Karate Guys

I have been involved in martial arts for many years.(first Karate then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). However, I have maintained that a strong man who may weigh in excess of 200lbs., with limited knowledge of grappling is able to beat a well trained 140lb.-160lb. traditional Black Belt.

While going through college I was a bounncer at the largest bar in our county and had front row seats to all of the fights. I have never once seen a fancy kick or “lethal” martial arts move that could overcome a solid takedown or haymaker launched by a big strong guy.

I would like other opinions on this. If you have some information that you have personally witnessed that disputes this claim I would love to read it.

On the other hand, if you have a story or two of your own that affirms my claim, I want to read that too.

Zeb - I have to agree to a point. Most martial arts do not adequately train you for street fighting (although some will). That said, I know martial artists that could easily take someone twice their size under the scenario you paint; however, if the guy twice the size is a somewhat competent fighter, he will usually win unless the martial arts guy can get in an advantageous position.

Best fight I ever saw was while I was in the Army. A national champion in some type of martial art (I’m not really into that stuff, but he did win a national tournament in the summer of 1995) against a wrestler who had gone to the state meet three times in high school. We pushed back the bunks in our bay one night, and they went at it wearing only those karate hand pads. The wrestler caught karate boy’s leg on about the third kick, took him down and pulverized him. So much blood. Karate boy was about the same weight as the wrestler, but was about 3 inches taller.

When did martial artists suddenly become invincible opponents?

Why does the same stupid argument continue to surface every two weeks?

How can you possibly extrapolate the success or lack thereof in bar fights (of ALL places) to a broad maxim about the effectiveness of martial arts?

“I have never once seen a fancy kick or “lethal” martial arts move that could overcome a solid takedown or haymaker launched by a big strong guy.”

What, Macchio’s crane kick isn’t the end-all of MA power moves? Say it ain’t so!

Within any conflict, there is an element of chance that may determine the final outcome. NOTHING is cut and dry, but effective training can certainly tip the odds.

The ones who CAN win by skill alone generally aren’t dumb enough to fight in the first place!


A lot of martial arts train you in controlled conditions, with pulled punches and such. This becomes so ingrained that the moves can’t be followed through when really needed.

Some one trained in street fighting will have the upper hand on any one less skilled, pretty much regardless of mass.

I was actually just speaking about this with a buddy this morning. We both came to the same conclusion…No! someone that is half my size probably would not be able to take me, but if they got you in a bad spot, and didn’t let up they could probably kick your ass.
I was a heavyweight wrestler in college, and there was this little shit (he was really a cool guy) that I knew, and he was damn good at martial arts. He would do some demonstrations tht would blow your mind. He won every martial arts event that he entered. When someone asked him if he thought he could take me, is answer was the following.
“In a competition, I would kick his ass. In a street fight I would get killed, I mean look at the guy…he is twice my size.”
Granted, I can handle myself anyway, but as far as technique, I had nothing on him. I think rational, smart fighters know that they couldn’t take a guy a lot bigger than they, some just won’t admit it.

“The ones who CAN win by skill alone generally aren’t dumb enough to fight in the first place!”

Wise words.

I been training in vale-tudo now for about three years or so. I have a couple of fights under my belt now, before that I boxed and before that I studied various forms of Kung Fu. I say I was a pretty decent kicker back when I did Kung-Fu but never in a street fight have I managed to connect fully with a high kick, bar once when the guy was virtually paralytic. You just don’t get the range as you are mostly too close when it kicks off. That’s why I took up boxing, hands are just so much more accessable. Then I saw UFC and it all just clicked. I’d never use anything but low kicks in a fight, and if I can’t finish a fight with punches or the guy is much bigger I will always grapple. If he’s that much stronger but not that skilled I can always get position on him and at the very least defend and frustate him. I find that unless the guy is almost as good as me he won’t be able to win as I will always have superior position. Could I beat someone twice my size? That would be one big hombre! I’d have to say no he’d could probably throw me around like a rag doll except if he was incredibly useless and immobile.


“How can you possibly extrapolate the success or lack thereof in bar fights (of all places)to a broad maxim about the effectiveness of martial arts?”

That is an easy question. As I stated, I worked as a bouncer in the largest bar in my county. Our clientel was made up of College students and locals. It was a very rough place. On various occasions I saw several tournament winning martial artists lose badly when fighting with larger, stronger opponents. Does this mean that Karate is ineffective? No, but it does bode poorly for the traditional arts.

As far as the “effectiveness of martial arts”. Martial Artists are supposedly trained to be able to handle themselves in a street confrontation. If I were to give you my eye witness testimony, having had seen several of these “lethal” Black Belts go down in defeat, I would say that you would be better off lifting weights and doing massive eating than studying traditional martial arts relative to its effectivness in the streets.

One eye witness account occurred when one particular Black Belt got into an argument with a College Wrestler. This was interesting as both men were actually the same size.

They took it outside. As they squared off the Karate practioner side kicked the Wrestler and the Wrestler fell backward. As the Karate man moved in the Wrestler recovered and immediately took the Karate man to the ground with a perfect double leg takedown. After several punches to the face the Karate man wanted no more and curled up in a fetal position.

Does this mean that all Karate men can be defeated by all Wrestlers? No. However, that is just one of at least 8 or 10 fights that I witnessed where the Karate guys gave a poor showing. most fights occurred outdoors in an alley where the Karate man would seemingly have room to move.

As to your question of “effectiveness”. I believe that the effectiveness of any martial art can at least in part be seen when it is tested in a real life situation. My point being, I saw several and they did not perform well. Perhaps when they performed their Kata (similar to dance forms) they were graceful. And that is good thing, however not much help in the street apparently. How many of these match ups would you advise that I witness before drawing a conclusion? fifty? one hundred?

Further evidence of the lack of traditional martial artitsts being adept at real fighting was seen in the early UFC’s. As many of you know the early UFC fights pitted various martial artists against each other with almost no rules. The result was that traditional Karatkas did poorly. They were beaten soundly by grapplers of every persuasion! In fact, if you look at todays champions in that sport they are all mostly Wrestling champions who learned how to strike. What does this say about the typical traditional karate man?

I hope that this sheds some light on your question.

If a martial artist is taught street smarts, he will avoid confrontation. If confrontation is unavoidable, the martial artist should have studied an art that practices self-defense.

I study karate, kickboxing and grappling. I’m fairly proficient at all 3. In a fight, when all else fails, take his ass down. No one really knows how to wrestle. Even the wrestlers I roll with have trouble, and they were collegiate.

It’s all about ingrained reactions.

karate can be good, but most karatekas don’t practice for real life confrontations. alot only point spar (ie non-contact) and even most that do do full contact don’t fight vs. wrestlers or boxers. i’m willing to et most karatekas don’t even do impact training (heavy bags etc…).

anyway, i’m sure its possible for someone to take on an opponent twice their size, but they’d have to be really damn good/experienced.

also, isn’t bas rutten mainly a karateka? he does really good in the UFC and i heard he took on 10 bouncers at once, haha

how about biting a guy or gouging his eyes out. If he really threatens you, hit him in the head with a beer bottle, or better yet, hit him when he ain’t lookin. In a bar/restaurant, throw some pepper in his face and kick him repeatedly in the testicles. If he is a wrestler, and he takes you down, bite his ear off and gouge out his eyes. Better yet, if he takes you down, while he is screwing with you on the floor, have six of your buddies kick him in the head till he dies. If you have a gun, then you can shoot him, if you have a knife, then stab him. Mace him then break a bottle over his head or crush his balls.
the bottom line is that a street fight is a street fight, not a contest in a controlled environment like the UFC or a Barracks. Anything can happen and you must remember you are probably fighting for your life in this day and age. So if you are talking competition that is one thing, if you are talking about a street fight, you are talking about something else. And anything above is gonna work just as legittimately as a 405 pound power clean, or a all american double leg. That is why I don’t fight, it is really a stupid thing to do unless you are backed to a corner and are fighting for your life.

Just my two cents.

Several of the accounts here talk about “martial artists” vs. “wrestlers”.
Wrestlers are NOT your run of the mill Joe Schmoe, wrestlers are martial artists. On the street and anywhere wrestling is a more useful MA than karate, kung fu etc.
Many of those who think otherwise also think Jet Li could beat up Mike Tyson (just so you know who you are).

There are relatively few arts that will really help you on the street.
Among these are: wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, judo, boxing, kick-boxing, muay thai, and of course best of all, some sort of MMA/NHB/Vale tudo training.

Why are these generally better than most other martial arts?
Because they train at or close to full contact every class. It’s as simple as that. All that “street lethal” crap is worthless, because the guys doing have never actually tried the techniques. You simply cannot get good at something by doing kata (even if you do it for decades) or performing techniques on compliant ukes (ala aikido training).

The difference is more in the training than in the techniques, but with better training comes better (though sometimes not as pretty) techniques.

Basically, if you haven’t tried out your stuff against people trying to knock you the fuck out, you will NOT be able to do it in real life, where people try to do this.

I know with some of you this is preaching to the choir, but those still stuck in hollywood, think about it, it’s pretty obvious.


I train kickboxing and grappling for fights. I also do grappling tourneys, no gi style.

I train karate for discipline and the belt. I highly doubt I’d do this into my older age if I wasn’t a black belt.

the few martial artists i know tend to be kinda fucked up in the head (the non-asian ones). they watch japanese anime all the time and take japanese classes to understand all the stuff their cartoon heroes say in the middle of battle.

this one guy at our gym used to walk on his tip toes all the time. one of his friends said that was part of his “stealth training”. he also meditated between sets. if that is not some fucked up shit, then i don’t know what is.

like many of you guys have said, martial arts is a highly theoretical form of fighting. it’s always nice to have flexibility and coordination during a fight, but by no means does that make up for a lack of strengh and size.

I haven’t found very many martial arts schools or instructors that really impressed me with thier training or fighting skills. Not that good ones aren’t out there, but I have met alot of “black belts” that couldn’t fight thier way out of a wet paper bag. On the other hand, I have found two instructors that were actually quite amazing and could certainly dominate me in a fight with ease, and kill me even easier. After conducting alot of research and having alot of “real world” experience with both armed and unarmed fighting I have come to the conclusion that martial arts can be insanely effective but only when adequate pre-requisits are met. It is similiar to any athletic endeavor. There are alot of coaches out there, in high schools, colleges, etc. etc. How many of them actually produce world class athletes? How many of them even produce pro level athletes? “But it depends on the capabilities of the athletes” you say. I agree the natural inborn abilities and genetics of an athlete do have alot to do with the overall performance and capabilities of the athlete. However, the quality of the coaching and training is the defining factor in the athletes ability to reach the uppermost rung of thier capabilities. Without the proper training even the most genetically gifted athlete can end up falling short (of course there are allways exceptions to the rule but this post is allready long enough so I am not going to get into that discussion). On that note, what if the athletes get shitty coaching and training? What if thier coach is a total lackwit using innefective training techniques? The athletes are going to suck, or at the very least thier progress as an athlete will be retarded quite a bit! Same goes for martial arts. If you have an authentically good instructor that really knows what he is doing, and you train and condition really hard, you can become a phenominal fighter and you really can take on a guy (or two, or three) twice your size. I’ve seen it and done it, and these guys weren’t your average joe-schmo either. One of the guys I took on was very well trained in bjj gasp and I mainly studied kung-fu. I know, I know, kung-fu is just pretty and not effective, everyone knows that. Anyway, as it has been mentioned before, the guys that really know how to fight rarely ever get in fights. I think it is partly because an experienced fighter can see a situation developeing sooner and they simply avoid it or figure out an effective way to diffuse it. There also just seems to be something about the way an experienced fighter looks that deters people from fucking with him, not sure exactly how it works but it does. But in support of Zeb’s comment about packing on extra muscle being more effective than studying a martial art, extra beef definitely grants you extra respect and decreases the likelihood of someone randomely starting shit with you. It will also definitely improve your ability to execute whatever fighting techniques that you may know. Sorry for the novel but this same question just seems to keep popping up repeatedly and I think it has alot to do with the massive proliferation of “martial arts” schools that have swept the country ever since the release of a particular movie back in the 80’s. Suddenly everyone is a blackbelt…

At 140 lbs., I beat the crap out of a dude who was a bit under 200. I was boxing at the time, with about one year under my belt, and did some occassional grappling. The way that I did it was I let the monster take the first swing, weaved around it, and punched him from what my friends tell me probably 20-25 straight times before he could lift his arm to swing again. Needless to say, he hit the ground and it was done. I am not a violent person, and after this fight I dedicated myself to conflict avoidance…I still love the UFC though. I do consider boxing a martial art, and I have found it to be much more effective than the karate that I took before. If I ever get back into competite fighting, grappling would definitely be the way to go.


What the fuck is a ‘karate guy’? Who is this mythical person that stands to represent anyone who’s ever donned a uniform? This mythical creature who’s suddenly flush with such skill that he can speak not only for every practitioner of THAT art, but EVERY OTHER art!

… and yet, dumb enough to take a crack at a unknown opponent purely out of excess testosterone and alcohol. That should clue you in about his ‘art’.

But amazingly, you continue to draw conclusions. Intoxicated college students should be so influential!

In short, your sample group sucks. No amount of linguistic gymnastics will make up for it.


Good stuff by Rep9210 and Forrester, even if I can’t read Forrester’s because he didn’t paragraph.