Tyrone Jermaine Hogan, of Los Angeles, held his ribs Sunday and winced in pain as TV news crews recorded his arrest.
"The boys are punching him in the face and I wanted to go around for a choke, to choke him out, but I didn't want to risk getting punched in the head, so I started pounding him from the back," said Christina Baldacci, a Florida International University judo club member.
The judo club members weren't Hogan's first alleged victims.
At 1:30 p.m., Hogan allegedly carjacked a couple, punching the driver in the face, pulling him out of his Nissan and driving away with his wife in the passenger seat, said police Sgt. Karlene Gibson.
Hogan allegedly tried to steal the woman's purse. Failing, he shoved the woman out of the car. Witnesses followed him but lost sight of him.
Hogan reappeared about six blocks away at a Hollywood gas station, and that's where he made the mistake that ended his crime spree.
"He walks towards me and starts asking me for money," instructor Nestor Bustillo told KCBS-TV. "And we get into a little bit of a struggle then he eventually winds up … trying to take our car."
Big mistake, said Bustillo's wife Bebe.
"He was aggressive and when he came up to my husband's face I said 'Oh my god,' I knew something was going to go down," she said. "I know him, and...just don't get up in my husband's face."
The athletes, who were in town to teach a self-defense class, had taken a tour of Hollywood just before stopping for gas on their way to Los Angeles International Airport to return home.
One of the student athletes told police Hogan began harassing another couple before fixing on the minivan rented by the judo experts.
During the scuffle that broke out between Hogan and a half-dozen team members, the nozzle of a gasoline pump broke off, making the situation dangerous, Bustillo said.
"We were wrestling around, there was gas pumping out and we were trying to subdue this guy," he said.
Hogan was arrested for investigation of felony carjacking, kidnapping and robbery, said Sgt. Allen Hamilton. He was held in lieu of $1.2 million bail.
Some of the judo club members who were doused with gasoline during the scuffle took showers at the LAPD's Hollywood station before the club caught a flight to Miami.