Training BJJ Helped in a Sad and Strange Incident

Recently my gal and I had some time to kill before catching a movie so we headed to a nearby café here in LA. While we sipped coffee on the patio of off Ventura Boulevard a sedan crashed into the back of an SUV right in front of us. The sedan’s airbag immediately deployed and smoke spilled out from the engine block as it stood suddenly still on the busy boulevard. The SUV managed to park farther down relatively unharmed from the accident.

We could see the driver of the sedan screaming in obvious pain and panic. I sprang to my feet and ran out into traffic to help him while my fiancé called 911. He threw open the driver side door and jumped out as I approached him. I thought maybe he was having some wild adrenaline surge.

“Take it easy, it’s going to be fine,” I tell him.

Disoriented and possibly in shock, he slumps down to his knees smack in the middle of oncoming traffic.

“C’mon, let’s get out of the street, friend. The sidewalk’s right over there,” I plead as I look over my shoulder. Thankfully, cars have stopped for us.

Worse case scenario, maybe I can try to help carry him I hope. I go to reach for him. He screams and lunges up toward me like some ravenous animal. I catch him at the shoulders, sprawl a bit and manage to pivot away from the wild attack. His eyes are frantic and he snarls. He’s stoned out of his fucking mind on meth or something. I back away. “Holy shit,” I’m thinking to myself, “I might have a fight on my hands with a lunatic.”

Instead, he runs toward the sidewalk screaming about his eye. I chase him, unsure of what to do, but worried he might attack someone else including my gal. He falls to his knees and begins to punch the sidewalk as hard as possible – bone cracking thuds over and over again. I’m certain he shatters his hand if not his entire arm. He screams about his eye again and digs a finger into his socket. I’m not at all sure what do to at this point. Should I restrain him? No clue. I’m scared. I decide that I’ll only try to engage him if he attacks someone.

He gets up and wanders back into traffic like some crazed zombie. I follow him from a distance wary of oncoming traffic and passersby. I also notice more smoke gushing out from the hood of his still running car. I run over to the baristas watching the spectacle and beg for a fire extinguisher. They just shrug and shake their heads. It’s like I’m speaking gibberish. I ask one of the baristas to follow me so that I can try to turn the car off. He agrees. We run back into traffic. While the crazed man has his back turned toward us I open the passenger door, lunge toward the ignition and turn it off. We hurry back to the sidewalk to finally see two ambulances pull up from opposite sides of the boulevard.

Apprehensive, the EMTs stay put and don’t rush out. The dude, still high as a kite, rushes toward one of the ambulances, screams about his eye again and presses his face against the impossibly bright headlight. He digs at his eye socket once again. Finally, the EMTs step out and slowly approach him. Exhausted, I step away.

Here’s the horrible kicker: according to, at least, three witnesses, the man pulled out his own eye before the paramedics could contain him. Apparently, it’s something people high on PCP do? I don’t know. The rapper Houston did something similar a few years ago. I had already stepped away to recount the details to a police officer on the scene and didn’t witness the grisly spectacle.

I realize as I get older that the benefits of training BJJ are not always just some potential ability to ‘KICK ASS!’ In fact, that’s often just a sensational and somewhat silly motivation to train in any combat sport. However, training for 5+ years of training BJJ (and roughly 2 years of getting boxed in the face) did allow me to stay reasonably calm and alert in the strange and sad incident. I truly believe that training a combat sport allows one to develop a certain amount of composure during conflicts and altercations. Like most of you, I certainly don’t think I’m some badass at all because I train BJJ. Far from it. I just know that I have a better chance in such hairy situations. That knowledge provides a refuge of confidence I can sometimes draw from when necessary (I’m also deathly afraid of being a coward in a crisis which I’m sure has some weird Freudian implications).

We did, in fact, finally make it to our movie in time. Of course, someone pulled the fire alarm right before the show ended forcing everyone to evacuate the theatre. Of course.

© 2018 Gable Gripes All Rights Reserved


Leave a Reply