"You don't want no smoke!"
On the contrary, I am convinced that learning new skills and moves can save our lives, which is why I joined about 20 women of all ages for a 90-minute class on Krav Maga with an athletic, energetic, and knowledgeable instructor, who had us start with push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, as well as dropping to the ground and getting up quickly ready to defend ourselves.
The gym was spacious but warm, even though both doors were open for ventilation. In one corner of the gym, there were a few exercise machines, but the practice mat took up most of the space. The energy in the room was contagious. The women bounced and pranced around like Rocky Balboa. They laughed and joked that they were ready to kick butt.
The instructor introduced himself, after which he dove straight into his pep talk.
“The number one thing you do to protect yourself is to be vocal and tell the assailant to back off while being in ready position both hands up with fingers closed tightly to protect your face,” he told us.
“Back off! You don’t want no smoke,” the instructor had us all shout at the top of our lungs, as if in the middle of a life-threatening situation.
I tried to process the funny expression that we hollered out. I also noticed that one woman with pretty silver hair screamed “You don’t want no smoke,” as if her life depended on it. I imagined the satisfaction that she would get from beating up her assailant.
However, being the language geek that I am, I cringed at the double negatives and doubted that I would say that in a fight. But then who cared about grammar when one wrong move could make the difference between life and death?
The second thing that our nimble instructor taught us was how to apply the right punches to the vulnerable areas of one’s body, starting with the nose, the groin area, which he referred to as “their kids,” the head, and the back of the neck.
I loved the fact that I learned five practical moves that I could use if attacked while running, or in any other situation. The moves were two hammer fists to the nose, a kick to the groin, two knee kicks to the head, and two final fists to the neck area. Simple, right?
All these moves are designed to bring an attacker to a painful stop. This takes us to the third move, which I know how to do best: running to get away from the situation and back to safety.
At the end of the class, I chatted with a few ladies and the instructor and told them about my black belt in Taekwondo, as well as asked for the translation of “you don’t want no smoke,” which means you don’t want to get beaten up, or I will destroy you.
“I will destroy you!” I repeated with satisfaction, realizing that even in a dangerous situation I could be grammatically correct — avoiding the double negatives but not the double punches.
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