Dr. Anthony B. James DNM(P), ND, MD(AM), DPHC(h.c.), SMOKH
Director of Education at The Thai Yoga Center and The SomaVeda™ Institute of Natural Healing
History of Flow in SomaVeda Thai Yoga System
History of Flow in SomaVeda™ Thai Yoga System
The Spanish invaded the Philippines, which is over 7107 islands. Over a period of 100 years, they completely conquered the islands. They apparently killed more than half of the people. During that time, they had their conversion to Christianity. They forbade all expressions of traditional culture like medicine, martial arts, and so on. It was a class 1 felony to practice. For 330 years, from 1565 to 1898, if you were a Filipino and did a traditional healing art like Hilot, which is the equivalent the Thai Yoga, or Escrima/ Kali or similar we learn here or if someone ratted you out (because there were bounties on healers), you could go to prison, be tortured or put to death.
“ By 1583, the Spanish laws, under the Royal Decree of King Philip II, were imposed upon the islands. All forms of martial arts were completely outlawed and the carrying of any bladed weapons was forbidden. Kalis, Silat and Kuntaw and other forms of martial arts were banned and not permitted to be practiced.” [ http://www.ksk-fma.net/History/philippine_history.html ]
This also pertained to traditional dancing, traditional music…in other words you had to learn how to play Spanish music and could not play traditional music on traditional instruments. “You are not Filipino anymore. You’re Spanish”.
The Filipinos went, “ok, you got the swords, you got the guns, you got the canons, you’re going to shoot me if I don’t nod my head so yeah, what you said. Okay, I’m Spanish and not Filipino. I don’t know any healing. I don’t know anything.”
The arts were practiced in secret. This might have been a typical scenario as described to me by Guro Unangtagpagturo and Arnis Lastra Maharlika Master Jorge Lastra on one of his trips visiting my school : According to Jorge For over 300 years, when the moon was full, little groups would find their way to a farm, which they found through a trail of “breadcrumbs” There might have been a little piece of fabric tied to a tree here or a piece of fruit with a chunk cut out of it. Once at the farm, they would practice by moonlight.
Now they’d only have about a day or maybe two because there were rules against travel – you weren’t free to travel and couldn’t go far from your village without permission from whoever was the local authority. Traveling was enough to get you thrown in jail or tortured. Everything they were practicing was technically illegal for 480 years because it was all considered traditional culture.
They practiced not just the healing arts but the music and martial arts like this under the Spanish rule.
So they only have a day or so. So here I am. I’m a teacher right? You just snuck out of your village, traveled through the bush for long distances. We are not going to use light because if we have people and bright lights, that will attract attention. The neighbors will turn us in because there are bounties.
We get together under the moonlight and practice for just a day or two – not so long that anyone will be missed or that someone might show up by accident and surprise or discover us.
Over these centuries, there was developed a concept of how to impart a lot of information very fast that a person can take with them, go back to their homes and villages, and practice it and open it up like a flower blooming. In other words, you get a little bit from the teacher and then go home and practice. You practice and get instruction until you can set up a little place to teach in secret.
My teacher Guro Leo T. Gaje Jr. was one of the first generation of Filipino that could practice out in the open legally. That was after the Second World War in the 1950s. They could practice in public without having to have a permit, a license and no one had to worry about going to jail because they were do traditional healing arts.
What they worked out was this concept called “flow.” That’s where my concept of flow comes from. It comes from Jorge Lastra, Leo T. Gaje Jr. (Pekiti Tersia) and Deonisio Kinyeti, it comes from Flora Villobrea. And Danny Inosanto.
The first person that taught it to me in detail was Danny Inosanto. He said, ‘I can teach you a flow, a sequence of movements that you do. Don’t try to do it right. I’ll show you the right way to do it but don’t try to do it right. Just get the flow down. Then go home and practice repetitively. What will happen is that the flow will teach you how to do it.’
I came from a school in Thailand where the average student was in the school for four to seven years. I’m teaching in the USA where the average student can’t tolerate me for a weekend. I’m just saying, ‘how am I going to get those two together?”
When I first started teaching, I tried to do it the way I was taught. You would move into my house and train with me for four years and we ca practice all day and all night and nooo! ahhh!
After a couple weeks or whatever people would jus t leave. They couldn’t do it. They couldn’t make those commitments and certainly not if they didn’t even know what it was. This brought me to develop a level system. I came up with this idea from my Philippine teachers, that the best way to teach the most information in the shortest time was do the same way that the Hurimentados in the Philippines had practiced their Hilot sacred healing arts for over 380 years. You get together for a short time; you learn the flows or vinyasa – which is the Philippine word just like in Sanskrit. That’s because before the Spanish, what was the culture of the Philippines like? It was a mixed and diverse culture. It was part of the Majipayat Empire of India being the southern most outpost of the great Indian culture-the Magahad kingdom. The Filipino Island culture was called Maharlika. Because of the Indian and Vedic influence, some of the words are very similar like Chakra, Vinyasa, etc. The southern Islands such as Mindinao because of their proximity to Indonesia were heavily influenced by the culture of Islam and eventually became Moslem. Of course the Spanish Catholic Christian culture was not any more tolerant of this than they were any other variants of native indigenous culture anywhere else in the Philipines or South America.
I started doing flow after training with Danny and that’s what brings us to where we are today.
I know you’ve been to a lot of other classes, which are technique focused. They give you a technique and you practice that repetitively until you get it down and then you go on to the next. If you’re lucky, toward the end of whatever you’re doing you put it together.
How do you get from one technique to the other is not important or emphasized. You could take a cigarette break from one to the next and it wouldn’t be a big issue, as long as you do things in the right sequence.
Our flow is like that. It is a fine science of how to give you a lot of information in a really short period of time that by the time you leave class you will have the flow and sequence of that that you can practice at home. The gift box of the benefits of that flow will come later only if you practice. That’s another sad part. This art requires practice. If you don’t practice, you don’t get to dance. You wont get the treasure because it is only as a result of practice.
I say 300 is the magic number for each flow. Once you get about 300 in, something just clicks in your head.
Those of you who have been practicing and doing this for a little bit, don’t you see that there’s a point where one day something is just different?
Having done this so many times, we can predict when that will happen based on how much you actually practice. You may get 30 repetitions in before we’re done. Kudos to you! That’s if you don’t start and stop. You’ll get more if you flow. You’ll get less if you don’t. You’ll see. There will be a big shift once you knock it out 30 times.
It will seem like yesterday I was struggling and all of a sudden today it’s like I’m a different person doing this. It will seem like a miracle to you but it’s a miracle I told you was going to happen.
SomaVeda™ Integrated Traditional Therapies are a spiritual, energetic and competency based therapeutic healing system or Spiritual Medicine (See: What is SomaVeda™?). In the SomaVeda™ system there are over 1000 different therapeutic postures used commonly. SomaVeda™ is a complete holistic system on Natural Medicine. SomaVeda™ Integrated Traditional Therapies is a Registered TradeMark of Anthony James.