Why Did I Learn Karate – Why Shoud You?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
8 Sep 2008


I remember watching the Miss America pageants when I was a kid and heard some of the contestants wishing for world peace. I would hear snickers and cynicism about that idea. On the face of it, world peace should be achievable if the worlds peoples were of a like mind. Then I remembered all of the movies I had seen about the good guys and the bad guys and when Reagan was elected – I heard about the evil empire. I soon figured out that this is an us and them kind of world. Maybe I should suspect that kind of reasoning but it makes sense that I am or my country is right and everyone else is wrong – Right?


Ok without expending the scope of this article to world peace, I would like to point out why I don’t really think bad guys will ever all come to the light and become good guys. People just think differently! Some people rationalize bad behavior like I do when I eat meat (by the way I like meat and will probably never stop eating it – but when I can afford free range chickens – I will probably start buying that). It is kind of a law of the jungle – eat or be eaten. Then there those of us that believe civilization has a chance and that some day people will care about their neighbors even if they do not agree with them or their lifestyle. Maybe I am a dreamer.



Let me continue with my main point which is you need to know how to defend yourself if you accept my hypothesis that some people will try to get over on you if you cannot fight back! Lets ignore whether this should be or not but focus on the world as it is.


When I was 13 years old I was mugged walking to the store because I told a couple of kids where I was going. They were not starving but just thought they had a right to my money more than I did and they were willing to beat me up to get it. After that day I had a burning desire to learn how to fight and by time I was 19 years old I could beat 90% of the human population! How do I know this? I fought some of the top rated fighters in the country. Defeat was not an option for me as I was willing to do anything to win a fight (not sparring or tournaments but actual self-defense).


I was the most dangerous kind of fighter because I felt I had nothing to lose. I was not willing to experience defeat in a real fight again and my karate training gave me to skills to achieve that goal. Why am I telling you this? Because the first part of fighting is you have to believe you can learn and do it! You also have to have a heart and not become a bully! No matter how good you get, there will always be someone better. If you turn into a bully – you will be sure to find that person.


The next thing after you have the desire to learn how to fight is to find someone or a school to teach you. I don’t think the martial art, boxing, wrestling or whatever is as important as that you practice fighting (sparring) with some contact while you are learning. Another school of thought is to learn a formal style with no-contact but have all of the striking points open while you train. I have argued long hours about this point and I see pros and cons to each approach… whatever you decide – you will have to live with.


So now you have the desire and you have found the training. If you have come this far – you have what it takes to go as far as you want. Learning to fight will take effort. But as I already mentioned – you will have to have a heart for your fellow man/woman. When you are a great fighter, you will be able to take on two or three assailants at a time (my record is six). With that kind of fighting skill – you have to be right if you fight. You cannot beat someone up that calls you a name or looks at you wrong! If you do that you will be mucking up the good name of your instructor/school and open yourself up to criminal/civil remedies in the court of law.


Ok – you have the desire, training, heart, and you are good. What now? Teach your knowledge to people that need it. Your fellow men/women need you as most people will just try and learn passable self-defense skills to break off an attack long enough to get away. Bravo I say. Whatever else you end up doing with your life – you can say that you have helped humanity and hopefully if there are enough people that can fight and have a heart – how long before world peace can be a reality?


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12 Responses to “Why Did I Learn Karate – Why Shoud You?”

  1. Matt Klein Says:

    I believe that it starts with each of us. I do not tolerate any kind of racism (or sexism) in my classes. If we do our best to understand others and where they are coming from, it goes a long way toward world peace. Training in the dojo with blacks, asians, hispanics, and whites and living with them as brothers is the mark of a true warrior. It is our duty as martial artists and as people to stamp out injustice where we see it.

    Agree with you that there will always be bad people in the world. For every 100 sheep, there are 5 wolves, ready to pounce on the weakest. However, the wolf will not go near the sheep if the sheepdog is nearby. Smaller than the wolf, but smarter and tougher, the sheepdog is not afraid to mix it. The wolf will always look for an easier target. Almost all my fights on the street were as a result of playing the role of the sheepdog, fighting for what is right. Some of the time there were was than one wolf, but my Kenpo skills never let me down.

    The fear that I faced in the dojo (especially Terry’s side kick) taught me that if I can handle it, nothing on the street can faze me. I believe that although sparring should be controlled, it must be realistic enough to prepare you for the role of sheepdog–a role in which you cannot afford to lose.

  2. Raj Khatri Says:

    Karate is the weight less and transparent weapon of any person, by which he can do self defense from various attacks.

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Terry Crook’s side kicks are now famous on two continents! I remember them well… kind of a trial by fire… if you could survive that training, you were ready for the street (that had nothing compared to those side kicks)!

  4. Matt Klein Says:

    I think one of the main benefits of martial arts is learning to overcome your fears. Whether it is a Terry Crook side kick or mixing it with any skilled black belt, you learn to control your fears and just get on with it. I learned to control my fear of heights by indoor rock climbing and walking to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, my fear of drowning by whitewater rafting in some serious rapids and bungee jumping off the bridge in New Zealand. I realized from sparring in the ring that nothing will kill you, it will only make you stronger. I thank martial arts and Terry, Kimko, Joe, and every guy I fought against in the ring for that. By the way, how is Kimbo?

  5. Matt Klein Says:

    Sorry, misspelliing Kimko is the name

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    I saw Kimko at Dick’s party a few months back… he is looking fit as always. I threw back a few brews with him and caught up with old times. He said he always enjoyed fighting at our school as Dick/Todd pumped out good fighters.

  7. Ken Potter Says:

    Great information. My wife is looking to start shortly with her training.

  8. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Thanks Ken, self-defense/karate training is one part of a multi-faceted defense strategy. Home, car and personal defense products all have a part.

  9. Greg Says:

    Very nice article

  10. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Thanks Greg – I liked you site and am adding it. It seemingly is a good high-level view of various martial arts.

  11. Greg Says:

    Welcome, Thanks John, Good to know :)

  12. pat Says:

    I read one of the comments and I wouldn’t want to go on top of the Sydney Harbor bridge. I always push myself to overcome my fears. I try not to get into fights unless there is no way out.

    My younger years I had a bunch of fights and I never started any of them. I did finish them well. I started martial arts two years after a bully headlocked me and then hit me. From what I have heard, he is still a bully to this day. I haven’t seen him for over 38 years but I would like to see him now. He told me, come back when you learn to fight. He had two other guys with him. I have learned to fight. I would like to deal with him again.