Last Thursday’s North Central Chamber of Commerce’s August Business After Hours was more than the usual exchange of professional networking. It was an education in the world of Shorin-Ryu Karate, courtesy of fellow NCCC member Al Gagne and a half-dozen who put on different demonstrations during their class at Okinawan Temple that’s located at 200 Pleasant View Avenue in Smithfield.
It was also a night to learn about Tupperware, courtesy of new NCCC member Lori Riccitelli, and about Dan Tessier’s Key PR, a visual communications business that does everything from embroidery to marketing of apparel.
Gagne, though, stole the show.
A Sensei and sixth degree Black Belt (Roku-dan) and weapons specialist, Gagne put on self-defense demonstrations and showed off various karate techniques.
“He definitely has a passion for what he does,” said NCCC President Deborah Ramos.
Gagne is the chief instructor of the Shorin Ryu karate studio. He began his training in 1969 while in the United States Air Force (1968-72) then started teaching in 1972 and organized the Okinawan Temple in 1973. He officially retired from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections earlier this month.
James Coffman is president of the Temple and is a seventh degree Red & Black Belt and “holds the highest ranking belt in our style here in the United States,” according to Gagne.
With their combined experience, Gagne is confident in the product that the Temple offers.
“Most karate schools promise that your child will gain confidence, self esteem and be able to resist negative peer pressure,” said Gagne. “What they fail to promise is that your child will be able to defend his or herself against the school bully.”
The Okinawan Tempe holds an Open House every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Classes are available for children and adults. Gagne encouraged anyone who is interested in more information to call 233-0334 or 965-3044.
“This was a great event,” Ramos added. “It was a night of networking with a twist. Everyone really enjoyed Al’s personal demonstrations as well as watching his young students in their class. People were really interested in what they use for weapons that are not necessarily weapons for battle.”
Ramos announced that the next Business After Hours event would be held on Thursday, Sept. 20 at Robert Corio Designs in Johnston. The NCCC Women in Business Council will resume its Lipstick Luncheons on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Pocasset Bay Retirement Living in Johnston.
“The purpose of these nights isn’t just to eat and drink and take advantage of what’s put out for free. The major purpose is to showcase the hosting business and Al Gagne certainly did that tonight,” Ramos said.
For more information or membership, call the NCCC headquarters, located at 255 Greenville Avenue, at 349-4674.