The Straight Dope June 20 2009

My son just finished a three-month karate class. Last night he asked me if karate really would help someone defeat a larger, stronger opponent. I told him I honestly never heard of anyone using any martial art to win a fight outside of a movie. You would think here in New York, with so many muggings (at least at one time) and other violent crimes, there would be stories of people using martial arts to defend themselves. But all we got is Bernie Goetz, and he had a gun. So in all of recorded history, has a skinny black belt ever beaten up a beefy weightlifter? My son’s future athletic choices may depend on it.


Well, I’d keep him off the steroids, if that’s what you’re asking. Also, common experience suggests that where big vs. small is concerned, you don’t necessarily want to bet the rent on Goliath. Granted, David wasn’t using karate, and there’s no question the introduction of firearms into the situation tends to skew the odds. Nonetheless, you do occasionally hear of martial arts adepts taking down attackers with their bare hands — including attackers with guns. For example:

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(Illustration by Slug Signorino)