Feeling strong, being strong

"Strike it Strong" event to teach women self defense

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Two local women are teaming for their first Women Strike it Strong event at the Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club on Sunday, Jan. 21.

The ticketed event will raise funds for the Center for Family Services and will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. It will be led by TJ Miller, head instructor at Ludus Martial Arts Academy in Mount Holly.

When Cherry Hill resident Nancy Lipkin Sipera and Haddonfield resident Cheryl Squadrito met through the National Association of Women Business Owners last year, something clicked. They quickly realized they had the same core values, a similar mindset and a passion for service and marketing. They decided they wanted to create something to help bring people together and give back to the community.

“We wanted something meaningful,” said Squadrito. “We wanted (attendees) to feel confident and empowered.”

Both women have been involved in service projects in the past, including food and clothing drives, but this time, they wanted to do something different. So Lipkin Sipera and Squadrito leveraged their skills and professional relationships and found that many organizations and people were willing to help with their event. The health and racquet club and a martial arts instructor are donating their time.

The women chose to donate event proceeds to Center for Family Services because of the resources it offers women in crisis and because it is based in South Jersey. Though they don’t represent a formal organization, Squadrito and Lipkin Sipera hope to create a nonprofit that will host more women-empowering events in the future.

Lipkin Sipera recalled going through a major personal life change and how during that time, she saw her daughter’s friend begin a self-defense course.

“I was really amazed at the difference I saw in this girl emotionally,” she recalled. “There’s something to be said about feeling strong and being strong.”

Over the course of an hour or so, attendees at the Women Strike it Strong event will learn some self-defense techniques through Jeet Kune Do,” a philosophy from actor Bruce Lee that employs a combination of martial arts. Miller’s style incorporates western boxing; fencing; Filipino martial arts; Thai boxing; and Wing Chun Kung Fu, among others.

Miller described his instruction as “study what you can and take what works for you.” Event participants will also learn more about situational awareness and how to avoid a dangerous scenario. Miller emphasized that people should not expect to become experts at self-defense in a one-time lesson like Women Strike it Strong. It takes practice to become proficient.

“There’s no secret technique that will save your life,” he noted. “That palm strike to the nose can, if you practice.”

Miller believes that learning self-defense is generally empowering because it helps a person know what to do in a situation, but he doesn’t want clients to have a false sense of security.

“I don’t want you to be scared walking down the street,” he explained. ” … The palm strike, that is actually a very effective thing that could help you if you practiced it (and) just hit it regularly.”

But punching, he says, is a skill like trying to ride a bike: Just because you see someone doing so doesn’t mean you’re proficient at it.

“Your body has to get comfortable doing it,” Miller maintains.

Although Lipkin Sipera and Squadrito acknowledge that people may not be masters of self-defense by the end of their event, they are hopeful for what it could become.

“I hope that people walk away feeling stronger,” Lipkin Sipera noted. “I have a young daughter and so does Cheryl, and I’m not saying this class is going to solve everyone’s problems. I think sometimes you need to take a first step, and I think especially for maybe teenage girls and even for adult women, one step can put people in the right direction.”

In addition to martial arts, Women Strike it Strong will feature giveaways and socializing. Its two hosts will also collect suit donations for Career Wardrobe, an organization that provides business attire for people experiencing clothing insecurity in three Pennsylvania counties.

To register for the event, visit http://tinyurl.com/5duayur8.

To learn more about the Center for Family Services, visit https://www.centerffs.org/.

To learn more about martial arts for self defense, visit https://www.ludusmartialarts.com.

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