The meaning of the term
Kapap (an abbreviation of Krav Panim el Panim meaning ‘face-to-face combat’), is a term which describes principles and methodologies used by the Hagana (A para military organization in Israel) prior to the establishment of the Israeli state and the IDF. This method included various techniques and disciplines: boxing, knife fighting, stick fighting, strangulation technique, Ju-Jitsu, bayonet and throwing stones. Each discipline was taught separately.
The development of Kapap
Between 1936-1939 a British intelligence officer named Charles Orde Wingate was stationed in Israel. He formulated small armed assault units of British-led Jewish commandos, to combat the Arab revolt. These units were named SNS-'Special Night Squads' and changed the defensive approach of the Jewish settlers into a dynamic and most effective counter terror active operations.
The cause for developing short stick fighting
In 1939 Malcolm John MacDonald, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies issued restrictions on Jews to immigrate to Israel. These restriction caused the Jews in Israel to demonstrate against the British government. British policemen armed with batons hit Jewish demonstrators mercilessly, causing lots of casualties and demoralization within the Jewish settlers.
A group of young men headed by Moshe (Meishel) Horowitz, was looking for a way to counter the British police violence, they developed a short stick fighting method, (in contrast to the long stick which was used before). This short stick method was added to former combat regimen known by the name Sport Magen.
Causes for changing Sport Magen to Kapap
The introduction of the short stick as a fighting tool, and the change from a defensive to offensive approach, led to a change in the name of Israeli combat, from Sport Magen to Kapap, and the short stick becoming the distinctive feature of Kapap.
In January 1941 the first Kapap instructor’s course took place with several instructors. Maishel Hurvitz and Menashe Harel taught stick fighting, Gershon Kofler taught Ju-Jitsu, and Yitzhak Shtibel taught boxing.
Kapap in IDF
In 1948 the Israeli state was formed and with it the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Hand-to-hand combat training in the army relied heavily on former Kapap instructors from the Hagana, which were recruited to the IDF. These instructors continued to use former training materials. Towards the late 1950's due to the fact that the army had guns and didn't need to rely on sticks, some changes were made in hand-to-hand combat, including changing the name from Kapap to Krav-Maga.
Today there are some schools around the world which use the name ‘Kapap’. However, they do not resemble the original form of the discipline.