I'll attempt to show that combat, sports, and dancing are all different ways of engaging with the same reality with some approaches being more destructive and some being more constructive. They're also good metaphors interactions between different number of groups of different sizes ranging from the individual to the masses. For example, a boxing or a soccer match might include a mass audience and a mob fan base which is also an important part of the set.
The stereotypes from sports carry over to real life and if one wants to get philosophical about it, there's a lot to be learned from sports, war, or dancing. Of course some warriors and athletes do get very philosophical about it and they usually make the best ones. Since some sports also include "dancing" I'll include that too. There's an even higher level than "dancing" but only the participants tend to recognize it when they see it.
I did Shinkendo for a few years (about 400-500 hrs of practice). Shinkendo is a sword art and one its focuses is tachiuchi which is like a kata (known set of moves) with a partner. In other words, a choreographed fight. This is much like a dance. Since it's done with enough force and speed to hurt if done wrong it requires the corporation of both "fighters" who become partners. The better you are, the more you can compensate for your partner's mistakes. You can measure your skill in terms of how good you make the other one look in a friendly match. For example, proper distance is obviously crucial. If you want to strike someone with a sword in the most effective way, you need to be lined up and within 1" of the correct distance (you're usually about 8' apart when engaged, so there's some precision required.. on the order of 1%). When you both move a step you need to make sure you end up in the correct place relative to each other. With some practice, this becomes possible in the same way that a basketball player can shoot the ball within an inch of the hoop. However, if things are moving fast your opponent might move too far or not far enough. Then everything fails and if it was real one or both of you would be either disengaged or dead. However, if you're good enough to compensate for their mistake as well as your own, you can make them look better. And of course, if this was a real fight, you could use this skill in reverse by deliberately setting their position up for failure while setting yours up for success. However, to do that you have to understand how they move(*). Similar a terrible dancer will perform better when paired up with a great dancer and in particular it is ability to elevate the partner that makes the great dancer great. This metaphor can be extended to any number of people but it breaks down for solo dancing. Problems obtain when dancers in the solo-mindset are incapable of considering/compensating/coordinating the partner when they dance. "ARGH! Stop stepping on my toes and put your feet in the right place" rather than "Okay, you don't have this position thing dialed down, so I'm going to compensate in a way that still makes the dance work". The latter is an example of a much better dancer.
One can have the same attitude in debate or life in general. For example, yielding or bending like a straw in the wind does not necessarily mean weakness. The strong oak that refuses to bend is more likely to break in a storm. One dojo example would be the proverbial punk who is out to prove to the world that they're the strongest by challenging everyone to a fight including people outside the dojo. They measure themselves by how well they fight and they have little respect for those they fight. These guys are toxic in the dojo and ultimately nobody wants anything to do with them. (For a Hollywood example, there's Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid movie
(*)In boxing you can take a few hits going in and overpower them with force. With sharp swords, you can never take even one hit. When boxers dance around or when samurais engage in a stare off, they're already engaged. This is to learn about the other person so as to get a positional advantage. It might even be to indicate to the other person that they have zero advantage and are bound to lose. Compare this strategy to a punk who just engaged head first with full confidence that they'd win.
In politics, this could be e.g. the libertarian who insists on using an Austrian economic lens on every single human issue being fully prepared to die on that particular hill no matter what. If someone disagrees, it's simply because they do not understand economics the right way. I happen to know a lot of examples because I was once that person worshiping on the altar of Ayn Rand and I therefore happen to know a lot of libertarians while I know less zealots from other *isms. But then I grew up and learned that the real world doesn't run on isms. (Some of the identity politics warriors and all the other warriors will eventually grow up too. Warring is very much a young person's game---or an old person's game using young persons as cannon fodder.) It's important to keep in mind that just because some of the new warriors are flawed (as we all are to greater or lesser degree) it doesn't mean that we can't learn anything from what they're proposing. For example, libertarianism offers many valuable lessons. It's just that it's not a complete/righteous description of how the world actually works. Same thing with identity politics. However, grokking that requires being open to other perspectives rather than "hardening up" one's position when challenged.
However opening up rather than closing and doubling down requires some kind of epiphany/personal growth. What often happens is that hardened up warriors band together and start crusading instead. A band of warriors holed up in their castle (an echo chamber on the internet) and traveling to distant corners of the world (other parts of the internet) to push their ideology constantly engaging in conflict yet rarely convincing anyone else easily end up thinking that the entire world is out to get them. While they don't really think of themselves that way, they've turned into a de facto mob, and that's how the rest of the world come to think of these stalwart warriors. At some level they know it too which is the source of all the projecting. Mobs do attract the same types of hotheads regardless of what cause they're fighting for. Projection is an interesting effect because it requires a distinct familiarity with the misbehavior that one is accusing others of while at the same time denying it in oneself. In most aspects of life, projection peaks around middle school and the "I'm rubber, you're glue"-mindset kinda fades away with increasing levels of introspection after that for most people in general. Yet for some extremely strongly held beliefs it might stick around much longer because deeply held values in oneself are often buried so deep they're hard to see; even or perhaps especially when they're easy to see by others!
(Radicalization of the "true believer" kind can be compared somewhat to a drug addiction. Engaging with the drug---like pwning the opposition for likes on facebook or shouting slogans in a protest march---results in short term gratification but it gradually causes long term problems, e.g. loss of family and friends and more importantly the ability to interact with anyone who is not also an addict of the same drug. Frequently there's denial that "there's no problem here" and that "it's everybody else who has a problem if there's a problem---I can stop at any time". It's the lack of perspective that causes this. The true believer has only one perspective because he insists there can be one and only one perspective.)
Team sports requires an internal (intra team) dance to work well. A team of skilled individualists is a disaster because it's not a team but a collection of showboaters. Optimizing individual players might not work as well as optimizing for who plays well together. Again, there are life lessons here. There are people on teams who might not be the best at anything (striking, defending, goal keeping, dribbling, ...) but are crucial because they're the "engineer" who gets all the other parts of the team machine working together. Having grown up with solo sports (swimming, running, lifting), I did not recognize this aspect of sports until I started playing hockey and then I thoroughly enjoyed it because it was an whole new concept to "doing sports".
(Likewise, war has gone from bands of heroes randomly engaging with spears and swords in single combat mayhem... to Roman turtle formations ... to the highly information dense coordination of modern warfare where everyone on the battlefield is hooked electronically up to everyone. If you want to watch "flow", check out how a military or SWAT entry team clears a room. There's really nothing that doesn't flow there.)
I played in a league. Usually in the earlier rounds we'd go easy on the new skaters. If a noob momentarily lost puck control in a non crucial moment we wouldn't go in and "own" them but rather hang back a bit to let them regain control and then pressure them just slightly above their skill level. Being nice made them come back and play again and they quickly became better. It created a good team-vs-team (inter-team) culture. However, getting closer to the finals when there was a glorious t-shirt on the line for the winning team, nobody went easy on anyone anymore and a few players (not all, not even the majority) even turned into fucking animals cross checking and starting fights (this was a physical no-check league). This goes to show that changing the stakes even for something as irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as a t-shirt can cause behavioral regression.
Just like individuals can "dance" with swords, teams can dance in exhibition matches. At that level, a courtroom drama also becomes an exhibition as far as the rest of society goes. The players are going through a choreographed motion to perform the ritual of "justice". It's important to frame the verdict so it appears fair not only to the contesting parties but also to the legal system on the whole. Insofar the prosecutor doesn't interact well with the position of the defense, people will stop believing in the system as a whole.
There is---I think by construction---a lot of interaction on the social media that is unnecessarily combative
. (And one can indeed spot combative people from a mile away.) Some passionately dying on hills that most other people really don't care or even know about. In most cases (other than mine of course
) I believe these "social casualties" are needless. One of the questions I ask myself before responding and before hitting send is whether I'm being combative or tried to instigate or trigger someone? I also ask myself based on having possible danced with someone in the past whether I'm likely to move them in any way. Likewise, if I see someone trying to needle or trigger me to engage in combat, I'll simply circle or bend away and maintain the same distance. I'll let them punch holes in the air. Maybe they'll get tired. There's some recognition that I will have to live with them in the future, so I try to avoid destroying anyone. Very few are beyond redemption but they usually have to come about it on their own. I do not always succeed but this kind of dancing is the overall strategy.
In very many cases---on very many hills---it's a win-lose or a lose-lose proposition to engage. That is direct confrontation is a net loss proposition for most controversial issues
---especially when there's a risk of third-party collateral damage. For me it's not really a question of "never backing down" because I've seen where that attitude ends (insert war metaphors) but whether a particular hill is worth fighting and dying on or whether it's better to control the hill in better or more subtle ways. For example, I can engage someone from the index investor cult all day long and sometimes it's tempting. Yet what's the point when we're both free to invest however we want? Instead I can focus my energy on making people better investors and at some point some will realize that investing is not about being for or against indexing (combat) but rather that indexing is part of investing (dance).
TL;DR - It's all about perspectives and it's usually the wrong perspective (e.g. seeing every challenge as win-lose single combat) that causes social ruin rather than the wrong ideology.