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Palmach soldiers practicing Kapap stick fighting
Palmach soldiers practicing Kapap stick fighting
Focus Hybrid
Country of origin Israel Israel
Parenthood Bare knuckle boxing, Greco Roman wrestling, knife fighting, judo, jujutsu.
Olympic sport No

Kapap (Hebrew: קפ"פ‎, קפא"פ‎), often written KAPAP, a Hebrew acronym for Krav Panim el Panim (lit. face to face combat), is a close-quarter battle system of defensive tactics, hand-to-hand combat and self defense.


The Kapap system was developed in the late 1930s, within the Jewish Aliyah camps as part of preparatory training before their arrival in the British Mandate of Palestine.[citation needed] The Palmach and Haganah used Kapap as an ongoing combat development program for their recruits.

It was primarily considered a practical skill set that was acquired during the training period of the Palmach and Haganah fighters. The main focus was to upgrade the physical endurance, elevate and strengthen the spirit, developing a defensive and offensive skill set. It included physical training and endurance, cold weapon practical usage, boxing, judo, jujutsu, karate and knife and stick fighting.

In the early 1950s the term Kapap was used interchangeably with the term Krav Maga as elements of the syllabus altered. By the time the 1960s came, the term was used only within certain units who needed more than basic training in Krav Maga such as Unit 216, Sayeret Matkal (Ariel Sharon also served in this unit). Special units required skill sets that suited their function. Non-military special police units, such as Yamam, require more than striking and neutralization in their skill sets. It should also be noted that not all Special Forces fall under the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Modern Kapap has evolved in units such as these and also at Lotar[disambiguation needed] (Israel's school of Anti-Terrorism).

Main contributors

  • Gershon Kopler: judo and jujutsu Instructor who organized and established the self-defense concept as part of the Kapap training in the Palmach and Haganah.
  • Yehuda Marcus: Palmach's physical training judo and jujitsu chief instructor, who replaced Gershon Kopler;
  • Moshe Finkel: Palmach's fitness training officer, integrated the different typologies of the art into the training regime.
  • Yitzhak Sadeh: Palmach's commander who adopted the Kapap training into the regiment.
  • 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. Maishel Horowitz died in December 2009.[1]

In the 1930s, as a leader of HaMahanot HaOlim youth movement, Horovitz faced a problem of dealing with British policemen armed with clubs. It was for this purpose that together with fellow members of the youth movement he developed the short stick fighting method. Horovitz's method became one of the main components of hand-to-hand combat training for all Haganah. Horovitz had made a major contribution to the development of Kapap. According to the historian Noah Gross, Horovitz did not even know that such a thing as Krav Maga existed or that his stick fighting system was taught to soldiers as late as 1959. The short stick method became most popular by use, due to the adaptation of the young generation of recruits. Among the sticks used in the Kapap fighting, the short stick was most commonly used and therefore practiced. It was favored because it was easy to conceal in the sleeve until the actual fight (mêlée) began on the streets.

Lieutenant Colonel (Res) Chaim Pe'er is the President and founder of the International Kapap Federation. He is recognized internationally as a Soke – founder of the modern Kapap system.


The Kapap method was and still is based on principles and not techniques.

Modern-day system

Kapap is a term used today to differentiate itself from the many Krav Maga schools around the world. Lt. Col. (Res) Chaim Pe'er[2] of Unit 216, Sayeret Matkal heads the International Kapap Federation. Major Avi Nardia (Unit 216 Sayeret Matkal and Yamam hand to hand combat instructor) developed many of the techniques now seen in modern Krav Maga, very specifically many of the gun disarms which were not in historical Kapap, and therefore Krav Maga.

Modern Kapap has highly evolved from its historical counterpart and advances many of its concepts so that modern-day operational men and women can remain safe in the line of duty and so that civilians can defend against modern threats.

Historical Kapap is not Krav Maga, yet its roots can clearly be seen in historical Kapap. Modern Kapap has evolved further, as have other Israeli systems under men like Dennis Hanover.[3] Krav Maga has by commercialisation become the most well known Israeli martial art, but it has never been the only one. Where training requires a unit do a different and specialized job, training must be adjusted to suit its needs.

Youth movements in Israel, like HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed, also practice Kapap to remember the connection between the youth movement and the defense forces.

International Kapap organizations

Kapap Europe

Kapap Europe is organized and headed by Kapap Level 4 instructors, Sam Markey and William Paardekooper. Sam and William are the highest-ranking members of the International Kapap Federation in Europe. Markey holds monthly seminars in the United Kingdom to train and develop the European Kapap Instructor Team. Paardekooper holds courses in mainland Europe.

Sam Markey met Avi Nardia in the USA. He introduced Kapap to the United Kingdom and he was the first person authorized by Major Avi Nardia and Lt. Col. Chaim Pe'er to open an authorized Kapap training center.

Kapap Asia

Kapap Federation Asia is headed by Master Teo Yew Chye (Kapap Level 3 Instructor) and his training team on behalf of Major Avi Nardia and Lt. Col. Chaim Pe'er.

See also

  • Krav Maga
  • Sayeret Matkal (Special Forces Unit of Lt. Co. Chaim Pe'er, Head of the International Kapap Federation)
  • Yamam (Special Forces Police Unit)


  1. ^ "Maishel Horowitz". KAPAP Worcester. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "Dr. Chaim PEER Founder of KAPAP CV's". Usadojo. Martial Arts Enterprises,. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "Dennis Survival Foundation". Dennis hisardut (in Hebrew). Retrieved 1 June 2015. 


External links