Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gold Medals (In Olympic Shenanigans)

Well, the 2016 Olympics are now over.

Martial sports - fencing, shooting, wrestling, tae kwon do, boxing, judo, archery, javelin - had lots of interesting things happen and lots of drama and fantastic stories.

Yes, more Kayla Harrison. 

One story, though, I found particularly interesting.  Not because of the incident itself, but the reaction to it in some quarters of our martial arts world.

I'm talking about the robbery of Belgian Judo Bronze Medalist Dirk Van Tichelt on Copacabana Beach.

Now, if Mr. Van Tichelt had been, say, a swimmer, nobody would have batted an eye.  The universal reaction would have been "How terrible!  Criminals suck!  Glad that guy is ok!"

Well, mostly.

Some of us, though, took this incident as an opportunity.

First off, I saw far too many people saying, "See?  Olympic Judo sucks and is useless!"

No, being one of the best judo players on the Earth did not make a huge difference when Mr. Van Tichelt was partying with friends and was confronted by someone who wished his to take things that didn't belong to him that night on the beach.

It doesn't mean anything about Judo.

Additionally, it feels an awful lot like blaming Mr. Van Tichelt for the incident when people say this sort of thing.

The man survived a very dangerous situation and came out of it alive and with no more than a black eye.  That's how you "win" in self defense, people.

It is always risky when faced with this situation, and your goal is to survive it to tell the tale.  Not stand over a robber's body like a superhero.  I don't care what art you do, how skilled you are, how much time you have in training.

Second, I also saw that a certain mostly online ninja dojo used this incident as advertising for their services.

I find capitalizing on things like this incredibly distasteful anyway (as usually when it's done, it's ham-fisted and insensitive), but in this particular instance, it's hilarious.

This same group has people posting videos of themselves skulking around in all-black ninja outfits in broad daylight in suburban parks. Yes, a guy in a ninja outfit sneaking around trees and bridges while there's people picnicking and playing frisbee and walking dogs on a nice sunny summer day.

Their claim is that ONLINE NINJA TRAINING is better for self defense than OLYMPIC JUDO.

And that's all I have to say about that.

In any case, I am happy that Mr. Van Tichelt is okay, and that he's going home with a Bronze Medal in a badass martial sport.

Any claims that Judo is useless in self defense is shenanigans, in my opinion.

As always, let us know what YOU think in the comments!