Jonathan Lipnicki, best known as the adorable moppet in the 1996 Tom Cruise film “Jerry Maguire,” jumped into action after witnessing an antisemitic attack in Los Angeles.
The former child star, jiu-jitsu black belt and MMA enthusiast and fellow actor and martial artist, Remi Franklin, learned that a group of pro-Palestinian men attacked Jewish diners outside Sushi Fumi restaurant in Los Angeles in May. Writer-activist Tabby Refael tweeted video of the incident, writing as a caption that the attackers drove by, “allegedly yelling ‘F the Jews!’, waving Palestinian flags, throwing bottles, attacking a Jewish customer…and some of the customers fought back.”
Franklin told TMZ that people having actually tried to run over children or shoot them with paint balls and just randomly targeting Orthodox Jews going to and from temple on Saturdays.
In a new video on TMZ, Lipnicki explained that when he and Franklin learned about the prior attack on the restaurant, it prompted them to organize a support system to prevent future incidences from occurring.
“There’s been a lot of antisemitic hate crimes and violence towards Jews,” Lipnicki said, adding that Franklin started the group “to make sure people got home and to the synagogue safely…families, women, children, because everybody should have the right to worship without being discriminated against.”
He continued: “Remi took it upon himself to organize, and we have a lot of friends. A lot of us are martial artists or own martial arts gyms and not all of us are Jewish. It’s just people wanting to help other people.”
Lipnicki also revealed that he has been involved in jiu-jitsu for 14 years and that he just got his black belt last year. “It’s been a huge part of my life; it’s really helped me overcome a lot of different things in my life in different areas, besides obviously, physically,” he said.
Lipnicki told ESPN in 2012 that he began training in jiu-jitsu while in high school and started fighting competitively. Soon after, his entire family became involved.
“My family actually owns an MMA promotion company, so it’s kind of a family deal,” he explained. “It’s called Fight Sports Entertainment and they throw amateur fights in California. Because of that, I’ve given my mom a lot of the fighters to fight in a show. I’m actually training one of my friends right now — he’s fighting a jiu-jitsu guy. So I’m his sparring guy. If it’s someone way better, I won’t be a good sparring partner.”
As far as his career in Hollywood is concerned, Lipnicki still acts and said his jiu-jitsu training actually helps to improve his acting skills.
“My focus is really acting right now, and jiu-jiitsu is a passion of mine,” he said. “I feel like that is what keeps me very level and very concentrated. There’s a certain level of concentration that’s required that makes me a better actor.”
Lipnicki has received a lot of support for his martial arts enthusiasm, including from a certain A-list actor and former on-screen co-star.
“I’ve seen Tom Cruise a few times this year and he’s always been super-supportive of me,” he said. “When he saw me, he said, ‘Wow, you look bigger!’ I told him about the jiu-jitsu, and Tom is one of those people who thinks you need to be a person who learns several sets of skills as an actor. If you look at his films, for instance, there’s always a certain set of skills you need. So he was really stoked on the martial arts part of that.”
Check out the video of Lipnicki at the top.