The ultimate goal of practicing martial arts is to ensure that you get home safely. Most of the time, the absolute best probability you have at guaranteeing your safety is to walk away. In my personal experience, I’ve learned that street fighting usually leads to some sort of time taken off of the mats: Even in self-defense, even when you win, and even in the best-case scenario.
Sometimes, walking away just isn’t possible. Cue the story of 16-year old BJJ Champion Alex Williams, who effectively defended himself against an unidentified attacker in a viral video just over a week ago.
The video begins with Williams sitting on a bench, being grabbed by an attacker. A brief hand fight ensues before the attacker throws a knee causing Williams to blast a double-leg, putting the attacker’s feet straight into the air. The powerful shot causes Williams to hit his head on the cement, but he quickly gets to his feet and stands on top of his opponent. From this point, he had options: take the mount, take the back, start firing away with strikes, etc. But instead, he loads up for a punch and shows great restraint by not following up. Unfortunately, the attacker’s ego couldn’t accept the fact that he was just physically dominated, so he continued to come after Williams. After a brief scramble, Williams secures double unders and uses an outside trip to bring the attacker down and land into side control before the video cuts out.
Williams was rewarded for his encounter with a surprise phone call from BJJ phenom and current ONE Championship fighter Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.
William’s explained the incident, “This 35-year old man, he comes over and tries to intimidate us. He starts trying to assault me and that’s when I had to defend myself. “ Buchecha sang praise in return, “That was something unbelievable, man. I would love to one day train with you, man… You gave him the chance to walk away, but instead of that, he kept coming… You showed such good technique and good control of the situation… Now that I’ve met you, I’m going to keep following your name in the competition, so you have a big fan here already, man.”
It is to Williams’ benefit that the incident was caught on video because it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that an aggressor with a bruised ego, along with physical bruises to match, might try to pursue some sort of legal action, even when they’re in the wrong. Ultimately, it could be the trained fighter acting in self-defense who ends up paying the price.
This is why it’s important to recognize that we all have a responsibility by choosing to be martial artists. Part of that responsibility is to protect the people around us, while also minimizing our damage against untrained opponents whenever possible and/or safe. Our responsibilities extend from ourselves to our teammates, and to our communities. In a post on instagram, Williams’ coach quoted him as saying “Yeah and I’m glad it was me rather than my friend or anyone else who is unable to defend themselves”, a prime example of a martial artist’s ethos.
When a BJJ player beats someone up in the street, the headline from local media is hardly ever going to be, “John Smith Dumps Attacker On His Head”. Instead, you’ll see the martial artist referred to as something like “BJJ Student” or possibly even naming the school where they train. In the Williams incident, a couple of the headlines I’ve seen are “Bully In England Unknowingly Messes With Brazilian Jiu-jitsu World Champion, Learns Unforgettable Lesson” and “16-Year Old BJJ World Champion Defends Himself in Street Altercation”. I can’t write this article without reminding readers that it’s not about you, it’s about who you represent.
Just days after going viral, William’s fought MMA in the feature preliminary bout of Olympus Fighting Championships on September 26, 2021. He received a performance bonus for defeating his opponent by TKO in the final seconds of the final round.
The future is bright for this young man as he’s shown his maturity and competence, while earning some new fans in the process. We’ll be sure to stay updated with news surrounding his upcoming fights.