Anyone who spends much time talking about the martial arts on the internet (which, as evidenced by this blog, I do) rapidly becomes aware of a very vocal e-contingent of anti-traditionalists.
They are all over YouTube, hurrying in droves to insult and belittle videos of taekwondo belt tests, karate kata, and aikido demonstrations. They are ready at a moment's notice to harshly assert their opinions on others' martial arts choices (not that anyone asked) on any message board, whether or not it is a martial arts message board.
To them, if you're not training in one of a select few modern full-contact martial arts, you're not really a martial artist at all. And they'll tell you so. And if you insist on suggesting your way has any kind of value, get ready for a caps lock firestorm.
What's a traditional martial artist to do? Ignore them? I do plenty of that, for sure. The problem with just dismissing them outright, though, is that they're a little bit right.
No matter how long or how hard I train in aikido and taekwondo, I'll probably never be able to stand toe-to-toe with a Muay Thai kickboxer or competitive mixed martial artist who has trained as hard as I have. If the martial arts are defined simply as methods of fighting, there is frankly no reason at all to train in aikido, taekwondo, karate, or kung fu when one has Brazilian jujutsu and krav maga to choose from.
I need to accept this truth in order to move past the criticism: not that I can't learn real martial skills from traditional arts, or that I shouldn't strive to make my arts as effective as possible, but that there are other arts which, given all equals, are probably more effective. When this truth ceases to be a shock to me, it ceases to be a weapon that can be used against me.
The next step is to understand the other reasons I practice my arts. Aikido was founded by O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba with the goal of teaching us to live as one with the world around us. The country of South Korea embraced and formalized taekwondo with the goal of building healthy bodies and respectful, courageous citizens. If I can accomplish these goals for myself, and pick up a few valuable martial skills along the way, then I have succeded, and my arts are valid.
And if that's not good enough for the anonymous self-appointed champions of modern fighting styles, then I think I am perfectly justified in ignoring them.