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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury


If you haven't met me in real life, you might not realize something.

When I say I'm short, tubby, middle-aged suburban woman, I'm really not kidding.

I'm just over 5 foot 2 inches tall (about 158-ish centimeters tall for you metric types). I weigh at least 40 pounds too much. I have an office job and I live in a small city outside of Kansas City that is incredibly safe and peaceful. I'm over age 50. I have a number of old injuries (knees) and new (hip and shoulder) that I struggle with every day, and some chronic health problems I also have to compensate for.

Thus, when it comes to physical conflict, I rarely have any advantages over my theoretical opponent and it's very unlikely that it'll be me who's going to decide when violence might happen to me.

Kinda sucks, but it is what it is.

Some of that is fixable, but the major factors that aren't - my age, my height, and my injury history, health issues - plus my unwillingness to go around picking fights makes me a permanent underdog.

Accepting this is important, because I can't learn how to compensate for this underdog status if I don't acknowledge it exists. I can't believe I will automatically win a fight, because in my individual case, it's absolutely not likely unless I train a lot to know how I might overcome those disadvantages.

I assume the odds are always stacked against me in a conflict. Always.

I teach my students to train with an underdog mentality too. We often will use variants of the phrase "Bigger, stronger, faster, younger, smarter, meaner."

BIGGER: Taller, longer arms or legs, so they have a reach advantage.

STRONGER: they hit harder and more endurance than you do.

FASTER: they can get to you before you can get to them.

YOUNGER: they might not have all the injuries and effects of aging that makes it easier for them to move and take damage.

SMARTER: They've trained, or they're experienced enough to know how to deal with whatever you are going to do to them.

MEANER: More willing to hurt or even kill you than you are willing to do the same.

If all my students can have this mentality where their theoretical opponent has most of those advantages over them, they'll never make the assumption that it's going to be easy for them to win in a conflict.

Many of my students don't have the physical limitations I do, so they actually do have some big advantages in any conflict they might get into.

As those of us in and beyond middle age know well, those physical advantages you might have today can and will fade over time, due to a lot of factors. We train for our entire lifetime, not just for who and what we are when we are at our physical peak.

So my students train with that underdog mindset that I have. No matter who they are, there is always going to be one or more factors that aren't in their favor in a conflict. No matter how physically fit they are, there's stronger people out there. Every day adds to the likelihood that an opponent will be younger than they are. There's always someone taller or with a better reach. There's always someone faster than they are. They shouldn't assume their opponent doesn't train or isn't well-versed in the use of violence.

And all of them are less "mean" than their opponent might be, because none of us go around picking fights or initiating violence against anyone.

We are the underdogs. We're going to be ready for that bigger, stronger, faster, younger, smarter, meaner guy.

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