Wonder Woman and Amazing Women!

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Celebrities
9 Jul 2008


I grew up during the Captain America matinees and was amazed to see how each week – Captain America would save the world for freedom! I liked comic books and wondered how some people got lucky with super-powers. I watched Under Dog, Super Man, Batman and occasionally saw Bat Girl and Cat Woman. So I was exposed to some strong woman super-heroes and villains but Wonder Woman for me demonstrated that a woman super-hero did not have to ride the capes of her male counter-parts! Yes when Wonder Woman first aired, I saw women in an entirely new light!


I wondered if women could really win in a fight against a man. It was kind of interesting, back in the day, seeing Wonder Woman fighting men and still keeping a beautiful figure! Society was a male dominated at the time and they (men in general) did not want to see muscle women (my guess – too threatening). I figured that a super-hero-woman could take a guy but in real life – guys were stronger and better fighters (this is before I was enlightened with karate). Lynda Carter played Wonder Woman fantastically! She was a tall woman that made it believable (from my young mind influenced by Batman and Robin fights) that a woman could beat a man! Well now I would like to explore how far women have come in this endeavor to (at least in self-defense) even up the battle of the sexes and tell some true life stories of a couple of truly courageous woman fighters I have known.


Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman!



 Lynda Carter in my mind forged new roles for women in TV and movies. Some super-hero women that have followed were Super Girl and Mrs. Peel. Super Girl had the super strength and could fly but Mrs. Peel knew fighting tricks! I do recall Wonder Woman taking on a karate guy in the following clip.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/DXBgwKwTfI0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


I think it is fair to say that Wonder Woman’s fighting prowess was a beginning for women. I like to think the first step is to believe something is possible, then all else is possible. Back when I used to own a karate studio I knew two women that were great fighters in their own right. The first one, Cathy, was a black-belt and a great tournament competitor. She fought individual and on Tracy/UKF teams where she mostly won or placed in her division.


I recall how hard Cathy trained with both the guys and gals before upcoming tourneys. But one of my favorite tales about Cathy was foiling a gas station robbery. As Cathy told me, she was tired one day heading home from work, minding her own business and stopped for some gas. This was the days when there were cashiers on the gas islands.


She (Cathy) told me that the gas attendant was robbed at knife point. The guy (robber) made a mistake trying to escape in front of Cathy because he pissed her off! The guy told Cathy, “Out of my way B!!ch!” Cathy who was moving out of the guys way – reacted with a rear leg-wheel/snap type kick to the nuts and she promptly followed up with a ridge hand to the face! The guy dropped the money (and knife I think) and stumbled away as fast as he could! The robber would have probably been OK if he had been raised to be polite to women (but then he probably would not have been robbing a gas station). :)


Here is a recent picture of Cathy (on the right) attending our Joe Lewis/Dean Lister Seminar last month (forgive me as I don’t recall the name of the other black belt woman on the left – Photo by Barbra Steinberg).


 Black Belt Women - Cathy on the right


Another tough woman, that impressed me was Diana. She did not compete much as I recall but she did want to know how to fight. I did teach her to brown belt I think because she was so motivated! Many times I would start teaching her belt requirements and she would stop me and ask to learn more sparring. I obliged often because fighting was also my great passion.


As I was sparring with Diana, I would fight to her level and then about 10% harder, never letting up to see what she was made of… I found out that Diana was tough as nails. One day Diana came into the studio bruised up and could barly move. I was in shock as I knew how tough she was and I asked her what happened?


Diana was out with her friends and her male cousin. There was a bully wearing a ski-mask, that was picking a fight with her cousin but before I tell you about that, I want you to know that she was about 5′ 4″ tall. The bully was about 6′ 2″ or so tall and started to attack her cousin. She stepped in and warned him off. The guy stepped in and Diana kicked him in the balls as hard as she could!


To her great surprise, the guy was wearing a wrap-around cup! For those of you who don’t know, wrap-around cups (covers the front and underneath of the family jewels) were almost exclusively worn by practitioners of karate at the time. Anyway, the guy quickly overpowered Diana who tried to incapacitate the guy without seriously hurting him (no eyes or throat shots) and started raining down punches on her face and ribs.


Luckily for Diana, that was a predicament she often found herself in while sparring with me. She was able to cover up well and did not sustain any permanent injuries but still wanted another shot at that SOB! News traveled fast and a likely suspect was identified from a local karate school. The guy was just breaking into full-contact karate and was full of himself. He (the suspect that I will not name as I don’t have any direct proof) made the mistake of taking a fight from Lap Napoleon (One of Tracy’s meanest fighters). It turned out that while the guy could trick women into a defeat (questionable if he could fight man to woman), he was knocked out with a wheel kick to the face in about 10 seconds of the first round by Lap! I think there is something to Karma, at least in this case.


Now you know some of why I highly respect women fighters. They are fighting in a male dominated sport and some of them excel at sport/MMA matches above and beyond self-defense. To be clear most men out-weight women by 50 to 100 pounds and have more muscle mass. Women using their self-defense skills can stick to what works and use eye shots, throat strikes, groin and knee-cap kicks and the like, to even up the odds in an attack. I also strongly endorse legal self-defense weapons for women to even up the odds.


Cathy and Diana have impressed me back in the 80’s and the women that have followed have had great role models. I’d bet you would find stories like these are the norm among most karate studios, like that I have shared today. Any woman reading this post should know that you can accomplish anything you strongly desire and I strongly encourage women to learn self-defense and carry a legal self-defense weapon!



If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

10 Responses to “Wonder Woman and Amazing Women!”

  1. self defense on martial arts Says:

    Wow! When watching your video and your site information I am interesting to learn martial arts with self defense.

    thank you for good advice and video

  2. Mike Armstrong Says:

    Thank You for all the great information on Women’s Self Defense. Very interesting post!

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Tom and Mike,

    Thanks for stopping by.. I checked out your sites and as you know – I believe in self-defense and non-lethal products for women. I don’t think we can say this eoungh.


    John W. Zimmer

  4. diana matzenauer Says:

    Nice to see you today and hope our paths well meet again. Lets do some trainning again.

  5. David Hays Says:


    I know you. Weren’t you a student of John’s then mine at the El Cajon stuido? If so, I remember you as a very tough fighter.

    David Hays

  6. David Hays Says:


    Another great article. And I agree both Diana and Cathy are great examples of women that can defend themselves. Another one that comes to mind is Joyce Nickley. I believe what all these women have in common is they all trained, and sparred, with men. They gained a realistic understanding of what it would take to defend themselves against an aggressive male attacker.

    I also know from training with these talented women that they all understand trying to go toe to toe with a large male combatant is not always a wise choice. They all have a true understanding of how to fight to gain the advantage necessary to be able to get to a safe place.

    I will be turning 50 this year and have been training in the arts since I was 14 years old. I believe that no matter what your skill level is there comes a time when you must stopping thinking of yourself as nine feet tall and bullet proof. We all need to remember that self defense does not mean that you are always supposed to beat the other guy up. It means what it says, “defend yourself”. If that means fending off an attacker until my family can get to a safe place and then getting to a safe place myself, then that is what I should do.

    It is not just women who need this understanding. It is also children, adult males with beginning to intermediate experience in the arts, as well as any of us who are getting older.

    Just my opinion,

    David Hays

  7. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Great points David! Joyce is another great fighter too that would never back away from a challenge.

    Feeling your mortality huh? Me too. I am now focusing on self-defense as that is something that I can probably pull off well into my 90’s :)

    Take care,

    John W. Zimmer

    And by the way – I love honest assessments of reality and strategies to mitigate attacks…. you are always welcome to opine here Sir.

  8. Doug Arcidino Says:

    You guys make great points about training for self defense. I started training in Escrima to augment my kenpo. It was a time when I was injured and could not spar for a long time. I found that swinging a stick helped the strength in my hand which helped my hand injuries in my right hand. Also it helped me to really understand how to defend against a weapon. In El Cajon Ca. there is a great Escrima master Chris Rickets. He is a master on Ilustrisimo. This is a nice style. He has great experience. His # is 619.8613206. He has written books and was taught by grandmaster Ilustrisimo Hence the name. But what it did for me was enhanced my mastery of self defense.


  9. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Doug,
    Escrima sounds interesting as lots of weapons self-defense. Another local San Diego resource is Pete Salas. He has Southern San Diego county studio (Chinese Kenpo Federation: http://www.chinesekenpo.net/index.php) that probably does a good job of weapons instruction based on Pete’s attention to detail.
    I also think that if a black belt of martial arts simply applies his or her knowledge of fighting, to a weapon (assuming he or she learns the basic movements possible for said weapon) putting up a formidable defense should be possible with any weapon! Now I don’t mean to say that I think I could use a samurai sword as good as a samurai warrior, but I could take on a group of assailants with any weapon easier than with my bare hands in a self-defense scenario.
    So since self-defense and not sparring with weapons is my goal – I will probably use critical distance and my fighting experience from being a black belt to use whatever weapon I find handy if ever needed.
    I do agree with your points of seeking a specific style of weapons training if you want more insight or want to become proficient in that martial art. My only caveat I am addressing is from a self-defense point of view.
    The cool thing about Kenpo as it is taught at American Kenpo Karate and Joe Lewis’s fighting system (and Tracy’s) influences – is that one is always searching for effective fighting techniques, whatever the source. Many martial artists like yourself take on more than one art in an effort to find better ways of fighting, pioneers if you will, that will have significant contributions to future Kenpo generations!
    Thanks as always for you insight Doug!
    John W. Zimmer

  10. James @ Wonder Woman Costumes Says:

    Here are some quick tips to if interested in moving forward with a self-defense program. The class should be based on the kinds of assault women most experience. It should be developed to promote assertiveness, confidence and self-worth. The curriculum should emphasize the skills women already use and include activities to build new skills based on them. Finally, instructors should be able to provide a caring environment where women feel safe to train.24 Courses based on “stranger danger” fail to meet these criteria and are problematic in at least two other important ways.