In Man of Steel, it was made clear that Zod was born to be a great warrior, while Jor-El was the planet's foremost scientist. How then did Jor-El completely demolish Zod in hand-to-hand combat in the opening sequence during the birth of Kal-El?
Just because Jor-El was a nerd doesn't mean he is a weakling. Jor-El is a skilled fighter and pilot in the comics.
It doesn't matter what skills they possess, because in that scene you can see that Zod was surprised to see Jor-El do something so drastic. Zod was naive, in my opinion, even until the climax. He actually thought Kal-El would somehow give up on the earthlings. He says during the climax fights that his entire race is all gone, quite emotionally.
My point is, when he sees that Jor-El is ready to go the distance, he is surprised and that's when Jor-El gets him - while Zod is off-balance. He wouldn't be able to do that in an open situation, granted.
And what about the other scene when Jor-El escaped while being captive. He takes three guys using only a flash as the distraction. Jor-El is pretty bad-ass and this scene was kept for a reason - to clear your specific doubt. Jor-El was very skilled at fighting but not as good as Zod.
I don't agree with you, he did not completely demolish Zod. Zod was just down for a minute and the launch was done. It was unfair really. Two against one. One working the launch and one fighting Zod.
Agreed, Zod was born and raised to be a warrior. While Jor-El was an intellectual. No matter what one is born to be, a drastic situation creates a warrior out of every being. Jor-El required drastic measures to evade capture and fight the general. While Zod was reluctant and more focused on the retrieval of the codex. He had respect for Jor-El and did not want to defeat or kill him. His purpose was to try and persuade Jor-El to agree with his vision. At the end, when the codex was sent to Earth, Zod finally killed Jor-El. Just because Zod was beaten a few times, it does not make him weak. Zod could easily have sent a few soldiers to retrieve, or taken some support with him. But he went in alone knowing the risk and the requirement of the situation for some tact.
Jor-El is a military scientist most likely and Jor-El in Superman: The Animated Series also kicked a fair amount of ass.
In one scene they leave pretty clear that they where mates, probably in the army, he even had a tactical body armour. By the way he fights against Zod is clear he had military combat training, Zod probably are like many other superior officers who are bad at hand to hand combat training, and rely a lot in weapons.