Keyboard Warriors

Because of the pandemic, a plethora of videos have been made available for people who wish to continue their training while in lockdown or near lockdown. This is a great thing for all practicing martial artists because everyone suddenly has access to notable fighters and trainers who were previously unavailable to the masses.

You'd think that the response would be equally great and grateful by members of the public who are seeking to better their skills. But you would be wrong. Instead, average Joe's with nothing more than an opinionated keyboard wade in to critique, criticize, malign and impugn well-known and accomplished fighters, coaches and instructors.


The most recent target I've seen is Cain Velasquez. You know, he's the two-time UFC heavyweight champion who, after developing a notable wrestling pedigree, went on to amateur MMA, fighting his way to the top and eventually getting his shot in the UFC. He then beat a slew of accomplished fighters — no tomato cans — that included Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, Cheick Kongo, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell.

Velasquez's video topic was how to develop punching power — which obviously he has and has demonstrated by accumulating many TKO and KO victories. What he was teaching has worked for him in high-level combat-sports bouts attended by tens of thousands and watched by millions. So, as a matter of fact (not fiction or fantasy), he's proved that he can sleep the big boys.

Despite the credibility that should stem from those performances, the vitriol hurled at the MMA fighter was astounding. I actually screenshot some of the comments and posted on my Facebook page about it. Heavily opinionated comments from people who were not qualified at all to say anything or people who may "play" at training but had never fought (and certainly not at Velasquez's level if they had) spewed criticism as if they had a right.

It was disgusting. As I've written before, this is indicative of the age of social media. None of these asshats would ever take the time to find Velasquez's gym, walk in and say, "Dude, I think you're teaching crap and I'm happy to get in the ring and show you why." None of them. Sniping from the safety of a laptop has become the attack of the day. Worse, the piling on by equally unqualified underachievers serves only to validate the original comment.

One flaw in their arguments is not acknowledging that there are many ways to achieve the same result. Why can people not agree to disagree? Or simply choose not to use a method promulgated by an instructor without feeling the need to excoriate him or her?

In this instance, why would someone who is at most a part-time player or a fairground fighter in some local-yocal promotion feel qualified to denigrate someone who not only got to but also stayed at the top of the game, a person who became a champion — twice? It's shameful and laughable.

While this condition has always existed (my sensei is better than your sensei, our karate is better than your karate, etc.), the addition of ether anonymity and the removal of physical threat have exacerbated it. People feel compelled to offer their opinion without understanding that opinion is not fact; it is often merely a preference. When people state their opinion, there's a compulsion by many to attempt to show why that opinion is wrong. But can an opinion or a preference be wrong?

I'm unsure what the future holds with regard to all this. There is no burning bush, there is no "one way," there is no universal agreement about anything. But people are free to have preferences. And although someone's preference isn't your own, it doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong — in particular, when there's undeniable performance metrics that prove the validity of that preference.

All too often, people respond to these situations with, "Well, when people put themselves out there, that's going to happen." And to a degree that's true. But what about calling out the shortsightedness? The smarminess? The ludicrous statements made by basement badasses? That's the piling on that should happen.

Accountability is diluted if not removed entirely by the keyboard. There's no negative consequence to some twit posting uneducated nonsense about someone who's been there and done that — especially in one of the most popular and visible arenas that exist today. Unfortunately, there is positive consequence for the poster: the army-building validation that other people provide by supporting such ridiculous comments. It makes me sick.

And that's my opinion.

Kelly McCann's book Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-Core Countermeasures for High-Risk Situations is available at shop.blackbeltmag.com. For information about his online courses, visit madrills.com.

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