JFH got REAL when I stopped an attacker at church on 4th of July weekend. This post is NOT about our JFH show or our shared cinematic universe. It's about a very real incident that happened to me and how it relates to my life, JFH, and my view of humanity. I made my first citizen’s arrest at church when a homeless man attacked our prayer group in Hollywood. Here’s a short video of the incident:
My gratitude for Tai Chi, Professor John Machado’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Rener Gracie’s videos on how to deal with real world conflict safely has never been higher. This trifecta of training (Tai Chi’s sensitivity, BJJ’s positions & transitions, and Rener’s practical strategies) helped me make choices to take the least destructive route to restrain a violent person until the police arrived. Until this day, with all my pro fighting training aside, I had never been in a “real fight”. Here, amongst my spiritual community, I felt truly aligned to use my training to protect them, including my mother and my son who were present. My son and I locked eyes many times when I was on the floor, and I knew he knew everything would be okay. This moment has many learnings for me as a human, a martial artist, a spiritual seeker, and as a filmmaker. I’ll share a few now:
Flow vs. Thinking — I grew up around martial arts masters that described real fights as a flow that “just happens”. And that you should train so much that you “don’t need to think”. That’s untrue from my experience. It was my ability to think under pressure that allowed me to keep myself, the homeless man, the people around us, AND the property of the church safe. Strategic thinking should be trained just as much as physical techniques, and both have spiritual implications to explore.
Empathy Over Everything — Movies, shows and comics glorify punching people to solve problems. I didn’t throw a single punch, although the homeless man caught me with an uppercut. After I checked in on my bleeding lip, I decided that there was no purpose in making him feel the same pain. He was already in pain from his past. The only objective was to stop him from fighting. That’s why I chose the rear naked hold. I didn’t even put the “choke” part in the hold because I didn’t want the homeless man to lose consciousness. We just wanted him to be still.
EVERY HUMAN needs some form of self defense training — I’ve always felt like this, but this weekend made my conviction stronger. Real strength is knowing that you are able to step up to the situation in front of you and positively impact it. No one in the room besides my elderly mother and my 8-year-old son were aware of what to do in a moment like this. I had to instruct other members of the prayer group to keep their distance, keep video going, to call the police and more. We as a culture need to have a basic understanding of protocols in violent situations to ensure that we can all work together for the optimal outcome.
The police finally came after 45 minutes of me holding the homeless man in the same position. They were complete gentlemen, and the main officer I spoke with was a fellow BJJ practitioner from the Gracie Baja family. For the most part, I’ve only had excellent interactions with police my entire life. I’ve found them always there to help me. That does not mean that they are not part of a broken system, which they are. The homeless man will be back on the streets by mid-week. I needed to physically go to the police station the day after the incident to file a trespassing order on behalf of my prayer group so the police could arrest the homeless man again on sight in case he returns, but that doesn’t solve or prevent a problem. The world needs fixing and it’s up to us.
This situation reminded me of why I started our show Justice For Hire to envision a new Justice system starting by making every person a hero. In the spirit of Star Trek, I’ll be exploring these ideas and more in JFH as part of ReelwUrld’s first community made show to inspire more conversations and progress. In the meantime, for the sake of yourself, your loved ones, and your community, please train yourself in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi (both). Thank you to my family and all of my teachers that have kept me deepening my education.
Justice For Hire Founder aka Hero #0
DISCLAIMER: JFH Is NOT a vigilante app. It is for collaborative cinematic storytelling purposes.