Posts Tagged: Fighting

Jan 10

Two Types of Fighters?

One thing I’ve noticed is that experienced fighters tend to fall into one of two groups.

Group #1 is made up of experienced fighters who don’t have much of an ego anymore (with respect to fighting) and don’t feel they have anything to prove anymore. They know they’re tough (based on much experience). They don’t start fights. The let a lot of things “slide”. They’ll fight if provoked, but won’t start it.

Group #2 is made up of what I’ll call “hot heads” who like starting fights with others.

But while reading the paper pointed to in my face of a fighter post I came across this….

Although a tournament to determine the targets’ actual fighting ability would be neither ethical nor practical, we do know the number of fights target males reported to have had during the last 4 years (electronic supplementary material). If more formidable men are more likely to initiate fights or less likely to avoid them (because they are more likely to win), then the number of fights a man has been in would be a rough index of his actual formidability. Indeed, men who were seen as tougher had been in more fights: there was a correlation of r=0.30 (p=0.02) between average toughness scores and the targets’ actual fighting behaviour. This means that perceptions of a man’s fighting ability track a real world behaviour that is a plausible index of his actual formidability.

(Emphasis mine.)

My experience is that the toughest guys tend not to get in fights very often (unless it is somehow part of their job). The reason is that most people wouldn’t dare get in a fight with them.

If you’ve seen guys of this toughness class, you’ll notice people (who don’t know them) will avert their gaze if the toughest guys makes eye contact with them. Many people will move out of their way.

Now the toughest guys do get into fights from time to time. But, based on my experience, I’d imagine it’s a lot less than others a little below their toughness class.

Thus I don’t think it is a good idea to use the number of fights a person has had “during the last 4 years” as a proxy for toughness.

Although testing fighting ability directly wold be a much better, if you want to look at a person’s fighting history, at least, only count the fights they didn’t loose (or weigh the fights they lost less). Or better, don’t restrict it to the last 4 years, but count all the fights they’ve had throughout their whole life. (That way if the fighter is now in “group #1″ mention at the beginning of this article, you still capture them too.)

Jan 10

Upper Body Strength And Fighting Prowess

As a follow up to my last post on the face of a fighter, there’s a part of the paper it points out that talks about the belief that upper body strength is the or one of the most important factors for human fighting prowess. Here’s the relevant except….

Anatomical evidence supports the view that, for ancestral humans, the single most important factor driving the differential ability to inflict costs was upper-body strength. In humans, the view that upper-body strength is more relevant for fighting than lower-body strength is empirically supported by the considerable sexual dimorphism in human upper-body size and strength (for review see Lassek & Gaulin in preparation). Men, for example, have approximately 75 per cent more muscle mass than women in the arms, but only 50 per cent more muscle mass in legs. Although ancestral humans were zoologically unusual in their use of tools in some types of aggression, the force driving the weapon remains largely a function of upper-body strength (Brues 1959).

Given that upper body strength seems to be greatest with Mesomorphs, and that Somatotypes have a heredity component, it would seem that thus upper body strength will have a heredity component.

Something not surprising to me, since I’ve observed (in my personal experience) that fighters tend to run in the family.

Jan 10

Face Of A Fighter

One of the topics that interests me is the science around fighting and fighting prowess. This study is thus of interest. It presents evidence that people can, in a nut shell, tell if someone is “tough” just based on looking at their faces.

These findings will not be surprising to fighters, I suspect. Who (based on my personal experience) can usually tell who else is a fighter.

(It’s an open access paper, so everyone can read it.)

"Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face"…


Selection in species with aggressive social interactions favours the evolution of cognitive mechanisms for assessing physical formidability (fighting ability or resource-holding potential). The ability to accurately assess formidability in conspecifics has been documented in a number of non-human species, but has not been demonstrated in humans. Here, we report tests supporting the hypothesis that the human cognitive architecture includes mechanisms that assess fighting ability—mechanisms that focus on correlates of upper-body strength. Across diverse samples of targets that included US college students, Bolivian horticulturalists and Andean pastoralists, subjects in the US were able to accurately estimate the physical strength of male targets from photos of their bodies and faces. Hierarchical linear modelling shows that subjects were extracting cues of strength that were largely independent of height, weight and age, and that corresponded most strongly to objective measures of upper-body strength—even when the face was all that was available for inspection. Estimates of women’s strength were less accurate, but still significant. These studies are the first empirical demonstration that, for humans, judgements of strength and judgements of fighting ability not only track each other, but accurately track actual upper-body strength.

(Emphasis mine.)

UPDATE: I have two followups to this after I read the paper more thoroughly….