Competitive season

Here we are again in January with Golden Gloves a week away.  Competitive teams ebb and flow at all gyms.  Sometimes we are stacked with eager competitors who are ring ready and other times we have a bunch of folks in the wings working diligently to get prepared.  We are at the bottom of the curve starting this year with 1 elite competitor, Greg, 1 pro, Kevin and about 10 folks who are anywhere from 3 months to 2 years away from being ring ready.

It’s a bittersweet pattern that happens.  The coaches are the constant the competitors are the variable.  Each one gives a little more to our own development and for that I am extremely grateful.  Sometimes I feel bad for those that came along earlier because I am so much better because of them and they don’t get the benefit of that progress.

I’ve been at this sport since 2002 and it seems shocking when I say I’ve put in 16 years.  It feels like I’m just now finding my legs and confidence.  I’m more certain than ever in my training program and what and who I am developing.  I’m more certain of my methods and the results I am capable of producing.

Our team ebbs and flows as does my learning curve, but it is that constant that I can depend on.


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Boss Paradigm

We are born immediately immersed in power dynamics.  We learn about who has authority over us and what our place is in family and society.  We take those paradigms and our perceived positions into the work place.  Our bosses become opaque authority figures to be revered and disdained.  We feel stuck, welcome, appreciated, taken advantage of and a whole host of other things and blame it or credit those above us.  We treat our perceived authority figures as entities and not people.

As I’ve moved into the gym’s 5th year, and added coaches, I’ve thought long and hard about how I want the structure to be.  I’ve no desire to be a boss- to not be thought of as a person with failures and successes.  I don’t want to take care of people, rather provide opportunity.  I don’t want to tell people what or how to do it, I’d rather guide, observe, listen ask questions and lead by example.  I want the coaches to come to me with their motivation for creation, for them to have autonomy and initiative.  I want to respect their intelligence and their ability to teach themselves.  For them to feel ownership in our gym and community.

I am calling this the Leadership Paradigm.  A paradigm based on competency of skill.  In theory, I  should be the one with the highest competency in people and business skills.  I set the standard that I want the coaches to blow away as they grow…..and that will force me to grow exponentially in order to keep up.

I believe one of the reasons that business owners get stuck in their businesses is because they are bosses and use an authority of power vs the competency heirarchy.  They don’t set up a way for their employees to take over, to keep the integrity of the business and allow the business to change and grow with the times.  It’s scary to let go of control but if you don’t, it will always come down to only you.  You have to do the work to build the foundations that allow the business to keep the original vision you set and still be malleable to adjust to the unknown.

This gym is a thriving example of a Leadership Paradigm….it is a constant work in progress as are all of us coaches.  We take the sloppiness with the clean and make it all work so that our gym members can come in and express, push, grow, and be accountable.

#BoxOn! and Lead!!!!

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Time Alone

You ever had that experience of not knowing where to put your hands and you don’t have pockets?  You keep looking for the openings to hide your hands, but, they aren’t there, and your hands are sitting out in the open, exposed.

That’s what it used to be like for me to be alone.  My whole body felt like exposed uncertainty.    I would fill up the space with tons of activity and surround myself by people so I didn’t have to feel the itchiness, the desire for escape, the skin crawly discomfort of being by myself.

It took a lot of practice and endurance to embrace the silence and the void when on my own.  I practiced hundreds of hours by sitting on a park bench, putting my phone away and looking at the landscape.  I’d set a time limit and go about meeting my goal…….the goal to sit still, to not flee, to sit in the utter fear of what I might discover if I was alone and quiet.  Other times, I’d walk somewhere near The Sound and listen to the waves as my thoughts rapidly fired through until they weren’t individual thoughts anymore, but a freight train passing by clicking each individual track over and over.

All this practice brought me to my deepest loneliness……the place I was trying to avoid.  But when I got there, it wasn’t at all like I anticipated.  It was still, it was peaceful….it was full of beauty, sadness, and years of experience.  The more my practice brought me to this place, the calmer and more secure I felt and the lonely, sort of just left.

It’s not that I don’t ever feel lonely, it’s that I like it now….it’s my grandma’s crocheted blanket that I curl up in at the end of the day.  It’s snuggling with the hounds and touching their velvety ears.  Lonely is a good friend who washes in and away leaving a wonderful memory until they come back.

Now, my life is full of people and I long for the quiet alone times.  I have to make time to be quiet by myself….no technology, just the sun on my face as I close my eyes and appreciate the life I have come to know.  Being alone is a skill….one I’m glad to have developed……it is a necessary practice to teach you to listen a little deeper….to get to know yourself a little more.

Whether you are alone or surrounded by folks this New Year, take a few moments to be quiet, to tune in, to appreciate the ups and downs that we are fortunate enough to experience.  Because sometimes you will hit the mat and other times you will get your arm raised, but all of the time, your experiences will shape you and take you further.


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Road Trip for the Soul

Me and the hounds got up at 3:00 am on the 24th and sleepily walked to our car ready to hit the road.  My buddy Kate from my Colorado rugby days lives in Medford, Oregon and it was my turn to visit her.

To me, road trips are exhilarating.  They remind me a lot of hiking mountains.  You head out with tons of excitement, hit a blockage separating you from your enthusiasm somewhere along the way, take a little bit of rest and then have to go back.  Road trips push your endurance, your awareness and your desire to follow through.  It’s another way to take on life besides boxing.

I love the feeling of motoring along the highway with other travelers.  The scenery, the heat on and off again…..the opening of the window until you are too frozen and have to shut it again.  The up and down of the dogs in the back hoping there will be a stretching of the legs.

I feel a mix of guilt and gratefulness that I can travel a highway with ease versus having to bush wack at a snails pace.  Us humans have a knack for putting down evidence of our existence in very permanent ways.  But without this tendency, I wouldn’t get to see the landscape and explore other areas.

On the 25th, Kate, the hounds and I got in the car to go further west and extend my road trip.  We landed in Crescent City, CA and Brookings, OR.  We hiked in the wet redwood forests and combed the beaches flanked by highway 101.  The awe of the Pacific Ocean and the massive rocks jutting up and and out of the water, stoically taking a beating from the incoming surf left me speechless.  Watching the hounds be themselves in nature widened my smile until it was permanently stuck.  I tried to take as much in as I could so I can remember every bit of the beauty when the darkness of Seattle tries to overtake me in January.

The 26th was a lazy morning with a small walk and the impending trip home.  This return trip was easier.  As I’ve grown emotionally, I’ve learned to take more time for appreciation….more meaningful time in nature and more effort to acknowledge friends and acquaintances along the way.  I ate a meal in Eugene and then motored into Portland to visit Ryan who used to be a regular open gym member.  It broke the trip up, made me more calm and able to be present for longer and I got to hang with excellent people.

I started the 27th up early, doing what I also really love to do….work with people on their body mechanics, mindset and boxing!  Now, the hounds are sleeping and I’m sitting in an empty gym reflecting on 4 years ago and what it was like to sit here terrified about what I had gotten myself into.  I sat here for classes when no one showed up and I continued to do that day after day, until, here we are.  I am not alone, I am surrounded by incredible coaching, a hard working community and a sport that provides me with fuel for continued growth.

Take your daily nature moments, face what terrifies you and always #BoxOn!









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A “Good Chin”

I’ve heard the phrase, “(s)he has a good chin” on many occasions and I’ve always wondered what made a good chin.  I know that tenacity and desire and heart are intangible qualities that help a person take a punch, but that just doesn’t work to satisfy why some take punches better than others on a physical level.

I believe it is Tensegrity.  If you have a consistent tension linking your entire myofascial system, you are going to be a lot less likely to experience a “short circuit” from an outside force.

All our competitive boxers follow the  (FP) Functional Patterns training system.   It’s based upon our gait cycle and throwing mechanics and it is a perfect fit for life and boxing.  I have watched my boxers be able to absorb punches differently and deliver more force with less effort. They are able to stand their ground and be less affected by incoming forces.  They are able to turn incoming force into their outgoing force.  This all happens because we address their tensegrity via myofascial release, FP corrective exercises and movements that compliment what our bodies were made to do.

I believe we are developing good chins, good movers and boxers who will not be debilitated by their sport when they step away from the ring.


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2018 thoughts

It’s the last boxing event of the amateur season and we are all hanging out in a hotel resting and staying warm.

It’s kinda nice to have nothing to do for a few hours.  We hang out, tell stories, watch t.v. and pass the time before we focus on the battle.  Friends and family contact us to wish us luck and hear our fight day thoughts.

I have been privileged to train so many dedicated boxers of all skill levels.  I have enjoyed the ups and downs of this past year and appreciated how my own skills have grown.  Next year will be a whole new ride with familiar experiences and goals and we look forward to sharing each and every one with you.

Today is Omar’s last amateur fight as he is going to switch gears and focus on coaching.  It’s been a few years and close to 20 bouts that he and I have collaborated.  Omar is a special human, full of passion for community, love of boxing and a loyalty to self growth. He has gotten himself into impeccable shape and learned how to cut weight in a healthy and steady manner.  Each and every experience has given him valuable knowledge and insight to be able to lead others as he takes off in his coaching career.

We are lucky at Arcaro to have him as a coach and I am lucky to have worked with such a dedicated, articulate, intelligent and committed athlete!

Now, it’s time to get in there and have a blast.





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Space and Silence

To find yourself in the infinite, You must distinguish and then unite-  Goethe

For the past year or more I have been working on seeing “space” versus objects.  I started with things like trees, fences, bicycle wheels and other inanimate things.  I look at the spaces in, around and through the object instead of focusing on the object itself.  Practicing this resulted in a calm feeling and a quieter mind.  I felt more inside my body and at peace….less anxious and speedy.  I could also see with a different resonance… that allowed me to take in more details even though I wasn’t searching for them.  This I felt could be a helpful skill in conflict, when watching boxers train and spar, and when listening as people talk to me…….so I have been working on developing this vision and it has proven to be a far harder task than I anticipated.

Learn to be silent.  Let your quiet mind listen and absorb silence- Pythagoras

So, more recently I have been working on seeing space specifically when observing and talking to people, when watching my boxers train and spar.  This has been a bit more challenging.  I am so used to looking at and defining objects and immediately having an opinion.  It’s hard to allow the space to happen without me filling it up with ideas and judgments.  I’m used to feeling like a flat object in space versus a three dimensional being.  Looking into space allows for just this moment, fixating on an object links you to the past and/or future.  Seeing space puts you into dimension with every other living and inanimate object that also occupies space.  I have only once for a very fleeting moment been talking to someone, seen into space and felt the whole world slow down, like time didn’t exist, like I was in the “athletic zone” but in conversation.  I wasn’t worried about my response, worried about what they might be thinking or worried about understanding…I was just there and listening……a truly unique experience….and I want more of it.

Silence is necessary in our time…..[to]…clear away our deeply ingrained desire to live by what others have said rather than discover inner truths for ourselves- Robert Sardello Silence:  The Mystery of Wholeness

#BoxOn!  and may you keep using boxing to learn even more about yourself and interactions with others.











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It’s a gonna be a fight

It’s Saturday!  This morning, we had weigh ins for Omar at 8am.  They went off smooth and he has done an incredible job of changing his body and mind to prepare. We also started our new 9:30 am Group Fitness class, integrating all the OG’s into our regular Fitness.  Then Cassidy took over the reigns of the KO Parkinson’s class!  She has worked hard to learn the tricks of coaching boxing to folks with Parkinson’s and OG provided her with excellent tutelage!  OG recently started posting excellent quotes on the board behind the ring and while in Mexico, he didn’t disappoint.  Here’s the quote for this week!

Expression in healing.  It opens us, propelling us forth into our lives.  –Roshi Norman Fischer

An Arcaro Alumn, Lisa stopped by to catch up and let us know about her new adventures in Kettlebell competition!  We are excited to hear how she continues in her new challenges and always appreciate visits from the past!

Now, it’s closing in on time to head to the amateur boxing event.  Omar and I will arrive at 2:30pm to get an idea of the bout order and prepare for warm up and hand wrapping.

Fight days are an interesting experience.  I find that I am very distracted…..I don’t feel as focused on my daily activity because all I can think about is the 9 minutes of performance.

It’s different as a coach.  I’ve all this energy and really no desire to organize it because I don’t really have a place to specifically express it.  I don’t like to be around many people and I don’t feel relaxed at home.  Everything is so much headier……more thought and obsession about the logistics.   When do we arrive? When do they change?…..silly really menial stuff.   I want to read or do something but nothing satiates the edge…..I just want to get there, wrap their hands and get the fight going.

Training and the daily is solace, the most comfortable place to live and the fight is the great upheaval.

Hope to see you all tonight at the fights!


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A little something about the source

The source of a lot of unhappiness is our insistence that others change.

When I first started coaching, I would get frustrated or impatient and mad at the boxer I was training because I thought they should be somewhere that they weren’t.  In a sense, I would blame them for not being more skilled to handle the challenges in front of them.

But, I realized that I was really just mad at the fact that I had to face things within myself because of their supposed unpreparedness to handle the challenge before them.  I had to deeply inspect my role in their inability.  Did I give them the right tools to use?  Did I talk when I should listen?  Did I push them too fast or not enough?  Is what they are dealing with even my jurisdiction?  Do they need time and space to grow?  Is my authority clouding their desire?  Do they really want to box?

As Coaches, we experience the delicate dance of self development and developing others.      We are in the trenches of inability just as much as those we coach.  We learn about ourselves through our reactions to situations with others.  We take each of those reactions deeper to discover what part of us is in the way of allowing the space and time to figure “it” out.  We take each interaction and use it to guide us in the future… help us relax under pressure so that our vision is clear.

What comes out of this work is better boundaries and clear expectations in interaction….  A knowledge and relaxation free of limited perception.  Through self development, we as coaches find our leverage and are able to pull people in that are ready to work with us, and us with them.

The source of our happiness is often the ability to free ourselves from others while at the same time being intrinsically connected.


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You are never in control of the path to your destinations, but you are very in control of the vision.

I start with an idea and I obsess about that idea when I’m coaching, when I’m talking to others, on dog walks, studying…..just plain obsessing all the time.   The idea starts becoming a picture, blurry, out of focus but a start.  All the incoming information while I’m fixated on my idea gives me the answers I’m looking for until it all comes into focus.  Then there it is, my vision.  Clarity and certainty in what I want and what I think it might look or feel like.

But the path there…. it is never like I ever plan.  So, I now obsess about the vision.  I’m looking for clues as how to proceed to get what I want.  How do I move, what do I choose, who do I ask for help to achieve what I need?

Sometimes I’ll feel like nothing is working and I’ll wonder if my vision is really all that clear or obtainable.  The doubt is important.  It further focuses my picture, or puts me back to the drawing board to get to the truth of what I want.

This process is simply life….it’s the unplanned boxing match.  You know you want the win- but you don’t know what punches you will throw or when you will slip and counter.  You train and prepare so when the moment comes you know to act…….you know that a seeming failure might create another opening.  You can miss 3 punches then land just the perfect one that they can’t see resulting in your arm being raised.


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