For men, there is an implicit "code of conduct" in combat; a "code of combat".
Male passions describes the common thread of self-control which men share. Part of that self-control appears to be present in combat escalation.
Imagine two men in conflict. It is perfectly understandable and reasonable (to men) for their conflict to progress in a specific pattern. A man who imagines themselves as "in the right" can respond with an escalation by one step and still be "in the right".
A rough idea would be:
- A misunderstanding, grudge, or some other "trigger".
- Body language
- Angry words, body language threats
- Threats with credentials - describing experience/skill
- Contact, shoving
- Hitting hard, blood, ground wrestling
- Weapon threats, skill threats
- Hitting with skill
- Weapons with blood
- Weapons with wounds
- Crippling, permanent damage
Note that "holding a grudge" maintains a permanent entry step of aggression between two men.
If a pattern much like the above is followed, no other man will interfere. In fact, it would be unsurprising if impartial observers prevented others from interfering.
Only one step is necessary or required. One step in escalation is moral. More than one step is immoral. The rules apply to single combatants, and team fights are immoral. "This is his fight, leave him to it" is an actual frame of mind. A man who gets help doesn't win the fight.
Not only is it moral to escalate in this pattern, it isn't usually considered or enforced as illegal until a credible threat of injury exists. A weapon brings the law in.
De-escalation also has a specific pattern. De-escalation one step at a time, especially at the earlier points, is reasonable.
Attempted de-escalation by multiple steps at the earlier points may actually force escalation. The psychology of aggression in men is such that moral high ground and the rewards of success are important to the engagement. One opponent attempting to exit without submission will deny the psychological fulfillment of the other.
The psychology isn't just with the individuals, but with their perception of themselves in the eyes of the viewers. Encouragement and consequences may not even come into consideration. The presence of absence of friends may or may not matter.
If the moral high ground of both is maintained in their minds, the conflict is guaranteed to escalate to physical violence. Usually this escalation only goes to a little bit of hitting and stand-up wrestling until others step in to "break it up", allowing both to separate and retain their pride.
The break up gives each opponent one or more "partners" who separated them. Often the separation of the opponents only drops to threats, and their separation-partners play as surrogate opponents to de-escalate them while themselves being excused from the pride requiring escalation.
Surrender to some degree is the only acceptable form of de-escalation at later points. At later points this may require one of the combatants putting up a fight and quite literally getting their ass kicked to wear the fight out of the other and sate their pride.
There are also queues for a "tie". For physical violence, the body language of "We're evenly matched", "I'm tired, you're tired", "Why were we mad again?" etc will often stop a conflict. In some cases it will encourage a sort of comradery. There is also a male romanticization where the two would grow a bond of friendship. Yes, men are weird like that.
Probably the best de-escalater is comedy. If one can get the other to laugh, they may drop a lot of their need for pride.