Kapap short for Krav Panim el Panim, translated as “face to face combat”, is the original Israeli combat system of defensive tactics, hand to hand combat and self defense employed by the Jewish Underground Movements
The Kapap system was developed in the 1930’s, within the Jewish Aliyah camps ( ma-ha-not Olim ) as a part of preparatory training before their arrival to Palestine . It became as a concept of fighting rather than a fighting system, due to the fighting skills contribution it gave the practitioner. The Palmach adopted the Kapap as an ongoing combat development program for their recruits.
It was primarily considered as a practical skill set that was acquired during the training period of the Palmach fighter. The main focus was to upgrade the Physical endurance, elevate and strengthen the spirit, developing a defensive and offensive skill set when needed. It included physical training and endurance, cold weapon practical usage, Boxing and JuJutsu fight styles knife and sticks.
Gershon Kopler : Judo and JuJutsu Instructor that organized and established the Self-defense concept as a part of the Kapap training in the Palmach and Haganah. He later died in a special mission towards the town of Tripoli in Lebanon, known as the “Kaf Gimel” a symbol of the 23 men that died in that mission.
Yehuda Marcus : Palmach’s physical training Judo and [[Jiu-jitsu chief Instructor, who replaced Gershon Kopler, he later died in a training accident.
Moshe Finkel : Palmach’s fitness training officer, integrated the different typologies of the art into the training regime.
Maishel Horovitz : Palmach’s official Kapap Instructor, was in charge of the development of the short stick fight tactics at the Palmach and made it famous to the term Kapap.
Yitzhak Sade : Palmach’s commander that adopted the Kapap training doctrines and later transformed them into the Haganah movement and other Special units.
The Walking Stick Method of Self-Defense ( La canne ) was already a part of the Kapap syllabus, it was adopted from the British forces in India and was still taught as an answer to the threat of the locals that were equipped with the “Nabut” (1 meter long stick).
The most emphasized part of training was the use of sticks (short and long). The short stick method became most popular by use, due to the adaptation of the young generation of recruits. It became a substitute to firearms that were considered limited for use. Among the sticks used in the Kapap fighting the short stick was most commonly used and therefore practiced. It was favored due to its concealability in the sleeve until the actual fight began ( Mêlée ) on the streets.
The Kapap system was based on principles and not techniques and was relatively easy and adaptable to the large groups that were trained.
Kapap Training included:
- Proper body posture
- Relative positioning
- Striking shapes
- Striking methods
- Stick/baton defense
- Stick/Baton Attack
The simplicity of the kapap concepts and fast adaptation made the kapap training system a successful tool of training thousands of fighters in the Palmach and Hagana , the Underground movements that operated as the Militia forces for the political leadership in the Jewish settlement under the British Mandate of Palestine .
Modern day/Renewed system
Kapap as a term was officially abandoned by the Military due to ongoing change in its infrastructure and common terminology to fit the modern day. Since the ’40s and up until the year 2000 the term Kapap was limited in use and usually described the historical term from the early days of the Jewish Underground movements Palmach and Haganah.
At the end of year 2000 a group of people headed by Chaim Peer and Avi Nardia (a reserve Lieutenant-Colonel and a reserve Major respectively ) decided to renew the use of the term Kapap/Krav Panim El Panim and established the International Kapap Federation , an NPO organization in Israel . That spring of 2001 sergeant Jim Wagner from USA Orange county Sheriff’s Department visited Israel and joined Narida that served as the Israeli Police Defensive Tactics Instructor, as well as a reserve Military Krav Maga Instructor. As a result of that visit Wagner invited Nardia to teach Kapap In the United states to American police and Military units. Nardia had done several training trips to the USA and it then that the Kapap term became known outside Israel when Jim Wagner along with Nardia introduced for the first time an Article that was published by Black Belt Magazine .
Avi Nardia moved to the USA in 2003 and started the unique development of the Kapap system with other tactical experts and instructors. Kapap became sought after by law enforcement and federal agencies as well as concerned citizens that found a reality-based self defense adaptable and relatively easy to learn.
In 2005 The Kapap Academy was established in the USA by two instructors of the system, Albert Timen and Avi Nardia, with the sole purpose of promoting the Kapap system outside Israel and to certify other instructors in the style.