Can the 97 pound Weakling Fight?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
29 Nov 2012


I don’t know about you but when I was growing up I was not that confident in middle school. I mean some kids seemed to know what they were capable of and all of the rest tried to go around unnoticed so kids would not pick on them. I know you might be thinking this is a bully post about the kids are intimidated by bullies and such but no.


I am writing about how a kid might surmount their self image and become a good fighter. By the way this applies to anyone including boys, girls, women and men that don’t think they could fight effectively if they had defend themselves!


The question is what does it take for someone to excel at fighting (or what I really mean if self defense)? Sorry but I lump in all fighting into the word fighting. Charles Atlas seemed to think building muscles would give the preverbal 97 pound weakling confidence but I would disagree.



What I am talking about in karate circles used to be called fighting spirit. It is an attribute that is hard to describe but one meaning is if someone is willing and able to fight back. You see it does not matter how much someone knows the mechanics of kicking, punching, ground work, mean looks or whatever – if you are not willing to go for it if you have to (I mean fight back if attacked)… it is all for not!!!


The biggest disadvantage most non-fighters have is they don’t believe they can fight. It does not make any sense because if you have to fight for your life and limb… by not fighting – you end up putting yourself at your attackers goodwill. The “logic” is by not fighting back – maybe he/she won’t hurt you so bad.


Why don’t most people believe they can fight? I’d guess (very foreign concept to me) is they have never had to experience of a successful defense or perhaps they are just afraid of bigger, foul mouth, mean people.


One way to surmount one’s inner-demons is to take some scary action and sign up for some classes and hopefully a fighting discipline (boxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, aikido, or whatever and facing your fears.


Ok – say you are one that realizes that it is possible you will have to defend yourself or your loved ones someday and cannot obtain a weapons permit. Say you have tried out a few fighting styles and found one that you like.


What is your next step? Go into the lessons with your eyes open? Can you fight of a bigger, faster, stronger, meaner attacker?


At first the answer will be NO!


What do you mean NO? What I mean is unless you bring something to the table that can surmount the bigger, faster, stronger … attacker – you will lose. It does not matter what belt or competitions you may have won. The only thing that matters in a fight is what you do.


Hold on a second – All is not lost! How bad to you want it? Do you really want to mount an effective defense or are you just going through the motions to magically turn into an amazing fighter someday – somehow?


Assuming you really want to learn how to manage a fight (I say it this way for the benefit of a defensive fighter), then you have to train to get an advantage somehow.


Ok how?


For me it was believing that I could fight against bigger, meaner, guys. When I was 160 pounds and a green belt – I started coming into the school on Thursday nights and fighting with the animals (The senior black belts). For a good year I got banged up but I learned at each time I got caught – what my mistake was and eventually how to counter/surmount my shortcoming!


By the time I was a brown belt and was bouncing at the local bar – there was not anything a real fighter (albeit beer muscle) had that was a problem. You see I had faced my worst fear and found a way to surmount it.


I was no longer scared of anyone or anything. Luckily the bad guys did not have the fighting discipline that I had and just had muscles or aggression going for them (both meaningless in a fight).


So what if you are a teen-aged girl or boy and a couple of thugs come after you? Have you ever seen the videos of a bobcat fighting off a coyote or wolf? I mean both the coyote and wolf are bigger than the bobcat but the bobcat has nothing to lose. The bobcat is light on its feet and can claw up a storm and take off like the wind.


So what I am saying is you can counter muscles with speed. You can counter weight with cunning. You can counter aggression with intelligence. There is nothing you cannot do if you work at it in your training and believe you can.


Don’t get me wrong – belief alone is not enough. It is just a start. You have to have the desire but you also have to do the practice.


Also consider. Wrestling, much like Jiu-Jitsu and Judo will try to take advantage of leverage and locks and such and can be aggressive. Boxing, karate, and Muy Thai will use strikes and can also be aggressive and defensive. Aikido will defensively try to not be there and help the aggressor with locks and throws to achieve their end (ends with the aggressor on the ground).


It does not matter your disposition or type of style you like – there is something for everyone.


The best defense is usually superior skill in intellect… Oh yes and fighting spirit. I hope you have enjoyed this look at what it takes for anyone to be a good fighter. Believe, practice and follow through will work wonders. If you do that – you too can be an amazing fighter to defend your loved ones life and limb.

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3 Responses to “Can the 97 pound Weakling Fight?”

  1. Zara Says:

    What I believe to be most important in a fight is mindset (the absolute will to win coupled with a refusal to give up) and superior reflexes and techniques: if you combine those two you need not fear any fight (fear doesn’t benefit you anyway). Like you said John superior training will beat mere power and aggression (the tools of the trade for thugs and wannabe fighters) so all depends on the diversity and quality of the training methods aswell as the motivation of the student to adhere to them and give it his/her all.

    Yours is indeed an inspiring story John: hat off to you and your clear, direct way of explaining what needs to be done and how to get there. There’s a reason I keep coming back here and that’s to learn from someone who’s been there and who has actual experience to draw from: if some of my views are in accordance with yours I’m sure I must be on to something and if not then it’s time to do some serious thinking and maybe find a new way or at least test it thoroughly to make sure it’ll actually work.

    “So what I am saying is you can counter muscles with speed. You can counter weight with cunning. You can counter aggression with intelligence. There is nothing you cannot do if you work at it in your training and believe you can.”

    These words should be on a banner in every dojo or gym out there because they describe the essence of the martial arts: to learn how to win by any means and to outwit the enemy especially when he’s physically stronger. The mind is indeed the best and sharpest weapon.

  2. Dr. J Says:

    I believe the answer to your question was answered for me when at camp as a 13 year old I witnessed the following:

    The toughest kid in camp was picking on the “97 pound weakling” and the camp counselors saw it and decided that a boxing match between the bigger, tougher guy and our poor weakling in front of he entire camp was the way to settle it!

    The fatal day arrived and there they were facing off, with large boxing gloves. One confident tough guy and one scared 97 lb., if even that, weakling.

    The bell rang. Our 97 lb. weakling obviously had no knowledge of the rules of boxing because as they met in the center of the ring, he kicked the tough guy in the balls, and the fight was over just like that with the tough guy writhing on the ground, the weakling being told off by the councilors, and the whole camp cheering the outcome!

    (Tied it in with your last article, John :-)
    Dr. J recently posted..Exercise: The Simple Thing That We Don’t DoMy Profile

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Zara! – with you I am preaching to the choir. :)

    Hey Dr. J! – the result is priceless. :)