Thursday, January 30, 2020

Grip Strength & Martial Arts [VIDEO]

A video of me demonstrating a feat of grip strength by tearing an entire deck of cards in half.

Traditional martial arts instructors often frown on strength training (or at least the version of it that most often practice in the West), and my own teacher GM Sam Chin is no exception, however, one type of strength and strength training revered by almost all martial artists is grip strength!

When it comes to "lifting weights" even GM Sam Chin is in favor of training the grip.

Your feet are how you connect to the ground to generate power (not including ground fighting like jiu-jitsu), but the hands are how you connect to your opponent, or to a weapon to apply power.

In addition to training with heavy weapons like long spears and poles, maces and swords, traditional martial arts often used additional grip training methods like "gripping jars" called nigiri game by practitioners of karate and the stone locks of China (similar to kettlebells) to develop multiple aspects of grip strength like crushing and pinching strength.

Most traditional martial arts emphasize four categories of techniques: striking, kicking, wrestling and grappling which involves grabbing the opponent's limbs and essentially "bending and twisting" to either dislocate a joint or break bone.   All wrestling and grappling require maximum grip strength to be effective.

In more modern times, scientists have even discovered that grip strength is an excellent indicator of your overall health: many studies, like the PURE study, have shown that grip strength is a better indicator of your risk of death in the following 10-12 years than biomarkers like blood pressure!

Whether you want to be an effective martial artist, or just want to be lean, strong and healthy, train your hands!

Are you interested in martial arts, meditation health, and fitness?  Don't forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter below, or contact us directly for classes at 315 628 0777.


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Friday, October 25, 2019

A Challenge In Concentration & Awareness | Tempe Martial Arts Classes

This video is sped up 10x.

We're having a friendly competition within I Liq Chuan to do our 21 Form as slowly as possible, so I grabbed my camera and headed down to my local park in Tempe and gave it a shot.

At usual speeds, the 21 form takes about 4.5 minutes to complete. Here I do it in around 22 minutes.

I actually found this to be an interesting exercise in attention and concentration. It was a challenge to really be THERE at every point, to maintain fullness throughout and to recognize all the qualities without relying on muscle memory and habit.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tempe Martial Art of Awareness Highlights #69 [VIDEO]

In this highlights clip we share a little bit of I Liq Chuan's lower hand sticky hand, and moving step spinning hands training from one of our Sunday classes at Tempe Papago Park.
Many people wonder if I Liq Chuan can be used for fighting. As a system of internal martial arts, or internal kung fu aka "neijia" 內家, the answer is a resounding "yes"! Many of our older clips on YouTube only show our stationary spinning hands training. Now that many instructors and group leaders around the world have progressed in skill, we're able to better show how some of our training, like spinning and sticky hands translate into usable fighting skills. Naturally, no one will fight you standing still. Once you've developed some proficiency in maintaining fullness at the point of contact with stationary spinning hands, we start with some basic stepping and kicking. Maintaining fullness at the point, or what tai chi likes to call "peng", while moving, stepping and kicking requires quite a bit of coordination! That's why these skills are focused on more in the middle of the curriculum, once students have developed some of the pre-requisite skills and most importantly, attention!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Mind & Body As One

I was thinking about right effort last night at the end of our I Liq Chuan class here in Tempe.

Right Effort is something they talk about in Zen as one of the factors of the eight fold path, along with right speech, right action, right livelihood, right intent, right concentration and right mindfulness. Typically their categorized as "discipline, concentration and wisdom." If you've ever gotten an email from me, you may have noticed these three words as part of my signature.

Despite what we want to do with our time, life often gets in the way, throwing a variety of hurdles in our path. As it happens, I'm in the middle of some stuff right now, which is all adding to my "stress bucket"; vehicle troubles, my dad's health, etc. and my sleep this week hasn't been ideal, so by the end of class, when we practice our 21 form, I just wasn't feeling it.

The 21 Form, done properly, takes quite a bit of focus and concentration do be done "right". There's a of moving parts all at once, and everything needs to be coordinated just so. It becomes a form of dynamic meditation; everything is done with full "knowing".
My hands are HERE, my feet are there, touching the ground in just such a way, gravity is pulling on my here, my body is facing this way; now that, and all the time, more than anything: I KNOW where my center is, how I move to keep the balance to change direction at any time or ready to produce power. The attention has to be there to know, every single time.

Standing at the front of the class, it would have been easy enough to just phone it in and call it a night. Who would know besides me? I've put in my 10000 hours by this point, I could just let habit and muscle memory take over, but standing there, looking out over the water I thought to myself "What are you doing? What do you really want? If you don't concentrate and put in the right effort here, you only cheat yourself."

How often do we cheat ourselves? How many promises to yourself do you break in a day, or in a week, and how do we feel when we do that?

On the other hand, bringing our thoughts and actions into alignment is like "mind and body as one". It's not always easy; in fact, most of the time it WILL BE hard, but knowing that our actions align with our beliefs and values is a form of self discipline that brings inner peace.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

What Do You Know About Martial Arts Now, You Wish You Knew Then? [Round Table Discussion #1, Part 1]

Martial Arts Round Table Discussions #1

This article will be the first in a series of round table discussions with other martial arts instructors and students regarding their views on all things martial arts. This is part one of two.  Part two can be found here.

Ashe: What do you wish you’d known about martial arts, 10 – 15 years ago, that you know now? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

Jeff: What do I know now that I wish I knew then? Focusing more on reps. Finding a drilling partner and just drill a lot more and get better faster. Not get caught up in the hype. Back when I first started, I got caught up in some of the hype that martial arts was mystical and magical. Looking at everything that was in the magazines like ninjitsu back then; and kenpo, tai chi, all these different martial arts... Just taking what I had and appreciating what I already had and just drilling a lot more.

Ashe: It’s interesting that you say that because in I Liq Chuan, we don’t train any techniques at all. It’s all drill-based, so it’s just all “reps”. But sometimes when people are looking at it from the outside, they don’t make the connection between just drilling the fundamental skills, like body skills or whatever you want to call it until it’s, more effortless. Like smooth and natural.

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I don’t want to say ‘second nature’ because, for us, we always want to do everything consciously, and with attention; like Bruce Lee, right? He talked about “I don’t hit, it hits it by itself” or something like, but that kind of feeling, that muscle memory, training a technique until it becomes reflexive, the attention isn’t there. There’s no consciousness there.

So, for [I Liq Chuan], because we put so much emphasis on training with the attention that everything that we do, we want to know.

But you still have to train, there’s still a nervous system element there; if you train movements over and over and over again, the nerves that “fire together, wire together”, so you increase the myelination on all those motor pathways to increase the efficiency of how well you move in that movement pattern. But yeah, that’s all of our stuff, and like I said, people see it but they don’t see the connection, or value between just running simple drills over and over again, and high level martial arts skill.

Sometimes, with us, I’d say it’s a bit of a shortcoming sometimes to be able to help people bridge the gap between ‘Hey, this is drilling. This is how we drill and then there’s still a little bit of a leap from drills into application.

Jeff: Right, and that’s where I’d look at in jiu jitsu, we drill and drill a few times, then stop and not just develop that muscle memory, but also having that type of resistance training that will help prove whether your stuff is working, or not.

Because sometimes I’dl do a move back then, and when it goes to a live situation where I try to apply it, it kind of falls short, because I wasn’t adding resistance from a partner.

It’s just like in lifting weights, slowly adding more weights over time so you can handle more, it’s the same with technique. So I wish I had more resistance training [against an opponent, i.e. pressure testing] earlier on when I first started and that would have jumped me a lot farther on in progression , just focusing on the fundamentals and then testing them, always testing them.

I see how you [I Liq Chuan] guys do it, too, the connection with the hands and you guys move around and it kind of has some form of resistance to be able to move the way you need to move and make the techniques work, the same idea. Training different moves that you can slowly add to sparring.Like, I can tell you from my experience in the striking arts, like with Shaolin Kenpo for example, that’s at the school I was at: when I used it, it was difficult to get the techniques into sparring a lot. Just because of how I was approaching the training process.

I would just do the point sparring style; back fist, punch, reverse punch type stuff, but trying to get all the techniques into sparring was more difficult. I should have spent more time trying to drill it more under resistance and figure how to make it work.

Ashe: Right. And what I was going to say, too, is the value of having a good partner, or good training partners, is so important and valuable. Somebody that is able to kind of scale their level of resistance to your skill level. It’s like if they can push you to just that threshold of where skill growth occurs, at the edge of your ability, but not so far beyond your current ability that your nervous system will shut down, then you’ll just fall back on your habit. There’s some interesting research that was done with that kind of stuff around extreme athletes, like X Games athletes etc., and they found that the threshold is about, if I remember correctly, is around 4% of your current maximum. (You can read more about his in the book "The Rise of Superman".)

So, somebody that can be able to kind of find where your 96% mark is, for your threshold for resistance, and kind of keep it right there.

That’s one of the things I like so much about a lot of the Thai boxing gyms. You know, when you see those guys training [sparring] it’s almost like play fight. They’re so smooth and relaxed, and they use everything they trained, everything, but it’s almost like full speed, but only 10% power or even 5% power so they don’t hurt each other, and they can play freely with all the different kind of attacks and strikes that they like to use.

For me, that’s one of those things that is hard about being a martial arts coach is to be able to get people into that space where they can just be relaxed enough to keep it at that level and not escalating the drill.

Jeff: Oh, absolutely. You made a good point about Muay Thai, and play fighting...

About Coach Jeff Rogers

Coach Rogers has an extensive background in the martial arts, as both a student and competitor. He began his martial arts training in Shaolin Kempo with Shihan Jerry Shaw in June1997 with whom he achieved his 1st degree brown belt.

In 2002 he achieved his black belt in White Crane Karate /  Hakutsuru under Mr. Larry Naranjo.

Coach Rogers began training Brazillian JiuJitsu in 2009, and currently holds a brown belt under Gustavo Dantes, with whom he continues to train in Tempe, Arizona.

Coach Rogers is an Army veteran, having served from 2003 -  2009, and then Army Reserve from 2009-2013.

He was deployed to Iraq from 05-06.

While serving active duty, coach Rogers achieved Army combatives level 3 instructor, after which taught fellow soldiers while stationed in Korea.

Over the last two decades, he has competed in various grappling and full contact tournaments.

If you're in the Tempe, AZ area, don't forget to check out our special training package. Two weeks of training, plus one private lesson for just $60!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Reframing the Story & More [Five Post Friday]

Every week I bring you the best in health & wellness from around the web and social media.


After two years of hard work, I'm super happy to announce my nutrition coaching program is finally OPEN. Save $50/month if you sign up before Jan 1!


REFRAME THE STORY We all have a running dialogue inside our heads all the time. Words help us to organize our thoughts and interpret feelings and sensations, but the stories we tell ourselves can set us up for success, or they can also hold us back and set us up for failure. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When we continually tell ourselves stories that focus on past setbacks, we see failure everywhere. Take the example of an intense conversation: My heart is beating fast. This must mean I am about to fail again. Everyone else probably stays calm in these situations. I’m sure they all know I’m failing here. You could tell yourself an entirely different story: I can feel my heart rate is up. I'm pumped and ready to rock! Exact same scenario, but entirely different internal dialogue, and most likely will yield different real world outcomes. So how can we tell ourselves better stories?


The video below is of martial artist, and national team champion (Tae Kwon Do) Samery Moras, and her struggles with becoming a national level athlete, and how she finally overcame her struggles to qualify for the national team, and how she reframes her internal narrative when she feels like quitting. Certainly in my nearly 20 years in the martial arts, I've felt like throwing in the towel more than once myself. There's a saying in the Chinese martial arts that days something like "eat bitter to taste sweet". It means something like, if you want high level "kung fu" (skill), then you're going to have to work, and suffer for it. Sometimes these sacrifices can take place in unexpected ways, and you don't even recognize them until the weight of the years starts to pile up and you look back at all the things you didn't do to get where you're at today. Thrive Market


My I Liq Chuan brothers and sisters from Moscow recently traveled to Taiwan to compete in a large international kung fu and tai chi tournament. While there, my senior brother Alex Skalozub did some push hands with many of the other Tai Chi masters present. Over the last 20 years, I Liq Chuan has gone from an obscure family martial art style, to gaining an international reputation for turning out highly skilled students. As you can see from the video below, Alex has a tremendous level of skill after training with Grandmaster Sam FS Chin for so many years.


The latest episode of the embodiedMIND podcast with Prince Bell and myself. This week's episode we take a run at the topic of GMOs. Genetically Modified Organisms have been a controversial subject, and Prince and I do our best to tackle this complex topic from different points of view. Complete coaching for MIND & BODY. ● Nutrition ● Mindfulness ● Martial Arts ● Start your two week trial today - Classes held in Tempe, AZ and workshops worldwide.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Using The Breath To Take Control of The Body (Brain Over Body Study)

Brain Over Body - Inner Workings of The Inner Fire
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I've been training in adaptation to both hot and cold for several years (each one has particular benefits to health, and performance), but it wasn't until this past October that I attended a formal workshop on the material with the Art of Breath coach Rob Wilson. Although I had done Wim Hof's 10 Week Course, I wasn't completely happy with it. I felt that there were “secrets” missing from the material, some of which I uncovered by accident, in Scott Carney's book “What Doesn't Kill Us”.

The workshop with Rob Wilson was a good experience on many levels, the most important of which was just validating my experience with training cold exposure up to now, and also helped clarify my experience with the Wim Hof online course; compared to deep meditation methods like Vipassana or Zen which are meant to completely overhaul your mental “operating system”, cold exposure practice is really so simple, there's not much “how to” to talk about, just do it, and nature pretty much handles the rest over time. The keys are a little bit of intent, and controlling your breathing to manage your physiological state.

Recently I posted about a review paper that detailed some of the relationships between breathing exercises and improvements in immune function and now, we have some more exciting new findings in regards to respiration / breathing exercises and cold exposure from Wayne State University as part of exerting active control over normally autonomic functions in the body. The study is titled “Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure Here are a few highlights from the study

  •  fMRI analyses indicated that the WHM activates primary control centers for descending pain/cold stimuli modulation in the periaqueductal gray (PAG)
  • The periaqueductal gray (PAG), also known as the central gray, constitutes a cell dense region surrounding the midbrain aqueduct.
  • In addition, the WHM also engages higher-order cortical areas (left anterior and right middle insula) that are uniquely associated with self-reflection, and which facilitate both internal focus and sustained attention in the presence of averse (e.g. cold) external stimuli.

I think one of the more interesting findings from the study was that BAT, or brown fat, played a negligible role in generating heat to maintain core temperature during cold exposure, but instead the muscles of the rib cage, the intercostals, played the chief role by burning massive amounts of glucose.
This helps add some understanding to my own experience with the practice, which is that anytime I'm sleep deprived, or in a fasted state I have a much more difficult time resisting the cold compared to when I'm fed, and rested.

I commonly fast two days a week, and the first three or four days of every month. In a fasted state, core temp drops a bit anyway, and my system may not yet be fat adapted well enough to efficiently keep up with the higher demand for blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. (I suspect this is true, as I still have not recovered 100% of my exercise performance since switching to a ketogenic diet in June of this year). There was also a recent study done that showed blood ketone levels above 2.0 (which wouldn’t be uncommon during fasting) basically results in “ketone resistance”.

 Similarly, cortisol levels are high, and you're naturally more insulin resistant when sleep deprived, so again, this could potentially play a role in not being able to keep up with the glucose demands of the “inner fire” practice.

If you’d like a  nice animated synopsis of the study and the results, the official Wim Hof YouTube channel released a nice video about it.


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References 1. “Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure
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