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Fighting as a Form of Competition

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 May 2023)

One form of head-to-head competition is when the two opponents fight each other, trying to inflict harm in the other person. Usually, it is a physical fight, but it also can be verbal, psychological or even financial.

The motivation may be not only to feel superior but also to hurt the opponent. It may also be to win a prize or to force the opponent to give you a prize.

Some fights are started as a predatory competition. Care must be used in ending the fight to avoid the opponent from seeking revenge in the future.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Head-to-head battles

Competitors may agree to fight in a head-to-head battle. The competition is won when the loser gives in or is no longer able to fight.

Although a boxing match is a head-to-head fight, it is not included here since it is a sporting event with a set length and judges to determine the winner, unless there is a knockout.

Rivals have fistfight

Rivals may agree to have a fistfight to determine who is the better of the two. Two men may be fighting for the prize of the attention of a woman they both want to date. The winner is determined when the other gives up and cannot fight any further.

Spouses argue

Husband and wife may have an argument over where to go on a vacation. Finally one will give in and accept defeat. The winner gets his or her way, as well as showing who is superior on this issue.

Countries battle

Two countries may have a border dispute and decide to fight a war or battles to gain the property each wants. India and Pakistan had many such battles over land near their borders. Victory in the battle is when there are enough casualties on the losing side, such that they retreat and submit to the loss of land.


In a predatory competition, one side attacks the other in order to gain a prize owned by the victim. Usually, the side that initiates the fight is stronger.

Bully picks on boy

A bully wants to pick on a smaller kid, not only to prove he is stronger but to also take the boy's lunch. The boy has a choice of giving in and letting the bully take what he wants, of trying to run away, or of fighting back.

If he tries to run away, it becomes a performance competition to see who can run the fastest. If the bully wins, he may take the lunch. If the boy wins, he has gotten away, he has shown he was a better runner, and he has kept his lunch.

If the boy fights back, it becomes a head-to-head battle. If the bully wins, he gets his prize. If the boy wins, he not only saves his lunch, but he has humiliated the bully.

Country attacks another

Before World War II, Germany attacked several neighboring countries. Germany had a stronger army and was acting like a bully in trying to prove the German people were superior, as well as to take the land that belonged to their neighbors. Poland fought back for a short time until they were overrun. Austria made the decision to capitulate and allow Germany to take over.

But then other countries such as the Soviet Union and Great Britain not only fought back, but then took the offensive in a head-to-head competition. Later, the United States joined the fray to defeat Germany in the war.

Company performs hostile takeover

Some large corporations have maneuvered stock purchases to take control of smaller companies they deemed as potential competitors. Often they would dismantle the company and essentially kill it off.

Ending the fight

The biggest problem with fights is the declaration of a winner. Usually the winner, in finishing the fight, must take care so that the loser does not seek revenge at a later time.

Personal fight

When a person gives up the winner must allow the loser to save face. The fight is over. One is the winner and one is the loser. Both will accept the fact.

Taunting or humiliating the loser is not good. Likewise, continuing to inflict harm after a person has given up is uncalled for. Humiliating or continuing to fight after the person has given up or is unable to fight back can often result in such anger by the loser that he will seek revenge.

Members of gangs often end a fight with killing the opponent. This is to assure he doesn't try to get revenge for a beating.


If the loser has been also humiliated after the battle, he will often seek revenge. After World War I, Germany felt they were humiliated with the terms of peace. They were especially angry at France. This anger and desire for revenge is what drove the Nazis to start the next war.


With a predatory attack, the bully enjoys humiliating the victim. And the bully expects to do it again. This is true with individuals and with countries that make unprovoked attacks.


Two opponents may agree to fight each other, each trying to inflict harm in the other person. The fight can be physical, verbal, psychological or even financial. The motivation may be to feel superior and to gain a prize or reward. Some fights are started as a predatory competition. Care must be used in ending the fight to avoid the opponent from seeking revenge in the future.

Play by the rules

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