This stumbles onto a point of misconception about physical confrontation that is misunderstood. When you engage in a situation where it has come time for use of force: you must start off at 100%, pedal to the metal intention.
Once you feel you have the situation at hand, you can back off. This is directly opposite to what we are taught to believe: start low and escalate accordingly.
The confusion, which you pointed out so well, comes from dealing with social conflict. Settling arguments are best handled in the low and slow manner. But once they go from verbal, it is the exact opposite.
Why? The following applies to combat between individuals. platoons and battalions. The best time to take advantage it in the beginning of the conflict. It’s no secret that usually the one who moves first wins. Once the advantage has been gained (the individual cowers, the troops retreat) your target is MUCH MORE VULNERABLE. On the retreat is when the most damage is done. It is at this point that you choose to let them go or press the attack.
Trying to escalate force in physical conflict will leave you at an extreme disadvantage. Deciding if someone is using lethal force during and attack is ridiculous, let a lone impossible. You must assume that they intend on killing you if they are willing to put their hands on you. You don’t know if that punch is a stab or it’s a multiple attacker situation, where they are distracting you so their friend can get the drop on you.
It’s only AFTER the situation is under control that you have the luxury of backing off.
TACTICS ALWAYS COME FIRST.