You Train Martial Arts, But You’re Scared of Vaccines?

Anti-Vaxx

Remember how sad it was when Future Trunks told everyone that Goku was going to die not in battle against the Androids, but from a disease? The strongest warrior in the universe, the protector of Earth, and a picture of superhuman health, killed by illness. This is what has been happening to a lot of people recently due to this blasted pandemic, including martial artists and tough guys of all sorts who think COVID-19 is either an imaginary problem or an opponent they can knock out or submit on their own.

This rant is brought to you by SorryAntiVaxxer.com, a website that documents people who have publicly declared their opposition towards the COVID-19 vaccines in social media and had paid the price for their willful ignorance. It does look like justice porn, but don’t let yourself feel too much of that schadenfreude since it deals with death. The one that caught my eye was a 58-year-old white dude who made a living as a jiu jitsu gi reseller. Yes, there’s such a thing as reselling those expensive cotton pajamas. Anyway, he died from COVID-19.

I looked more into him and stumbled upon this Reddit thread, which I think was created in bad taste. As much as they may deserve it, we should neither glorify or make light of a person’s death. If they ever made a grievous mistake that cost them their lives, the best we can do is to learn from that mistake and make sure their death was not in vain. I write this blog post in that spirit, making sure to emphasize the point that this is a serious matter.

NOTE: I use a good bit of martial arts terminology here. If you don’t understand them, that just means you’re not the intended audience of this blog post. This editorial piece is for stubborn meatheads out there who think they can punch every problem in the face and make it right. Reader discretion is advised.

Anti-Vaxxers Are Frustrating

Anti-vaccine sentiment has been around for a long time now, well before this whole pandemic was even a twinkle in a horseshoe bat’s eye. We’ve had measles breakouts and such throughout the 2010s due to too many idiots being idiots. But now with COVID-19 still going strong for almost two years now, that anti-vaxx sentiment has been taken to another level of absurdity as our very survival as a civilization is now dependent on that compliance.

And even with COVID-19 going around, it’s not like all other diseases have ceased to exist.

Some will say that it’s absurd to say that our survival depends on those vaccines, but everyone whose lives have been cut short due to COVID-19 who could’ve been saved if they were fully vaccinated earlier are not just statistics that are being pulled out of thin air. They were among us and no longer do because of this thing that absolutely no one asked for, and yet there are people out there who think they don’t have to worry about it and are the exception.

Let’s take a look at those self-proclaimed exceptions. They happen to be my type of people, yet I don’t want to be anywhere near like them.

How Can Martial Artists Be Against Vaccines?

What makes this whole thing ridiculous is how a veteran martial artist, like a BJJ black belt, couldn’t have learned his craft and gotten strong without the teachers and communities who taught them the knowledge that has been passed down through generations. They know fully well that they stand on the shoulders of giants. Warriors throughout history made them who they are now, and they’re expected to do the same for those who will succeed them.

And yet, while they have the humility to leave their egos at the doors of their gyms, they can’t do the same when it comes to science. Most of them are likely neither scientists, medical professionals, nor even understand how scientific studies and research works. Most of their lives are dependent on the work of “nerds,” yet they distrust them for being good at those things.

Some of them may be working in STEM fields, but most of them are not directly related to diseases. Perhaps some of them do work in the health and fitness industry, but as trainers and nutritionists. It’s also worth mentioning that such ilk tends to be populated with advocates for homeopathy and “alternative” medicine—things that are ultimately of no help in a pandemic.

Most of these meatheads view science as either bunk or conspiracy by either government or corporations to screw over the masses. While you may think I’m only talking about nasty Americans who have been spoiled by their “freedom,” I’ve met enough unpleasant schmucks here in the Philippines to know that such sentiments are not exclusive to the west.

Training in martial arts instills not only discipline and respect for others, but also self-reliance. Martial arts is an exercise in agency, that to accomplish something is to do something about it yourself. If there’s an adversary, you study them and get stronger so you may later defeat them. This is a great approach for living a rewarding life full of challenges.

However, when it comes to things that are out of your control, whether it’s from historic precedent or the forces of nature, no amount of lifting logs or punching sand will allow you to defeat such a foe. I think the most major difference between the fields of martial arts and science is that the former is incidental, while the latter is pervasive.

On one hand, you might want to learn martial arts just in case you have to defend yourself or your family someday. On the other hand, you must learn science because it explains everything that happens in this universe at all times.

It’s weird how a lot of martial artists are right-wing nutcases who always shout about guns and freedom, yet the things they spend most of their time on are incidental and even frivolous in the grand scheme of things when compared to what’s happening now with COVID-19. Most of the things they’ve dedicated themselves to are the opposite of what prepares you for such a crisis.

Except for doomsday prepping. That shit teaches you to prepare for the worst, as well as how to build and organize things. Also, underground bunkers are cool.

Yes, I’m a martial artist who recognizes martial arts as an incidental skill. Sure, it also helps me stay in shape and be healthy, but I can easily do that by playing sports or doing yoga. I can buy an exercise bike and ride that until it falls apart and it’ll help me be fit. I can just do burpees and tire myself day after day and actually lose weight. I don’t need martial arts just to exercise.

Let’s talk about this in jiu jitsu terms. Getting your knee shredded by a heel hook has a survival rate of 100%. Unless you suffer the virtually impossible occurence of your femoral artery bursting like a blown pipe due to a heel hook, you’ll live. You may die from an infection during knee surgery, which likely won’t happen, but it won’t be directly due to the heel hook.

And yet, you wouldn’t want to get caught by a heel hook. Ever since some blue belt asshole put you in one many years ago, you’ve done your homework and got pretty good with your leglock defense. You’ve watched enough highlight clips of Rousimar Palhares and Masakazu Imanari, as well as listened long enough to John Danaher’s soothing voice describing what an “ashi garami” is, to become very paranoid of heel hooks.

However, you think you don’t need to get the vaccine because COVID-19 has a 99.7% survival rate?

You Can’t Choke Out COVID-19; It’ll Choke You Out

But I get why this thinking pervades among those who are into survival and self-reliance. For too long, people have had to rely on the government for their needs, only to be corrupt and incompetent. It has gotten to a point when more socialist ideas are being suppressed due to tyrannical states throughout history who professed to be socialist and communist, only to be authoritarian above all else. These people have had enough with being told what to do just for the sake of following authority.

Meanwhile, the other end of the spectrum is no better. Those who want a sterner government, so much that they excuse killing of innocents simply because they believe that instilling fear in others is the best course of action for authoritarian rule. But if the same threats are levied at them, they quake and shriek for they did nothing wrong, and thus are the exception. The only reason they celebrate tyrants is due to not having been directly on the receiving end of tyranny. But you know if they get a taste, they’d turn like the cowards they are.

Sorry if this got a bit too political, but that’s just how it is with topics that affect whole nations. People don’t want to be affected by such bad things, and they do what they can to prepare for disasters in order to later have that smugness to say that they could survive what others couldn’t. We have people who think the vaccines are an infringement on freedom, COVID-19 is a conspiracy, and only those who have incredibly weak immune systems due to their deplorable lifestyles would ever succumb to such a disease.

For martial artists who work (or pretend to work) their entire lives to become strong, vigilant, and virtually invulnerable to threats, they want to believe in their own strength and fortitude in the face of such odds. Mix politics into that and you get a heady mix of conspiratorial thinking and stubborn refusal to obey mandates meant to address such concerns. They know and do better, so they wouldn’t want to fall for such hyped-up garbage.

Some of them end up eating their words. Even fewer do suffer the consequences, but refuse to admit fault even at the brink of death. Most would never have to swallow their pride, which is fortunate as even these annoying dregs don’t deserve to have their lives taken away simply because they’re shitheads. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have such irrational people. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

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