A jiu-jitsu professor and second-degree black belt stopped a would-be thief rummaging through his car outside of his martial arts studio on Chicago’s North Side, but instead of pressing charges, he decided to use the incident as a teaching moment.
Idriz Redzovic, co-owner of Redzovic Jiu Jitsu, said he noticed someone suspiciously standing near a friend’s car around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 in the 2400 block of West Ainslie Street. The young man was looking into the vehicle, which was parked just feet from Redzovic's studio, but ultimately walked away when he realized the vehicle was locked. Nearby, Redzovic’s car had been left unlocked by mistake.
Moments later, someone alerted Redzovic that the same teenager was in his car and the instructor and another coach quickly ran out of his studio and pulled the suspect from inside.
“I used a jiu-jitsu technique to take him down,” said Redzovic. "When I threw him out the car, I made sure I pinned my knee on his chest and controlled his wrist, so if he had any weapons or tried to hit me, he couldn’t do anything to me."
After patting down the young man, Redzovic said he had to make a decision on what to do next.
“A lot of stuff was going through my head. I was going to smack him and hit him, I was going to record him,” Redzovic said, noting that he quickly changed his mind. “What would have been my intention behind it? To get some cheap likes on Facebook and Instagram? It wouldn’t have been a good image for the kid. I have kids myself and I did some stupid stuff when I was younger. I realized he wasn’t a threat. I could handle this differently.”
Redzovic decided to instead have a conversation with the young man.
“He’s like, 'You could have hurt me, thank you. You could have had a weapon.' He started realizing this could have ended worse,” Redzovic said.
Chicago police confirmed they responded to the scene and were investigating what happened, but Redozvic said he ultimately decided against pressing charges.
“I didn’t want him to have a record if he had to look for a job in the future. He didn’t steal nothing. He didn’t break nothing,” Redzovic said. “Maybe this would have been a wake-up call for him to snap out of it.”
Redzovic hopes to use his story as a teaching moment for others too.
"I wanted to show people that not every situation calls for a punch and a strike," he said. "By learning the gentle art of jiu jitsu you can control somebody and pin somebody and twist them up like a pretzel and not have to damage them. If I had to, I could have escalated the situation even more and applied some damage, but sometimes you got to be compassionate. Sometimes being nice to people, and showing them the world is nice, it might open their eyes to change. It’s not always violence."