Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Uses Martial Arts Skills To Subdue Man Who Punched An Uptown 7-Eleven Employee

UPTOWN — A North Side jiu-jitsu instructor who went viral after stopping a teenager from breaking into his car in 2019 made headlines again when he stopped someone from attacking a supermarket employee last week and streamed the episodes on Facebook Live.

Idriz Redzovic, a third-degree black belt who teaches jiu-jitsu, has practiced the martial art for more than 20 years. He was taking two of his children to Slurpees’ at 7-Eleven, 1532 W. Lawrence Ave. on the night of June 23 when he overheard a woman complaining that a man was harassing her outside the store, he said .

The 30-year-old man ended up arguing with and punching a 19-year-old 7-Eleven employee, police and Redzovic said, prompting the martial artist to restrain the man and pin him to the ground.

Redzovic continued to hold the man while he waited for police, he said. As witnesses began recording the episodes, Redzovic started his own live stream, which lasted nearly 20 minutes.

“I wanted to document what was going on because I wanted my side of the story,” Redzovic said. “I put my phone down and just went to Facebook Live just to get covered and show I never hurt the guy. I wanted a documentary where I would have legal protection if something happened.”

Recognition: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
The 7-Eleven at 1532 W. Lawrence Ave.

The video shows Redzovic repeatedly asking the man to calm down while he struggles and begs to be let go. Redzovic continued to hold the man, asking if he needed water and helping customers trying to exit the store through the back exit after staff locked the front doors, video shows.

“Look, I didn’t want to bother you until I stood there and saw you slap him in the face,” Redzovic said in the video.

Officers arrive about 13 minutes after the footage begins and handcuff the man.

Towards the end of the stream, the police can be heard asking someone, “Do you want him arrested?” and someone off-camera replies, “Yeah, hell yeah.” Redzovic can also be seen asking the officers to to give the man some water.

Police charged the man with misdemeanor, battery and retail theft and said he stole groceries from the store before hitting the worker. The 19-year-old employee who was attacked declined to comment when reached by phone.

Despite appearing calm in the video, Redzovic said his adrenaline levels were high and he hadn’t been able to sleep well since the incident.

“I was nervous about going ahead with the video, but I spoke to some lawyers and they said I’m fine,” Redzovic said. “I also spoke to some older friends of mine who I respect and they told me that there are so many benefits to this video because it shows how to keep calm and how I saved the guy in the video from killing himself to hurt.”

Redzovic said he neglected to turn off the stream while officers questioned him and gave police his contact information while the camera was still rolling. This has resulted in him receiving messages of encouragement, along with threats and people challenging him to fights, he said.

“I forgot I was live. My adrenaline was rising and I was trying to stay calm and collected,” said Redzovic. “If I could go back, I would have done a few things differently… These messages are exhausting. I am a little bit nervous. My mom is scared right now.”

But if he were to face this situation again, he would not hesitate to intervene because of his religion, he said.

“I am Muslim and we have a saying: when you see evil, reach out with your hand and stop it. If you can’t do it with your hand, speak with your tongue,” Redzovic said.

Another employee who worked at the 7-Eleven Thursday said he appreciated Redzovic stepping in to support his colleague.

“The situation could always have been worse and our man here didn’t want it to escalate,” said the employee. “While not everyone has generally done so when faced with the responsibility of defending someone, not everyone will do it. This man has rendered a public service.”

Redzovic was in the news for similar reasons when he stopped an 18-year-old from searching his unlocked car parked outside his Lincoln Square martial arts school in 2019.

In that case, Redzovic used his skills to hold the teenager while he called the police and the teenager’s father. He previously told Block Club he declined to press charges because he felt the teenager made a stupid mistake and he didn’t want to make things worse for him.

Redzovic also wants the man he pinned last week to reevaluate his life, he said.

“I wish him only the best. I mean no harm to him. I want him to know that,” Redzovic said.

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