Just looking at Qin Yunquan’s credentials, you would think she’s invincible. Yunquan is the chief executive and instructor of Kapap Academy (a self-defence school), a former mixed martial arts competitor and national wrestler, as well as a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for her efforts in equipping people (especially women) with the skills to protect themselves. 

But she wasn’t always like this. 

When Yunquan first started taking lessons in Israeli martial art Kapap a decade ago, she was coming off the back of a two-year eating disorder that almost took her life. Her enjoyment of the self-defence classes was what shifted her focus from the scales to honing her skills, and helping classmates with their craft. Soon, she was juggling training and teaching. “I met fellow students who were previously assaulted and found their stories heartbreaking. And I felt that if I can help others avoid that fate, that’s what I want to do.” After finishing her studies in bioengineering, she became a full-time martial arts instructor. 

Yunquan has adapted Kapap to create Modern Street Combatives, a self-defence model customised for women. Its approach is defensive, teaching students how to react in everyday situations and read body language so as to avoid getting into conflict. “I want every woman to feel confident and safe,” she says. 

Today, 70-80 per cent of her students are women (last year, she trained 8,000 students). More than 20 per cent of that number are from disadvantaged backgrounds or are victims of abuse. But Yunquan is looking further than just helping local women – the ultimate goal is to take Modern Street Combatives overseas. In April, she will head to India to team up with a woman she met at the Queen’s Young Leaders programme. They plan to reach out to women in slums. “I cannot see suffering and not do something," she says.

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