I was out last night with a friend at about midnight, and we stopped to ask for directions. I saw a pair of women on a patio as they were leaving a bar, and asked them if they knew where the place we were trying to find was. In the midst of them telling me as I stood there a bit beneath them on the street -- "Go to the cinema, then..." a large, obviously drunken man strode up to the edge of the patio they were standing on, towering over me.
"Oy," he said, and raised his fist in what sort of looked like a greeting.
"Hi," I said, and flashed him a smile. He dropped his fist smack into my forehead, and it connected with a dull thud and a mild sting.
Now, I come from a background of formerly having been a bit of an angry guy, and a bit of a fighter. I used to get in a fair amount of fights, about all kinds of pointless things. Anything that might just be considered disrespect, I used to be ready to go to war over.
These days, I don't make physical confrontation that much a priority for me. I'll use it when absolutely necessary -- I manhandled a guy a few days back who tried pickpocketing me late at night in the rain -- but the risk is often far greater than the reward.
And that's what I want to discuss today -- assessing combat situations well and accurately gauging the risk-reward ratio -- not just for yourself, but for your opponent. Because it's necessary that, as you make your way through the world, you learn when it's worth fighting -- and when it isn't.