KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A suspected robber tried to hold up a man in Midtown, only to end up being pinned down to the ground by his would-be victim, who happened to be a Judo champion.
Josh Henges has practiced Judo for as long as he can remember, and he found success in it over the years.
“I’ve gotten to travel around the country and the world competing and training and doing seminars,” the 36-year-old said.
A former member of the USA Judo team, Henges last competed about five years. However, the instincts he learned from the sport kicked in Monday night when someone tried to rob him.
“He came from behind and grabbed my shoulder, and in Judo when someone grabs your shoulder, there’s just a muscle memory in the way you move,” he said.
Henges was walking home from a gas station near 41st and Warwick when he felt something push into his back. He turned to see a gun pointed directly at him.
“I just kind of reacted,” he recalled.
Henges’ martial arts skills quickly kicked in, and he managed to get the suspect to the ground, where he called police hands-free using the AirPods in his ear.
“One of the good things about Judo is that you can hold someone down and not permanently hurt them,” he said.
Henges said as he held the 20-year-old suspect to the ground, he also wanted to know why the young man would try to rob someone.
“I’ve worked with transition-aged youth for a long time, worked with homeless folks my entire career, so I wanted to see what led him to this,” he recalled noting his experience with at-risk situations.
The Kansas City native said the suspect shared that he was having trouble at home, but that he was remorseful.
“People have to own their behavior, but there’s also a reason they behave a certain way,” he said. “To me, real justice is a changed heart and a changed heart changes behavior.”
Henges said the incident should not define who the suspect and, like Judo, which means “gentle way,” he believes everyone could be a little less rigid.
“If I can forgive this kid, I hope anyone can forgive this kid,” he said. “He’s going to own it, and when he does, let’s find a way to make the most of his life.”
The suspect was charge with one count of attempted robbery. Police later learned the weapon was a BB gun.