Thoughts from afar

I’m sitting in a comfy office chair at a window with my feet up on the ledge looking at St. John’s Harbour in NewFoundland.  The wind is blowing rain diagonally blurring my view as the lights on all the ships begin to shimmer; signaling that sunset is a few moments from taking over.  I’m on the last two days of a much needed trip away from the Northwest.  

Each day I have walked a minimum of 8 miles and even hit 15 miles a couple of others.  The views are staggering….the Atlantic Ocean’s landscape is stark and rugged and beautiful.  Coach Jen will call this place home for several years as she chases her dreams and obtains a PhD in philosophy. I’m a little bit envious, and a lot impressed with her tenacity.

At the same time, I’m looking forward to coming home to the gym, the hounds and the community that pushes me to grow and strive to be my best.  This fall will be a very busy boxing season…… We will start amateur team training again next week.  It’s been 3 months since the last session and it’s been a good boxing/life balance.  Some boxers took road trips, others went on countless hikes…….participated in weddings and sweltered in the beastly heat that Seattle occasionally brings.  When in the gym, we slowed down and worked on body mechanics and being more efficient in our movement and now it’s time to buckle down, focus our training to being in fight condition.

Our competitive season will begin with boxer Kevin Roberson in his 2nd professional bout Saturday October 28th in Auburn, WA.  Then November 4th and 5th, amateur boxers Greg Cruz and Omar Vergara will be lacing up in a tournament in Portland, Oregon.  Amateur boxer Brooke Devereaux is grinding away on movement and leverage mechanics and will see ring time at least once this fall while we have a few folks in the wings working to be ready by spring of 2018.  

Former amateur boxers Brian and Frankie are moving to the corner and will be cutting their teeth as competitive coaches.  Frankie continues to build a successful youth program, Arcaro Kids, and just may see a competitive youth boxer come out of the ranks in the next two years.

I’ll be honing my skills in Functional Patterns movement and all the coaches will be bringing their enthusiasm to increased fundamentals and skills work in all our classes.  

Come in, hunker down for the fall/winter…..develop impeccable skills and an infectious love for this sport.

As always, 

#BoxOn!

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Boxing education

About 5 years ago I had a realization that I was a decent coach, but not really all THAT good….

The reason I came to this conclusion is because I realized I was stagnant in my learning.  I wasn’t looking at new ways to train the body, I wasn’t thinking critically enough about drills and their purpose.  I experienced two primary coaches over the course of my competitive experience and hadn’t really taken responsibility for my training.  Don’t get me wrong, I worked my butt off doing 2 a day sessions, but my intelligence was low.  I didn’t question my movement…..why or why I couldn’t do certain moves.  I was complacent in my investigation.  I avoided what I wasn’t good at.  I didn’t know how to be excited about my flaws.  I did only what I was told.  Not enough questions.  Not enough push in a new and uncomfortable way.  

So, 5 years ago I started searching outside my circle for knowledge.  I began scouring You Tube looking for boxing videos.  I needed to see how others taught, how was I similar or different in my execution of drills?  How did strength and conditioning exercises improve boxing skills? Was power only inherent or could it be developed?  The questioning woke me up.  It made me thrilled to take my flaws head on.  My perception was open to change.  There are so many styles and skills out there.  

Every boxer hits a plateau that they cannot move through….they hit a certain type of opponent they cannot beat– this feels unsatisfactory—I wanted to find a way to address this issue.  The boxer can’t keep going back and working harder in the same way, something has to be approached differently.  Inefficiencies must be exposed and changed.  

I discovered what became two major influences in my search for new training paradigms —Lee Wylie You Tube Channel and Functional Patterns (FP)  Lee Wylie shows me new ways to look at film- to dissect movement and skill.  He’s repetitive and simple in his explanation.  

Functional Patterns is the answer to addressing inefficiencies in movement.  The training principles of integrative movement reveal where our disconnects exist.  Fighters need connection for leverage maximization.  Humans need movement efficiency for health optimization.  Plus it really feels good to throw a thwacking punch with the least amount of effort.

In addition to learning FP training principles, I’m also studying Thomas Meyers book Anatomy Trains and learning fascia release.  I’ve invested in working these techniques on myself.  I’m experimenting and learning constantly and all the coaches at the gym are each bringing their unique styles to the ring.  Each of us with the goal of teaching you how to move your body the best way for maximum output.  

Keep uncovering your inefficiencies, get in the gym and punch them out!  We are in your corner.  

#BoxOn!

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Life is a giant sparring session

These days, it’s harder and harder for me to see the difference between words and physical punches.  It’s hard not to see the discrepancies between body language shown and the words that are verbalized.  We seem to be a society struggling with expression and shut down.  We cannot find the gray area in between.

If I watch a boxing match, there is no question that both fighters have equal opportunity to throw punches.  Even if one boxer is more dominant, both can still throw, maneuver and engage.  If I watch or participate in a heated conversation, it immediately becomes apparent that one person feels the power to speak and the other person doesn’t.  This, I don’t understand.  We are all sparring partners….in my opinion we are all here to survive, to further each other as humans.  We are here to face discomfort so we may increase our emotional intelligence…..to further our species.  We are meant to help each other move through patterns that hold us back and not blame others for holding us back. 

As I’ve gotten a teeny bit (and I mean teeny)  more comfortable with the discomfort of conflict I realize that my best and closest relationships are the ones that I have worked with through conflict.  I realize that the people who are willing to invest in conflict with me are the ones most invested in me.  They are not invested in keeping their paradigm alive at the cost of me….they are willing to dig within themselves, I am willing to dig in myself…..We are competing together against a bogus social construct and not competing against one another.  

I’ll say it again….WE ARE WILLING TO COMPETE TOGETHER AGAINST A BOGUS SOCIAL CONSTRUCT.

#BoxOn!

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Brewing the coffee

It’s Sunday morning-  I’m brewing coffee, studying about myofascial release and a few other boxing related things.  Class is happening at the gym and Seattle is getting a much needed respite from high temperatures.

Every Sunday before I get to the coffee and studying phase, I take the dogs out for a walk and talk on the phone to my coach.  This weekly phone call is a great collaboration for me to increase self awareness and work through any challenges I may have business wise and personally.  I’m grateful for this investment in myself as I believe it helps me to do a better job of running the gym and it allows all of you the space to take on your personal difficulties.

It is through this work that I am parsing out the differences between leadership and being a boss.  This is quite possibly the most difficult concept I’ve come across in a long time.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you won’t tell other people what needs to be done…..it doesn’t mean that you don’t order or direct……. Sometimes, being the business owner, you do have to ask for something to be done a certain way.  Being a leader does ask that you and your employees to do things with awareness and to go steps beyond that awareness to create action and change.

Being a leader is saying, watch me make lots of mistakes and see how I respond to them.  Watch how I learn and apply the learning in future situations.  Watch how interesting it can be to be patient with oneself and to take the blame off of others so you can really see your part in all interactions.

Being a boss is telling a person to do as I say and not as I do.  It’s promoting fear about making mistakes.  It’s asking for an unrealistic perfection.  Being a leader is saying, being human is a messy endeavor and if we can all be just a little bit more honest with ourselves, our outcomes will be tremendous.  We will be more authentic in our endeavors….more empathizing with other’s struggles and more willing to take responsibility for our own experiences.

Thinking in terms of boxing competition always helps me to get a handle on my belief systems because it is the physical manifestation of my thoughts.  Seeing and feeling things in a physical way makes sense and seems to provide clearer understanding.

A boxer needs a coach to be a leader and a teacher.  The boxer needs to feel autonomy and dependence simultaneously.  The range of autonomy to dependence allows the boxer to risk and trust themselves but then know when the coach has an overriding perspective.  If a coach is a boss to a boxer and the boxer only lives in the land of dependence, then what do they ultimately have?  What can they do independent of the coach……how can they dare to try something out of the ordinary when times call for it?

Understanding leadership is so much simpler in the ring than in the form of running business….but I am devoted to this concept and having a successful gym full of leaders that help each other to grow, give room for boxers and gym members to grow and affect the community in a positive and action oriented manner.

#BoxOn!

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Boxing Lessons

Boxing taught me, when you feel and know the power within you, you don’t have to prove it on the outside.

It’s a rhythm thing to me…..If I’m looking externally for approval and disapproval, I am no longer in my rhythm.  I am in another’s.

To feel the confidence in engaged muscle and calm mind, is internal.  I am in my own rhythm.  I know when to act and when to listen.  It is a stillness and a knowing–whether I am in conversation or step and sliding around the ring.

This process of feeling weakness and developing strength and efficiency is all consuming.  It’s the way a boxer lives.  To me, it is in our human-ness that we can truly find ourselves.  We can find the ability to push down through the floor and stretch our torso’s to unleash the perfect punch.  We can lose our balance and still know where we are.

It took me boxing’s lessons to fully comprehend the value of the little details, the value of self-responsibility and awareness……..The value in repetition.  The value in connecting the entire body and using it physically.  It took boxing for me to feel and understand the sense of otherness….to embrace our common experience of weakness and suffering.  You are always grateful for your sparring partners, your stable, your community.  For their striving to reach the same milestones as you makes life a powerful and personal competition.  Everyone focused on achieving a greater efficiency in the ring and the world is bound by the code of nodding and sweating and continuing to move. A Constructive Dissatisfaction.

Boxing is a human sport full of connection and today, I witnessed it.

Thank you to all who participated in the Team Parkinson’s walk!

 

#BoxOn!

#KO Parkinson’s

 

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Footwork

Boxers know, footwork is our foundation.

It doesn’t matter what you do if you do it with a faulty foundation.  Your connection to the ground will dictate your flexibility, your force, your spacial judgement, your maneuverability, and overall efficacy.

Do a little experiment and sit in a chair with your feet on the floor…….How connected are your feet?  Now, stand up and see how much connection you have, then walk around and check again.  It’s a little shocking how little we link our feet from the ground to the rest of our bodies.

When we spend all of our efforts on the outcome-the external- the punch- We have skipped the most important part……where it all comes from and who is doing the delivery.  We forget to use our most efficient forces and instead only see what is in front of us.

Boxing insists you lose the outer as the focal point.  When you train skills, spar and do roadwork, the internal bubbles up to the forefront.  Any imbalance you tried to cover up with force is uncovered with an equal or greater force.  You no longer can only focus on the outcome, you have to deal with the internal process.  You must find your foundation so that you can push yourself into the unknown and risk while at the same time feel grounded.  You cannot think from arms and fists only.

You must pay attention to what is surfacing, acknowledge and use it to find your power.  When you dive into your depths with a lens of discovery and wonderment, you will find your connection and you will interact with others in the ring and out of the ring with a different sense of power.

 

#BoxOn!

 

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Punch Technicians

My relationship to my own training and coaching others is a constantly evolving one.  I used to be “go, go, go” –  more on the side of overtraining.  My body feels the years of pounding, between rugby and boxing alone, my legs have taken on countless miles and my body has absorbed and given an unimaginable number of hits.

I want to age with my mobility even more superior to what I have now.  I want others to also increase their mobility.  I want to age moving better than I ever have before.  I want to transfer my knowledge of movement to my boxers and gym members.  This quest has led to a lot of hours of self study and the seeking of other inquiring minds.  In Seattle, we have access to some brilliant people and training systems.  I’m grateful to Naudi Aguilar and the Functional Patterns training system as well as AJ from the Athletic Training Institute as well as Brian Power from MTI Physical Therapy.  Outside of Seattle, I follow Canadian based, Eric Wong of the Precision Movement Academy.

They all have their own approach and delivery in addressing body mechanics.  I take everything I learn and practice it with the coaches and competitive boxers as well as our fitness boxers.  The changes in people’s punch technique, more efficient movement, strength and punch power is noticeable.

All the coaches at Arcaro are punch technicians and devoted to helping you discover your inefficiencies.  Through learning about all the areas you experience a lack of connection, you will find your power.  We are all obsessed with finding out where the power comes from and helping you find your own.

Punching leverage can be learned but it must be earned through repetition in training day in and day out.  You must be willing to feel the uncomfortable, to work on the minuscule movements and to be genuinely interested in your failure to produce power.  This is key to improving and accessing your strength.

We are interested in your body changing, not just being a bigger or smaller version of your current body shape and movement habits.  It will take different movement patterns to produce the physical changes that are noticeable.  It will take paying attention to detail and the steady patient eye of the coaches.

We will help you succeed and get the leverage you have been searching for in and out of the ring.

#BoxOn!

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A few Monday thoughts….

This weekend, coach Jen and I worked in a couple corners at the professional boxing show, Brawl at Harmony Hall  I love the environment that these guys create.  All ages are welcome, so our local amateurs get to see their teammates take on the task of competing in the professional ranks.  Nathaniel and Keith, the promoters work their tails off to give our Northwest beginning pros a chance to get started in a very unforgiving career.

This is the second time I’ve cornered for someone I just met and it is a completely different experience.  I don’t have all the hours of sweat and discomfort built up.  I don’t have earned trust and they have not earned mine.  We are in the fire together, brand new and uncertain.  I feel like my most important job is keeping them as calm and aware of being in the moment as possible.  I am forced to keep my words to a minimum because they aren’t used to my style of language and most likely won’t know what I mean if I ask them to tow the line with their back foot or any other phrase my boxers are used to.  I’ve never held mitts for them and I am not in sync with their timing or anything they’ve practiced, so I have to try and keep things very simple for both our sakes.  Basically I’m trying to build as much of a relationship of trust in about 1 hour so I can have a shot at helping them figure out the proper adjustments to make within those 3 minutes of fighting and the 1 minute break.  So far, I’ve not experienced anything past the first round, but I’m game for when it happens.

I’m thankful for this experience because it really shows me where I over coach and over explain with my own boxers.  Because of working with someone brand new in an on the spot situation, I have to be more efficient, succinct, calm and focused.  I want more of this in my daily coaching.

It is easy to make the fight about oneself.  The adrenaline hits you, it reminds you of being in there.  Sometimes you miss it and sometimes you lament being here vs. there.  The crowd spills their energy unconfined into the atmosphere and you have to walk through it, contain it and coach without getting the release of punching or anything physical for that matter.  You have your own nerves plus your corner team and the fighter’s to manage.  You are in hyper aware mode and pick up every little body cue of everyone in the room and you have to stay on point with your fighter’s preparation.  It’s all very surreal at times and it’s at this point more than ever that you are to be a mere page turner…..not as noticeable as the fighter…….important and key to the performance but in the background.

Each performance opportunity I get, I work to improve as many aspects as I can.  I welcome my failures and observe them so that I may make my own adjustments.  This is a huge part of training to me and I’m working diligently to pass this type of thinking on to my fighters.  If we cannot void judgment from our performances and strictly look at them openly whether we perform well or not, we will not grow and improve.  I notice that I improve in one area and at the same time, another gap is exposed.

Boxing training and competition are my most favorite environments to be in when I’m not in nature.  They make the most sense.  Like nature, boxing is unforgiving and beautiful.  You know right where you stand and mistakes are costly.  You have to be on point to survive and thrive.  You get to train and test over and over and grow in and out of the gym. You are lucky enough to learn exactly what you can and can’t handle.  You get the opportunity to develop character that is solid and deep and you get to take that with you wherever you go.

#BoxOn!  #smallnaturemoments

 

 

 

 

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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…….

#BoxOn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

#BoxOn!

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