Note: parts of this post are going to be deliberately vague because I'm attempting to avoid provoking a flame war, at least for now.
I came across an interesting piece of writing the other day by a gentleman offering some critiques of one of my instructors and his teachings. It was an interesting piece of analysis that drew from a few different sources, offered some interesting compare and contrast moments and insights, and suggested some alterations that might make what my instructor was showing more effective. The individual offering the critique has a fair amount of knowledge and skill in the subject in question.
Unfortunately, what he didn't have was five minutes of training with my instructor.
I know this, because his critiques of what my instructor teaches weren't bad, they were simply wrong. What he claimed my instructor teaches is not, in fact, what my instructor teaches. If he had ever actually trained with my instructor, at all, he would know that.
Instead, he's looked at a picture or a short video clip and decided that, because he has a lot of knowledge and experience, he knows the answer.
And I'm sorry, but that's bullshit, and I'm sick of it.
Look--whether you are a martial artist, self-defense instructor, combat athlete, DT instructor, or whatever, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of systems out there. And each of those systems has a multitude of instructors, some good, some bad. I have no expectation that anyone would be able to study more than a handful of them at any one time. Certainly, I wouldn't expect anyone who isn't independently wealthy to be able to develop real proficiency in more than a handful.
But if you are going to critique a system, you need to go put some time in with the person doing it first. I'm not suggesting you have to earn a black belt (or the equivalent), but for fuck's sake, at least go get on the mat with the person in question. Move around with them. Ask some questions. Hell, email them if nothing else. But get out there and actually experience what you're talking about before you start critiquing the system.
Because, at the end of the day, what's so hard about saying "You know what? I've never worked out with that guy. Don't know what he teaches." Or "I've seen the videos, and I think there's some problems, but I'd have to get some hands on training to make sense of it."
I have given props before, and will give them again, to PDR Coach Evan Dzierzynski, who did exactly what I'm talking about. When exposed to Tim Larkin's Target Focus Training at the PDR Combatives Camp last year, Evan got curious about the methodology, but had some concerns. So he went and did a TFT Instructors Course. Came back with an informed opinion. What that opinion was isn't relevant (go ask him, if you care). The point is, he went out and actually experienced the system, instead of making a judgement based on a couple of pictures and his own personal beliefs.
I know this won't change. It's gone on forever, and the Internet only makes it easier, not harder. But I can dream.