I wasn’t going to write on this, as I try not to vent to the world about things that frustrate me because typically it does more harm than good, but sometimes you gotta vent! The amount of coaches out there who have absolutely no clue what they are doing or talking about and are only in the position that they are in because they sold a lie or surrounded themselves with people who were legit so it made them appear that way, is staggering. I’m not going to drop any names or put anyone on blast, but this needs to be talked about more.
I saw this a lot coming up. There would be a “coach” at a gym, in reality they were more like a glorified water boy doing the crap jobs that the main instructors did not want to. They would hang around, make sure and get their photo taken with fighters after the fights, even the ones that had not even trained at their gym. Make sure and post them up on social media, with no real statement alongside them. You see this enough times and you realize that if they don’t say anything then people assume that they were the fighters coach, or at the very least worked with the individual in some capacity. They use these photos to promote themselves and sell their lie. Anytime there was a fight they would show up and offer their assistance to the corners. More often than not, particularly with high-level fighters that had come from overseas and only had one coach with them, they would more than happily let them join in to hold the water, ice and maybe even keep time.
Secondly, there is an enormous difference between teaching someone and holding pads for them. Any person with half a brain can hold pads and give you a work out. There is an enormous disparity between helping someone get in shape and stay sharp as opposed to giving them actual knowledge. To be fair, that is a lot more than most have and you have to work with what you got at times. And nothing but credit to those that are doing that job, the problem being when you try and pass them off as the same thing.
Does a coach need to be a high-level fighter, or even a fighter at all for that matter, in order to teach? No, of course not, and it has been proven many times. It sure as hell helps if the person giving you advice actually has some kind of concept of what it is that you are in there against, what you are feeling and what you are going through. They can relate to the struggles that you are facing and that way, when they tell you something, you have no reason to question it. Now of course there are only so many high level fighters out there, and more often than not, the great coaches tend to be ones that did not make it to that level. I find a big reason for this is that they have had to spend so much more time studying and learning as opposed to participating, whereas many athletes who do make it do not necessarily break things down. They just do it. I know for myself I did not truly grasp a lot of what I was doing, all the infinite steps involved, until I began teaching. A lot of that came from coming up under Thai’s who one, English was not their first language and two, that is just a Thai approach to training. Go kick the bag ten thousand times and you will figure it out through process of elimination. Which we all need to do regardless as there is only so much that can be verbally expressed and the lack of people putting in that extra work is shameful to me. But that is another topic all together.
Anyone can explain a technique on a surface level but if you cannot express the vast amount of factors, different situations, how to apply and adjust them accordingly, then that is when there is a problem. Even worse, if you cannot break down the fundamentals and instead jump right into combo central. That should be a huge red flag to your lack of knowledge. Most tend to do this because of that very fact. Fancy stuff looks cool, it sells and is fun for people, particularly when they get to post a clip of themselves doing this. The things that matter, the things that work and get you to higher levels have nothing to do with flash. It is about being effective first and foremost. Who cares if you can look cool on the pads if when you get inside the real ring, or any other place where it matters, you fold at the first sign of aggression? Every great fighter, athlete, teacher, and any other endeavor in life, has a solid understanding of the basics, for the most part.
I try to teach things that I know from actually having done them and if not I make sure and express, “Hey, I don’t really ever use this technique or style but I can break it down to you to a degree.” It is not about having every knowledge in the book, as one person can only know so much. It is about being up front and honest with our limited knowledge, and we are all limited to one extent or another. That is where the real issue lies.
Unfortunately, so many ignorant, phony coaches get away with this for several reasons. One of the biggest ones being that you don’t know what you don’t know, so if a person, who has never done this before, comes to a gym they are going to assume that their instructors are capable and educated. Either way they know more than you do so why would you not listen? Fortunately in this day in age it is a whole lot easier to spot the fakes, with social media, YouTube, etc., to where it is much more difficult to get away with this, but of course, it still happens.
Another reason so many people are able to get away with this is that very few students will ever be tested to the degree where they would actually find out. How do you think so many of those phony martial arts get away with it? Like no touch or even better the one where the guy throws twenty five techniques on an individual who is just standing there letting it happen. Of course it looks cool and anything works on someone letting you do it. The person will, more than likely, never actually have to use these “skills” in a real life situation. The problem being that it gives them a false sense of their abilities and in a situation where they might normally run away or avoid; they may try to stand their ground. I for one think that this is criminal and these people should be brought up on charges. It would be the same as teaching a course on racing when you have never even been behind the wheel of a car.
Of course, this tends to be the theme with many things in this world. The ones in charge, the ones running the show, are not the actual ones who have any real knowledge or are doing the work of the things they are overseeing. Take a look at athletic commissions, refs and judges, etc. Not all but a great number.
Do yourself a favor and do some research. Who has your instructor produced, who have they helped, do they know what they are talking about or are they studying YouTube videos all night and then passing it off as if it is acquired real world knowledge?
As I said, you in no way need to have fought at a high level in order to teach at a high level, although it helps. This is not to discount or discredit anyone that is out there putting the work in and producing. It is so people that don’t know will at least take a look around and figure out if what they are being told is smoke and mirrors that will end up getting their brains stomped out.
The real question is where does one draw the line? Well you can’t as each individual needs to decide for themselves. Sure it is aggravating witnessing those I don’t consider knowledgeable passing themselves off as credible coaches but there is not much one can do about that, and opinions are just that, opinions. My word is not the gold standard in any way. There was a time, back in the day, where I thought it would be great to do a road trip around the country, showing up and gyms and putting instructors on blast. Now, obviously, this does more harm than good and I would much rather put positivity out in the world. More often than not, the things we try to fight against only end up getting more attention in the end. Just look at the endless list of senators and people in government that have tried to black ball musicians and other artists. All it ever does is give them more press, more interest and attention. You would think they would have learned by now. You cannot fight the things that you do not like. Fighting is energy, regardless of whether that be good or bad and energy does not care. The best thing we can do is whatever the opposite of the thing that we are fighting against is. If we want to protest war we should have a peace rally. Don’t fight against hate, promote love, etc. So if you dislike what you see and the countless list of cornballs out there, instead of hating on them, do what you can to put real, legit stuff out there and just know that in the end the truth will always come out. The real will inevitably stand out that much more than the fake in the long run. Keep your head down, put the work in and stay true to yourself, regardless of who and what is getting the attention and praise.
And as always, turn your damn phone off and get to work!