KAPAP [Krav Panim El Panim] is an Israeli Martial art that today is an internationally recognized system that started out as a bridge between Martial Arts systems.
KAPAP was put together when I was chosen to become the unit Instructor for the YAMAM, a top Israeli counter-terrorism unit. As Israel’s top unit, any instructor would hope to get this assignment. I admit that I was the worst and that’s why I was chosen. Many former unit members tried to become instructors for the unit. The YAMAM command looked into the program that I built together with Lt.Colonel (Res.) Chaim Peer. It was the most up-to-date system for hand-to-hand combat that met their needs. We built the system as a bridge between systems and by analyzing many different Martial Arts systems. We also relied on our own experience in the Martial Arts, while ourselves holding black belts in some Martial Arts.
We asked Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, one of best reality, traditional and combat Martial Artists from sport to combat, to be an advisor to start what today is known as KAPAP. Today it has gained popularity, and many times we slow down so as to build slow – it’s better than building too fast. We want the right people and refuse most of the people that pass the First Level with us. We take more than 75% of the students that try to become instructors out. Some of those become new ‘Grand Masters’ the next day! But understand this: this is not our market nor the people that we want to share with.
With his years of tactical and army experience, Lt. Colonel(Res) Chaim Peer and I added more and more to our ‘bridge’ by upgrading and progressing KAPAP. Everyday we add more layers with the help of many friends and teachers. Over the last several years we have added Machado RCJ Brazilian Jiujutsu. Many systems claim “we don’t want to fight on the floor on in the streets!” or “we don’t want to fight a knife!”, but we still need to study it to be a well rounded fighter and Martial Artist. You won’t be able to choose where and maybe not when you will fight, or if it ends up on the ground, as a close-quarter combat scenario, if it’s on stairs, in an elevator or even while you’re eating. It could even happen while you are watching in a movie theatre, or sitting in your parked car!
KAPAP is a Martial Art that could be called “Banana” as far as we are concerned and it would still be KAPAP with the same mind, spirit, body and ideas and principles, but we keep the name KAPAP to preserve the heritage and with respect to Israeli Martial Arts Roots. What makes a system is not it’s name, but rather the people that stand behind the system. After 15 years of building the name KAPAP, we now get slandered by some that say I am not the real KAPAP and it can go all the way back to the world’s oldest book, the Bible. “Hast thou killed, and also inherited?” — Have you murdered and also inherited? At first they will murder you, through your character and then they will try to come to the marketplace based on lies. But they inherit whom they murder, to build themselves and to look taller by slandering others and standing on their shoulders. The very shoulders of those that built what they now try to stand on, as Real KAPAP, real Krav Maga.
As Martial Artists, we understand human weakness and life and deal with it. Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” For every case of slander, rather than waste valuable time, or energy trying to defend our Art, we choose instead to post a new DVD, or a new book, and to share more ideas, not to talk about small people, but to talk about ideas and share more.
We are establishing a new workshop based on the idea of “with only a knife.” It will be a workshop that stems from years of observing in the martial arts the attempts of many to try to sell more ‘reality’ or ‘real-deal’ training that uses slogans such as “Blood on my hands” with Rambo stories. These marketing ideas also present the knife and it’s associated fighting skills as evil tools in many ways. How bad can it be in a fight when we all already know that a person with a knife in his/her hand or a gun is stronger than that same person without this tool? But it is different with a gun. A gun is used only for one goal: which is to take life. This is why I mainly claim that I don’t like guns, even though I have used guns since I was six years old and taught firearms for many years. ANother important point to note is that you never fight with a gun or a knife, but you always fight the person that holds it. This important principle should be kept in mind – in any fight with a weapon, you are not facing the weapon, you are facing the attacker, and your attack should be with this in mind.
I see myself as a teacher of swordsmanship and draw from sword principles. Guns demand less skills than swords, so we introduce into the battlefield the values of the sword in the fight — the value is teaching spirit, mind and body. I always use it in my teaching, the sword of giving life, not the sword of taking life. We all know that any fool can take a life, but to give life is an art and real skill with wisdom. This is why when I see how some advertise knife or gun training with slogans like “with blood on my hands”, it’s a shame. Guns are made to defend and not to take life and its sad when sometimes we need to do so. It’s not something to be proud of. In my travels I’ve heard many ex-Army Rambo-types claim that others are only good paper-shooters, but that they can shoot people. I’d rather shoot paper targets to improve my skills, than be a war criminal.
Last year I designed a knife based on this concept. Growing up in the shadow of my father, it’s based on an Army knife that was used in the first IDF units. It served not only only for hand-to-hand combat, but also as a tool to help prepare food and use in the field. My father used it for years in the kitchen, and that is how I grew up, with this knife always in our kitchen, to use as a tool not to take life. How do you know that a person is good knife man? You give him a knife and ask him do some work with it. Any fool can kill with it.
So, along with my friend Toby Cowern, who is an arctic survival teacher and our KAPAP survival instructor, we have designed a new program to further develop the mind and spirit while using survival skills. We’ll share new ideas and knowledge with our students. I’ve just returned from demoing it to the Croatian Police and Special Forces units, and they adopted it! They were impressed with the program and ideas that were used for survival and mental training to develop inner power and will.
In last few years the Karambit knife, which is only an evil knife, can cut but no more so than any other knives already present in marketplace. For some it is the ultimate knife. It’s similar to what happened during the early days of the Nunchako, which was popularized through a popular movie. It’s touted as a knife that can do all kinds of tricks, but is that realistic and can it serve as a tactical knife? The answer is simple: you grab your Karambit knife and we’ll grab our survival knife and we’ll go into the woods and do some work and see how well each performs. Army troops and Special Forces troops need to cut ropes, cut through metal, build shelters in the field, find mines in the ground and more. Let’s see if the Karambit knife can do it or not? Well, we already know the answer to the question. If it’s being touted as a tactical knife, used for killing, we have firearms. If your primary gun malfunctions, you will move to use your secondary handgun, and all these movies that show fighting with knives — that’s for the movie audiences, and not for real soldiers. This is why I think that the Karambit knife has nothing to do more-so than to take a life, which any stone will do the, and the same as any knife.
Our mission as teachers is also to teach compassion and not to take life. Teaching swordsmanship always starts with a lot of respect. In doing Iaido the first cut is done slow so as to teach the mind careful control. It is done this way to teach us that life and death matter, and that when a life must be taken from any reason, it is not a game.
Taking a life is a sad act, a serious and unpleasant matter, either to save one’s own life or that of another is a terrible cost. It’s a very sad and hopefully unnecessary act that if we can prevent it, we need to do so. We must keep teaching our students with humanity and compassion, and set it with skills. We must teach not only the body/physical skills, but we must also add the philosophical mind and mentality into it and teach the use of inner will power.
We may look strong and healthy from the outside, but without our inner power and strength we can easily break under small stress. Our mental strength and our mind is not built with strong walls to withstand the earthquakes or the tsunami’s of life and stressful situations that we will find ourselves in from time to time.
As Martial Artist’s we seek to teach and study the reality-based Martial Arts and thus realism in our techniques and moves and ‘system’, but how can we do it really?
We can train to disarm an aggressive opponent armed with a knife or gun,but how can you defend yourself against a cowardly slanderous person or co–worker who will do anything to get your work? “Real Deal” people who try to pull you down so that they look better without ever having the skills to show it? Can you defend yourself from real life? Can you continue to teach real Martial Arts without falling into economic problems or without selling out yourself and your art? Can you fight so many competitors in this business who see threat in your success and will do all they can to try pull you down by using any crazy slander that they can? Can you fight, and stand in these economic times and keep your beliefs and teach what needs to be taught: this study called ‘Martial Arts’ or Budo or even KRAV Panim El Panim (KAPAP)? Can you fight sickness and your own health, the death of close friends and loved ones? Can you fight a car accident or a failed business? We study, teach and hold a ton of techniques that we can use to defend against an armed attacker, multiple attackers, against kicks, punches and chokes but can we use these techniques to win against our personal failures or tragedies? Can the study of Martial Arts also defend us in our everyday lives and how do you build our own inner power?
Without inner power, I would quit Martial Arts and perhaps life. When I was born, I fought with little chance to live as a newborn in this world due to blood poisoning which led to other problems that left me in the hospital for a very long time during my early childhood. Growing up in a new country now called Israel, by a spartan father that lost his parents at the early age of 10, my father had to take care of himself and his two brothers which led him to devote his life to Israel, serving in 5 wars defending his family. My father taught us not to fight those that we hate in front of us, but to fight to defend those that we love who are behind us. Pushing me into Army life at 14 years of age, I myself have grown up in the Army academy. I can’t compare what I did to what my father did, as I am not made with the same inner power as my father. To think about the hardships he had and to survive as he did, I can only try follow in his footsteps based on his strength and inner power, and hope to be as brave and courageous as he was – to follow in his path, and try to understand the most important word he taught me for Martial Arts or life: Respect.
In my life I’ve survived many assassinations attempts. During the Lebanon war, I was shot at more than a cat with 9 lives! I lost best friends. One was the youngest Colonel at age 27, but he didn’t make it to 28, and this is called success? It’s called devoted loyalty. To share, giving through love and peace. By defending his country, he gave the most that any human can – his life.
I survived the assassination of my life by Krav Maga proponents, Jewish men, my own blood? Everyone warned me about my enemies. I have been assassinated by ‘friends’ – evil people. Some were co-workers that joined forces together to try to character-assassinate me. How would you deal with it? When your son comes home from school and asks you why while using an Google-search,his father’s name his name pops up as fraud? His father is described as a fake self-defense teacher. The character assassination was perpetrated to try to destroy me and take me out of the Martial Arts marketplace. Our name is our flag. Some ‘funny’ group, led by a guy that I removed from the Army for being AWOL and for committing Army crimes, tried revenge and built his name and group name by using terms like ‘real-deal’, or “blood on hands” – is he a hero? As one of my friends said, “I’m not a war hero, but for sure a hero of life.” You can fight one lion but not 100 rabbits. The skunk does his best publicity and the slander didn’t help anyone to win in the marketplace. Martial Arts is a skill, but slander is a shame.
I have survived at the same time 6 tumors, attacking me one after another. I’ve had 6 surgeries. Even through the loss of my father, this group of evil people, one with documented mental illness that was dismissed from the Israeli Army, they continued to slander me. Shame on them. I lost two friends. One was shot on the border of Egypt and Israel after he took a terrorist out. I lost one of my best friends, and maybe the last real friend I had. He was a real hero an humble. Thanks to him, many suicide bombers had been taken out and many terrorists eliminated. Life is the real art and he was defeated by cancer. We spoke and joked just two weeks before he died, and he asked me if I was worried. he wanted to know how I dealt with my health issues and I asked him how he dealt with his. He said “I stopped being afraid of death and accepted it.” That’s the Samurai spirit. We open our arms to death. We love life, but accept death. To live for tomorrow, but think every day is our last, and how will you use it best? By sleeping or doing things? This is why my day has 25 hours. I get up one hour earlier to do more, to share more, to love more, to talk for peace more. To help make our world a better place and to be a small part of it enjoy it. Every day is like my last, but I plan to have a long life. I was also faced with a bad car accident last year. The policeman that showed up to my accident couldn’t imagine that I even got out alive! Yes, I am a cat with 9 lives. I am born and die many times, every day, that’s why every day is my birthday! I don’t wait for my real birthday to be happy and smile and share my birthday cake.
Asking questions only led to more questions. Sometimes I’d start with answers and leave the questions until later and for others. Live the day. Try to explore who you are and make yourself better. Work on your mistakes and improve upon them. By accepting being beaten in life, meeting all hardships head on with understanding, love and peace, you will develop inner peace and respect. I’ve met some really great people that are truly humble and kind human beings, with understanding toward humanity and respect to others.
“Good medicine is always bitter” training is not always fun, but there is a lot of fun and appreciation afterwards. Students think they do their best, despite the fact that they don’t know what their best is. The teacher is the students ‘fear,’ not because he is himself fearful, but because he understands and shows students their weak points. As much as a student receives from the teacher, he convinces himself that it is it all due to his own efforts. Teachers deserve respect because of their destiny as a parent or priest, and which may end up with nothing. But as with my own teachers, their spirit carries on even as they are no longer with us. This is why we bow to Shinzen, to thank the great spirit, and to remember that all we know is only so as they had passed it onto us. We need to obey and to pass it onto our students.
Teaching and study should not be done with ego, but only with love and peace.
Nature is a great teacher, this is why we always hold training in nature and also survival training to complete all this study about inner power mental stamina.
To write this column I drew from Zen ideas Kodo – the ancient ways, by Kensho Furuya ,R.I.P., [1948 – 2007], ideas from my teacher Hanshi Patrick McCarthy [Aiki Kenpo Jiujutsu and Koryu Uchinadi], from my teacher Professor John D. Machado [Machado RCJ Brazilian Jiujutsu] and from my personal life.
Authors: Avi Nardia and Tim Boehlert