Are you refering to a sport fight? a bar fight? or a couple of posers?
The following comments are by Col John Ripley USMC (Ret) I think he has more credibility than anyone on this site about a real fight.
Col. John W. Ripley
U.S. Marine Corps photograph
"Although many claim to have been 'in combat' they almost always refer to having been in an environment where combat is being performed – not necessarily in an action where individuals or units are combating each other. Combat is not a place, a road sign – 'you have arrived in Combat' – as if it were a town with boundaries.
"Marines consider combat to be an act, a verb, an active verb – indeed, very active. To claim that one has been in combat because they could see it or hear its effects two miles down the road, or over a ridge simply doesn't wash with Marines. Personally I feel that 99 percent of the very vocal PTSD 'suffers' are those who never looked a man in the eye with the intent to kill him, and to do so before his opponent did the same to him.
"In my testimony to the Presidential Commission on Women in Combat, 26 June 1992, which was later entered into the Congressional Record, I made a clear distinction of combat as we understand it in ground warfare, and provided my definition:
"Combat suggests combat – to combat (verb) someone. It is an overt, aggressive, purposely violent act where violence has an advantageous role. It is not passively awaiting something to happen in a risk environment. Exposure to combat is not combat. If this were the case then we could define trash collectors as someone who performs in combat. During Gulf War I over 300 trash collectors were lost falling off their truck or in related accidents – twice the number lost in combat during the short war.
"So exposure to combat is not combat, not at the infantry – ground combat – level. Again, we see it as aggressive, violent behavior that begets satisfaction, actual enjoyment, a good feeling from having located, engaged and crushed the enemy. Nobody seems to talk about it, but we true combat veterans actually experience a good feeling, a feeling of victory, a wash of emotion; indeed, significant pleasure when we take the fight to the enemy and destroy him in the process. I will tell you that every true combat veteran, certainly every Marine, feels this way. I would challenge the combat experiences of any veteran who does not feel this way.
"On the subject of combat stress and it's effect on reaction, judgment, decisions, mental alertness, etc. it is safe to say that everyone in ground combat – certainly the Marines I served with – are in a constant state of exhaustion, sleep deprivation, high strung emotions and nervous tension. All are anticipating the next action, the assured enemy contact, which will propel them into their own reaction. The leaders must rise above this and be prepared to at all times take charge in the chaotic moments when the action starts. They must make instantaneous decisions – always with limited information – control their men and their fire while never losing sight of the overall situation. The enemy is always prepared to try something else if their first attempt fails and leaders must be prepared for it.
"The individual rifleman does everything in his power to deliver fire and take advantage of his position to help the Marines around him. Rarely, very rarely, does he withdraw into himself. His focus is on gaining advantage by fire and helping his mates to do the same. For this reason it is highly unusual that small units or even larger ones "snap" and go on killing sprees of non-combatants. When these non-combatants exhibit a threat they do so stupidly and at great peril to themselves. Marines are trained to respond instantaneously to a threat. Metallic sounds, clicking noises, rapid jerking motion will on every occasion cause a response by several, perhaps all, nearby riflemen. We don't ask to 'show us your I.D' or 'let me see your hands' as shown in the law enforcement programs. If you threaten a Marine, even verbally or by stupid noises or motions, you are going down. Instantaneous response is a golden rule for us, and always when the enemy is unseen, not in a uniform, and particularly when they are known to have no respect for their own people and their values (i.e. – terrorists).
"The essence of effective ground combat is alert, effective and decisive leaders at all levels. They must be situationally aware and ensure that their Marines are fully prepared to react. However, on this last item, Marines are always alert and prepared to react in combat. The responsibility then falls to the leader to prevent them from overreacting, and often it is not easy. A well-trained and switched-on Marine will react to whatever he perceives to be a threat, particularly to the Marines around him. Depending on the intensity of the action, he will react first, as he is trained to do – not wait for the enemy to produce casualties and then respond.
"The alert rifleman will also take preemptive action, fire first, when his judgment tells him he is dealing with an enemy intent on taking action against him. He would be a bloody fool, and in violation of the rules of ground combat, not to do so; thus preventing harm to his mates.
"Leaders must be seen by their Marines to have experience, but most importantly, battlefield awareness (competence) that translates to his Marines as 'This guy knows what he's doing. He's going to make the right decisions; morally right, operationally correct, and always with our best interests at heart.' Also, 'He will always be there when we need him, although we may not like what he wants us to do, he has our best interests at heart and will accomplish the mission with our concern always foremost.'
"Finally, the rifleman is always in a state of stress, exhaustion, totally without creature comfort, but 100 percent focused on what is happening around him. He lives on the razor's edge of fury and retribution, along with disgust for what he sees, i.e., how the enemy treats their own people. He is gripped with emotion when he sees children, many the same ages as his own brothers & sisters, and especially when he sees the mothers trying to protect them from the line of fire. He will put himself in great danger exposing himself to that same fire just in an attempt to remove non-combatants from this danger. He is repelled and disgusted when he sees how the enemy treat their own people by putting them in situations where they will assuredly become casualties, for the obvious reason that they can blame it on the Americans."
Final comment: Col. Ripley's exploits at the Dong Ha bridge are the subject of a mural at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis.