I have never experienced any sort of hand-to-hand combat in this life. I have never felt an adversary’s fist slam into my face, nor have I felt the surprisingly-cold bite of a blade slice through my flesh. I once threw a punch in something like anger, at the age of eight, and the memory I hold of that brief and awkward moment is a strange mixture of the indelibly concrete and the swirling surreal.
There is something about physical combat that has always set men (and yes, in certain cultures at certain times, women) apart from those around them. Something about the fierce animal encounter of mêlée unlocks something within, something buried, something ancient and powerful. It can be terrifying, to be sure, but it is very often also exhilarating, and for not a few has been addictive. Many would call such violence animal, but are we really less human when we dirty our hands with each other’s blood? Or are we more so?