What To Say When Someone Criticises Your Martial Arts Style

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I could start an argument with a Martial Artist in 2 seconds.


I would just type ‘that would never work in a real fight’ when they shared a video of their style, or themselves.

To them, I might as well have insulted their family, because in a way I just did.

I insulted their ‘tribe’, what they believe in and of course what they spend their hard earned cash on.

There are colossal Facebook pages and YouTube channels set to out to debunk styles and techniques.

So, what if your style or even you yourself gets ‘debunked’ or critiqued, what should you do and how should you handle this?

And in this article, I am going to explain what you should do.

Facebook Bullying

One of the interesting things about Martial Arts is that we say that it is great to learn if you are being bullied, yet a large number of Martial Artists are online bullies themselves.

I was faced with this very scenario years ago when I uploaded clips of myself teaching.

Swathes of random keyboard warriors sent me negative comments.

I was getting messages all night and yes, arguing left me drained and tired. Nothing I said mattered, they had made their mind up after a few seconds.

And then it occurred to me, why was I bothered what they thought?

I was trying to win an argument with people who I could never convince.

Here I was, a 90 kg cop with 15 years experience of dealing with real violence, also has a black belt in Judo and I am allowing keyboard warriors to dictate to me? (PS. This was pre-Defence Lab days)

And this is actually rife. An industry that is anti-bullying, acting like bullies online.

So what causes this?

World Views And Experience Shapers

We all have our own certain worldviews. These are shaped by all of the events and stimulus that we come across throughout our lives.

Add to this we all have a particular type of experience with violence.

For some this peaked as a doorman at a club and others, it was, like me a police officer.

A persons experiences of violence might have been throughout their career as a Prison officer, or perhaps they had only experienced violence once when 3 men brutally attacked them.

And of course, there will be those whose only experience of violence is via TV and films.

In Martial Arts and Self-Defence, people take these worldviews as gospel.

‘It happened to me; therefore this is what happens to everyone’.

And so, when they decide on a system, it often fits in with their world view and experience.

And when they see something that does not fit into that world view or is different from their choice they critique heavily.

It Is Not For Them

So, you just posted video footage of your teaching, or perhaps you filmed a new demo.

You uploaded it to Facebook, and within minutes you attract a troll as if he was hiding under your desk this entire time.

So…what do you do?

There is a nice button you can press, delete and ban.

It takes 3 seconds to do; you can block them, ban them and get rid of them forever.

They didn’t get what you were showing, they are mean, nasty and wasting your time.

They have told you in one comment ‘this is not for me’.

Now, you can spend the next 2 hours debating with them on Facebook, trying to overcome the worldviews that took them years to come to, or you can ban and delete and move on.

Move on and create yet more content for the people that will like your stuff, that will find it valuable and will appreciate your approach.

Engage And Enrage

The term engage and enrage revolves around the fact that no matter what you do and say will make people angry.

And social media is fuel for this.

There is nothing you can do or say except for ‘you are right; I am terrible’ that will make them happy.

So why bother.

But We Need To Challenge Those That Are Shocking

Recently the large newspapers have used their social media accounts to produce what are clearly terrible self-defence videos.

This such as ‘5 Self-Defence Techniques Every Woman Should Know’.

And so, we try our best, but we still comment and justify this by saying things like ‘this stuff will get you killed’.

And the very message we stand against grows and gains more and more views.

So, should we stand up to things that all of the general Martial Arts community agrees on, or shouldn’t we?

And this is down to your personal choice.

You can be assured that there are plenty of martial artists out there willing to be negative and say ‘this is terrible’. But if you should join them is a choice for yourself.

Because you then become the very thing you have had to endure.

My advice is simple; if you have time to comment negatively, perhaps you have time to create your own content and put it out into the world, maybe that should be your focus?

But once again, this is a personal choice.


Trolls are there to take your time off you, and if you were to add up all the time you spend arguing online, trying to justify your Martial Art, you will find that it soon adds up to be quite significant.


Trying to convince someone that can’t be convinced is a waste of time.

Delete and ban them, block them, remove them and leave them to their own world.

As tough as it can be to do this at times, it is the best way.