Put ‘Em Up (At Whataburger)

I just want all my readers to know that this incident at Whataburger derailed this really nice entry I was writing about telomeres and Randy Couture. What are telomeres, you ask? Well, now you may never find out. Onward though we must trek!

Firstly, this is the infamous video:

So we got a fat guy, named Josh as it turns out. He asked for, and did not receive (presumably), a cheeseburger. We, the audience, may assume that he is unaware of how condemning his ‘yelling for a cheeseburger’ behavior is on so rotund and flamboyantly-dressed a fellow. We may also assume, given how loud he is yelling and the sort of threats he is gratuitously passing out, that this man named Josh knows how to fight. “I will beat you all over those french fries.”

Our second main character, the protagonist, is relatively thin, bearded, and very aware of the rampant situational humor.  At the very least, Joe handily gives off that impression in his official response video.1 And following the Prime Directive of any Austinite worth their salt, he decided to sardonically outwit this Raging Bull. “I already have my cheeseburger, and it’s delicious.”

However every man has his breaking point. As the late Paul Gleason once said, “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.” With those noble words in Josh’s breast, he began his approach to smite the mighty cheeseburger-having Joe for his gratuitous use of wit. And what came of their mighty struggle?

“But Mousie, thou are no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vaine:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

Gang aft agley

An lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!”2

Not much, as it turns out. A sloppy double leg turned into a kind of pull-his-pants-down-ankle-pick which left Josh on his back. Joe pins him using a scarf hold, indicating he is either (a) pretty inexperienced or (b) a judo guy. Josh, as it inevitably happens with the scarf hold, escapes to the back. But being obliteratedly drunk affects one’s ability to make decisions (or so I read). So when TapouT Josh takes Joe’s back, he falls forward off his opponent’s turtle position.

Joe takes top position again, this time wisely avoiding the scarf hold. And actually he jumps right into the end game by sinking in a submission. The Americana does not quite look right though, does it? Observe the lock from about 2:29 to 2:33. It looks almost as though Joe has a grip not on Josh’s wrist, but is instead clasping hands with him. I don’t know. The quality of the video is a little too low to definitively say one way or the other.

Being the nice guy that Joe is (presumably), he chooses to not break Josh’s elbow/shoulder (or whatever weakest link finally yields to the submission)3.  After feeling the release of side mount, Josh decides to continue fighting by throwing punches at his opponent’s hand – the one he had extended in friendship. Some people never learn. Throughout the final skirmish, Josh’s hands are, time and again, in the worst possible positions. Our final shots of the video are of Joe moving like he was about to take Knee-on-Belly.


What to say and where to start??? Firstly, I count this as a success for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are several points at which Joe could have significantly injured his struggling and shit-talking opponent, yet chose not to do so. One is inclined to suspect it was out of the kindness of his own heart; because I assure you, my audience, not everyone would have been so forgiving of so foolish an actor.

Laid out as simply as possible, there are only so many ways two people find themselves arranged while struggling against one another. These positions are arranged on a hierarchy – some are better than others. Understanding this, even on an admittedly cursory level, gave Joe the edge he needed to control the Whataburger Incident. This fact speaks directly to the efficacy of our Art. Not even Josh’s closet full of flamboyantly-colored, $23.95 TapouT shirts could save him.

And as for people who watched the video and came to the conclusion that BJJ Sucks For Self-Defense, I have a few questions. What was Joe supposed to do? He dealt with the situation in the most humane way possible, or very nearly so. Furthermore, through a fair portion of the struggle he had the option to pull the trigger on the submission and immediately end the fight. Am I the only one having trouble conceiving of a metric in which Joe did not come out ahead? Alleging that Joe ‘painted himself into a corner’ is disingenuous, a complete mischaracterization of both the facts at hand and results of the incident.

Alright, I had more written but I don’t think it’s too important to continue beating that long-dead horse.5  Thanks for reading. And for anyone who read the previous paragraph and thinks I completely missed the point, I invite you to comment. Your input would be welcome.


1. He really does give off that sardonic, I’msignificantlymorecleverthanyou vibe on his Official Response Video.

2. “But little Mouse, you are not alone, in proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!” – Robert Burns, “To A Mouse,” 1785

3. Though the Americana is a shoulder submission, there are a few too many variables to know definitively what will or will not break. As a white belt for example, I decided not to tap to an Americana. The submission tore some ligaments in my forearm, and left me unable to extend my arm or move my fingers for about a month. It sounds worse than it really was.

4. A casual perusal of the website seems to suggest that the answer proffered by the author of the article is “Wing-Chun him.” I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

5. Dead since the first UFCs.

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