A lil plug

This blog is a little different as it is sponsored by CBS Sports.  ENJOY!

You can often hear how boxing is dead, or how it has changed over the years.  Well, it’s not dead and it definitely has changed–as it should.  I don’t buy the idea that you should do things a certain way just because “that’s the way it always has been.”

We seem to get stuck on the way things used to be and we are resistant to things changing.  But it’s an evolutionary fact, if you don’t change, you will become extinct.  This is true for living organisms, businesses, ideas, etc…..

Boxing is now accessible to so many more people.  The fan base is changing.  More people are understanding the importance of boxing to the growth of one’s soul.  In my opinion, boxing is more alive than ever.  It’s just different.

We don’t have the same stories in life, therefore we don’t act out the same stories in the ring.  Our challenges have taken on different shapes and meanings……so boxing follows suit as it is a perfect reflection of our society.

Technology is at the forefront of our daily experience.  We no longer gather around the radio to hear a fight from another state.

We get information from apps and use tons of sport apps to follow our favorite sports.  We can follow the play by play of many arm chair sportscasters via twitter.  We push a button to find the latest score via a score app.  Technology makes sports and the athletes more directly accessible.  Any information we want, we can get within a minute.

Our struggles take on a different look and fewer people are using sport to get out of duress.  Boxing still allows people to rise up from the ashes, but our society tells these stories in all sports and educational opportunities…..not just boxing.  We no longer read the paper to find out about our athletes.  We watch reality shows, round the clock footage of their life in an edited fashion.  We can use our cell phones anywhere we want to find out instant information.  Companies like CBS have sports mobile apps to get up to the minute information.

Boxing is different, just as our society is, it is alive and well.  It is dangerous, exciting, storytelling, inspiring, and one of many mediums we use to express ourself.

Embrace the change and…….








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One can never be the master of his technical knowledge unless all his psychic hindrances are removed and he can keep his mind in a state of emptiness (fluidity), even purged of whatever technique he has obtained.

Lee, Bruce (1975-10-01). Tao of Jeet Kune Do (Kindle Locations 4103-4105). Ohara Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

In all my time as an athlete and coach, I have found only one way to take on psychic hindrances.  Straight on!  That’s not to say I don’t detour, veer or downright avoid at times…..it’s that I don’t gain any new insight and I most certainly cannot master technical skill if I don’t walk right into my hindrances.

I also have found that it’s not necessarily good to push through when you meet a lot of resistance.  Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and hang out in the intensity of your experience.  When you are ready and when you have done the work you need, you will let go of what has been holding you back.

If fighting was simply physical, I think I would be bored quickly.  But because it is so complexly us, so intertwined with our emotions, our psyche I am madly in love with this sport.  Nowhere, have I ever been pushed to grow as an athlete and a coach equally.  I’m entirely motivated to share the rewards I’ve gotten from the awareness work I do on the daily.

When you experience the “zone”, that perfect place of fluidity, you don’t exist, your ego is no more, there is no time, only the moment of movement that you are experiencing and it is magical.  I want to live my life there as much as possible whether I am in the ring, the gym or my community.

Come in to the gym and take on your own hindrances to see what you can accomplish.


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A little lesson from Zen

Lately, coach Jen has been attending a sitting meditation group at SU called Eco Sangha.  Through this group came an opportunity to attend a full day meditation that consisted of sitting, walking, working and eating- all in silence.

Honestly, it is easier to get punched in the face than to sit on a cushion for 30 minutes at a time.

The event was led by Osho (a Japanese abbot) at temple Chobo-ji on Beacon Hill.  At one point, he gave a talk.  He said we should strive to be a


From the cushion to the ring!  I love this idea.  If I go in the ring avoiding fear, thinking about everything I’m going to do or not do, I am not even open to the possibility of now.  I am not open to seeing and seizing the opportunities before me.

Being a body of inquiry helps you to quiet the mind, to learn as you go, to be interested in what is and isn’t working and to make necessary adjustments.

When fear comes up, and it will…….if you are a body of inquiry you will walk into and through the fear.  It will be scary, invigorating and a changing experience.  You will gain a confidence that is yours and can never be derailed.

I know this is far harder than just reading the words on paper.

About 12pm I wanted to bail.  I couldn’t sit cross legged on that cushion one minute more, but I did and I did and I did…… from 7am to 8pm I sat, walked, ate and worked in silence.  I distinctly remember at one point sitting on the cushion, suffering in intense discomfort and wanting the bell to ring.

It was a beautiful and humbling day in a different kind of ring, but I was a body of inquiry and it made the experience all mine.

Now you go and make yours.



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The Space between

Voidness is that which stands right in the middle between this and that. The void is all-inclusive, having no opposite — there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it and whoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all beings. Turn into a doll made of wood: it has no ego, it thinks nothing, it is not grasping or sticky. Let the body and limbs work themselves out in accordance with the discipline they have undergone. The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.

Lee, Bruce (1975-10-01). Tao of Jeet Kune Do (Kindle Locations 164-171). Ohara Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The gap, the space between you and your opponent.  It is that gap where all the information about how to respond can be found.  It is also this space between that is sometimes terrifying to occupy.  It is unknown, it has no instructions and there is nothing to identify.

Seeing, feeling and occupying space take practice.  A TON OF PRACTICE.

I’ve been practicing seeing space in my world for about a year now.  I work with a coach to come up with drills I can do to increase my mental and emotional capacity.  I am a large work in process and I find it a thrilling way to train and live my life.  As a coach, I’m always looking to push myself so I can ask more of the boxers I work with.

Seeing space has been a valuable practice for me and I know it can do something for you.  I first started with fences and trees.  I practiced seeing the spaces in between the branches, and the spaces around the tree.  I noticed an immediate calming affect……almost as if I retreated within myself.  It was as if all my thoughts and movements were coming from the center of the inside of my body.  When I practiced seeing this space when talking to people or sparring, it was easier for me to see body language cues and keep on noticing without staying too long to judge and assess.

During sparring, seeing space gave me time by slowing everything down in my perception.  I could respond quicker and with more calculation. Seeing space and sitting in it connects you to the person on the other side. You know your true distance from them and you can feel their energetic intent before it reaches you physically.

All this benefit from a simple, yet difficult skill that only involves recognizing space, gaps, voids……whatever you want to call it……..

Try it out, see what you think and if you see any benefit to space.






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Where we come from

We write and rewrite our stories every day.  It is a beautiful skill to be able to change our perspective of the past.

So much happens from there to here and it is each ingredient that enhances the flavor we experience today.

It is up to us to decide if we want to be done unto or if we want to use our experience to grow and thrive.  We can wallow in all that got us here or we can attempt to walk on the surface always knowing what is underneath-  always knowing it is our foundation, our strength.  We don’t so much rise out of the ashes, but we wade through until each step is taken with more ease.

We can live each current moment with fear of returning or we can live each moment knowing the honor of being here because of there.  We don’t slide back, we don’t cave, we live in our past or we use it as fuel and energy to experience the next moment with utter intensity and desire.

If a boxer spends her 3 minutes fretting about the last round, she doesn’t even get to enjoy the one she is in.  She doesn’t get an opportunity to see what is possible nor does she get a chance to effect change………

Live each moment knowing the last one happened and it was necessary to get you to here.  Live here and now and embrace your past for the powerful and necessary experience it was.
















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The Building of a Champion

It starts with the self and begins to creep into all aspects of one’s life.

To build a champion, you must start with a foundation of curiosity (thank you for the description Tony Ventrella)

Curiosity leads to self awareness which cultivates more curiosity and so on……


To build a champion you have to be impeccable with your thoughts and your words.  You must investigate all sides of situations, all parts of your reactions.  You must challenge your own beliefs.

To build a champion, you must be your own most difficult opponent that you want to completely dismantle.  It is the dismantling that builds you from within.

Confidence comes from the core and the core is not a visible 6 pack to the world.  It is in fact the intertwining of fascia, of intensity, density, muscle and bone.  The core is the dumping ground for every experience in life, and you can build it with any perspective you choose.

To build a champion you have to as Jack Kerouac says,

Be in love with your life, every detail of it

To build a champion, you will have to know how to win and lose as if they were one in the same, because your identity is not result, your identity is in how you approach the process.



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Top of the mountain alone?

Every boxer has sparring partner stories.  Some sparring partners teach us harsh lessons while others take a more gentle approach, but no matter what, each of them has a huge impact on the people we are today.  I think it is why we re-tell our sparring sessions play by play.  We wrap each word around our memories as if protecting a precious gift.  We claim with glee the punch that made us take pause.  It’s a way of honoring where we have come from…….it’s a way to say, this is how I got here, and this is what I am made of.    It’s a statement of how connected we all are in our experience.

As boxers, we are accountable for each and every action for the 3 minutes we spar and fight.  We are also accountable for each minute of training that prepares us.  We acknowledge every person that exposed us to ourselves.  We are grateful for those that kick our butts and make us question our efficacy.  This accountability to ourselves and others gives us a confidence that no one can challenge.

Man is a model of the world-  Leonardo da Vinci

Whether we have gloves on or not, we belong to a humanness that only we know intimately.  We are connected through our fighting art.  We know what we know and calmly walk the earth exercising this awareness.

Boxers aren’t interested in summiting a mountain without a team, without crediting those that got us there.  Because if we are, we will topple quickly.  Boxers understand the concept of oneness, of togetherness.  When we are asked about the fight and our performance we say “We” as if our corner was in there throwing and taking punches.

The only way to the top is with others and the only way to stay there is with others.  We model in the ring, what we desire in the world.



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Putting people first

Jim Casey of United Parcel Service had a vision way back in 1916 to put people first.  To put his employees quality of life, their voice, their expression, and their overall life experience as a priority.  This vision built a phenomenal company that exists today.  He so cared about putting his people first that he invited the union to unionize his employees.  A very gutsy move knowing the contentious possibilities between unions and businesses.

I’m not sure in these current times how many businesses have the same kind of vision as Mr. Casey.

At Arcaro, we invest in ourselves so we can invest in you.  We are the physical barbershop in the community allowing people to express themselves and flourish. We invest in improving as coaches so we can pave a path for all our boxers, recreational and competitive, to confidently walk down.

Community is made up of several individuals and each individual brings some unique perspective to the ring.  Each individual tells a story through their body as they sweat and endure the discomfort of training.  Everybody risks telling their story to people they normally would never engage with outside the ring or gym.

There is power in our conflict, in our shared experience of physical disagreement being reenacted through sparring or even hitting the heavy bag.  There is enlightenment and release in touching gloves after the controlled conflict.  We learn that our punches our meant to expose one another to the holes in our defense.  This exposure enhances our skills in conflict outside the confines of the gym.

This community experience within the gym allows our members to go back out the door and contribute a very different mindset in other intersecting communities.

Boxing is what makes our community great!



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The Tao of Power

The Tao of Power is a translation by R.L. Wing of the Tao Te Ching.  It is an excellent guide in perspectives of leadership and influence.


The most yielding parts of the world.
Overtake the most rigid parts of the world.
The insubstantial can penetrate continually.

Therefore I know that without action there is advantage.

This Philosophy without words,
This advantage without action—-
It is rare, in the world, to attain them.

The more resistance to an experience, the more the experience happens and the tighter you get.  This tightness continues to narrow your vision and locks you into fight, flight or freeze mode.  Then more resistance happens the more your misery is compounded.

Lao Tzu felt that “problems tend to resolve themselves when they are not met with aggression and invited to remain.”

In boxing, subtlety is queen.  You must have courage to allow what you normally want to repel.  If you are nervous, scared, hesitant, it is better to acknowledge and let it exist lest it run your every move.  If you try to avoid what you are feeling, it has a funny way of showing up like a chin in the air, a left hand dropping below your face, a flinch, or a blinking of an eye at just the wrong moment.

We are taught in our society to repel the undesirable parts of ourselves- to fix ourselves. That seems very silly to me.  We are everything we think, we are everything we do.  We are a continual malleable process. We don’t need to be fixed.  Granted, there are decisions that are decidedly better than others…..but whose way are we supposed to follow?  Who is to say that someone else’s way is better or worse than my own?  Every moment can lead us to greater understanding of ourselves or we can keep on suppressing our inner selves and pay later.  We can honor and take responsibility for everything we do, or we can fall victim to all circumstances.

In the ring, there is no one to blame for your choices.  It’s true you have corner people, family, supporters and friends that have helped you walk your path, but you are the only one in there taking and giving punches.  You and you alone dictate what happens to you.  You decide if you will trust your corner…..if you can rely on your training……..if you are ready to meet the lesson 3 minutes at a time.

Power is truly felt when you relax, let go and allow your technique to kick in.  It’s effortless to throw a straight punch that snaps at the perfect time.  You can last forever when you move with gravity and use it to your advantage.  It’s eye opening and spine tingling when you feel how whole you are delivering a punch starting from your feet and soaring through each knuckle into your opponent.

This kind of power can be felt in daily life.  It is called vulnerability, acceptance, and empathy!





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The internal art of a boxer

Fear shows up all over the place.  You can see it in the body language of fighters and you can also see when they feel confident.  It’s clear up on that stage, under the lights what the fighter is internally dealing with.  Their tension, relaxation, movement…..Really everything, exposes their deepest truth and it’s in front of all of us.

Honestly that exposure is the same in daily life, but somehow we think we are hiding and going unnoticed.  We think that we don’t have physical habits that tell the truth versus what we are trying to show.  We look at the boxer in the ring, yet think that we are not like them.

Tonight at the fights, I heard a snippet of conversation from a couple of guys in the crowd referring to the fight they were watching.  “Where’s your stamina?  You should at least be able to last 4 rounds, but look at these guys, they were gassed in the first minute of the fight.  They have no stamina.”

I wanted to respond, “Dude!  How bout you tense every muscle in your body, hold your breath and hop back and forth in front of a group of strangers and family, plus take punches……….OK, after you do that for 30 seconds, please let me know if you can do that for 4 rounds at 3 minutes each with a minute rest…….”

But, no, I quietly stood there and just listened to how easy it is to look at another and not realize how much we are the same and that we tend to struggle with similar things.  I imagine I do the same thing in other areas of my life.

The ability to understand and empathize with others about their similar experiences is a true hallmark of a boxer.  Boxers share with each other their punches taken, moves practiced, trainer stories, weight cutting, training methods and so much more.  There is an experience, unique to each boxer and they love to share the intricacies piece by piece.  Within each version told is a common theme felt by others-  we all have less than stellar moments and when we truly experience and accept them, we grow and improve our skills and confidence.  It’s a theme of exploration and triumph in self-efficacy.

Boxing has forced me to be open and vulnerable.  It has forced me to step back and see…….see myself and others more clearly.  More and more, I want to practice the humanity of the ring.  It is truths told, stories that matter, expression, intelligence, raw passion, fire, intent and a list of adjectives that could go on and on.  The experience of being willing to be seen by the outside is to learn the mastery of self physically, mentally and psychologically.  I want more mastery of self because it feels good and it feels calm and knowing.  I want my boxers to also claim more mastery, so they may continue to achieve anything they want as they move on in life.

I don’t necessarily think you can only get the above feeling in the ring, but it is the place that made the most sense to me and led to greater levels of understanding as well as skill implementation.

Get out to the fights, support local boxers, pay attention to your daily experiences and be willing to share them with others.

As always:




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