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'Did You Ever Ask Banno...'
'Question from Fan Reader'

Good afternoon Mr. Lafond, my name is Charles and I just finished Thriving in Bad Places, and I have to say that I loved it. I agree whole-heartedly with many of your observations and will continue to read the material that you print.

Charles, thanks so much for your support. I am thrilled that you read The Logic of Steel as well and am sorry to inform you that Banno is no longer with us.

I am a purple belt in BJJ and I can't tell you how accurate you are about the focus of floor work, which should be "focusing on the ability to take your partner down, deny the takedown, and reverse the takedown to gain your feet again" (Lafond p. 157). I am saddened to see that the sportive nature of BJJ has eroded any inherent efficiency it once had for street self-defense ground work. I think the Gracies themselves are aware of this. As a result of reading this book I have decided to focus more on my boxing versus my BJJ training (although I will never quit it).

Absolutely continue your BJJ training. However, if your goal is survival rather than sport, imagine that the instructor standing over you or a resting bystander at the dojo, is an accomplice of your attacker.

I also loved how you mentioned a focus on grappling against a "vertical surface" (p. 158) as I had quietly noticed how many street fights end up against a wall or the side of a building or a car, yet my sportive BJJ training never addresses this vital aspect of grappling. The McBJJ dojos popping up left and right never address this issue.

The insight about grappling against a vertical floor came from reading a Black Belt Magazine article by Mario Sperry. Consider training BJJ at an MMA club and asking to be trained against the fence.

I apologize for my lengthy intro, now for my question. Did you ever ask Banno about the details of how he deployed the butterfly knife in his self defense encounter? Butterfly knives usually don't have a pants clip, especially in the days of the encounter. Was he carrying it in a sheath? Kydex? leather? tip up? tip down? Was it uncomfortably at the bottom of his pants pocket? I think there is mention that the blade was 5 inches, this would have made the butterfly an very long knife where as they are usually 4.25. How was he carrying it? Did it have a latch? how did he undo the latch single handedly? Spring latches are a relatively recent design in butterfly knives.

Charles, I only owned a butterfly knife because I prevented a guy from drawing it on me and he gifted it to me later in a moment of contrite humility. I never learned how to open it with one hand—never cared, just kept it as a trophy. It was the standard 4.25. Banno's blade was 5 inches, had the wide end resting against the base of his jean pocket, and the pivot point pocking out barely above the hem of the back, right denim pocket. When he demonstrated stabbing the man in front of his children and I, his hand went to the back pocket and a whirl of steel around his hand just off his right hip, preceded a pronated stab. He held the blade in a butted saber grip, and kept his left hand open just in front of his left shoulder, knees slightly bent, right foot shifted back halfway until his heel hit the wall of the concrete stairwell.

Just a few questions about that encounter, if you have no information on it I will understand. Thank you again for an excellent book and will look forward to reading another one.

Yours truly, Charles R.

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

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