My Bad $20—A Tribute to Jack Clemons

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Dear Reader, I wrote this piece as a small token of appreciation and as a tribute to our very own recently departed Jack Clemons. Unfortunately, he passed away way too young and way too soon earlier this month. His untimely death has left many of his close friends, family, and others who spent time interacting with him heartbroken. Many are still coming to terms with his absence.

Personally, Jack was more than just a colleague from GAT to me. He was a true friend. Jack was blessed with a deep pool of wisdom, insight, and life experiences. Jack had a special ability that allowed him to draw from his well of wisdom and impart knowledge and guidance to his friends and loved ones. The topic of this piece, the “My Bad $20,” is one of many such nuggets of wisdom that emanated from his mind. The MB20 is part of his streets-smarts legacy.

Self-Defense And Its Different Parts

The topic of personal self-defense is multi-faceted and composed of several different parts. All parts are equally important, but there’s no doubt that some of these topics are more interesting, fun, or glamorous than others. Guns come to mind immediately. For many besides myself, they’re probably also the central locus of attention. You are reading this on a publication dedicated specifically to guns and shooting, after all.

The truth is, however, that the other less-than-sexy aspects of self-defense are equally as important. Maybe more so than the guns. Because I don’t need to convince any readers that avoiding a violent altercation resulting in deadly force and further involvement with the legal system is the goal. By all means, it’s what we all strive to avoid in the first place.

De-escalation

The social aspect of self-defense communication—that is, specifically, talking and dealing with bystanders and potential assailants—is one of these vital aspects that gets overlooked. Unfortunately, it’s not “Instagram-able” like a sub-second draw or five-second FAST Test run. When delving deeper into self-defense communication, it’s hard to avoid one of this subtopic’s most important kernels: de-escalation.

The ability to diffuse and remove conflict from any potential altercation in order to avoid bloodshed or worse can’t be overlooked. It’s more important than the make or model of the defensive gun carried, one’s rank in a martial art, or how much of a badass they are. I cannot stress how important it is to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to avoid any situation from boiling over.

Sun Tzu’s famous ancient tome, The Art Of War, famously highlights the importance of resolving conflict without striking a blow.

This is where Jack Clemons’ “My Bad $20” (MB20 for short) comes into play for the modern citizen self-defense practitioner. 

The MB20 

The MB20 itself refers to a US $20 bill that’s folded in half twice and kept separate from the rest of one’s money, money clips, or wallet. A few years back, Jack recorded a spontaneous video with a humorous bent describing the MB20 as a “small bribe” one could use during nightlife activities to curry favor with a hostess, maitre d’, usher, bouncer, security guard, etc.

Sure, it’s a small bribe or a preliminary tip to get better service, a better seat, a better table, or a parking spot. Even so, in his video, he mentions the MB20 as the key to avoiding a fight or altercation, staying out of jail, and even the ability to ward off felony charges. And this is where the true power of the MB20 lies for the modern self-defense practitioner.

A $20 is not a lot of money, but it’s hard to beat as a gratuity—especially in cash. Whatever $20 is truly worth (you can’t even get a shitty Old Fashioned at any of the casino bars in the Venetian during SHOT), when that $20 bill is contextualized as a chit with an ability to bring down tempers and smooth things over, it’s truly a cheat code. $20 is $20, right?

Developing skills with firearms, blades, combatives, fitness, and even the [smooth] talking parts of self-defense take some time to cultivate and grow. But a $20 bill is a $20 regardless of whose pocket it’s in. That’s why it’s a social cheat code. And it’s a pittance of a sum in order to avoid a truly negative outcome or a ruined evening with those around you.

And sure, if your MB20 helps you land a better table? Go for it!

Life is short.

RIP Jack Clemons 

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