“Go with the flow” or “going with the flow” is a metaphor that many in the Filipino Martial Arts utter. Many are excellent in doing this in physical form while practicing their stick or knife techniques on a partner. I have seen many amazing FMA players effortlessly counter a partner by “going with the flow.” Some struggle with applying this maxim to the daily uncertainties of life.
Applying this to life can be difficult for some.
Some revert to their pre-existing personality patterns and fall back on anger, frustration, and banging their heads on a wall. God knows that, prior to my martial arts life, I was not as adaptable or flexible as I am today. I still have my moments. 🙂 Still, the practice of Filipino Martial Arts has been invaluable in teaching the value of applying the “Go with the Flow” philosophy to life.
This is a point that I emphasize more and more these days in my classes and private lessons. Instead of fighting a technique or muscling through a technique, I teach them how to go with the flow. A good example was when my wife trained with me at the recent Toronto Modern Arnis camp.
Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss was teaching a counter to the cross body stick lock. The counter takes advantage of the driver’s energy. All you have to do is to “ride” or “surf” the driver’s energy in order to pull off the counter. So when I paired up with my wife, I was the driver. She was going to do the counter. To “ride or “surf” another person’s energy is easier said than done.
She struggled with the counter at first. She forced the counter. She tried muscling the counter. I advised her to just go with my energy during my technique. Finally she got it! With a few repetitions, the counter became effortless. She later remarked “hey, that’s a good life lesson right there!” 🙂
Recently, I had a similar lesson with Miguel, aka The Real Deal.
During this lesson, I taught him the counter to an armbar and how to counter that counter. He caught on quickly and we practiced this sequence several times, both empty handed and with sticks.
“So Miguel, that’s going with the flow. How do you handle a problem in real life?”
“Solve the problem.”
“Exactly. Go with the flow. It’s better than getting frustrated or banging your head on the wall.”
Why give in to anger, frustration, or other self destructive acts? Getting angry is the easy way out and provides momentary satisfaction that you told that asshat off. Feeling sorry for yourself and hitting the bottle may provide some escape.
But does it solve the problem? Most likely not.
As far as real life is concerned, “going with the flow” means being adaptable, creative, flexible, and finding solutions to a problem or a set of problems. Finding ways to address the issue instead of forcing the issue or lashing out in anger is what I’m aiming to teach my students.
And, on occasion, to remind myself as well.
On Friday, I had a checkup with my ophthalmologist to go over test results from July, as well as a pressure checkup. The pressure in both eyes is excellent, which means that the surgeries in both eyes succeeded.
However, foremost in my mind, was whether I can resume physical activities in light of the near disaster that I had in January.
I temporarily lost sight in my right eye after a vigorous workout. You see, I had a tube shunt implanted in my right eye last October due to abnormally high glaucoma pressure. The function of the tube shunt is to maintain pressure equilibrium in the eye. Unfortunately, it is a “dumb” device in that it cannot distinguish between abnormal glaucoma pressure and exercise related pressure on the eye. When it senses high pressure, it kicks in and drains fluid from my eyeball to maintain that equilibrium. As a result of that vigorous workout, the tube shunt kicked in and the pressure in my right eye dropped to zero, causing the retina to buckle. The result was a temporary loss of vision lasting about a week. I regained it within 10 days but still have residual effects.
Following the advice of my doctor, I had not engaged in most physical activity since January. A LONG time for me.
So after going through the pressure checks and test results, I asked the doctor about physical activity. The good news is that I can do most physical activity (cardio, light lifting etc). The bad news is that he advised against exercises that involve either semi-inverting or inverting the head.
That means no push-ups, planks, handstands, and the like. While I do not do yoga, he mentioned not doing yoga due to the number of semi-inverted or inverted head positions. The concern is that these positions would cause the tube shunt to go into action and drain excessive fluid from my eye, causing the retina to buckle again. All of what he said makes absolutely perfect medical sense.
But the prohibition against push-ups and the like does not sit well with me.
This means that I will have to “go with the flow” and find creative solutions to maintaining my upper body strength without inverting my head and consequently endangering my right eye vision. So I will be doing some research in this regard and see what I can find.
In other good news, yesterday, I went for my first jog since January. It wasn’t exactly the most epic run. 🙂 It was quite short and I was winded. I have a ways to go. But it felt good to get out there. And yes, I’ll ease myself into getting back in shape.
So yes, while I’m teaching my students (especially the kids) to go with the flow, life has a way of reminding me of this maxim: