Category Archives: Boxing

Why Details Matter

Sometimes I like to just hang back, watch people to see what they do and how they act.  If you pay attention you can easily determine why some succeed and others fail at certain endeavors.

It has become easy for most of us to skip over the small details in life.  We live in a quick on the go society.  In reality every detail, no matter how small, matters. I have the luxury of hindsight because I am able to look back on my life and determine why I was successful at certain times. I can also be sure of why I failed at other incidents.  It comes down to the details.

Why are Vincent Van Gogh’s works of art so amazing and thought provoking?  After all anyone can paint a starry night.  In reality, very few can capture the mood and feel with a brush.

Last week I watched a championship fight between two fighters at the top of their game.  One of them was hit by a huge hook and right away he came back with a wicked cross.  The hook seemingly had little effect on the one hit.  Two still pictures reveal the reason behind it.

The hook was “winged,” which means the hips were not used and it was only a palm strike.  He didn’t hit with his knuckles, but his opponent did use his hips and turn over his punch.  Those tiny differences made the difference between being able to walk through a punch and being thrown against the ropes.

How many times do we fail to take each step we need to accomplish our goals? Are we using our hips to throw our hooks (hypothetically), or are we just slapping with our hands? I have been and am guilty as the next person when it comes to cutting corners.  I used to never worry about the small things, I always figured I could go back and fix them. This faulty way of thinking has cost me a lot over the years.  I think about all the time and heartache I could have saved myself and I realize how ignorant I had been.

We walk through life without realizing that God has provided us with everything we need to live a prosperous life of fulfillment.  It is hard because we cannot see the big picture or the final outcome. This is where faith comes into the picture and helps us get through the rough periods.  The good news is, that even though we can’t see the future, our job is not to blindly walk in faith, he has given us clear guidelines of how we should live in the Bible.

Our lives are made up of thousands of tiny actions that take place every hour of the day and night.  A chef cannot put a culinary masterpiece on the table without careful attention to each of the ingredients.

I listen when someone is explaining something unfamiliar to me and I absorb the information.  If I don’t understand something, I will ask questions.

I make every effort to do whatever task I set out to do right in the first place. I know I will fail at times, but I learn and I never continue to make the same mistakes again.

How could paying attention to details make your life easier?  The next question is why are you not sweating the details?  When we cease to learn, life is over.

Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

 

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Life Happens

Has this ever happened to you? You have started a great new routine, and then BANG something comes up and throws a wrench in it. In boxing when this happens we respond by “rolling with the punches.” We all make plans and rarely do they go off perfectly.

So what can we do? We can complain and get angry, or we can look ahead and make some contingency plans to deal with the unexpected arising.  Spending time in the world of anger and frustration is a waste of time. No matter what situation arises, can come up with a plan to adapt and continue your new routine.  If you give up altogether, you will be no closer to accomplishing anything.

In the case of a routine or something, we would like to make a regular part of life it is imperative that we stick as close to normal as we can. I try to make up a missed workout on the same day, and if I cannot, then I go right back to it the following day.  When traveling I often modify my routine to a different location but it will be close to the same as I do at home.  When I am training people and they have a work trip or a vacation coming up, I am always happy to provide them with body weight exercise plans they can do in their hotel room or with minimal equipment – such as a jump rope and one weight.

It takes twenty-one days to make something a habit.  Once we have formed one good habit, we must constantly be improving, meeting our current goals and setting new ones.

Habits apply too much more than working out or eating right.  For me, writing is like a muscle and unless I use it every day, it will become weak.  This is why I enjoy writing blogs, it gives me regular training and it hones my craft.

When writing my first book, I wrote a blog every week and I worked on pages for the book.  The activity helped me stay focused on the task.  I was traveling at the time and I was overseas with spotty internet.  I would write and sit outside where I knew there was a wifi spot and sometimes there was no internet.  I would download my new pages, send some old ones to my writing partner.  Yes, I missed some days because of the travel, but it was always in my mind and as soon as I could I established my routine again.

The number one rule is to let go of the frustration if we are unable to do what we had planned. There will be time, because there is always time. It is easy to tell ourselves we just don’t have the time, but deep down we know the truth.

The second rule is to set aside a specific time each day for our routine.  Once we have established our priorities, everything else can fit into other times that are not already committed.  If you commit to your time to a priority, and something else comes up – you will need to say no.  Saying no is a part of prioritizing and committing.  If we must go to sleep earlier or wake up earlier to establish dedicated time, then that is what will need to be done. The third most important piece of the puzzle is that even if you miss a day, a week or a month of your routine – make a commitment to get back to it.  If we consider it important we will begin again.  It will not be like starting from zero, because we have gone over this ground before.  

Making commitments and priorities a part of life is very important, so consider your priorities and use your time wisely!

Setbacks are only temporary bumps in the road to success.  Use it as a learning experience, adapt and re-commit.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:2

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.

 

The Battle Within

The other day I began to think about the thoughts that drive my life.  In my mind, there is a constant internal conflict going on.  It is mostly in three areas of my life.  The first is when I think that something will be fun and yet I know it will set me back.  The second is when I make a decision and then spend some time trying to talk myself out of it. The third is when I feel my old angry self begin to make a comeback.

Sunday I was listening to a sermon in church which was thought provoking. Pastor Arol was addressing how Christians should interact with people they disagree with.  It brought up my past feelings.  My world was always black and white, cut and dry.  I would judge incidents based on the facts that I was aware of and then make a decision.  I would also very quickly let hate for the opposing party cloud any further thinking on the matter.  

When I was writing screenplays we would give our hero internal conflicts and he would work them out over the course of the script.  Life is not as simple.  There is no limit to the conflicts we have going on at any one time.  I wonder how many others have these constant battles going inside themselves on a daily basis?  

I am currently involved in another group at church that meets once a week.  We read a workbook and study the Bible weekly as we answer questions about ourselves and our thoughts.  One of the main tenets of the book so far is that we are all sinners, we are not perfect and yet God still loves us.  A very good point it drives home is that I cannot change another person, nor should I try.  The only person Kenji can change is himself.

I have found on my journey of self-improvement this last decade, that working on myself is hard and yet it is not impossible.

I am able to control my own thoughts and situations.  I no longer let what I feel is fun or pleasurable distract me. In a few days, after whatever it was has passed, I have learned I have missed nothing.

I have decided that I will no longer let anger rule me.  I am working at taking a mental step back, putting myself in others’ shoes, and trying to feel what they may be feeling or thinking. It is tough to love your enemies, but I will continue to try. I am a work in progress.

The battle inside will go on, but the fact that I am aware of it and I am spending time re-educating myself helps me make better choices. I will never be perfect and yet I know I can be better.
1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Philippians 2:3-5

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

 

Staying Consistent Daily

“Temporary success,” or perhaps, “the illusion of achievement” might be a good way to describe my life in the past.  I would make it to my goals because I did whatever it took to get there, the problem was I could not maintain it.

It turns out this is a common problem among a lot of the population.  We all work hard to get a promotion, but as time passes our performance begins to slip.  

In fitness, I have seen it many times.  People decide to “get in shape” for a marathon or a tough mudder or even a fight. They go all out and they do well for the months leading up to the event.  After they have completed it they go right back to where they started.  Sometimes its the goal to lose five pounds before a vacation or a wedding.  They reach their goal and yo-yo right back to where they started. It is amazing because they feel great temporarily, yet back they go after all the hard work.

I was very money oriented or often times I just wanted to reach a place that others told me was impossible. I would set out to prove everyone wrong and that provided me with the fuel to get it done.  I can see now that this was one of the reasons I had so many highs and lows in life. I had no consistency in my self-control and I always felt I should reward myself for attaining whatever my current goal happened to be.

I was able to focus for a set period of time, but when I felt I was where I should be,  I slacked off.  My solution? A long term plan!  I also knew that if I was going to succeed at anything I was going to have be more consistent in my efforts and outputs.  I had to stop letting myself coast on past deeds. I had to decide to commit myself to excellence in everything I do. No matter what the task or small the detail.  Details are very important, getting through anything without doing it right will cost me in the long run.

I had to make sure all my short term goals were in alignment with my long term goals.  I had to give up looking at what was over the horizon and instead make the best of what I have right now.

I had to get organized.  If I wanted to get somewhere and maintain it, I had to be able to keep a uniform performance and that only comes with organization.

Finally, I had to realize it is not all about me.  What I do to get to my end goal, how I affect those around me on a day-to-day basis as I work toward my goal matters.

I decided that this time I would approach my goals through consistent hard work and the guiding principles of doing what is right. The Bible spells it out for me.  The Gospels have laid out the framework on how to live a fruitful life full of sacrifice, love and joy.

Galatians 5:22-25

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Digging out

 

I am sure many of you have experienced the art of digging yourself out of a hole. I have spent my most of my adult life coming back from many poor decisions I have made.

I was on a perpetual merry-go-round of highs and lows as a criminal until 2005 when I was finally finished with the streets.  I had the next two years to work on myself and figure out how I was going to live as a normal citizen for the rest of my life.  My main objective was to keep being myself and doing things I was good at, but this time without breaking any laws.  

In the past, I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.  I did whatever I wanted.  In my new life, I would have to consider how my decisions would affect those around me.  The stakes were much higher.  In my past life, I had many experienced criminals mentoring me.  Now I was unsure of what steps to take or even who to speak to for advice.

Life presents many opportunities to us, we must keep our eyes and our minds open.  I had to change my way of thinking and my outlook on life.  Writing this now, I can tell you it is much easier said than done.  

I had to learn to trust that God had a plan for my life.  I had to have faith, which is something I never put much thought into other than believing in myself.  I stopped looking at what I could do to bring in the most money and instead starting thinking about where I felt God could use me the most.

It was hard to walk away from the life I had built in Los Angeles because it was comfortable to me.  It was even harder when life did not go my way in Illinois right away and I had very few friends.  I felt like I kept hitting dead ends, and to be honest I felt like giving up and moving back to California at times.  Instead, I kept pushing forward, putting in the days, with the belief that with hard work and prayer the right doors would open.

One of the turning points in the past year was when I threw myself completely into my work and decided that no matter what I was doing, I would do it to the best of my ability.  It was hard when I could not see immediate results, when doors always seem to close as I was looking for a space to teach or open a gym.  Even when I found space and started out, there were so few people I wasn’t sure if we would make it.  But I kept at it.  Kept showing up, putting in the work and praying for direction and God’s blessing.  

Life is by no means perfect, but I know I am on the right track.  I wrote out my goals and started chipping away.  Slowly but surely I have made progress. We all can…. with hard work, determination, and prayer.

Philippians 3:13

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

Circumstance

There are many uncertain things in life, but there is one thing I have always been sure of: I am responsible for what happens to me.  In the late eighties, a friend gave me a book he found at a yard sale. It was, “A Man Thinketh,” by James Allen, written at the turn of the twentieth century.  It opened my eyes to how much our mind influences our lives.  I later bought another book by James Allen, “Man: King Of Mind, Body, and Circumstance.”

I cannot even begin to guess how many times I have read and re-read these books by James Allan over the years.  

One day last week there was a brief period where there was nobody in the gym but me.

I had the music up loud and I was moving around in the ring.  I was trying to shadow box, but something someone had said to me earlier kept going through my mind.

They had said I was lucky to be good at boxing and to be in shape.  

So as I was moving around the ring fighting my imaginary opponent I had that thought going through my head.  I chuckled a bit when I thought of James Allan’s books, because now that I am a Christian his books have a much deeper meaning. I used to read them and only take away what I wanted to use. He also writes a lot about being moral and honest and those were the parts I skipped over.

I am today where my actions and thoughts have placed me. There was no luck or chance involved.  My mindset, thoughts and work ethic determine the outcome of my days, weeks and years.  

My current circumstance is actually the culmination of thousands of seemingly unrelated small choices over the years.  I am not saying that I am defined by my past choices, because I know that good or bad they are just temporary.  They will change with the present day and depending on the decisions I make now, they will either put me closer to where I wish to be or set me back.

My boxing skills and fitness are not by chance.  Each day is an opportunity to push myself closer to my goals.  I want to encourage you to keep pushing forward.  Dreaming and setting lofty goals is important, but so is the day-to-day grind and hard work that will get you there.  God has given you the tools you need to accomplish the plan he has laid out for you, and it’s up to you to use those tools to the best of your ability.

Philippians 4:11-12

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

Structure

In my lifetime I have come across many people who wake up whenever they please, go to sleep whenever they feel like it and basically do whatever they want to do. Many people choose to live their lives with no structure.

I always had a bedtime and a wake-up time growing up.  My bed had to be made and I had to eat breakfast every morning.

When I went to military boarding school we had a set schedule for every day of the week. My experience there taught me that everyone was more efficient when they had a structured life.

It was while I was at military school that I learned to love waking up early, before the rest of the world is awake.  There is something special about the magic time before dawn where I find I can accomplish so much.  I used to wake up an hour before our official school wake up call, shower, get dressed and read. I liked not being rushed, so it worked for me.

I do the same today as I did then.  When I first moved to Illinois I had no place to be early, yet I still woke up before first light, walked my dog and got in a workout. I made a timetable for myself that I followed each day.  I would devote a set amount of time to writing, reading and getting other things done.  

I have found that when I have a routine there is no room for wasted time. I am happier, I accomplish all the things I plan to and I still have some flex time for fun.

I have planned out my years as far back as I can remember.  It is never so restricted and structured that I cannot change along the way, I just have a plan, basically a guide to where I would like to go that year and what I would like to accomplish.  

I have observed people who live without structure and it causes them anxiety and other problems. It often leads to wasted time and impedes them from reaching goals.

I wake up at the same time every day. If I feel tired during the day, the next day I go to sleep earlier.  I eat my meals as close to when I should during the day to keep my energy levels up.

It works and the best part of all this?  I never have to make excuses as to why I was not where I should have been.

I encourage you to lay out a plan and stick to it.  Start with small short term goals and see them through.  Commit to getting enough sleep and regular healthy meals and schedule out your days.  I’m sure you will see the benefits soon after you begin.  We must have faith, knowing that God has a plan for our lives and his timing is perfect.

These small commitments will help you when your bigger goals do not involve immediate gratification but take time.  We can all live a fruitful, fulfilling life when we have structure.

Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Psalm 68:6

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.