‘I knew I had to do something’: Jamaica man uses his jiu jitsu training to diffuse subway kerfuffle

Photo courtesy of Sonia Perry


In January, 32-year-old Jamaica resident Daniel Kouame defused a tense situation between two straphangers on the E train while he was on his way to visit his mother in Astoria.

According to Kouame, a man laid down on a woman’s shoulder on the the subway, and became agitated after being asked to move. Visibly upset, he garnered the attention of the entire subway car. Kouame says he was wearing headphones during most of the exchange, but when other people began to get involved, he knew he needed to act.

Kouame, a senior HR manager for an accounting firm, had been training at the International Training Center of New York, located in Astoria, for four years as part of his pursuit in the art of jiu jitsu. He currently wears a purple belt. Kouame is passionate about jiu jitsu and self defense, but even more so about safety.

Kouame recalled the man becoming increasingly violent to the point where he knocked the woman’s phone from her hand onto the subway floor. As the dispute was escalating, Kouame stepped in to separate the man and the woman in an effort to diffuse the situation and keep everyone safe.

Kouame exited the train with the woman at her stop and walked her home when he noticed the man following her. The man eventually left them alone and everyone made it home safely, Kouame said.

“I knew I had to do something because I would have felt awful if I had let it go on,” the good Samaritan said.

The woman later wrote to the jiu jitsu school, thanking them for training individuals who are able to “foster peace and provide safety” in stressful situations such as the one she had recently found herself in.

“I would hope that anyone else would have done the same thing,” Kouame said.

Kouame values the practice and discipline of self defense, and encourages others to try it too so that you are never without a way to protect yourself. The International Training Center of New York offers beginners classes on basic self defense.

More from Around New York