Here's how it ultimately began - in 1986 we worshipped Natasha's older brother Nick - he turned us on to the Watchmen, the Dark Knight Returns - Batman (whom we still worship to this day) and a really cool way to look life -- and most interestingly - Nick practiced Aiki Jujitsu at Bushido-Kai. He was smart, handsome, spoke Japanese and was a serious Martial Artist in every sense of the word - so, in 1986 I wanted to be Nick Kanieff ... Or Batman ... and the best way to do that was to start studying Martial Arts.
That's basically how it all got started - it was during that time that I found Zen Buddhism and how it related to the Samurai, and years later I would find a similar experience in (and with) boxing. I'll spare you my rambling on and on of every amazing thing and every devastating thing that has happened on this journey that has shaped my views and methods on martial arts and boxing - the beautiful thing is and what I'm so grateful for is that after over 30 years have gone by - I still want to be Batman and I am even more obsessed today with Martial Arts and boxing than back in 1986.
In the early 2000's my path veered away from the Dojo and into a boxing gym -- my greatest lessons from the Dojo came from Shihan Tony Anessi and the man who changed my life - Micheal "Benny" Leonard -- during the early years when I began transitioning into boxing Greg Leschishin was the man - he was my first boxing teacher (for those into lineage - pretty much all roads in boxing in the Boston area reach back to Greg) - there are tons of names to mention, but I'd be seriously remiss if i didn't mention Ed LaVache, Matt and Mark Nolan, Rod Toney, Jeffrey Leggett, George Foreman III, Kevin Cobbs and "Special" Nicky Jimenez who have taught me so much!
As I grew I also obsessively studied the teachings of other great trainers like Cus D’Amato, Teddy Atlas and Freddy Roach (to name a few) - they became my guides into the Zen of boxing - and as MMA came on the scene I found even more inspiration when it came to shapes and the beauty and effectiveness of fluidity - and this reminded me of the Barbapapas.
Your first question is most likely "what the hell is a Barbapapa"? - hey, a very fair question --- click here --- another way to put this, or better put, a parallel way of thinking about this is Bruce Lee's "be like water" quote:
"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
This concept and way of thinking has greatly formed my outlook and perspective on Martial Arts and boxing.
If you train with me I try to apply the same rule of thumb as the great Cus D’Amato – that together we will discover and uncover what makes you great and what makes your style. I believe that every individual has their very own unique style of what will work for them - both externally and internally - everyone has there own shapes and sizes and solid forms, fluid forms and movements that simply works beautifully and naturally for them and it's my job to help you find yours -
I have seen the practice of boxing change peoples lives. I have seen people grow mentally and spiritually stronger - face their fears inwardly and outwardly - inside the ring and outside the ring. I have seen stressed out and out of shape Autistic children laugh, bang out push ups and crunches, stand with good posture and bond with other kids as they all groan "nooooo - no more planks" - and then the room fills with laughter. My Parkinson's boxers tell me how much better they feel -and their families tell me how much they seem like themselves again! I've seen men and women deathly afraid of being punched in the face say "you can go harder - go for my face - c'mon - hit me!"
I believe in the fun of boxing – to train like a boxer for the sake of getting in shape, to fight Parkinson's disease, or to be a competitive amateur boxer – and everywhere in-between. I have lots more to say but run the risk of rambling even more than I've done here -- let me end this with stating the fact that I love boxers and boxing - there's this 'thing' about us, there's this mystique and a romantic perception about us, and sometimes it's stuck alongside with sideway glances and the occasional "eeew, boxing?" -- there is much more to boxing and boxers than meets the eye.
"The deeper you go into the fights, the more you may discover about things that would seem at first blush to have nothing to do with boxing. Lessons in spacing and leverage, or in holding part of oneself in reserve even when hotly engaged, are lessons not only in how one boxer reckons with another but also in how one person reckons with another. The fights teach many such lessons - about the virtues and limits of craft, about the need to impart meaning to hard facts by enfolding them in stories and spectacle, about getting hurt and getting old, about distance and intimacy, and especially about education itself: boxing conducts an endless workshop in the teaching and learning of knowledge with consequences."
- Carlo Rotella