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From Warriors to Dragons of Peace

Krav Maga is a military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces that consists of a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, judo, etc. The key characteristics of Krav maga is the emphasis on training based on realistic scenarios and under duress, aggressive counter attacks and the use of simple moves. Other important concepts include attacks targeting the most vulnerable parts of the body (such as the eyes, throat, groin etc), and pre-emptively attacking when danger seems imminent. The emphasise on situational awareness is also another important element of Krav maga. Developed by Imi Lichtenfield, who was a boxer and wrestler, Krav maga was quickly adopted by the Israeli military from the 1940s onwards to this day, and has since been adapted for civilian contexts by Krav maga organisations.

Classical/ traditional Kapap, a Hebrew acronym for Krav Panim el Panim (face to face combat), is a close-quarter battle system of defensive tactics, and hand to hand combat that preceded Krav Maga, Developed in the late 1930s, within the Jewish camps as part of preparatory training before their arrival in the British held Palestine, the system was primarily a loose system of practical skills that includes physical conditioning, and hand to hand combat skills derived also from boxing, judo, karate, knife and stick fighting.

During the 1950s, the term Kapap was used interchangeably with the term Krav maga, but by the 1960s a number of special forces units like Unit 216, Sayeret Matkal, and YAMAM (counter-terrorism unit) chose to retain the term Kapap to differentiate its hand to hand system from the more basic but nevertheless highly effective system of Krav maga. These units needed skill sets that went beyond the aggressive force-on-force approach that Krav maga is famous for. Modern Kapap, as developed by Colonel Chaim Peer and his associates, focuses more on stealth and the use of less strength based techniques - particular for counter-terrorism units like Lotar and Yamam.

Master Teo Yew Chye, a life long martial artist with 37 years of training in a variety of martial arts such as TKD, Savate, Wing Chun, Catch Wrestling etc became in the mid 2000, the highest ranking kapap instructor in Asia (level 4). However, as one of the most respected pioneers in self defense within Singapore, he was quick to note that the two israeli systems (military based krav maga and Kapap which focuses on counter-terrorism) have not been adequately adapted for civilian contexts or their needs. For example, the use of pre-emptive strikes by Krav maga is typically unlawful in many developed countries. As part of an effort to contribute to the quest of helping ordinary people keep safe, Modern Street Combatives was eventually created based on primarily kapap but included other realistic self defense systems such as American catch wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Chin-na, Savate etc. More importantly, two key innovations that has truly established Modern Street Combatives as a modern day street defense system is the incorporation of insights drawn from the study of psychology/ predatory behaviour and Body guarding principles.

Why these two areas of study? Unlike in military/ police contexts, the civilian's primary concerns in self defense scenarios are twofolds: First, to sense and avoid dangers, and secondly, in situations of dangers, to create the opportunities to escape. The study of predatory behaviour helps the civilian to detect that one is in the presence or a criminal or the behavioural cues of a predator just before he attacks. In a truly groundbreaking study, recently published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, Jeffrey M. Valla, Stephen J. Ceci, and Wendy M. Williams of Cornell University show that people can tell criminals and noncriminals apart simply by looking at their still photos. Criminals, it appears, look different from non-criminals. However, their results also show that individuals cannot tell what type of criminals they are.

The training and the mindset of a bodyguard is also more relevant to the civilian than the usual reference to the training and expertise of military or police operatives. Civilians are not called upon to kill another on command, or to lawfully cause hurt to another during attempts to arrest. Civilians have only the right to self defense if one’s well being or life is at stake. And even in such situations, the individual cannot use more force than is required to get away from danger without risking crossing legal boundaries.

Finally, in line with the combative principles of Kapap and the other realistic self defense systems that Modern Street Combatives is based on, physical defense has to be relatively simple, intuitive and devastatingly effective.

After a long journey of experimentation and discovery, Modern Street Combatives is truly a modern day self defense system that has transcended its origin – from the killing fields of war, to be what it is today, a highly effective, easy to learn urban self defense system for the ordinary man in society.

To help Executives stay safe, Kapap Academy’s sister company, the Centre for Cognitive Technologies has a SkillsFuture approved programme that enjoys up to 100% subsidy for Singaporeans. Known as Executives Travel Safety, this programme (CRS-N-0041219) blends the study of predatory behavior, bodyguarding principles with the use of simple intuitive self defense techniques to help travelers avoid, get away or fight out of danger if the need arises.

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