When not training competitors for world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournaments, instructor Pedro Arrigoni is taking time between classes to give a hand in saving local San Francisco law enforcement.
Arrigoni, a purple belt in BJJ, recently had a chance to share his heroic encounter with Pete Sumulong and Cameron Chow on Punch Drunk Radio, heard live on the MMA DieHards Radio Network on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 PT).
If it sounds like no big deal, then that is because it wasn’t to Arrigoni.
“I was finished with (teaching) the class,” Arrigoni told the show. “I saw a struggle going on outside and this young male was punching a cop.”
On the day of April 13, a 23-year-old man was approached by officers during a routine fare inspection on a San Francisco transit bus route. Fortunately, the bus happened to stop in front of AB Mixed Martial Arts Academy at 2975 San Bruno Ave.
“They were wrestling on the floor,” Arrigoni said of the alleged assailant and the law enforcement officer. “I got behind him, I controlled him. I got him in a neck choke, made him let go and controlled the situation.”
Picturing a random individual aggressive enough to attack an officer, the question on the mind of Sumulong was if Arrigoni was afraid that the attacker may have been armed with a gun or some other weapon. What was on Arrigoni’s mind while he saw the attack taking place?
“I have a friend that trains with me, he is a cop and he works in the area,” described Arrigoni. “When I saw the cop getting hit, the first thing that came to my mind (was) that it could be my friend, so I went outside to check it out.
“I saw there was no gun because the guy was punching, so I was going to go behind him and take his neck, controlling the situation with a choke hold.”
Chow asked Arrigoni to elaborate on what extent he used the choke hold to control the situation, trying to figure out if Arrigoni actually choked the attacker unconscious.
“He was resisting, I got his neck and started to put pressure on it,” Arrigoni recalled. “When he realized he was passing out, I was (yelling) ‘Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!’ When there was no resistance, I switched control to his wrists and his neck until the cop had time to get up and put his hand cuffs on him.”
Arrigoni is in a class of citizens that most will not have the glory of reaching. To be able to intervene during an altercation involving police takes an extreme amount of composure and confidence in your ability to assist and not cause more harm.
Recently, Jon Jones had the honor of making news headlines for helping someone in the community, when the soon-to-be UFC light heavyweight champion subdued an alleged thief just hours before his title-winning fight at UFC 128.
Arrigoni stated to Chow, “I don’t consider training Brazilian jiu-jitsu only a martial art, but it is more a lifestyle because you cannot just go to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class and expect you are going to take all of the benefits from it. You have to improve yourself as a human being, (then) the jiu-jitsu will come together.”
All this is what adds up to Arrigoni saying, “I feel confident with my skills and training.”
The response from the community toward Arrigoni and AB Mixed Martial Arts Academy has been positive for them both economically and with kudos. The San Francisco Police force has showed its appreciation, says Arrigoni.
“More than 10 cops have come by the academy and are interested in taking lessons,” he said. “Even the guy that I helped out, he came to the classes and I explained why I was confident to do what I did and why he should take jiu-jitsu classes. All police officers should take Brazilian jiu-jitsu to help with control.”
While this overnight recognition of Arrigoni’s bravery may have appeared to be of a heroic manner, Arrigoni claims otherwise. When asked if he considers himself a hero, the humble BJJ instructor was quick to deflect credit.
“No, not at all, not at all, not at all,” he said. “I am a guy with the confidence to calm the situation and control it. I was there and just did it.”
A video displaying this act of bravery can been seen here.