Monthly Archives: November 2010

The best of the best

The best of the best

My prodigal has been feeling ill over the past few days with a headache she can’t shake and a runny nose that could have won the NYC Marathon.  True champion that she is at the offer of a day home in bed, she’s in the shower clearing her mind and her nostrils to do battle with the day.  In her case, her usual array of 6th grade classes and a make-up science test in an attempt to better her grade.

This is par for the course for her though.  And I’m reminded that as a second grader she stayed up till the then unseemly hour of 10:15 PM to finish a project for class.  She was studying bridges that year and she could barely remain awake as she completed the last final touches to make her bridge that much better.

I was in awe then at her resolve to work through the problem — and though my husband and I had to fight our instincts to demand that she go to bed, her tired but triumphant self-satisfaction the next morning was inspiring and brought much more than a tear to the eye.

She is no less triumphant this morning, exiting from the shower with a smile and saying, “I feel happy and I’m awake!”

Would that all of us could take a cue from that simple construct.

Guilting you into it

Guilting you into it

Ever have one of those mornings when even the cat has her hooks into you?  I mean it’s not even 6:00 in the morning and the day is already all about getting stuff done, and done fast.

“Raining outside?  Oh, that’s okay, use an umbrella to go out and get me my latte!,” say’s he who wants desperately to be obeyed.

Yep, one of *those* mornings where only the premium flaked cat food will do.

My answer other than to take care of the “damn” nonsense of life including lattes in the rain and the last round of studying for my daughter’s make-up science test, always goes back to freezing time for my morning something.  Today that means the daily write and sun salutations and the occasional foray into a tap dance, say in the elevator of where I work where the acoustics make my taps sound perfect.

And later, say at lunch time, I’ll tune out for a few on my iPad and have a think about something other than coming home to sort the laundry.

P.S. – Nothing like the vision of a Starbucks barista in a Santa hat to make the day seems sunny after all!

New beginnings

New beginnings.

Mondays afford the possibility of new beginnings.  A bit like a new year, Mondays begin the week and hence offer the chance to take a stab at starting over.   This mini-New Year also offers the start of new resolutions such as getting back to the gym, beginning a diet, or waking up an hour earlier to start that novel that keeps beckoning from the keyboard.

The point is that we have that opportunity to take a stab at new things all the time; whether an adventure in cuisine, creative endeavors, physical prowess, or something as simple as drinking one less cup of coffee.

And sure, Thursday can come when cake is the overriding motivation of the day, but you do have Monday or any other day you choose as your start day to look forward to.    That’s the day when you have the opportunity to move yourself along to where ever it is you want to go as a fresh beginning, whether its shadow boxing in the dark as your morning sun salutation or greeting your gym mates at the end of the day having missed their company for a while.

Missing a day

Missing a day.

When one commits to a daily something as a specific task, missing a day can be a big emotional ouch.

Back when I boxed everyday, whether at the gym or at home, missing a day felt like a betrayal.  I had gone ahead and signed some sort of blood pact with myself to train everyday and then blown it!

The next day always felt awkward.   I found myself discounting the days and weeks of effort and sweat as if I had to start all over again.

Of course, I didn’t have to.  Sure I lost the day, but it didn’t mean having to give up training or all the good that working out in the ring had done for me.  It just meant that I had to work a bit harder to get my groove back; a few extra sit-ups to make up for the ones I’d lost.  Perhaps throwing in an extra bit on the treadmill during the warm-up, or the three rounds on the slip rope I’d been meaning to work into my routine.

The point is not to beat yourself up.

Things happen.  Work, family, a rotten cold, or maybe a jammed feeling that leaves a blue cast over the day that you just can’t shake.  The next day will be there for you to do your daily something again — and really, it’ll be okay.

You might also like:

The daily something

Day ahead of myself

Day ahead of myself.

I’m getting days ahead of myself.  It comes of too much on my mind and not enough focus.  Maybe that’s why the pads a trainer uses in boxing are called “focus” pads.

I clearly need some focus or my family might actually follow through on their threats to set me adrift at sea.  ‘Not that I’ve become a Captain Bligh around here, but it’s pretty clear that the problem is me and not with the rest of my world ’cause they’ve been pretty perfect.

Friday movie: Girlfight

Friday movie:  Girlfight

The film Girlfight directed by Karyn Kusama was one of the first films out about girl boxing.  Released in 2000 it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Girlfight stars Michelle Rodriguez as Diana, an angry high school senior who is struggling to find her place in the world.  As a boxing genre film, it shares some of the elements of the classics, the wrinkle of course being that Diana must also contend with the being a woman in the ring.  It should be remembered that the film came out only a few short years after women began competing in the Golden Gloves, so some of the issues dealt with were still as raw as portrayed.

As far as fight movies go — this one’s fun and well worth adding to your queue on Netflix.

Safe space

Safe space.

I came home from work last night to see my husband and my daughter sprawled on the living room floor doing math together.   My day had been exhausting and I was no less so after seeing them.   The lovely part of it was knowing how safe my daughter was as I excused myself and went into the bedroom to take a short nap.

Having missed out on a lot of that sort of intimacy in my own childhood, it got me to thinking that the boxing gym can offer that same sort of comfort.  My meaning is not necessarily tied into the idea of “Father” / “Daughter,” but “Trainer” and “Trainee.”

As a “student” of boxing one is seeking out guidance and learning from others. That learning encompasses all the usual pathways of acquiring knowledge; however, it occurs as a close physical experience and it is that closeness that can garner trust and comfort.   To sit in a boxing gym is to observe a myriad of small moments of loving intimacy. A sort of safe space for working through the actual problems of how to box; but more so the intangibles of relationship that dog many of us as we go about the everyday work of life.

Tap dancing

Tap dancing.

Boxing has the precision and improvisational artistry of tap dancing.

I came across this sweet film by Jackie Paré entitled “Sweet Feet – Tap Goes Global”  that seems to sum up the beauty of letting your heart go as you swing.

Please note that the video will appear in a separate window:
Sweet Feet – Tap Goes Global from Jackie Paré on Vimeo.

And of course the famous scene with Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis and tap dancing legends: Arthur Duncan, Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, Harold Nicholas and Sandman Sims.

Of marathons and dreams

Of marathons and dreams.

Yesterday was the annual New York City Marathon.  Elite runners aside, the NYC Marathon is made up of the tens of thousands of little stories about endurance and heart that see runners  pursuing their dreams of completing the 26-mile course through the streets of the five boroughs.

It’s a day when runners are cheered on by the crowds of New Yorkers lining the route; clapping and pulling for the ones that seem tired or lagging, and reading all the special dreams on people’s T-shirts.  We recognize ourselves in those dreams; of work we pursue with dogged determination and grit, or friends we know and love who endure hardship.

We are each marathoners in one way or another in how we ply our boards day after day to accomplish goals large and small.  For the boxer, it’s not so much the fight as the pursuit of perfection in each jab thrown in the daily grind of the gym.

To my mind, yesterday was a celebration for all us who push to accomplish something, so congratulations to all of us for getting the job done.



Women’s boxing seminar

Women’s boxing seminar.

USANA Pink Gloves Boxing Seminar 2010

My daughter turned 11 yesterday.  Her very excellent day included the evening session of a three-day Aikido seminar sponsored by a local Brooklyn Dojo.

It got me to thinking about how supportive these types of events are.  In the Aikido world, master teachers train participants in new techniques, general practice concepts and offer opportunities for augmenting learning, including special sessions for kids.

A women’s boxing seminar might work equally as well, perhaps beginning with a half-day event.  I know that there are fantasy camps around, but in the seminar concept, a gym facility could be borrowed on a Sunday and trainers as well as experienced boxers could lead participants in a variety of drills, boxing techniques, boxing exercises and sparring.

An hour or two could also be devoted to kids and/or invite girls of 11 or 12 on up to participate in the day’s  activities.

The seminar would have to be self-funded in order to pay for facilities and trainers, but with enough interest and a reasonable fee it might well work out.  It’s also an especially nice way for women boxers both novice and experienced to feel as if they are part of a larger community.

I know that in boxing in particular, training is often one-on-one and the relationship between the boxer and her trainer is sacrosanct. The seminar or clinic concept can augment that relationship by teaching new ways of thinking about the sport and providing a supportive atmosphere for trying out new techniques, not to mention  the chance to meet up with old friends and a place to make new ones.

Please contact me if there is any interest out there in planning and/or sponsoring such an event.  With the Olympics looming on the horizon in 2012, now might be a great time to start thinking about these kinds of sports clinics if nothing else than to build momentum and a fan base.


***P. S.  How’s this for timing!  It seems that Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, NY will be sponsoring an All Female Boxing Clinic and Show on April 21, 22 and 23, 2011!

A rainy Friday at the movies: When we were Kings

A rainy Friday at the movies:  When we were Kings

October 30th, marked the anniversary of the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Mohammad Ali and George Foreman.  It was an audacious event that swirled with controversy.

In looking at the documentary, “When We Were Kings” directed by Leon Gast in 1996, one can realize just how bold this fight was as a statement about boxing as a place holder for minority politics in American culture in the early 1970’s.  On the heals of the Civil Rights Movement, the event capitalized on the idea of “being somebody” in a context and vernacular that was referential only to itself.  It’s a film that is nicely done and well worth seeing.




Learning the sweet science

Learning the sweet science.

The first time I boxed was at a local gym in Brooklyn that offered a six-week “boxercise” class as an adjunct to the usual Yoga, Pilates and Aerobics classes.  The sports facility itself was pretty large, so an area was cordoned off towards the back of the basement floor for the new boxing program.  We had a couple of speed bags, heavy bags, and the smallest ring I’ve ever seen, though at the time it loomed very, very large.  There were about ten people in the class, most of whom had seemingly boxed before and after group calisthenics, we all struggled with wrapping our hands as the lone instructor did pad-work with each of us in turn in the ring.

Having never wrapped my hands before I was rather slow and had to put it charitably one of the more interesting concoctions.  By the time it was my turn to enter the ring, the instructor seemed pretty annoyed by the whole process — and of course since I hadn’t thrown a punch since I was 12, I was not exactly a boxing phenom.   That I went back at all was a testament to my true desire, and having suffered through all six weeks, my gumption remained as in tact as my lack of skills.

All of this is a long way of saying there are right and wrong ways to take up the sweet science, and for those who are interested in learning to box, it’s probably a good idea to shop around for a class.  If you’re in Brooklyn and want to box in a real boxer’s gym, I’m very partial to Gleason’s Gym down on Front Street in Dumbo.  The gym’s been there forever and is filled with a wonderful group of trainers including several fabulous women champions who will guide novices through experienced fighters in a regimen of training individually or in a group setting.  The gym has frequent outreach events, and is very welcoming to new comers — at least that’s how I felt when I walked in with my one truly awful boxing class under my belt back in 1996.

That’s not to say that Gleason’s is the only boxing gym in New York City.  There are several great ones including Manhattan’s Church Street Gym, Mendez Boxing, Kingsway Boxing and the Trinity Boxing Club.  There are all Women’s programs in many of the gyms as well.  One can find terrific training for kids too — my daughter has boxed on and off since she was about seven.  It’s not her main martial sport, but she’s gotten a lot out of it, not to mention the fun of having a bunch of boxers for babysitters as I trained.

The main thing is not to feel intimidated — my trainer, Lennox Blackmore is fond of saying that he just wants to “get me where I want to go.”  For any aspiring boxers out there that can mean a chance to tone-up or go all the way to the Golden Gloves, Master’s tournaments or even the Olympics!  As for boxing gear, there is always plenty around for as long as you need it.  So come on down and enjoy.

[See Blogroll for links to Boxing Gyms mentioned above]


Who do I box today

Who do I box today.

For all my extolling of the virtues of the vote, I want to puke!

As a friend reminded me yesterday, Emma Goldman once said, “If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal.”  In a new variant on that, voting seems to have assured yet another period of acrimony and division in the service of big business and bigotry.

So who do I box today?

The public has “spoken.”

I’m just glad I don’t live in Arizona where the  public  voted to ban affirmative action. Or Wisconsin for that matter where Senator Russ Feingold was voted out of office, the only Senator with the temerity to vote “no” on the Patriot Act of 2001 and one of ten who voted against the renewal of 2006.  Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like the idea of people reading my mail without the consent of an open court.

Oy!  I’m so depressed!

I guess it’s time to hit the bag.



The power of the vote

The power of the vote

Yep, it’s that time of year again in the United States:  Election Day.

We mark the date when citizens have the opportunity to exercise their franchise and in so doing take a moment to reflect on the folks who fought and in some cases died to make that power available to all of us.

This year marks three important anniversaries:

– The enactment of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution granting the right to vote all (male) citizens of the United States 140 years ago on March 30, 1870;

– The enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution providing women with the right to vote 90 years ago on August 26, 1920; and

– The Voting Rights Act of 1965 codifying the 15th Amendment and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson 45 years ago on August 6, 1965.

To honor all those who fought for the franchise, why not take the time to get down to the polls today and vote.

I know that some of us feel that our voices aren’t “heard,” but without the vote, we have no chance to balk about what happens next, and believe me, the “crazies” in the world have sure figured it out which is why they’ll be heading to the polls in droves.

So instead of a “Tea Party,” why not head to the polls for a “Constitution Party” — and “pity the fool” who loses sight of the prize: a better tomorrow for our children and our children’s children.

For those who are interested, here’s the text of the 15th Amendment granting Rights of Citizens to Vote and the 19th Amendment granting Women’s Suffrage Rights.

Amendment XV – Rights of Citizens to Vote

Section 1.  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the Unites States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2.  The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIX – Women’s Suffrage Rights

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.