Martial arts skill trumps gun in Newton road rage conflict

A road-rage rumble that erupted along a quiet Newton street Thursday afternoon pitted one driver carrying a sawed-off handgun against another armed with his championship martial-arts skills.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ­expert prevailed.

He put the other driver in a chokehold, landed a couple of strikes to his head, and wrestled the gun away, all before the police arrived, according to court documents.


Police later arrested Byung Jin Kang, a 21-year-old college student from Newton, who is accused of pulling out the ­revolver and threatening the Jiu-Jitsu-trained driver.

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Kang pleaded not guilty Friday to assault and gun charges. He was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail at his arraignment in Newton District Court. Kang took out the gun in self-defense, said Alice Purple, his lawyer. Kang plans to file assault charges against the other driver, she said.

“He was afraid,” Purple said.

The judge withheld the name of the other driver, ­described in a Newton police report as the co-owner of a mixed-martial arts school. The two did not know each other, police said. The driver declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.

The confrontation began around 3:40 p.m. when the martial arts instructor made a right turn and pulled out in front of Kang’s car on Dedham Street, according to the police report. He told police that a snow bank blocked his view.


Kang blew his horn, flashed his lights, and continued to follow the driver, the report said.

They pulled over onto a residential side street and got out of their cars.

According to the martial arts instructor, Kang pointed the gun at him and said, “Do you want to go?” He tried to calm Kang down and told him “to put the gun away because he had a wife, and kids and didn’t want to be shot,” the police ­report states.

The martial arts instructor persuaded Kang to put his gun in his pocket, the report said. Then he charged Kang, pushed him to the ground, and wrapped his arm around his head.

When Kang struggled, the martial arts instructor struck him in the head and grabbed the gun, the report said.


Kang left the gun there, got in his car, and drove away, accord­ing to the report. He was stopped by police nearby.

Kang faces one charge of ­assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a firearm without a license, and illegal possession of ammunition.

“This was a very dangerous assault on a stranger,” said ­Alexandra Watson, a lawyer with the Middlesex district ­attorney’s office.

Purple declined to comment on how Kang allegedly got his gun. MassBay Community College, where Kang is a student, is awaiting a report from the Newton Police Department ­before making a decision on Kang’s enrollment status, said Jeremy Solomon, a school spokesman.

“A violation of state or federal laws is subject to disciplinary action under the student code of conduct, up to and including expulsion from the college,” ­Solomon said in an e-mail.

While this case ended without any serious injuries, Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker of the Newton police warned people against charging toward anybody armed with a gun.

Instead, get a good description of the assailant and call the police, Apotheker said, unless your life is in immediate danger.

“Don’t try to be a hero,” Apotheker said. “Don’t try to do something stupid.”

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@ Follow her on
Twitter @fernandesglobe.