Got the excellent video above from Drew. It’s a great interview with an author named Andre Dubus III who talks about fist fighting and what he learned from doing it.
I don’t know what the rest of you felt before a fist fight as an adult (if you’ve been in one), but there is a flash moment before you throw your first punch where you think about the consequences. You don’t want to do it. You’ll do anything you can to avoid it. But once the first punch lands on your assailant’s face, some “membrane” in you breaks. And as Dubus says, it (unfortunately, in my opinion) makes it that much easier to get into fights again and again. There’s some sort of rush/fear that’s very hard to replicate in other ways. Plus, the hesitation no longer exists.
I’d agree with what Dubus says, but I think it’s slightly different for Asian American men. The first time, I wasn’t thinking about avoiding my opponent’s personal space. Instead, I was thinking that I was Asian and he was White (as he was reminding me with the racial slurs coming from his mouth), and that I could go to prison after punching a White man and facing a racist court system, even though he was trying to shove me off a subway platform. There must have been a point where I realized that prison, as much as it could suck, was probably not as bad as touching the third rail or getting run over by a moving train.
Like Dubus, it’s been years since I’ve been in a fist fight, probably at least ten years, way before kids and marriage. I’m out of shape these days and can’t do half of what I used to do, but there is something that changes in you when you’ve done it.
(I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I probably don’t want either of my kids to be in that situation where they have to physically fight to save their own lives. Although I would like to see them compete in either judo or jujitsu…)