Yunquan, a self-defense professional and co-founder of Kapap Academy, was the first and only self-defence professional in the world to ever be awarded a medal and the recognition as the Queen’s Young Leader (2017).
What’s your story?
I am a social activist, a self-defence professional dedicated to help others, especially women and children, stay safe. Having spent the last 10 years training in a number of realistic self-defence systems as well as combat sports, I was most honoured to be one of the top 3 finalists of the Women of the Year Award (2014), honouree for the 30 on 30 Award (2018); Honoree for the Singapore Tatler’s Award (2018), and the only Singaporean to earn the Queen’s Young Leaders Award (2017).
As the CEO and co-founder of Singapore’s top realistic self-defence company, Kapap Academy Singapore, we have trained over 50,000 participants in a realistic self-defence system that we created to help civilians stay safe in a increasing turbulent world. Known as Modern Street Combatives, the system is unique in that it combines the use of psychology to identify predatory behaviour and pre-attack cues, together with body guarding principles and realistic combative skills. Our system, and social movement, is slowly but surely gathering momentum and we are on the verge of establishing a presence in both China and India in 2019.
What excites you most about your industry?
The broader industry I am in is in the self-defence/ martial arts industry. This industry is comprised of 3 groupings of different martial arts systems: 1) Performance martial arts like Wushu, acrobatic TKD etc; 2) Combat Sport martial arts like Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu etc, and 3) Reality Martial Arts which is made up of self defence focused systems like Kapap, Krav Maga etc. In recent years there has been a strong rise in the popularity of combat sports like MMA. However, less apparent to parties outside the industry is the rise and growth in the practice of realistic self defence systems due to the current global political-socio challenges the world is facing. At Kapap Academy Singapore, we created a highly intuitive but brutally effective realistic self defence systems called Modern Street Combatives. In recognition of our work, and our social initiatives in helping others stay safe, I became the first and only self-defence professional in the world to ever be awarded a medal and the recognition as the Queen’s Young Leader (2017).
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and bred a Singaporean, and by definition, 100% asian and proud to be one.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore would be my choice for business, not just because its home, but also because it’s a very vibrant, efficient and cosmopolitan business environment. The legal system works, public transport is efficient, medical services are excellent and the average man or woman can go about in the streets without fear of being mugged, or kidnapped.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mentor/ coach Master Teo, gave me the best piece of advice that has guided me to this day – since I first started 10 years ago. “Ask not how hard a task or mission is, ask how important it is”. This piece of advice has helped me keep going all these years whenever the going gets
Who inspires you?
I am always inspired by people who are willing to take the less trodden path to make a difference in others’ lives. One person I have always admired is my mentor cum self-defence coach, Master Teo Yew Chye, who has dedicated his life to helping others stay safe. Despite an illustrious corporate life in his earlier years, he walked away from an ‘ordinary life’ in corporate work to lead an ‘extraordinary life’ to establish Kapap Academy Singapore – a social enterprise, and a social movement to help others stay safe. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this journey that I was invited to partake in.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That I can be a catalyst of social change not just in Singapore but in the region as well. Something I never dreamt I was capable of doing but with courage in our hearts, we can surpass ourselves.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would generally do what I had pretty much done except maybe started my training as a martial artist even earlier. I love my life and profession as a martial artist as it defines my beliefs and things that I stand for – particularly, to help others stay safe by empowering them with realistic self-defence skills.
How do you unwind?
I enjoy martial arts training and look forward to the periodic training camps that I attend overseas – for examples, going for Muay Thai, knife and shooting training seminars in Thailand, or to US/ UK to train under world champion catch wrestlers like Dr Raul Ramirez (Catch Wrestling Alliance, US), and Roy Wood (Snakepit, UK).
Apart from such intensive training camps, on a more regular basis, my idea of unwinding is to relax with a hot cup of coffee and watch my favourite video collection or surf the internet while listening to my favourite songs.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My idea of relaxation is to go for martial arts training to upgrade my skills sets further. In this respect, Thailand would be my favourite Asian destination as I would go train with my Muay Thai teacher, Master Toddy.
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Shameless plug for your business:
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This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.