The pandemic hit us hard, in most aspects of life. Everyone has their opinion on the current state of affairs and guess what – so do I. Instead of addressing the topic directly, though, let me offer an analogy that will most probably demonstrate why my opinion isn’t worth hearing anyway.
Unfortunately, the martial arts world is filled with imposters, self-proclaimed experts and frauds. In my analogy, I will heavily reference this world, in a more idealized sense. I’ve been lucky to have good trainers of high integrity, so I was not harmed by my encounters with charlatans and individuals of flexible morals. When reading this post, please keep that naivety in mind and remember that what I’m going to outline may not necessarily apply in all situations.
The first point I need to address is the respect for expertise. When coming to a BJJ or Luta Livre gym the first time as a white belt, you’d better not try and explain a technique to a purple belt. Not only is it pointless, as your lack of expertise simply does not warrant such a behavior; more often than not, it’s also considered rude behavior and will likely get you choked out at a later point. On the same note, you won’t see that purple belt lecture his black belt instructor. There’s a hierarchy that comes from knowledge and experience. Everyone accepts this. Yet at the same time, we don’t show the same level of courtesy, humbleness and respect for knowledge when it comes to heeding expert advice coming from leading scientists. In terms of virology and epidemiology, most of us are white belts at best. Probably not even close to earning a stripe, let alone challenge the scientists (black belts in their respective fields) when it comes to the best course of action to contain this epidemic.
The second point worth addressing is that of responsibility towards your peers. If you’re not 100% sure that rash on your thigh is not staph or any other infectious disease, you don’t go on the mat. If you’re not feeling well and suspect you might get sick, you stay home so you don’t risk infecting your teammates. I hope we can all agree so far. Here’s the thing though – Covid can be infectious even if you don’t show any symptoms whatsoever.
Refusing to wear a mask or get tested before engaging in social events puts everyone in danger.
Lastly, there’s the issue of getting vaccinated. I honestly don’t understand what went wrong to the point that anti-vaxers are listened to by such a high number of people. I’m not an expert (just as the anti-vaxers are not experts), so I refer to point #1 here – listen to the black belt, not the drop in white belt or even the motivated yellow belt. Still, since apparently, the whole concept of vaccines is being challenged at the moment, here’s an overview over the immune systems function.
In essence, a vaccine is training for your immune system. A mild version of the virus triggers the body of overcome that threat, adapt and grow more resilient. If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the concept from the gym. When it comes to judging the potential dangers from the vaccine (of course they exist), refer to point #1 again – the potential downsides of getting infected far outweigh the potential danger that comes from getting vaccinated.
If you’re a martial artist and still not convinced that masks, tests and most importantly, vaccinations are our best shot at defeat this pandemic, I urge you to check your bias and apply the same logic you already do when stepping on the mat. Together we can do this.
So long, don’t get sick