My first Kapap Lesson

Last Sunday, I went for my first Kapap lesson at Kapap Academy (Singapore) owned by Master Teo Yew Chye. I had previously interviewed his protégé, Yunquan, to debunk some myths about Modern Street Combatives, commonly believed to be a “brutal sport” and often confused with martial art.

Modern Street Combatives comprise of a myriad of self defence systems such as KAPAP, Gracie combatives, catch wrestling, dynamic combat method, Savate, traditional Taekwondo and Chin-na.
For me, I was most attracted initially to Krav Maga for its aggressiveness, but was advised to try KAPAP instead.

Employed by the Israeli self-defence system, Kapap is a Hebrew acronym for ‘face-to-face combat’ with a very simple purpose: to teach civilians how to defend themselves in the shortest amount of time possible using any means necessary against overwhelming violence regardless of strength, size, or athletic ability. Incorporating insights from predatory behaviour study, psychology and principles drawn from bio-mechanics and physics leverage, modern street combatives is designed to be simple, yet effective and adaptable – which makes it an even more relevant and practical skill for ladies and children as personal protection.

We see many rape cases in the news everyday, but this brazen rape case happened at HDB carpark at 8pm: It is outrageous thinking how this occurred at a time where people were returning home; there were witnesses who did not intervene, instead made five calls to the police and yet they did not arrive even after 30 minutes?

Do females deserve to be raped? Do they only get raped because of what they wear? From this, we learn that we should not expect strangers to come save us should we get attacked. We don’t expect to get help – most of the time there isn’t.

To give us a sense of how vulnerable we could be, Master Teo simply held down both our hands, placed his body weight on us and asked us to ‘save’ ourselves by trying to get out of the compromising situation. None of us ladies managed to overthrow him. Tickling, biting and hair pulling obviously didn’t work.

As Master Teo shared his personal story, he described Singapore as an “uncommonly safe” country. He was attacked by six people in Australia. His brother was murdered in Malaysia. One of the instructors, Justin, was attacked outside his house one fateful night in New York. But does it mean that we are safe in Singapore? Remember in 2001 a bomb almost went off at Yishun MRT – we can never take safety for granted in this increasingly violent and dangerous world.

The reality is that crime rates are much higher abroad. According to the Federal Police of Malaysia, a woman is bring raped every 2.5 hours, or roughly, 10 woman are raped everyday (as of 2010). In United States, a woman is raped every 2 minutes – about 28 women every hour. 1/3 of the victims contemplate suicide as a result of trauma. The statistics are real. Over 70% of these victims are below 18, and most rapes and crimes of sexual nature tend to go unreported – so we can expect these numbers to be 10 times higher than it really is.

The first hour of class began with these brutal facts of the harsh reality we live in. We sat around on the mat, listened attentively when Master Teo and Yunquan explained theories and demonstrated what could happen in a real street attack. Most of the time, our jaws dropped because it only took Yunxuan a few seconds to demonstrate how she could take someone down. Considering her small frame, it was amazing to see her taking on someone of a much larger frame than herself. (She’s my new inspiration!)

Compared to martial art, realistic self-defense skills take into consideration defence against weapons and multiple attackers. The use of kicks and striking using bare fists is extremely risky especially if one is panics and performs it inaccurately.

Within the next hour, we learned and practised three simple defensive stances; how to keep ourselves safe and fence against attacks by protecting our head, neck and heart. We paired up with a partner taking turns to be the “good guy and the “bad guy” and practised moving swiftly into our stance.

To stimulate the scenario and prove that it would work, they took out boxing gloves and threw us a punch as we held our heads in one of the defensive poses called “rhino”. I was really anxious and afraid that it would hurt. When he hit me, I really felt the impact as I lost my balance and shifted a few steps from my original position.

But that’s only 1/10 of the strength a real attacker would use on you in an attack,” shared Master Teo. Again, the truth struck me as I suddenly understood how ignorant we had been. We don’t know how a real attack would be until we have been through one – and nobody wants that to happen, because that would be too late and the result would be disastrous.

I like how the instructors are strict yet always ensure our safety. I did not expect to go into lesson to get ‘attacked’ – although I should probably have seen that coming. 🙂 People asked me, “Why do you pay to get yourself beaten up!?!?!” My mom often questions my sanity, and friends were slightly uncomfortable with the idea when I asked them to join me, but I’m glad I went ahead – out of my comfort zone to attend my first lesson.

It was a good learning experience and a wake-up call to never take our personal safety for granted. (especially since my close #YODO encounter with #BangkokBlast). If I hadn’t tried it, I wouldn’t have discovered how fun this could be. Even though I’m not good at it yet, I’m sure with practice and determination I’ll get better! Self defense, to me, is an important and realistic skill for street survival as we never know what may happen to us. As Yunquan joked, “we don’t start fights, but we make sure we finish them.”

“I tried Krav Maga today and loving it! It scares me on how lethal and brutal street fight is. Relying on strength alone won’t help u save your life, they will share u great technique and things to avoid in case by case scenarios! ALL WOMEN MUST TRY!” -Monique Ang

Other than KAPAP, there are also other classes suitable for ladies such as Gracie Jiujitsu, a form of Brazilian Jiujitsu founded by Helio Gracie who created this effective system to defend against bigger, stronger opponents. Also, at Kapap Academy, they organise a seminar series where they teach how to use a tactical pen as a self-defence tool, one can use it to control and restraint an assailant without the use of excessive force when the need arises.

The training locations are Robinson Square (near Tanjong Pagar MRT) or Geylang Road (near Aljunied MRT) with ongoing classes on weekday nights and weekends all day.

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