The thesis here is only slightly tongue-in-cheek and would best be understood as using sarcasm to make a serious point. A point which will hopefully be clear at the conclusion. Many disciplines in martial arts attempt to prepare students in self-defense situations to be ready for something called the worst case scenarios. Multiple attackers, armed thieves, fighting while sight-impaired, wounded, in terrible environments, etc. One scenario that may not be spoken of enough is when one is encountered and threatened by an assailant who has more advanced martial arts training than the victim threatened. Usually training is for untrained threats who happen to be in a position to threaten.
One reason it may be true that the threat of a trained assailant is not often taken into account is the universal axiom that people trained in martial arts are trained to use their skills for protection and good. One of the most beautiful aspects of martial arts has always been that most people with training could hurt others, but the respect and discipline of training gives the confidence that never needs to hurt others. The ego has been put into check so much in training; it is hardly threatened outside of the gym or dojo. Further, every self-respecting teacher of martial arts starts off somewhere around day one telling their students they are not to use their new- found skill to harm, but to defend – themselves and others.
Why would anyone ever need to be trained to defend themselves against a trained martial artist if that martial artist was trained to protect the innocent? Other than a fictional scenario where someone turned to the dark side as it were and used their powers for evil – which of course happens. Go back a ways in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and you will find quite a few stories of trained men hurting untrained men (or women).
That brings us to our point. One might think that a trained martial artist who has literally climbed to the very pinnacle of combat sports and won the highest prize of all – namely, beating and becoming the very best fighter in the world, in multiple weight classes, no less – would have the confidence to never need to defend their ego. It might be assumed that knowing you can beat the very best in the world at hand-to-hand combat would alleviate any need to puff out the chest or exert your training on others – especially on others who are not themselves trained. Enter Conor McGregor.
Most know of his interaction with the grey-haired man sitting at a bar and what can only be described as a suckerpunch. That account is enough to make this point. But what about our worst case scenario? When not only is your attacker trained, but even armed. In recent news there was a scuffle between celebrity rapper/pop- star Machine Gun Kelly whose normal beefs with others takes the forms of rap battles where rap GOATS destroy him (yes, that was just written) and Mr. McGregor. This time on a red carpet function, he drew the ire of one very trained Irishman. It is granted that said Irishman is nursing a broken ankle, but it has to be acknowledged that you do not want a multi-weight, multi-sport, multi-promotion, champion of mixed martial arts coming at you with a weapon (his cane) in his hand – which is what happened at the MTV awards mid-September 2021.
Everyone knows famous people do what famous people do. But there was a time when McGregor was not famous and we had a martial arts student. No number of millions eliminates the need for respect and discipline. If this man weren’t famous, if he was not a member of the Cobra Kai gym, if he were not a villain in the movies, someone might ask, “Hey, what happened with Coach Kavanaugh’s student?” One respected fighter-become- coach Mike Swick said a lot in his Tweet following the incident: “You gotta be a family member to respect that man as a human anymore. He is proof money can’t buy class.”
It may seem ridiculous that some martial arts gyms might need to prep people for an interaction with a trained fighter with a chip on their shoulder. It has to at least be a bad case scenario if this happens. Not everyone can hire an entourage to keep an attacking MMA champion at bay.