Winning your Fight; What Does it Take?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: martial arts
24 Mar 2010


When I first started taking karate lessons at Tracy’s Karate, I asked Dick Willett how he could teach me to be a good fighter. He said that knowing how to kick and punch was not enough but rather I would learn how to connect the strikes.


What does it take to win a fight? That is what I will examine in this post. Remember the first Ken Norton vs Muhammad Ali? Norton was widely reported to have undergone hypnosis to get the edge in that match. If someone beats you in a match – was he or she just a better fighter? How can you consistently become a fighter that wins opposed to collect a paycheck?


To set the stage lets look at this humorous video of Dolf Lundgren’s.



Interesting, so if you learn karate – you win fights, girls and money! If so I’d bet many would want to learn that! Well let me set the stage. You are a black belt at a popular school, known for turning out good fighters. Many of the fighters are more accomplished than you and you have to fight them all during open sparring.

Are you nervous? The first couple of months you get beaten in most matches but you justify this as they are better than you. Is that acceptable? Hobnobbing with the greats will somehow through osmosis teach you to be a better fighter? I say NO!!! You have accepted mediocrity!

Is there ever a justification for a fighter to believe that someone out there is better than he or she? Here is Bas Rutten’s view point on winning.

What I like about Bas’s philosophy is he fights to win. It is unacceptable to believe that anyone can beat him. I don’t know about you but when I fought – this is how I was. How can that be? I mean how can every good fighter be the best fighter in the world? My answer is they are all impostors. :)

No seriously that is my attitude but it takes more than a winning attitude to become the best at anything (sorry Tony Robbins). You need to have something concrete that you can grab onto… that you can control to be able to truthfully tell yourself that you are the best in the world.

Norton believed that he could beat Ali in this fight. Another aside here – I was just a kid in 1973 but my friends and I rode our bikes up to Clairemont hospital when Ali was getting his jaw treated. Here is the last round and decision of that fight and then I’ll talk about what worked for Norton.

So did the hypnosis help Norton win? Who knows but he believing in himself only helped him put all of the hard work training he did – to good use. I tend to believe that Norton had it in him to win anyway but often the difference between winning and losing is a state of mind.

The more important lesson here is Norton did not figure out how he won and subsequently lost the next two fights to Ali.

Here is the secret stuff – the object of this post. You have to figure out how to win if you want to consistently beat your opponent. Part of the puzzle is to adopt a winning attitude and train hard. The most important way to consistently win is to not look at how great a fighter your opponent is but rather your shortcomings.

What do I mean? If your opponent is able to jab you – is he just better than you? Nope.

If you opponent can submit you – is he a better fighter than you? Nope.

If you opponent knocks you into next week – is a better puncher or kicker than you? Nope!

Do you get it yet? You cannot do anything really about how well another person fights. True you can watch film of his or her previous fights and try and figure out the best strategy but you cannot make him or her fight bad (short of drugging him).

So what are you in control of here? Have you guessed it yet? You are in control of you! Yes! You can only control you so if someone gets in a “lucky” punch – that is your failing! Let me repeat. If someone punches you – he or she is not better than you but rather you made a mistake!

So the secret is out. Now you know there is no one better than you. If someone beats you it is your failing. You let him or her win!

So here is what you do, what I did. If you have a good instructor or trainer. Ask him/her what you did wrong to get hit and then learn an effective counter strategy. Practice and then deliver on your plan.

You no longer ever have an excuse for believing that anyone in the world is a better fighter than you! If you do – stop fighting. You have defeated yourself already.

I hope this sage wisdom has helped you realize that positive thinking, lot of practice and the belief that you are the best fighter in the world (along with the knowledge that if you lose – you messed up – the other guy is not better)  is the winning ticket! Now grasshopper – go into the world and lose no more.

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8 Responses to “Winning your Fight; What Does it Take?”

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  2. pat Says:

    What is that saying. Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, your right. Is that by Dale Carnegie? Good insight.
    .-= pat´s last blog ..Self Defense Training updated Sun Mar 7 2010 6:16 pm CST =-.

  3. Dr. J Says:

    Your post reminds me of a tennis opponent of mine who always said, “I gave it away.” when beaten :-)

    Seriously John, I won my share of fights, and certainly was beaten enough as I gained skills with training. For me, learning that the true battle was with myself was where I felt I had the most success.

    Now as a surgeon, I always went into battle knowing that I would win, and in that arena, I’m grateful that, so far, I always have.
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..Lab Notes: Flaxseed – A Natural Way to Lower Men’s Cholesterol =-.

  4. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    This post cannot be a coincidence.
    I have been diving deeper and deeper
    into this topic. Especially because
    I have been playing more tennis lately.
    Applied some affirmations and getting in
    the zone during a match yesterday and
    my partner and I won 6-0, 6-0. Incredible.
    This might sound familiar: Had I known
    then, what I know now… I would have won
    many more karate fights.
    But heck, you live and learn.
    Thanks for the great post.
    .-= TheMartialArtsReporter´s last blog ..I Really Hope Thiago Alves …. =-.

  5. Matt Klein Says:

    I believe the secret is controlled aggression, just like any sport–even in a street fight. I have seen a lot of guys fight blindly with rage. They usually lose. You need to be detached and pick your opponent apart with skill and cunning. Explode with power but with control and it does not matter who you are facing.

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Pat – Yep I read Dale C a lot. Self fulfilling prophecy.

    Dr J! Yep the true battle is with ones self.

    Tiger! It sounds like you are now truly enlightened!

    Matt – Yes! As much with knowing you win or lose on your own merits – it fosters the right fighting spirit!

    Thanks Gentlemen for your sage insights! :)

  7. Pat Says:

    I was expecting something very different than what happened on the video. I was figuring some zen message or great advice from an actor. Much to simple, go gamble.

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