For many years, I thought about how I could improve “the game” that Carlos Newton displayed (See Israeli Self-Defense: The Genesis of Kapap Techniques and Their Application Against Attackers — Part 1!) to make it more applicable to self-defense.
A Turning Point for Kapap Techniques
After moving to the United States, I worked with some of the best defensive-tactics instructors. On one occasion, I was explaining to an International Kapap Federation instructor named Bob Jobe — a U.S. marshal who also served as a defensive-tactics trainer — what I saw Carlos Newton do — and he suggested that we call it “relative position.”
The concept holds that your position relative to your opponent’s can put you at an advantage or a disadvantage. If you’re in front of him, you’re more likely to get punched or kicked. If you’re behind him, you’re less likely to get struck simply because human arms and legs work more effectively forward than backward.
How Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Influenced Modern Kapap Techniques
That was helpful, but it didn’t complete the picture for me. At the time, I lived in Los Angeles and was training under John Machado. One day during our jiu-jitsu class, my understanding of relative position became a lot clearer.
After any move or technique, John Machado demonstrated how he could transition to any position he wanted and take control as if he was playing a game of chess. Like any good kapap student, I decided not to reveal who I was or why I was there so I could simply be the student and absorb new knowledge.
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Shortly thereafter, I spoke with Lt. Col. (Res.) Chaim Peer, founder of the International Kapap Federation, his assistant David Arama and the whole kapap team about what I had learned at Machado’s academy. They agreed that his perspective would boost their understanding of relative position, so they invited Machado to teach at the International Kapap Federation’s main club at Tel Aviv University in Israel. And so the quest continued.
The Full Scope of “Relative Position” in Kapap Techniques
As it’s now used in kapap techniques, relative position refers to much more than what the term implies. It includes the following variables:
- control of distance
- control of multiple attackers
- control of weapons
- levels of force
- control of your body and your opponent’s
- effects of stress
- situational awareness
- environmental awareness (lighting, temperature, etc.)
- effects on the respiratory system
- sensory stress effects
- mental endurance
All this has led kapap instructors to adopt an eclectic program composed of exercises and drills designed to strengthen the student’s reflexive ability to defend against a random attack, as well as to bolster his physical and mental combat conditioning. This program for training in kapap techniques incorporates drills that can be performed alone or with a partner and utilizes principles sometimes seen in kata training.
Proper Training for Effective Self-Defense Moves
It’s crucial to understand that when it comes to reality-based fighting, drills can show you the way, but they must not be regarded as techniques or self-defense moves to be used on the street. Drills teach mobility, distance control, body flow and transitioning.
For example, a drill might transition from standing to ground fighting to weapons use on the ground to weapons use while standing. If you’re in superior physical shape and you’re causing your opponent to tap out consistently, all you’re doing is developing your ego.
However, if you train in such a way that you focus on your control and the game, blocking him but always leaving him an “open door” through which he can escape — and to which you must guide him if he’s unable to find it himself — the training will be more effective. When he goes in the right direction, you should open his escape route, then follow up by creating another trap and repeating the cycle.
Intelligent drills that use this model will minimize injuries and facilitate learning. It’s much more productive than attending an intensive five-hour course that’s supposed to prepare you for the ring or the street.
About the Author:
Avi Nardia has taught defensive tactics and close-quarters battle to the Israeli army, Israeli special forces, Israeli police and students of counterterrorism around the world. In the United States, he specializes in training members of counterterrorism, military and law-enforcement units, as well as civilians. Avi Nardia is the co-author of the book and DVD set Kapap Combat Concepts, available for purchase in our online store. For more information, visit his website at avinardia.com.