This will be the first in a series of posts focusing on the Modern Arnis concepts I teach my students. I often advise my students to “Go With The Flow!” However, it is not enough to utter that phrase mindlessly without a concrete demonstration of the concept.

The late Professor Remy Presas often urged attendees at his camps and seminars “to go with the flow” when practicing. In my early years, I understood what he meant. Putting this concept into practice was another matter. Like many, I needed to see and feel the flow. He often came through and showed us many times. I have felt the flow from the Masters of Tapi Tapi over the years as well.

Simply put, Filipino Martial Arts like Modern Arnis try to avoid “force on force” techniques. The following list, albeit not exhaustive, are some examples of “going with the flow:”

(1) A competent practitioner will steal the opponent’s lead by grabbing the opponent’s cane and using it against him;

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As Dref attempts to clear my cane, I counter by slamming his cane down on his wrist. In doing so, I’ve created a giant opening vis a vis his upper body. Clearing or countering a clear is one way to go with the flow. Of course, Dref can counter my counter. 😉

(2) Allow your opponent’s energy to guide you to the appropriate counter.

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In this video, Dref was executing part of Group 1 from Balintawak Arnis. For the video, I demonstrated how Dref’s movement guided me to the forearm bump counter. This counter did not require much work or strength to execute. An excellent example of going with the flow.

(3) Bait your opponent, thereby flowing into a newly created opening.

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In particular, see what happens at the 0:37 mark. Just shortly after I baited Alex with the cross body bait, I hit him in the face with his cane. When he took my cross body bait, he left his face wide open for the counter.  Another example of going with the flow.

(4) Flow around your opponent’s resistance.

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In particular, pay attention to the first half of the video where I resisted Alex’s pull off technique. He countered by hitting me in the face, thereby loosening me up for the pull off. The problem with “resisting a technique” is that most of my energy is focused on the resistance, making me vulnerable to Alex’s counter. By taking advantage of my resistance, Alex was “going with the flow.”

As noted above, the above examples are just a few ways of “going with the flow.” Some are harder to learn than others.

From my experience, many have difficulty flowing around a training partner’s resistance. “Easy to learn, but difficult to master.

The difficulty with “resistance” is two-fold. First, when one encounters resistance, most will freeze for a few seconds or try to match the resistance with strength. Bad idea. Learn to take advantage of an opponent’s resistance. To do so requires a lot of training. The second problem concerns the player who likes to resist. Against an inexperienced or moderately skilled player, resistance may be a winning bet. On the other hand, this strategy will come up snake eyes against a highly skilled player. Adopt the approach of learning to go with the flow instead.

Concerning teaching my students of how to go with the flow, I have a series of flow drills that I teach. Through these flow drills, they learn how to go with the flow out of various scenarios. I caution the students that the drills involve “prearranged flow” and do not approximate the chaos of a self-defense situation.

In summary, “going with the flow” is the most important Modern Arnis concept. While this is easy to understand, putting this concept into practice is easier said than done. As Professor would say many times, “you must practice!” to understand this concept.

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