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- Choice. In each type of combat, the combatants have a choice of whether or not to enter into combat. In competition, both opponents voluntarily enter into combat and each may withdraw from the competition at any time. Initially, in a fight, both combatants voluntarily enter into combat, since both have the option of leaving without fighting. However, when one combatant wants to leave but is not allowed to leave, then he or she must either fight back or face injury or possibly death. In self-defense, the attacker chooses to attack the victim and, like it or not, the victim has no choice must defend and fight back or face serious injury or death. In warfare, each side may or may not have a choice as to whether or not to enter into war; circumstances sometimes make war inevitable.
- Rules. Each type of combat has rules. Competition has written rules that are completely understood by each opponent and are enforced by a third person. Fighting has no written rules, but, depending on the culture of the combatants, there are unwritten rules, which may or may not be completely understood by both combatants and which may not be adhered to by both combatants. These rules may be enforced by bystanders who believe the combatants should adhere to the rules. Self-defense has no rules except for some limitations placed upon it by law. The law does not matter to an attacker, and it will probably not be considered by an untrained defender, maybe not even by a trained defender, while in the heat of battle. In warfare, there are the rules of war set forth by the Geneva Convention, but abiding by the rules is voluntary.