Krav Maga, or Kapap, is a self defence art form that originated in Israel. It was initially designed for military use, but has since gained prominence amongst everyday practitioners. Its name can be loosely translated to mean “contact combat”.
This week, we interview the co-founder of Kapap Academy Singapore, Qin Yunquan, who is a self defence instructor and social activist dedicated to empowering ladies of different ages through realistic self defence skills that are intuitive, simple to learn and execute, yet effective.
What makes Krav Maga a unique sport?
One of the skill sets I empower ladies with is Catch Wrestling. It’s a fighting system that has earned the reputation of being the most brutal submission style in existence today. What makes this system of ground combat unique is that it can be taught as both a sport as well as a self defence skill set.
In Catch Wrestling, finger locks, neck cranks, throws, takedowns, painful pressure points, etc. are allowed. Many of such attacks are not allowed in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu because of either the risks or pain inflicted. In the sport version of Catch Wrestling, there are also no weight categories or time limits. Due to the realism of Catch Wrestling as a system, it prepares its practitioners well for street engagements.
How did you begin exploring Krav Maga?
I was inspired to become a social activist for women empowerment by my co-founder, mentor and friend, Master Teo Yew Chye. Master Teo is a psychologist by training, but was himself inspired to help ordinary people stay safe after his brother was seriously hurt in a street attack. His brother eventually died, but this tragedy spurred him to help others. I was inspired by his mission and conviction to join him in this social mission.
What attracted you to Krav Maga, and how did you eventually pursue it as a career?
The decision to pursue the social mission of empowering ladies led me to pick the career to become a self defence instructor. It was a natural progression from my initial fascination to eventually become a professional.
After nearly six years of hard training, I am today a self defence instructor, a National Wrestler, one of a few certified Catch Wrestlers in Asia, and the CEO/partner of Kapap Academy (Singapore). What attracted me to this career is primarily the meaningful nature of my job, which if you think about it, is about saving lives. Most people do not wake up in the morning and feel that their jobs directly save lives.
I am privileged and blessed to be able to say that my job does. 70% of our students are women, of which about 10-15% have experienced first hand either domestic violence, robbery/theft, molestation or even rape. As such, we take our training very seriously — these women entrust their lives and well being to us to teach them the right skills to stay safe.
What is a common misconception people have about Krav Maga?
One of the most common questions I have been asked by women is if they’re suited to learn such a ‘brutal’ sport. My take on this issue is that the new ‘sexy’ today is a woman who can be comfortable with her gender, but yet is strong and able to look after herself when the need arises.
We are seeing more young women challenging traditional gender roles, to become a modern day femme fatale of sorts. They do not believe they have to hide behind men, and are willing to learn sports such as catch wrestling.
What do you think more people need to know about Krav Maga?
People often take their personal safety for granted, thinking that violent crimes such as robberies, physical/sexual assault and rape will only happen to others, never them. But the reality is that crimes can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, status or age.
You only get to decide how the attack is likely to end: with you out of danger, or you ending up as another police statistic. You can decide to fight back, and to do what it takes to survive the episode. There will be injuries and you may even be stabbed, or worse. However, by fighting back, you are saying to your attacker: I will not go down easily or cower in fear. I will not be intimidated; I will fight for my right to live, and you have no right to do what you please. I will not be a victim of your disrespect for others, nor your criminal intent.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to start practising Krav Maga?
Come and train with the right attitude: an open mind to learn, experiment, and try out what we impart to you. You do not need to be fighting fit to start learning Krav Maga. We have female students with osteoporosis, scoliosis, and even cancer survivors who train with us, simply because they want to learn how to keep safe. A few male students in their 60s are also far from being fit, but train with us and are now referred to as ‘Modern Street Combatives’.
Modern Street Combatives is an eclectic system of realistic self defence that draws upon Kapap, Savate (French street style kick boxing), Catch Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Dynamic Combat Method, and other realistic self defence styles.
What can one one expect in a class?
Expect to spend about 30-40% of a 2 hour session learning about predatory behaviour using our knowledge in psychology to avoid being set up, or how to get out of danger. We have our own in-house psychologist as well as instructors who are trained in the psychology of deception — a psychological strategy often used by predators to set their victims up for ambush attacks.
We’ll also teach you to create opportunities for escape and to defend your loved ones or yourself from a worst case scenario attack.
Finally, you will learn combative skills that are used by soldiers or the para-military police to engage an opponent. This includes stand up engagement to ground, knife defence, defence against chokes, getting out of body and forearm grabs, take downs, use of improvised weapons like car keys, umbrellas, water bottles, handphones, bags, etc.
We live to deliver on our mission — to provide ordinary people with the tools/skill sets to stay safe against worst case scenarios in the streets. It is our vision to become a regional training centre in a number of selected cities, with a growing presence in Malaysia and China.
So whether it is to prepare yourself for an overseas posting, overseas studies, or for travel to exotic places, we hope to help you keep safe while enjoying your new experiences abroad. Others, of course, train with us simply because in learning self defence, they develop a sense of confidence that they are able to take care of themselves or their loved ones when the unexpected happens.