The reason why it's repeated as a story is because it's so unusual that it virtually never happens.
Is it possible to face someone down with chutzpah and "being there in the moment"? Sure - but it has nothing to do with conditioning in the body - of which they have none. If it did, then monks with a long history of breath training would regularly have faced down the fighters who killed them - but historically that is just not the case.
Curious, so, from a pure evolution and natural selection perspective ... how have pacifists survived?