BJJ / Grappling in Self Defence: My cousin Ali 1 - Robber 0

Actually, this could be titled Jiu Jitsu 2 - Idiots 0. I'm sure you're one of the 165,000+ who have seen the recent Ryan Hall video where he controls a very angry and offensive drunk at a restaurant. The man is totally unharmed and ends up apologizing and paying for Ryan's and his friends' dinner. If you've missed it you can check out the interview with the video on the Fightworks Podcast. But that's Ryan Hall. He is an awesome Black Belt and competes for the Marcelo Garcia Team. You expect him to do well.

A few weeks ago, I called my mother to check on her. She told me she was on her way to my aunt's house to check on my cousin Ali. Ali, she told me, had caught a robber in the house and restrained him until the police arrived. This, I thought, I had to go see! Below is a short interview I did with the man of the hour.

Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu work in real life self defence?

Let's start with a short introduction:
My name is Ali, I'm 22 years old and I live in Manchester.

How long have you practiced jiu jitsu?
Haha, I have had 2 private sessions with you. One on mount escapes and one on mount maintenance. That's all.

Cool. I believe you've recently been involved in an incident. Tell us in your own words what happened.
I was at home from uni having a nice afternoon nap. My room is upstairs and no one was supposed to be getting home for a couple of hours so I was very surprised to hear noise coming from the living room. I got up from bed and, still sleepy and not quite with it, I headed for the staircase but when I heard the sound of steps on broken glass I hurried down thinking a family member was home and had fallen or something. I was very surprised to see two strangers standing in our living room. The floor was covered with broken glass from the window they had broken in thru and a glass table they had accidently smashed making their way in. Not the cleverest of robbers.

As soon as they saw methe one nearer the window shouted: "FUCK!" and ran out the same way he came in. The other guy, which I recognised as a local lad, froze in his steps. That's when I lunged at him, tackled him down and held him down. I was still not sure what I was doing, why I was doing it or where I expected any of this to lead. I just saw a robber in my house and I reacted.

He struggled under me and almost got to his feet once or twice and that's when I suddenly remember your advice and mounted him with both hooks under his thighs and kept a wide, low base with my arms. He really panicked here and started to thrash me around but hugging his head, I didn't let him roll me off him. I could hear your voice: "Find a comfortable position where he's using too much energy and you are not!" and I was so happy it all worked. I somehow managed to rach the phone and called 999.

Wow, you held him down AND called the cops?
Yeah, well it gets better! When I managed to call 999, I was still in shock and full of adrenaline. It was a huge head rush. They kept asking me all kinds of weird question and wanted me to give them details of what had happened. I was shouting at them that it WAS STILL HAPPENING! so the operator hung up on me! I decided to wait until I had calmed down a little then called them again, all while still controlling the thief.

Jeez! How long from start until the police arrived?
45 minutes.

45 minutes! How did you manage to hold him down for 45 minutes?
Well we were both getting tired, but he was getting a lot more tired than me and the more we stayed the more confident I felt while he was screaming for air and space. He kept shouting: "Nah man please don't choke me man. Please let me go. Just open the door let me have some fresh air man." I wasn't choking him. I wouldn't know how to. I was just controlling his head like you showed me.

What happened when the police arrived?
He started lying. He claimed I saw him in the street, dragged him and started beating him up. Luckily, the police took our statements and then called in another officer. I didn't know this then but the other officer had been trying to nail this robber for the past 7 years! He was very happy to see him and called me a hero. I'm not a hero, but jiu jitsu really works.

Did either of you get any injuries?
Nothing too serious. A few scratches and bruises from when he was clawing at my face to get me off him and I got cut a little fromt he broken glass but once I had him controlled there wasn't much he could do.

What a story. I hope you have a speedy recovery and I also hope to see you on the mat soon for some more jiu jitsu.
Thanks Liam and thanks for the lessons.

I thank Ali for taking the time to re-tell me his story. I respect his choices but I hope next time he stays upstairs and dials 999 from his room. It is only lucky that, in 2012, they weren’t armed with knives or worse.


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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