Typically the most athletic activity that occurs at a business networking event is the aggressive swapping of business cards.

Not so on Thursday when those attending the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce Women in Business meeting will learn valuable self-defense skills.

The event will be at the Ahwatukee Foothills YMCA, and the featured presenter will be Rick Savagian, president and chief instructor at Mountainside Martial Arts Center.

“We will teach women how to spit, scratch, punch and kick,” Savagian said. “People always cringe when I say spit, but after you spit the person has to wipe their eyes. It’s about using your assets against your opponent’s weaknesses.”

Savagian also will stress repetition so that women will be able to punch or kick instinctively.

“Ideally you want to learn certain techniques, but in reality you have to do things over and over again to do them well,” he said. “The big thing we’re going to ask the ladies to do is practice 10 punches and 10 kicks every day.”

Stephanie Fierro, chairwoman of the chamber’s Women in Business committee, said the group is modifying its traditional luncheon networking format.

“As a committee we’ve been trying to find new ways to host networking events and still provide educational information for the attendees, while making it fun as well,” Fierro said. “We are adding lifestyle elements to create more of a free-flow networking environment.”

The Women in Business committee is averaging about 40 people at its meetings, but Fierro said she hopes for a larger turnout at the self-defense event. The price for admission – $35 – will benefit the YMCA’s “Strong Kids, Strong Families Campaign” and the Women in Business Scholarship Fund.

According to Savagian, women learning self defense is a growing trend that he has noticed in his classes over the past few years.

“In our adult classes, we now have more women than men,” Savagian said. “That is a huge change, and shows that women are becoming more conscious of their surroundings. Knowing self defense is like having a security blanket.”

Members and non-members are welcome to attend. The event will be at the Ahwatukee Foothills YMCA, 1030 E. Liberty Lane, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. Register at www.ahwatukeechamber.com or call (480) 753-7676.

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