T Nation

Being Weak in Confrontational Situation

Can someone please explain my case.
I’m 30y old, I had dozen of amateur fights (boxing) till my mid twenties. 6"2 230lb always in great shape I really look intimidating, especially as I’m last couple of years more into fitness and weight lifting than boxing. I have some other career now but I regularly workout and spar with my friends and sometimes train in my old boxing club. I have never had any fear in the ring or doing spars, not afraid of punches and I usually dominate an opponent.
But for some reason, outside the ring, I’m afraid to even argue with people - My voice and legs start trembling and I can’t even speak or stand normaly. I don’t know why this is happening. The reason I’m writting this is this morning situation.
Long story short, I ocuppied some parking spot of some other guy (acidentally) and he started cursing and yelling at me. I even apologized (started losing voice at that point and almost felt like crying) and proceeded to move my car. After I moved my car I have asked him if he could be more gentle next time as I could call police, he then told me to "fck myself’ and threatened to kick my telephone.
I told him to feck of and moved.
Now I’m sitting in my apartment angry for hours wishing I could revert time to kick his ass and angry with my self for being such a coward. I swear, I was even lurking around the very same spot in hope I see that guy again.
And seriously if I could revert the time, I would really do some serious damage to him, I just can’t believe myself.
And still I can’t understand what has happened to me? I’m not afraid of fighting and even getting beaten (and that guy was in poor overall condition and there is no 1% of chance od him beating me) but still I was trembling and felt so powerless. I can’t explain how angry and useless I feel at the moment.
Just wanted to share it with you guys. Is this some mental problem, high e2 or whatever the feck

The first is a controlled situation with boundaries and can be stopped at anytime.

The second is unpredictable and has no boundaries and you have no control over when or how it ends.


There are severe consequences to violence outside the ring dude. Boxing is a controlled sport … fights in the street are not. You don’t know if that guy has a weapon or w/e … really not worth engaging with irrational people especially over a parking spot.

I’d imagine that guy has other issues you aren’t aware of and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over not engaging with the guy past what you did.


Risking potential long term physical injury (either to yourself or him, or both) as well as legal action over a parking spot doesn’t make you brave or an alpha male - walking away was the right move. Going back there in hopes of finding him and kicking his ass also isn’t a great idea. There’s a right time to use physical violence and this wasn’t it, so don’t feel bad about it.

You had some self-doubt. You were not confident in how would perform if things had turned physical.
The same thing happened to me years ago and later I went to a Tony Blauer seminar (1993?) and asked him about it. He said 'You convinced yourself if things had escalated, you would be a coward". That was a tough pill to swallow.
Youtube has a few of his videos. He was one of the first martial arts guys to have seminars on fear management.

I can kinda relate to this in a way, if you are not used to people giving you shit and you don’t feel you dealt with in a ‘manly’ way or whatever that means to you it can bug you. It’s often not being shouted or wronged etc that bothers people, it’s the fact that you didn’t respond to the situation in a way which lessens the odds of this kind of thing happening again, especially if you feel the person showed you up.

I also, wouldn’t recommend, telling someone you might to ‘go to the police’ over just one incident/outburst.

Confidence and composure is extremely situational, you might benefit from some kind of assertiveness training or something. .

You regret not committing a felony because someone said mean words to you? Who exactly would be the coward in that situation?


I think I get you, and that it isn’t really about lacking confidence if things turned physical, as others are implying. I think you are saying in situations where you would like to assert yourself, you feel weak and out of control. I think this is a type of situational anxiety, and I can relate to this. For example, when I teach or lecture in a known or controlled spot (where I am the one in charge), I am confident and smooth. But, there are times when I am in a group where I may be put “on the spot” and my voice seems weak and I am unable to project the calmness and clarity I know I’m capable of. Is this more of what you mean? I don’t think the possibility of physical confrontation is the key piece for you.


It may be self doubt and being overly conscientious, not wanting to do anything wrong.

I had a German Sheppard once. Strong, smart, really exceptional dog in every way. As a protector she would literally rip your ass off, and did a couple of times. But if I told her “bad dog” it was like her world ended.

People can be like this too. One can be a well trained and obedient boxer, but when someone yells “Bad Dog” or other equivalent, their world ends.


I’ll start with the obvious. Even if you can harm other people. Its best not to. Irrespective. I’m 6ft tall, weigh 105kg, can press my own BW and squat over 2xBW. I’ve competed in and won judo, BJJ and MMA fights, worked a bar (including all of that sort of stuff) and run self defence courses. I’m also a rugby player. I can and have done violence. I’m always the guy “chickening out”.
The only reason to resort to violence is to escape.
I think of it this way - when I’m forced to hurt someone - I’m acknowledging them as a threat. All the while I don’t hit them - I’m belittling them. I don’t need to disable them to be safe.

This is a mind set I took years back. And its saved me a lot of time in a police cell.

With regards to WHY you acted liked you did - its adrenaline. People get the first two responses right when it comes to adrenaline. Fight or flee. But there is a third. FREEZE. Its much more common then the first two. As people think freeze is flee as its not fighting. But its the result of your brain trying to process all the info going on and there will be mixed signals from your brain.
1/2 - nail this fucker.
1/2 - don’t it could get ugly.

The way past this is knowing it will come. And then knowing your goals in any situation. For example - in every violent situation I’ve been in (recently) its been exit. So I’ve access what the most likely way to exit unharmed is and taken it. Sometimes this has meant hurting people. Some times not.
Get this right and whilst its not guaranteed to stop the freeze it will help help you.

For example the reason you would have hit the on the 2nd visit was you had a goal. Then the adrenaline came you could simply run with it and thump him. Job done.



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How are other things in your life right now? Are you dealing with a lot of stress and worry or any tough issues?

I don’t know about fighting or not fighting, but were you already worked up and anxious before this happened?

You mentioned still being emotional hours later, and even brought up high estrogen. Is it possible that your were already on edge and this minor incident was like the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused some kind of mini break down? And now your mind is spinning, crazy, over a pretty insignificant encounter?

I need some clarification…

1, was these spots marked? where exactly was these pre assigned spots at ?A apartment complex or a place of business. Was you unaware of their existence?
2. was he threating you with violence or just yelling and cursing for you to move your car ?
3. Once you moved the vehicle did he accept the apology or at least stop ripping into you?

if 3 had occurred I don’t understanding why you would add fuel to the fire and antagonize the situation by adding in your being more gentle and police remark.? That is if the situation had died down.

Like a little more detail about the situation…


How about the chance of getting stabbed or shot?


“Yeah, I got 10 years. It was a glancing blow but he fell and his hit head on the curb and died”
“Shit, sorry man. What were you fighting over”
“A carpark”


I think you have an overall problem with assertiveness, and I think, as @bulldog9899 is probably suspecting, you acted pretty weird during this confrontation. Your response wasn’t normal which is why I also think the guy didn’t even know how to respond when you mentioned calling the police so he just doubled on being an asshole.

I don’t know what’s the solution to your problem other than some form of psychological therapy or getting yourself a job where you have to assert yourself frequently because you’re constantly being challenged by people whom are confrontational by nature.

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I played football (soccer) once and the ref had been inside for 8 years (served 8 of a 12 year sentence) for killing a guy in a fight.
He got 12 as they’d had an argument in the pub (bar) and he’d said “I’ll kill you”.
After that - its deemed premeditated. Or at least enough for it not to be man slaughter. And the sentence goes up.

So yeah - out side - had a fight in car park. A nasty fall or something like that and boom 8 years of your life gone. Its a shame it happened in the 90’s as there is 0 evidence on the internet. But it does happen.

Sounds like your ego would like your fight or flight response to be re-calibrated a little more towards the fight end of the dial.
As everyone here is pointing out, that may make you feel like a tough guy, but the potential downsides of that are huge.
If you need to prove anything to yourself, get back in the boxing ring. Otherwise be grateful that your brain is the boss and not your ego.

Seriously: fighting over a car space is stupid. Fighting a trained adversary in a boxing ring is brave. Your instincts are exactly right and served you well here.


I think your common sense just kicked in. I’m pretty sure if you were actually threatened in a serious manner you’d hold your own.

Here’s a little story:
I am not really a big guy but I deadlift 200kg at 75kg and I have more than 10 years of boxing (undefeated in amateur fights) under my belt so I always thought odds are on my side.
However anytime I was close to a confrontation I was the one to de-escalate the situation. More often than not I regretted not being more aggressive and felt bad about not “fighting back”

One day I was in my car on a stop light, I stopped at an orange light and the guy behind me in a big suv started horning and cursing. He drove next to me and kept cursing. I cursed back and was extra aggressive this time, after all the odds were on my side right? To my surprise the guy just drove away cursing his way out. Wow, what a chicken I thought to myself, that shit really works! After a couple of weeks the guy gets executed mafia style outside his own house. It turned out that he was a big time mafia boss and competitive bodybuilder who was in and out of jail for drugs, guns, prostitutes etc. Now, was that guy afraid of me? I don’t think so, he just didn’t want any trouble with police. Was he packing? You bet he did. Was I lucky we didn’t got into a fight? Definitely!! The lesson learned that day is that things aren’t what they seem on the streets and you have too much to lose while nothing to win. So avoiding a fight is always the smart choice. And if ever things get actually physical I am sure that your training and instinct will take care of the rest.