Chinese professor says he used kung fu on trip to LA to beat off an armed robber wielding a gun

·4-min read

A Chinese professor’s account of using kung fu to beat off an armed robber on the street in Los Angeles has gone viral, in a case reported widely by local news outlets.

Zhou Pigai, from School of Public Administration of Xiangtan University in central Hunan province, reported the attack in which he lost his suitcase but emerged relatively unhurt to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Hunan-based Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported.

State-run Chinese newspaper China Daily cited an investigative report from the LAPD as revealing that Zhou had lost an estimated US$3,130 of personal belongings.

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Zhou later re-enacted the incident with the help of locals in a video, which China Daily reported was originally intended to help with police investigations and for public safety education, but was shared online and trended on Chinese social media.

Zhou did not immediately respond to the South China Morning Post’s request for comment. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed the incident had taken place but did not provide further details.

Zhou was in LA to start a visiting scholarship life at University of Southern California (USC), according to local media reports. On the afternoon of November 1, just hours after Zhou arrived in the city, he was looking for a hotel in an alleyway when a man dressed in black and wearing a black mask pointed a gun at his head, reports said.

Out of an instinct, Zhou lifted his arm to hit the robber’s hand, forcing him to drop the gun, before he kicked the man onto the ground, according to reports.

The professor ultimately lost his suitcase in the attack, but managed to save his computer and emerged relatively unhurt. Photo: Baidu
The professor ultimately lost his suitcase in the attack, but managed to save his computer and emerged relatively unhurt. Photo: Baidu

He soon dragged his suitcase to a main road. But when he was using his mobile phone to check his face for injuries, the robber again approached him with the gun and pointed it at his head.

“I remained calm at that time since I evaluated that the man, who although taller than me and strong, could not win a fight against me,” Zhou was quoted as saying.

By protecting his backpack that contained his laptop and important documents, Zhou pushed his suitcase towards the attacker. The scholar then punched the man‘s face, shoved the man’s head with his elbow and finally jumped up to kick the gun from the attacker’s hand.

“The robber seemed to be frightened. He turned around and ran away with my suitcase,” said Zhou.

Zhou said it was an instinctive reaction and did not recommend that others try to fight off robbers if it compromised their safety. Photo: Baidu
Zhou said it was an instinctive reaction and did not recommend that others try to fight off robbers if it compromised their safety. Photo: Baidu

He said he had thought of chasing the man to get back his case, but gave it up after seeing that his companion was nearby.

Zhou received treatment for the wound on his face before reporting the case to police the next day.

Zhou said compromise is a rational choice when a person is confronted by an armed attacker.

“But if most people compromise, there will be an atmosphere to encourage the crime. So sometimes I will not retreat, thinking that brave people win in a hand-to-hand battle,” he said.

However, he still urged the public not to fight armed robbers because of the danger, Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported.

“I felt scared after the incident,” said Zhou. “Generally speaking, I don’t suggest the public copy my actions. I have learned martial arts before.”

Some of his colleagues in Hunan said although they worked with Zhou for many years, they had no idea he knew kung fu. His students who were excited to see the report said they would learn kung fu from Zhou after he returns from the US.

“Many foreigners think every Chinese person can do martial arts. Now it is even harder to debunk the truth,” wrote one person on Weibo.

Another user said: “Despite that Professor Zhou beat away the attacker this time, I don’t advocate using martial arts to resist guns, because after the gun is fired, all your kung fu is useless.”

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