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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Mobility

Mobility is a systemic thing.

The more mobile our bodies are, the more mobile our brain and thinking is.

Mobility gives you options and vision.  It gives you the time you need to respond and adapt to ever changing moments.

The further we are away from nature, from understanding ourselves, the further we get away from our maximum range of motion.  The more sedentary we are, the more difficult it is to expand your thoughts and beliefs.

Coaching is an ever evolving profession.  I think all professions should be this way…..from bagging groceries to being a CEO-  if we aren’t expanding, we should go and find something different to do.  We must be in search of all the places we are lacking in our movement in our lives….whether that be via bio-mechanics, learning, thinking patterns, or daily life activities.

To move your body differently, you have to attack your dysfunctional movement…..to think differently you have to attack your dysfunctional thinking.  There is no other way to grow other than through discomfort and difficulty.

Get mobile, #boxon!

 

 

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Reflections

As a kid in the Colorado mountains, I loved running around the fields, in the woods- anywhere outside.  I’d come in at dusk after a long day of play, clothes drenched in tree sap, with dirty hands and face.

I talked to the squirrels, birds, trees and pinecones.  I’d gather up injured animals and take them to the local vet.  I was immersed in my world and it was me.  There wasn’t a separation from me to nature.  I was connected to all people, the lakes and every sound that could be heard for miles

These windows at the gym connect me to the outside.  I peer out them at each person that passes by daily.  I’m still connected.  Boxing allows me to express my feral side in a civilized manner as an adult.  #coachesdowntime connects me to where I came from.  Barefoot in Volunteer park or by the chapel at Seattle University…..I remember how alive I feel being able to express my physicality connected to nature.

Boxing gives me the same feeling inside the gym.  Coaching taps into my connection with others.  It’s been a sweet 5 years.

#BoxOn!

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Giving Space

Giving space is an active state.

A boxer stays out of range- relaxed but actively engaged so they can change directions, speeds, recover, whatever they need……They see everything across the gap.  The slouch of shoulders or the aggressive intent and all between……they have time to see everything that is coming across the space towards them…..
A boxer uses this active state as a way to eventually get in.

Giving space isn’t always removing oneself from situations entirely.

A boxer must learn to fight on the inside and have room.  Room for the other’s actions and room for theirs.  They must stay relaxed, poised, at the ready.  Microcosm movements are read in fractions of seconds, resulting in clean or missed punches.  A boxer has to be able to not fill the gap with useless movements that cover up the discomfort inside.

Giving space is the ability to know oneself in the instant in order to have intentful and efficient movement.  We feel all our impulses, the ones that take over and the ones that we can redirect.  It’s almost as if what we are doing is happening right in front of us giving us time to make better decisions.  Giving space is this vacuum that you enjoy and want to flee all at the same time.  Relaxation and terror competing for the final say.

Giving space is an action.

#BoxOn!

 

 

 

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The gap

It’s not that you always want to be in the gap, it’s that it’s the hardest place to stay calm…..It’s why we practice so much on getting more aware of how we get to, move in, stay or flee the gap.

Small steps, gestures of fakery, rhythm, timing, aggression, and so many other skills need to be intrinsic when under duress.

The gap is about listening.  You can feel your tension and theirs simultaneously……you feel where you are confident and all the while you are acutely aware of what isn’t connected……The missing links are what tug at you deepening your doubts.  It’s in this place that curiosity and enthusiasm must override any desire to succumb to what you don’t possess.

Coaches strive to listen……they listen to themselves and others.  The learning is in the discovery of what one is teaching.  We don’t really teach…..leaders lead…lead by example…are real in their experiences and actions.  When we fail, we model responsibility and excitement for our next opportunity……we take responsibility for our place in the ring.

#BoxOn!

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trepidation

We put so much of our fear and trepidation on the shoulders of others.  We blame them for not being able to speak the truth.  We say they are intimidating, unapproachable-  a multitude of reasons to justify our silence and withholding.  There is no one to keep us from crossing the gap but ourselves.

It is up to us to dictate our own actions.  We cannot control the other’s response, we can only control our own.  It’s taken me most of life to feel as if I can even partially back up this belief.

In boxing, often times a person will determine their efficacy based upon a landed/missed punch.  This method of feeling effective results in fleeting moments completely externally based.  It’s not tangible and cannot accurately be measured or felt accurately-  it is entirely ego based and not from within the body.  Fleeting efficacy cannot be built upon for future experience.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

 

You must stay in your own rhythm.  That doesn’t mean it can’t change, but it has to be yours.  Each and every moment there is opportunity to be swayed…..if you do sway, it should be because it is right for you……because you choose it and it will bring you more of yourself.

As I move into the 5th year of the gym, I realize that I am accomplishing more with less time.  I am creating little moments of complete calm by making opportunity to be barefoot in the grass….walking the dogs, taking the trash out, vacuuming the canvas, organizing the gloves, straightening the jumpropes, talking to other business owners, collaborating with coaches…..and many more……

These things are in my rhythm…….they are my experiments and my outcomes…..no one else holds my experience in their hands.

3) Quality of life is determined by how you deal with your moments, not which moments happen and which don’t.

I now consider this truth to be Happiness 101, but it’s amazing how tempting it still is to grasp at control of every circumstance to try to make sure I get exactly what I want. To encounter an undesirable situation and work with it willingly is the mark of a wise and happy person. Imagine getting a flat tire, falling ill at a bad time, or knocking something over and breaking it — and suffering nothing from it.

There is nothing to fear if you agree with yourself to deal willingly with adversity whenever it does show up. That is how to make life better. The typical, low-leverage method is to hope that you eventually accumulate power over your circumstances so that you can get what you want more often. There’s an excellent line in a Modest Mouse song, celebrating this side-effect of wisdom: As life gets longer, awful feels softer.

4) Most of life is imaginary.

Human beings have a habit of compulsive thinking that is so pervasive that we lose sight of the fact that we are nearly always thinking. Most of what we interact with is not the world itself, but our beliefs about it, our expectations of it, and our personal interests in it.

We have a very difficult time observing something without confusing it with the thoughts we have about it, and so the bulk of what we experience in life is imaginary things.

David Cain

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Timing and rhythm

Boxing is so much more than hitting.  In fact, to only focus on hitting is a detriment.

Their is a space between fighters where all the answers of attack and defense are found.  If we are quiet enough to feel our apprehension and how it affects our body, we will know how to fill that space.

The person before you is attempting to assert their will and you are determined to do the same.  How do you accomplish this through waiting, trying to land the perfect punch, seeing what they do first, and thinking?

You don’t.

You must risk in the right measure to be first and control the rhythm.  You must assert yourself through the gap with certainty.  You must be brave and afraid all at the same time in a manner that allows for movement without thought.

Your movements have to be without plan and only based upon your senses—movements the body knows because you have access to every bit of muscle, fascia and bone……movements that allow you to access all your leverage.

Until you reach that point, then I think training must address all of that inability.  Your movements must occur with efficiency giving you the ability to transition without loss of connection.  Until then, then training must address where you are lacking.

Boxing is about the pursuit of leverage….it’s an interesting task to take on and it’s so cerebral that there isn’t a moment of boredom.

 

#BoxOn!

 

 

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