Keyboard Commandos

“Keyboard Commandos,” “Chairborne Rangers,” whatever you want to call them, they abound everywhere on the internet. Combine that with a little bit of “Bro-Science” and you have a real disaster. That’s why gun forums and the like are some of the worst places on the internet for encountering such mind-numbing nonsense. I saw this in full force this past weekend during some comments on a Facebook Live feed that was filmed during a training event hosted by the largest firearms-related magazine in the world.
The event brought together four instructors with different specialized skill sets to teach a group of about 30 participants in a round-robin format. Students received training in Carbine, Dirt Medicine, Tracking, and Edged Weapons. Each block of instruction consisted of two hours and students would rotate to the next station at the end of the two hours. All equipment was provided by the event sponsors to give the attendees the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with their products. I taught the Edged Weapons portion of the event.

As you probably realize, two hours is not much time to spend on any given topic, especially if you are a novice. Most of the participants were fairly competent and experienced shooters, but with the exception of one or two, none of them had ever picked up a knife to do any type of edged weapons training prior to that day. So, may approach was to spend an hour teaching them my angle system, my basic forward and reveres grip blade sets (which works off the angle system using thrusts and cuts for each angle), and anatomical targeting (which was drilled on rubber dummies for technique and accuracy)—all things they could easily take with them and work on their own—and then one hour working techniques with a partner so they could get a taste of some of the more complex applications of the angles, grips, targets, and thrusting/cutting sets they learned the first hour.

This was essentially a teaser class. It was an opportunity for people to come in, learn some basic skills, and then do some “cool-guy” stuff so they could have fun and perhaps wet their appetite for more specialized training. I would say it was kind of like taking someone who has never shot a gun before to the range and working basic marksmanship fundamentals, and then letting the run at a very controlled pace through an IPSC course to let them see how much they don’t know, but how much fun they can have if they continue to pursue the art and science of shooting.

Some of the knife training was aired live on Facebook and the Keyboard Commandos came out in full force. It was amazing to read the comments coming from people who weren’t at the event, had no clue what the event was all about, knew nothing about me as a trainer, and had no clue as to the context of the material being taught or why it was being taught. These guys began making judgments based on nothing more than a two-minute video that was taken in the middle of a training segment that was in the middle of the two-hour training block. That’s what was so amazing about the whole thing.

Keyboard Commando

In the world of psychology, this is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates his/her own abilities in relation to the same abilities of other persons. In other words, the less knowledge and skill a person possesses in a particular area, the more that person tends to think they know. Conversely, persons of higher ability tend to underestimate their relative competence. The more a person knows, the more they realize they don’t know, to the point where they tend to think that tasks that are easy for them to perform are also easy for others to perform.

I’m not one to interrupt someone in the process of making a fool out of themselves in an open forum, neither do I concern myself with the judgment of others, but I wanted to address this greater phenomena because it is so pervasive in today’s world of social media. I simply decided to use this actual life experience to illustrate my points. So, I will point out a few things that actually happened to prove my point.

First, a couple of these fine individuals said I knew nothing about edged weapons and had no business teaching anyone. Of course, these people didn’t know me from Adam, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t do any research before commenting on a two-minute live video. I think my credentials as a martial arts trainer, and specifically as an edged weapons trainer, are pretty valid. More importantly, the edged weapons training I provide has been effectively used on the street, and has saved the life of at least one law enforcement officer.

Then there were the classic, “That works great when someone just stands there.” Well, of course it does. Had these people been present during the entire training, they would have heard me say exactly that! What they were witnessing in the video was “technique” training. We train prearranged techniques against various attack to develop “positional recognition.” The purpose is to train the body to recognize various positions in relation to itself AND an opponent in order to increase the ability to respond to stimulus. Working these techniques off an attack helps develop timing and provides the vehicle for initiating movement.

I wonder how many of these “experts” would have criticized my colleague who was teaching the scoped carbine portion of the event. After all, shooting static paper targets is nothing like real life. Real bad guys move. Real bad guys shoot back. But, that’s not the point of marksmanship training. You can’t fight for real if you don’t first develop the fundamentals. This requires some form of cooperative training, so a static target is used. Imagine if you took someone who has never handled a gun before and had them go full-speed with multiple moving targets while firing live rounds over their head. How beneficial do you think that would be?

Likewise, when I take someone who has never handled a knife before, someone who lacks the coordination, timing, and accuracy to use a knife effectively, we start by CRAWLING through the movements. They are presented with a static target so to speak. As they progress, we continue to move slowly, but begin focusing on “time contexting.” That is, the feeder and receiver begin moving at an equal pace using full ranges of motion. The feeder begins to follow through with their attacks the way they would in real life, but they move at a pace the receiver is comfortable with. Eventually, the students reach a skill level where they can work the techniques at full speed.

So here’s my point. We live in a time unlike any point in history. Thanks to the internet, information is so readily available that we can pick up our cell phones and look up information on virtually any topic we can image in just seconds. Yet, we seem to be more ignorant now than ever before. Why are we as a society so eager to make uniformed decisions? How often do we miss opportunities to learn because we jump to conclusions rather than ask questions?

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Proverbs 18:13

Take the time to ask questions and do research. You will find that you will grow in knowledge and understanding. You also find that you will have to ask for forgiveness far less often, and you’ll avoid looking like a jackass in public forums a lot less, too.

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Chad McBroom
Chad McBroom is the owner and founder of Comprehensive Fighting Systems, and specializes in practical empty-hand, blade, stick, and firearms applications. Chad is a regular contributor to RECOIL, ITS Tactical, Black Sheep Warrior, BladeReviews.com, and other tactical publications. He is the author, coauthor, and contributing author of several books on blade combat and the martial arts. Chad is also a blade designer and knifemaker, who uses his extensive knowledge of edged weapon tactics to design and create some of the most versatile bladed weapons on the market.

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