Girded with guts

January 24, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 02:02 am IST

Dipti Shankar, the first and only Indian woman Kapap instructor trained in Israel, talks toP. Sujatha Varmaabout ‘weapons of opportunity’ that can be used at the time of duress

Most of us have seen it in movies. A girl walks through an isolated parking garage. Suddenly, an evil-looking guy jumps out from behind a car. Girl jabs bad guy in the eyes with her keys; or may be she kicks him in a certain sensitive place. Either way, while he’s squirming, she leaps into her car and speeds to safety.

That’s in the movies. Here’s the real-life action replay: When the girl goes to jab or kick the guy, he knows what’s coming and grabs her arm (or leg), pulling her off balance. Enraged by her attempt to fight back, he flips her onto the ground. Now she’s in a bad place to defend herself — and she can’t run away.

Many people think of self-defence as a karate kick below the belt or a jab in the eyes of an attacker.

“Not always,” says Dipti Shankar, Chief Instructor at Delhi-based FitComb, an organisation of Protection Professionals. “Almost all martial arts in the world are sports-based wherein you have a set of rules to follow. But in a real life situation, rules don’t work and the fight is always no-holds barred.”

Perturbed by the growing incidence of attacks on women, this 33-year-old former fashion designer from Delhi felt the need to train herself in self-protection and joined Fitcomb. “While training, I realised that this was a subject I connected with and wanted to take it up as a profession. In a short span, I was active part of the organisation as its chief instructor,” she recalls with a smile. In 2013, she visited Israel and trained herself in KAPAP, an acronym for Krav Panim el Panim (Hebrew). When translated, it means “hand to hand combat”, a close quarter battle system of defensive tactics employed by the Israeli defence forces.

Dipti, the first and only Indian women Kapap instructor trained in Israel, was in Vijayawada recently to train city girls in this unique self-defence system.

In the last five years, Fitcomb has trained more than 38,000 people across the country from segments as different as Indian Army, police forces, corporate bodies, schools and colleges.

“Kapap is not based on strength or might, but it is about an alert mind which is our biggest weapon. We teach simple techniques like situational awareness; it is all about how to pre-empt your opponent. We are in the job of understanding the science of crime and we take lessons from day-to-day life situations. For instance, you don’t need a gun in your hand to counter an attack. Something as simple as your leather bag can be turned into a powerful weapon to smack the attacker’s face; or use your ear studs to perforate through the assaulter’s back of the hand where the skin is very thin,” she says with a glint in her eyes.

“Remember our purpose is not to attack someone but to stay protected,” she hastens to add. Ask her where do Indian girls stand on a scale of one to 10 in terms of self-defence and her answer comes instantly: “Minus 5. We are not prepared at all. The fault lies in the manner in which we raise our children. A core team of five at Fitcomb is focussed on teaching the fairer sex to think, reflect and act. Crime exists everywhere, only the nature of crime may vary from place to place,” she says.

Her message to girls is loud and clear: “You have just one life; Live it the way you want to, it’s your right and you are worth it.”

Remember our purpose is not to attack someone but to stay protected

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