Twitter has had many big wins since blowing up over the last couple years. The site has been instrumental in connecting famous people with the general public, which has been both good and bad.

Several athletes have gotten in trouble for sending questionable tweets, including notable MMA fighters Miguel Torres and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. However, on one recent occasion, a highly-respected member of the MMA community had a run-in with some undesirables, and it was a big win for Twitter.

On Sept. 7, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Master and retired professional fighter Renzo Gracie live-tweeted an attempted mugging near West 22nd St. and 10th Ave. in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, N.Y. And, the twist on this one? He was the “victim” and updated the Twitter-sphere as the event unfolded.

The mugging didn’t go down very smoothly for the assailants, according to Gracie’s account. Using his natural instincts from growing up on the rough streets of Brazil, he basically knew what was going on before anything went down.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. local time, Gracie tweeted that a couple guys were following him. Over the course of the next hour and a half, he explained, live over Twitter, the attempted mugging and the resultant beatdown that both muggers received. Basically, one of the guys tried to reach into his pocket to grab his wallet. He sent that guy a nicely packaged left-right combination, dropping him to the ground. While on the ground, he repeatedly kicked him in the ribs. The other guy took off, but over an hour later, Gracie spotted him attempting to return to the scene. He choked that guy out, and gave him a nice parting gift to the tune of a couple black raccoon eyes.

It can probably be assumed that the muggers spotted a man walking alone on the street late at night and thought they could snag his wallet. Well, these guys had no idea how bad this choice was.

A member of the world-famous Gracie family and sixth-degree black belt in BJJ, Renzo is one of the most well respected trainers of all time. He has trained some of the greatest MMA champions, including Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar, who are both considered top-ten pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Renzo himself has a professional MMA record of 13-7-1-1 and has earned two gold medals at the most respected grappling tournament in the world, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championship.

Note to muggers, just because a guy is 5-foot-10, weighs less than 200 pounds, and looks like a nice guy, doesn’t mean he can’t throw a serious beatdown on a group of losers.

While Gracie’s actions were incredibly brave and heroic, he was also lucky the events didn’t go another direction.

In self-defense and martial arts classes, students are trained for exactly this type of scenario. Most attacks are not going to happen in the controlled setting of a gym, dojo, studio, or any of the other terms used to describe a training facility. Quite often, attackers are not going to telegraph their attack so blatantly, like Gracie’s attackers did. The most dangerous aspect of an attack is not always the original hand-to-hand exchange, but the follow-up when an attacker may pull a gun, knife, bat or any other weapon, especially when they realize they’re not going to win a fistfight.

Most people who look at Gracie’s actions and think they would do the same need to remain cautious on the street. Had his second attacker returned to the scene with a weapon or additional attackers, it probably would have been beneficial if he had alerted authorities after the original attack.

It is very difficult for a proud martial artist to feel the need for help in light of an attack from a seemingly lesser opponent. However, we are in a day and age when people will literally shoot other people for no reason, so it’s never a bad idea to get the authorities involved, and it’s certainly not a sign of weakness.

In no way are Gracie’s actions considered unacceptable, but most people walking the street don’t have a fraction of his ability or credentials. In the case of an attack, the average citizen is strongly advised to do everything possible to get out of the situation quickly and alert the police. It will never hurt to have backup in case of retaliatory attacks.

Renzo was already a world-renowned superstar in the MMA and BJJ communities, but his recent run-in with a couple of lowlifes elevated him to superhero status. The new “Batman” of martial arts did a heck of a job taking care of himself in light of adversity, and Twitter won big with his live-tweeting of the incident.

The average citizen, even those with martial arts training, needs to look at Gracie’s actions as proof that the techniques they are training for actually work, but people also need to keep it in perspective. The average pedestrian is not a Gracie, and while Renzo’s actions were heroic, it’s never a bad idea to get authorities involved when attacked on the street.

Photo: Renzo Gracie (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator