do this, don't do that. All these labels that we grew up with that are just antiquated. There is vulnerability there. I went to school for nursing and in nursing school, there's a "you own it" mentality. You see it, you own it. You smell it, you own it. You think it, you own it. You get an idea of it, you own it. It's almost like a code that I have, too. It's like, I must. There's someone out there who may love to share my light, and I want to share that with them. I don't want to die with my music still left in me. I love it because I showed up in this spirit and I'm infinitely abundant, and there are infinite possibilities. I don't want to keep that in me, I want to share that with everyone else.
I think support and love is the most powerful tool we can offer each other because we're here together. We've got a team right here, we're a team. No one ever made anything or did anything on their own. I'm just trying to do my part.
MATT: You mentioned support, who are your support people?
EDWIN: You, YORK Athletics straight up, my mom, my sisters, my lovers, my supporters, my haters. I don't even call them haters, they're just unaware. They make statements, it's whatever. There's judgments, it's the way the world goes. There's dark and there's light. The darkness, our shadows, I have my own. My personal shadows, I'm constantly working towards being able to serve better.
Growing up as a Samurai, that's what we study and our Dojo is like Bushido, the code of ethics. Why are you here? You're here to serve. Not serving, like you're a slave, you're here to serve. We have energy, we have amazing brains, we have amazing souls that belong together so we should share them.
MATT: Why do you feel that your fight is worth it?
EDWIN: I feel my fight is worth it because I was chosen. 250 billion sperm and I made it. We all made it, so we're special. That harmony you give, you have to receive. My fight is worth it because I'm here and I'm alive and I'm strong and until I have a breath left in me I'm going to continue to go. Then when that breath is gone and I transition to another life, I'm going to do the same thing there because I was chosen. That's a duty, again, I suit up for that daily. I'm a gift, straight up, and I'm grateful for that. I'm a gift. I have the gift of life and the gift of breath. It's real.
MATT: We want to talk a little bit about hard work. What role does hard work play in your fight?
EDWIN: All of it, all day, it's got to be the norm. Hard work has to be the norm. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want if it is what you want. Hard work is a necessary fact of repetition of hard work, hard work, hard work.
That's what makes diamonds out of coal. It's a part of nature, it's relative. The more you commit to it, the easier it gets and then you take flight.
And the hard work becomes the heat and the pressure, the commitment. All of those elements like your love, your passion, they all go together into one and then you discover something about yourself that you never thought you believed was in there. Maybe what you thought is that someone else said you couldn't, you can't, you shouldn't, etc. But when you commit to that personal hard work you find this spirit, this light inside you, that is who you truly are. Not just this blessed meat suit and I'm grateful for that, but there's electricity in there. That's what hard work does, hard work extracts who you are and lets your real heart and passion and light show.
MATT: Let's talk about positivity.
EDWIN: Positivity is a thing, it's a state. Positivity in a moment. Positivity is a truth. Does it elevate the situation? Is it necessary and is it true? Positivity is a thing that we can exercise positively. However, if we have a flat tire we can be positive all we want, we've still got a flat tire, we got to pull over and fix it. You've got AAA, you’ve got a jack, or there's a human being out there that if you pull over, you put your hood up, someone's going to help you. It happens daily.
Positivity is definitely important, but just as important is being honest with ourselves. Maybe positivity isn't enough. If that is the case, then reach out and ask for support, there are tons of people that can help us out, we just have to be honest with that within ourselves. And that's a harder thing.
MATT: Can you expand on your views on positivity and how that plays a role in everyone's day-to-day life and everyone's individual fights?
EDWIN: In terms of positivity, I'd like to frame it around truth and self-exploration, looking into yourself and exploring how you feel. What is it that I need in order to get that positivity? Then it becomes work and a fight towards achieving that. Because from a primitive level we all have basic needs that we want and have to address. My consistency, my structure, my stability, my support, my family, all those things play into it and sometimes it's really challenging to be positive in that space. But if my basic needs are met I can move on to being more grateful. Expressing gratitude and then using my creative abilities or our creative abilities to go to the next phase of finding happiness, joy, etc.
MATT: Can you talk about being a teacher and a painter. What inspires your painting?
EDWIN: I went to school for nursing and nursing school taught me a lot about ethics. I haven't finished yet, which I will, but I was working in a space where it was like, end of life. I think at the moment that was the wrong choice, the wrong environment for me. Everything was just grim, so I committed then to just take my martial arts back and say ‘alright nurses I'm going to go to the other side of the trenches, and I'm going to meet you this way. So you guys keep marching this way, and I'll go and bridge the gap that way.’
Our bodies are amazing at preventative maintenance. They are also really good at pretending that something isn't bothering us. On one side, I always have this vision. Can you imagine this healthy world where no one is sick? We have that ability, we just have to be real with ourselves. So as a martial artist, I decided that I was going to take martial science and combine it with science. I want to bridge the gap. Sadly, there are a lot of doctors and nurses out there who don't have healthy behaviors and habits and it's hard for us to go there. You know we're all the same, we're all trying to figure it out.
The nursing aspect and the martial science created this one element. I have a vision that in the future they're all going to blend and gel into one and that's my mission.
As for painting, I grew up painting and it is like a form of physical expression. A lot of what you see out there comes out of my soul. I love oils, I love pastels, I love watercolors. I grew up watching John Singer Sargent. You know, everybody needs a friend. Bob Ross was my first painting coach watching PBS. Essentially painting is another mindful practice, being able to paint and being able to share that it's another element, like the moves of martial arts, they just flow the same way.
A lot of my inspiration is from nature. I love sacred geometry, which is an element that we're all made of. That is my mission, that is my passion, I love sharing that. I love the artwork. I love every single one of my classes, every single one of my connections with another individual is trying to have them extract that inner being. A discovery that I'm not trying to teach you anything. I just want to see what's already inside and find the tools and navigate together to show that you already have it.
Some people think I can't box, I can't do this, I can't do that, I can't kick. Yeah well, you have a 2 step, in breath, out breath, left leg, right leg. These dualities. Left brain, right brain. We have two steps, we know that. If we can build there then we already have a foundation and even something like running, that's a combo, you just get your legs into position and now you're doing the same thing. It's no longer about me, it's about trying to create the conditions to have that spirit, that true light, that electricity come out. When that happens, I have nothing to do with it. I was just handing out the hors d'oeuvre. Take it if you want it, spit it out if you don't. That's a piece of it, all of it kind of blends in together.
MATT: You're talking about your artwork. We asked people to customize and make the Henry Mid Canvas sneakers their own. Could you tell us a little bit about your sneakers?
EDWIN: The golden arrow. Gold is like an element of the sun, so it's based off that. I just learned this in yoga. It's like cultivating the sun's energy to help you fight, to help you do. It's in the center middle chakra. It's basically using the sun's energy to cultivate and metabolize your emotions. Just kind of help you progress and persevere. You're not just metabolizing your food; also emotions, also experiences. The arrow is also about intention, about making sure you hit your goals, but also not so much about being super goal-oriented. I want to shoot the arrow in that direction specifically and I want to hit the target, but something could happen and if it does, that's okay.
The feathers are about being weightless. I had issues with letting go and letting go is a fight of mine and a thing that I'm working on. The feather was my totem animal, the red-tailed hawk which shows up everywhere for me. I'm in this grind, I'm breathing, I'm struggling, everything's coming at me. I'm like what the f? What next? Then my hawk shows up and I'm like, sigh, it's a symbol that there is a higher power that is out there that has my back. That's like yo E, come on you got this, just keep it going. And I'm like alright, I got it, round 29 let's go! So it kind of keeps me light-footed.
The cherry blossoms are a symbol of growing, being grounded. In Japan, they grow in the of concrete. They find their way, they find their water, their roots find whatever they need to find. It's often super, super cold and some of those winters take down those cherry blossoms. But some of them don't. It depends how strong that cherry blossom could be to persevere so that it blossoms. It's also a symbol of the people that I connect with, to have them and watch them blossom.
I sometimes try to bring that cold winter to them and I give them the tools. I offer them the tools or we try to extract the tools and work on building tools together so that they can also blossom through their winter.
MATT: How do you encapsulate what you fight for?
EDWIN: I fight for truth. I fight for love.