On Wednesday night, BJJ brown belt Abreu Campos was at his girlfriend’s apartment. His girlfriend went outside to walk the dog, but immediately came back in when she saw someone trying to force their way into her neighbor’s car. In a phone call with the Jiu-Jitsu Times, Campos, who’s affiliated under Tony Passos and trains at Ground Strike in Alabama, said that he stepped outside to check on the situation and saw that the man had abandoned his efforts on the car and was now walking down the street.
“I got mad,” said Campos. “Last week, I’d noticed that the handle of my car was damaged, like someone had tried to force their way in. So I followed him a little bit.”
Down the street, the man tried to get into another neighbor’s car. He succeeded in getting into the passenger’s side, and Campos said the man seemed to be fiddling with something under the steering wheel — Campos believes he was looking to tamper with the wires of the car. It was then that Campos made his move.
“I opened the car door and grabbed him in a cross choke [from the back],” he recounts. “The moment I took his back, he tried to face me, and I noticed him reach for his hip. So I held the choke with one hand and grabbed his hand with my other hand.”
Campos says that, sure enough, the would-be carjacker had a knife at his hip, which Campos managed to remove and toss aside. From there, he started dragging the man out of the car, which he says he didn’t do at first to keep the man in an enclosed space and establish control while giving the carjacker fewer opportunities to potentially use a weapon. At this point, Campos’ girlfriend had come down the street after becoming concerned over his absence.
“She started screaming my name, and I told her to call the police,” says Campos. “After she called the police, I asked her to take a video. It’s dark, but what’s happening is I have a knee on his back and am applying the choke with his sweatshirt. When he struggled, I’d apply the choke for a few seconds, then let go. I didn’t want to overdo it and hurt him or accidentally kill him. Just enough to control him.”
Campos managed to control the man until the cops arrived and took him away. He says with a laugh that the cops’ reaction was a mixture of “Good police work,” and “Don’t do that again.”
“They told me that it was a risk following him (which I know), but that I did a good job and made things easier for them,” he says.
Campos says that this isn’t the first time that his experience with jiu-jitsu (which spans about twenty years) and his interactions with law enforcement have been combined. “I work with the sheriff’s department,” he says. “Some members of the SWAT team come and train with me sometimes. I showed them the video so they could see the impact that jiu-jitsu can have on law enforcement. It gives the police the knowledge to deal with situations like that. They said, ‘If we were in that situation and he had reached for his knife, we might’ve had to shoot him.’ But if you’re trained in jiu-jitsu, you can maybe control the person using just their sweatshirt.”
While we always encourage even experienced jiu-jitsu practitioners to avoid physical altercations whenever possible, Campos’ story is further evidence of how jiu-jitsu can help law enforcement officials control suspects to keep everyone involved as safe as possible.
As Campos says, the video below is very dark, but it shows the part of the altercation that his girlfriend filmed. Take a look: