Meeting your edges

 

Before enlightenment-
Chop Wood- Carry Water

After enlightenment-
Chop Wood-Carry Water

ZEN PROVERB

There is no destination.  We don’t really get anywhere nor do we really fix anything.  We literally show up each day and experiment. Our experiments have all the clues to answers we seek.  If we get more interested in the in depth process of learning, we get deeper, go further, discover more, open up for unfathomable realizations and consequently actions.

I have known coach Jeremy for 13 years.  We began as coach and client when I was at Cappy’s.  After 10 years there, I left not sure of my plan…..only sure of my desire to be a boxing coach.

After a failed attempt at running a class in the wide open Flo Ware Park in torrential rain at 6am I started searching for a place to call a temporary home.

 

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I found the covered basketball court at Pratt Park and began to set the bag up.  I hadn’t spoken to Jeremy in about 10 months and felt an urge to reach out….to see if he was training or wanted to train.  It was uncanny timing.  We both needed each other.

I was training Jen and a few other boxers and it was hard on my soul.  Having more people to train like Jeremy and a few #6amcrew die-hards gave me more hope……It put people around Jen and myself and made me believe that I could accomplish something if I just showed up for others everyday.

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Jeremy quit his job and went for a whole new direction….the park and boxing gave him stability and a place to root himself.  When we started the gym at the Jefferson building, he started teaching a class in exchange for free training and membership.  His desire to learn, to grow and to find direction was an important part of the beginnings of this gym.

After about a year and Jeremy teaching a second class, it made sense for him to become a  coach contractor and to prepare for his first amateur fight.

All of my exponential growth is in this gym…..in the relationships with coaches and with clients.  Preparing Jeremy for his first fight seemed like everything coming full circle and it was rewarding.

Jeremy has been like a brother to me in many ways…..I am grateful for all the conflicts, the conversations and the insights brought forth because of being in each others lives.

His last day as a coach with Arcaro will be Friday January 11th.

Again, he has embarked on a whole new journey.  The past several years, he has put himself through school, co-parented his son and coached.  I’ve watched him obtain goals he didn’t imagine possible.  Soon, he will be a teacher and I can think of no better person to enter our education system.  He is and will be an asset because of his ability to take on discomfort, hold himself accountable in and out of the ring.

Please show Jeremy your gratitude over the next couple of weeks and as always.

 

#BoxOn!

 

 

 

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when you know

I had the sense of relief that comes from knowing that you have done the hardest of all the things you have to do, and the independence that come from having done something very difficult and important to yourself, even though no one thinks it’s the least bit significant.   – The Tracker

I always say that no one can take your training away from you, because you did it.  Long after your competitive days are done, you still carry with you all that you faced, your failures, your successes, your work.  You are the one that got up when you wanted to stay in bed.  You are the one that suffered through countless hours of discomfort.

There is no end goal….no destination.  There is just experience after experience.  There is you at every turn and bend- to be faced….

Each altercation -interpersonal and outer gets you a little closer to your core if you do the work.  And if you do, no one can take away what you have learned, what you have settled within, what you have understood, forgiven, accepted and refused to settle for.

#BoxOn!

 

 

 

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Fear

The most tiresome thing of being a coach is watching fighters hit that wall of fear and choose to walk away from it.  It’s heart wrenching to watch from the outside and see it so clear.  How do you convey the changes that occur when one walks through the fire without veering?

I was a hot mess in my late teens and early 20’s, but one thing that I clung to was sports and an insane work ethic.  At one point, I was a senior in high school taking honors/AP classes, working night shift and playing organized school sports.  I chewed a lot of gum to stay awake in class and had dependable workmates that would let me doze in between rounds.

Emotionally and mentally I was chaotic, dramatic, all over the place.  Work and sports were my paved path.  I couldn’t keep it together on the inside, so I made the outside a constant.

Stalking Wolf said that if we took our knives and camped in Hell for a week alone, we would never be afraid of anything again.  He gave us strict instructions about what area we had to stay in and what trails we could use. – The Tracker- The true story of Tom Brown Jr.

Fighters disappear into their heads……they disappear into their own self pity.  We all have that tendency…..but boxing and life are cumulative.  Nothing stops and if you do, things pass you by.  Nature constantly moves.  She doesn’t have a bad day, disappear, pull back her wind and hide.  She keeps moving.  When we stop, when we don’t move through and face our troubles, then we will be out of synch and the work is 50 times harder than it was before.  What used to be your solace now becomes a discomfort.

When we retreat and isolate, we cut ourselves off from nature and that is truly impossible.  We have no choice but to be linked, each molecule of ourselves is part of world.  We are all connected and our isolation is a violent act to the fabric that binds us.

A miraculous thing happened to me at that moment.  My fear turned inside out and became maniacal rage.  I was still there and I was still scared, but I was too mad for fear to have any effect……..I believe I must have chased it two hundred yards, well into the woods, before I fell down too exhausted to run or punch or stab another time.  I stayed on my hands and knees, panting, with my head hanging.  I did not care if whatever I was chasing turned and came back on me all teeth and appetite.  I did not care.  I had spent my rage.  I had spent my fear……I confronted it and have not been truly afraid since.

I have come through many experiences and my best lessons were from looking into the lion’s mouth.  I am thankful for the courage to feel pain, discomfort, insecurity, joy, success.  This ability to feel and keep my balance is what put the walls up in the gym.

#BoxOn!

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My new mentor Stalking Wolf

When Stalking Wolf gave us a test, it was not a test in the sense that it could be graded.  It was a way of knowing what to work on next.  The importance of the test was not the results but what we did with them.  A limitless commitment to learning was less important than knowing the limits we had and what they were.  Our training was a matter of defining our limits to ourselves as well as a way of sharpening our skills.  The essential question anyone needs to ask to survive is, ‘what do I need most and how can I get it’?   -The Tracker – The true story of Tom Brown Jr.

We live a life of extreme shelter and safety.

Houses are built to keep things out.

This kind of living has translated into fears of failure….a desire to be perfect and pristine.  I watch the incredible freezing creep into folks bodies as I show them their stance and how to advance and retreat and ask them to repeat what I demonstrated.  I watch the stutter that shimmies through their entire body before movement happens…almost as if they know they will fail and why should they begin?  I watch the nervous laughter as they try and excommunicate the discomfort they feel when the moves don’t come out quite right.

Boxing is a long time sport.  It takes a long time to move smooth in footwork and it takes even longer to understand leverage.  Add in the threat of a punch and now you have a lifetime practice of not being good at something.  A lifetime of learning.

We learned two things from our tests, the limits of our power and the limits of our will.  One was a measurement of skill and the other was the measurement of our personality.  Most people underestimate their abilities because they have never had a chance to test their limits.

It’s easy to quit before you start.  It’s even easier to get started, get somewhere and then quit.  Because you know what it took just to get the few steps you took and sometimes the thought of traveling further is unbearable……but how will you know if you don’t keep moving?  Often times it is simply the “idea of” and not the “actual” that dictates our decisions.

I’m up here in GlenAllen and sometimes I feel like quitting before I start.  The set up is even more rudimentary than what we have at the gym.  No cable machines, only a few fixed points.  I feel overwhelmed at the idea of not being able to make a difference, at not being able to help.  I feel overwhelmed at my lack of knowledge and ability.

I look down the trail as it disappears into what seems to be a cliff.  I remember to start simple.  To not look for any change, to not look for immediacy.  This is where my personality will be tested.  Can I simply do the basics over and over again, knowing that this is what it takes to get the skill to scale that cliff when it comes?  This is where my need to feel effective will be challenged because it could be months or more before I see any changes……..What am I doing this for?  To feel important, or do I believe in the work?

#BoxOn!

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Empathy/Tolerance

Empathy does not mean tolerance.

I think this is the difference between understanding and feeling sorry for someone.  When we are empathic, we have an understanding of another’s plight.  We can resonate or understand with where they are coming from.  We can see why they are behaving the way they do, and even understand more deeply why we behave the way we do.

Tolerance isn’t necessarily an act that goes hand in hand.  I can have an insight into a person and still not accept the behavior coming from them.  I can have an insight into my own reactions to their behavior and still not be accepting of my response.

This is key.  It’s key in training others and oneself.  I’ve had to have a ton of understanding but very little tolerance when I am self evaluating.  I see the benefit in this style.  Because it’s a fairly non judgmental place, it can beget quick action.  When I have very little tolerance for undesirable behaviors, thoughts, and actions I can get to the root quicker and adjust.

In the ring we need this adjustment ability or we can get stuck in a rhythm that cannot be changed.  We must be able to box, or brawl at any second if it is needed.  We cannot risk getting caught up in the same patterns without awareness and we cannot tolerate anything except execution of our plan.  If the plan needs adjustment, we must be able to implement immediately.

Champions in the ring and in life are the ones that can critically look inside without distracting emotions, they can be brutally honest with themselves and adapt as necessary.

#BoxOn!

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box on Andrew!

Sometimes I open up my computer with so much to say and no words will come out.  They are stuck somewhere I can’t even identify.  It’s like I have all these ideas and a burning desire to share them but I can’t organize them in an understandable way.  They are jagged- a little harsh to say and I have to find a kinder way so the message can be received.

This blog is dedicated to Andrew.  He will probably never read this but I want somehow for him to know that our 3 minute interaction deeply impacted me as we walked down Broadway in the freezing cold yesterday.

I’m tired of a societal paradigm that values money over people.  I’m tired of feeling the futility of how big our world has become.  We don’t operate in smaller more sustainable tribes that would allow us to truly care for the other.  The only green we look after is monetary.

I am trying via the gym to create a boundaried, top notch staff that holds space for accountability- gives room for intensive growth- A place where not only those that enter our walls but those who pass by can feel the work it takes to show up and be accountable.  A place where we work hard on ourselves so that we can make a bigger change in the greater community.  I’m not trying to create a group of followers but a group of autonomous folks that value humanity.

The only like mindedness I embrace in our gym community is exercised through values of truth- facing one’s discomforts- integrity- acknowledgement of self hypocrisy- expression – accountability.

Ever since kid hood I have been for the underdog- an advocate for nature- an advocate for the sad and lost in all our forms.  I have been a beacon for switching from a victim mentality to one of self-efficacy and intense self scrutiny.

Because the common denominator in every situation you encounter is you!

As a coach, I believe in being very personable, but not one who confuses being personal… a strong listener and one who can lead by example….

because when I first started coaching I was not at all boundaried.

I needed attention and to be liked.  I needed to feel important- to be the best.  I needed approval….and all these things drove the interactions I had with gym members.  I could not coach them cleanly and needed them to feel effective.

When I started this gym, I kidded myself into thinking I could accomplish something never accomplished before.  But I was just lying to myself- it was a justification for covering up my insecurities.  As conflicts arose from the lack of clear lines, I became more educated in my driving intents.  It’s what I imagine some parents experience raising children.

I wanted different situations- not to repeat the same ones- so I had to keep growing up and changing.  I still do.

Now I have a full fledged 5 year old gym.  When you walk in, what you feel is the work it takes to take oneself on- you feel what it means to be tired and have to show up anyway.  You feel the pain and joy of change.  You feel what it means to have empathy but not to tolerate anything less than the cleanest intent humanly possible.  You feel what it means to have empathy but not to feel sorry for…

And you feel the desire to

#BoxOn!

 

 

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Control(ling)

I step into the ring and am summoned to the center….looking right into myself.  I hear the referee’s instructions like a faint, tinny, hollow echo.  I never lose my gaze as I back up to the corner and hear my coaches’ last minute instructions fade outside the ropes.

The bell rings for an elongated vibration and I take my steps in to face myself.  There is no escape, each movement I make is met with a counter movement.  Every punch I throw is timed with precision, exposing my gaps, my hypocrisies.  I pivot, duck, move off the center line and get a new perspective for a fleeting moment.  The bell rings more abruptly this time, ending the round and I head to the corner.

My breath feels like the only thing walking back into the center of the ring-  I’m weightless except for sweat droplets teetering from the ends of my hair strands.  A part of me wants to stay in the corner and only listen to someone else….to be let off the hook, to rest and not be responsible….but the stool is removed and I must stand to answer another 3 minutes on my own.

This is me, studying the patterns of control and controlling behavior.  Me understanding that I am responsible for developing myself and paving the way for others.  I do this through understanding my development as a human.  Body mechanics, social paradigms, personal behavior, making attempts, failing, succeeding…..these are daily skills to learn about.

I’ve been thinking a ton about controlling behavior-   It’s because, through the gym, I’m establishing a leadership paradigm and have lot’s of questions about what is control or controlling versus what is absolutely something that is necessary that I make final decisions?  What is absolutely necessary that I dictate the steps that should happen?  Where do I need to step back more and listen and move along with others ideas and actions?  Where do I completely step away?

These questions are like a science experiment to me…..I gather information and look at all my behaviors that might shed some light on my questions.

One thing I noticed is that I am particular to schedule.  I don’t always have to follow it, but I absolutely have to have a written, planned out template for a day.  I like to break the structure and create from it as a base rhythm.  I don’t like to operate without it.

When I am uncomfortable, I switch to controlling mode-  it’s seamless—–somewhere between fight and flight is where I go and it comes across as aggressive- unrelenting-in charge.  It’s a sloppy place to be though on the inside I feel taught.  This isn’t ultimately the feeling I want.  This type of control doesn’t allow for the natural rhythm to come through and it doesn’t create opportunity for honest interaction.  But as I stay studious to my actions and decisions, I learn more by staying present in this place.  I don’t try to fix it….I just get more aware, more able to make conscious decisions from the frontal lobe and not from an animal brain.

In the ring, there is nothing but honest interaction.  In life, it takes more intent to get through your own and everyone else’s cover.

When am I being in control and when am I controlling?  Where do I say this is the way and where do I move aside?

It’s a daily boxing match.

Open the door to Arcaro and the feeling is palpable.  You can’t say the exact vibe, but you feel good.  You sense the work that goes on in this gym and it moves through you, leaving you with an impression and the understanding, that you are going to have to show up when you come in to train.

The coaches train in their daily life so you can come in and have a pure experience, all your own.  An experience that will expose you to yourself.  It’s why we always say to

#BoxOn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You have to go to know

You have to go to know  -The Tracker (The true story of Tom Brown Jr)

I can paint a picture of what it is like up on that canvas above the crowd, lights targeting me and my opponent….but you won’t really know unless you go.  It will just be an idea, an imagination of yours based upon experiences that you are searching for the relativity.

I can describe in wordy detail the feeling in my guts, my mind, my heart as I lean down to achieve the weight I need to be when I step on the scale the night before but again, you won’t really know unless you go.

We all have something that is uniquely our experience and we all have something that only a select group of people can know.  This is where we are the same.

Up in the Copper River Valley, surrounded by trees that decided to stop reaching for the sky in what seems like a 1/4 of the way is Mt. Drum overlooking a harsh reality of snow, ice and desolation.  It is magnificent.    A place that demands subsistence living exist in some fashion and a dichotomy of cultural heritage vs. youthful technology.  My breath billows out visibly in “The Below” A series of temperatures south of zero.

The truth, when it comes in words, is always a matter of interpretation…..Some experiences simply do not translate.  You have to go to know.  -The Tracker

5 years ago, Coach Jen and I had a long term vision to extend Arcaro beyond the walls of the Central Area but we didn’t know how it would be.  Because of an unquenched thirst for learning, I was connected to Naudi Aguilar and Functional Patterns.  Through a series of serendipitous events I connected with the Athabascan people, Yvonne Ito and Copper River Native Association.  Just last week, those worlds merged.  I’ve been practicing FP, but I had no idea the impact it would have in boxing, my coaching, my life and now the lives of those in the middle of nowhere.  I had to go to know.

I’ve seen single handedly the way this training changes bodies…..most dramatically, Greg Cruz, our pro boxer.  He’s gone from a forward hipped, rounded shouldered guy to a full fledged confident and devastating boxer.  I’ve felt my inner anxiety, dissipate and disappear as I unravel fascial adhesions and create new connections.  I’ve initiated the ability for people’s back pain to disappear.

I witnessed a side-eyed, untrusting tribal people, welcome us fully as we shared with them our experience in self-myofascial release and glimpses of FP corrective techniques. I watched people hanging on to pain for years, let go and get curious and excited about what they could accomplish.

We do this work daily at the gym…..we box for expression, we fix what ails us through FP and punching.  We are a wide reaching community that will always #BoxOn!

 

 

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Every man is a moon and has a side which he turns toward nobody-  Mark Twain

I ran across this quote on a #coachesdowntime walk.

Walking through our lives we bump into and against many people.  Most of our interactions are influenced by our fear of the unknown.  We wish to read people, to predict our interactions, to control how others perceive us and us them.  We anticipate and judge folks based on what we wonder about what they are hiding.

I’m in the dressing room, and it feels like a janitor’s closet.  The walls contain me and my team as I hit the mitts.  My punches jolt out and back as if I’m a first timer entering the gym with my nervous system in full swing betraying my logical mind.  I know she isn’t 20# heavier than me, but her lats look like batman’s cape in full extension and I’m sure I will die if she gets one clean blow.  My heart is sprinting as I pretend I’m calm. I lie to my corner……..I tell them I am ok. I know nothing of her, this nothingness drives me mad with ideas.  Baseless ideas.  Every blood vessel in my body constricts driving my blood pressure up resulting in a narrow and skewed vision.  My breath feels as if it isn’t in me, I hear it from the outside, not fully inflating my lungs.  I cannot reveal my insides for fear that they will be the real me that shows up to fight.

We tell people what we think they are doing to us but we don’t really reveal what we feel or what is our struggle.  But if we did, the power we could possess is greater than we can imagine.  Truth is power….even the ugliest, seemingly weak truths.  I’m learning to expose my insides to myself and others in a way that seems to give me footing, better balance.  It enables me to see what others are doing from the corner.  My goal is to live my life in the zone….as if I see everything blazing around me in slow motion.

The only way to this goal is through connectedness……physically, mentally emotionally.

And through exposing your hidden moon to the light.

#boxon

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Sherpa

A coach’s job can be very uncomfortable.

We are sherpa’s of the soul…..of that which lies deeply hidden.

We watch from the outside what the body reveals. Holding secrets just like the heavy bag.  All we have is our perception, interpretation and your feedback to describe what we witness.

In the beginning, I was terrible with other’s discomfort…..hell, I couldn’t even deal with my own.   But to grow, there is pain and the pain pushes you.

The ability to watch somebody, wriggle, avoid and finally succumb to the truth takes having gone their oneself first.

As coach’s, we embrace the ugliness as the most beautiful thing we have ever seen.  We see no separation between a you and me.  What you do, I do or have done.  What you feel, I have felt or continue to.  I am a decision away from your experience.

#BoxOn!

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