How to Fight Fair! What is Fair Fighting?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Dueling
3 May 2014


To my amazement when looking for a video on the topic of fighting fair – I did not find one. I mean that is the most important question if someone challenges you to a fight – right? I mean it is not self defense and you can back down… but say you think the guy needs to be taught a lesson and you want to teach the pugilistic lesson so the next poor slob will not have to endure whatever this idiot is dishing out. Is there a generally agreed on set of rules to fighting fair?


Let me just say two words – grow up! Dueling has been illegal for a hundred or more years. In California I have seen cops decline to take action because no one other than the fighters got hurt and they (the fighters) agreed to, “mutual combat.” I would like to say I have never (ahm…) been in a “fun” fight purely for some attitude adjustment or to underscore an old boxing vs karate argument… but I have at times in my youth. What were the rules you may ask – they were to fight fair!


In this post I will try to bring back a concept from my youth… fair fighting and how I see the modern generation missing this point. But first I will play an old standard, Elton John’s, “Saturday Nights is Alright for Fighting.”



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That song brings me back to an era where I thought fighting was fun. I mean a couple of guys could get into a disagreement and want to resolve it with fisticuffs! No need for a heated debate. The best fighter won and was right! I mean people resolved their differences the same way we see our governments resolve their arguments with other nations – we fight!


Ok – now it does not sound so noble. :)


But back in my youthful 20’s, if someone challenged me and it was not really self defense, we would go out back of the bar and duke it out until we resolved the issue. No one got hurt too much and when the other guy got knocked down – we would let him up. I mean it was not a real fight for your life – but just a mild disagreement between friends or family.


So long as everyone around you understood it was a challenge match and not a fight – things did not disintegrate. I used to ask people over to the karate school if they wanted even more of a fair fight because we could put on hand and feet pads and have a referee decide the bout.


I have both refereed bouts and broken them up depending on the need. One time a couple of neighbors were going to have a go with crowbars – I stepped in a broke that fight up. Both of the neighbors understood I could take them with the crowbar so they backed down. They had respect for me because I tried to be fair. I was not going to stand by and watch my neighbors kill each other!


Another time some youths were having a go in front of my house – I stopped them and tried to talk them out of it. That did not work so I told them I’d referee to keep it fair. I mean I was not going to let someone get hurt too bad in front of my house. They went at it and I only had to break it up a few times… once one of them attempted to kick the the down guy… and another one of them want to punch the other guy when he was taking off his shirt. Bottom line they punched themselves out in a couple of minutes – I declared a winner and would have knocked out anyone that wanted to continue beyond that.


So I guess fighting in the karate school desensitized myself to fighting. I think it is kind of normal for youths to want an engage in it. But I also think the older guys should intervene and make sure they keep it fair.


Youths today have been watching violent videos, video games, MMA matches where nearly everything goes and they don’t have much sense yet. That comes with age. They don’t understand every bully has a father, mother, brother, sister, maybe a wife or girlfriend, son or daughter – in short people that care about them and would be devastated if anything bad happened to them. They just have to make it out of their youthful idiot stage.


So to fight fair in a mutual combat scenario, you are looking for a clear winner without taking undue advantage or racking up devastating injuries. Save the big hurt for self defense situations where you truly are fighting for your life.


In closing I will tell you about one missed opportunity between a fellow coworker in the 90’s. He said he was the ships boxing champion. I told him about my karate and bar fights. One day he told me he was moving and expressed regret that we never got the opportunity to fight. Yeah I told him I thought we would throw back a few brewski’s and have some fun someday but alas – it was not meant to be. :(

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3 Responses to “How to Fight Fair! What is Fair Fighting?”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    I really enjoy your writing, John!!

    I have some ambivalence about this. Probably because, as a facial surgeon, I have to repair the results of fights! Thinking about it though, I have never said to an injured patient, “Was it worth this?” As I did say one time to a man who I was giving shots of two huge syringes of penicillin to for making love not war, so to speak, lol!

    In middle school, I punched some guy in the face that was poking me in the back, then before any real damage could occur the teachers broke us up. We went on to become best friends after that, so I do understand how fighting fair can be a bonding experience, strange as that may seem to others that have never experienced it.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Dr. J!

    I have mellowed over the years but I realize the youths are still going to do some of this. While I see the challenge match as stupid now, back in my youth I did not back down often.

    I did learn first aid and CPR and taught it when I got my black belt. I figured I could take them out and patch them back up. :)

    I did have the experience of a doctor (before I trained in karate) in the emergency room when I was getting my eye stitched up asking me what the other guy looked like. You see I got mugged and did not fight back when I was 12 years old.

    I could have fought back but I was not a good fighter yet. So I did not want to risk the gangs coming after me so I took the shiner and pretended I did not know my attackers.

    So when the doctor asked me what the other guys looked like – I just laughed like I got my good pokes in… in reality that is the incident that made me strive to learn karate so I could defend myself.

    I often wondered what a boxing match between to facial surgeons would look like. Probably a lot of body shots! :)

  3. Robot Fight Fitness Says:


    Great post, I agree that all fights should be fair fights. Two people should be able to settle their differences fairly, then shake hands and have a beer afterwards. The problem these days is that unfair fights have become entertaining, and many youths enjoy watching videos of people being attacked and knocked out. Because of this, the ‘fair fight’ has been forgotten.