Hubert Burda Media

Qin Yunquan on her Award from The Queen

The self-defence instructor and social entrepreneur talks about her work, the vulnerable the skill of self-defence and The Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

Don’t let Qin Yunquan’s 1.62m frame fool you. She can easily throw an aggressor twice her weight and much taller than her – just by using her body weight, bare hands and psychology. And it’s her mission to teach this potentially life-saving to children and women – and anyone classified as vulnerable. This includes the abused women, the elderly and at-risk kids.

For this, she received The Queen’s Young Leaders Award in London from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace at the end of June. Celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the awards recognise outstanding young people throughout the Commonwealth who have transformed the lives of others around them. Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 people (aged from 18 to 29) are selected to win this award. This is one for every year of that the Queen has served as Head of the Commonwealth at time of her diamond jubilee.

Qin is well-versed with various forms of psychology and unarmed combat including Kapap, used by Israeli forces. She co-developed an eclectic self-defence system, Modern Street Combatives.

The bio-engineering graduate represented Singapore as a National Wrestler from 2013 to 2015, and was a former MMA competitor. She is also a catch wrestler and in July 2017, she won first place in the Women’s Absolute Division of the Frank Gotch World Catch Wrestling Tournament in the US.

“God willing, I will be spending the rest of my life carrying on with my mission of helping others stay safe in a world that is increasingly becoming more dangerous,” she says.

How did you first become interested in defending the vulnerable?

As a petite-sized Asian girl, I have always been conscious of my vulnerability. I also reacted with horror to some of the sexual and rape cases I read about in the news. I felt a moral outrage and disgust for acts of violence against women and vowed that one day, I would do my part to help women and children stay safe – even though at that point, I didn’t know what or how.

How did you start your journey in self-defence?

I was around 19-years-old when I chanced across a newspaper feature on some of Singapore’s top realistic self-defence schools. Kapap Academy Singapore appealed to me; it was founded by a psychologist, Teo Yew Chye, who lost a brother from a tragic but senseless street attack in Johor. The psychologist was a martial artist trained in several realistic self-defence systems such as Kapap (Israeli hand to hand combat) and Savate de Rue (French street defence). I went for a free trial and was immediately hooked. It was nothing like what I had being exposed to as a Wushu practitioner then. We were not drilled in complex or strength-based moves, but used simple principles of physics and bio-mechanics to dominate an opponent.  It hit me then that this is what I wanted to master. Not long after, I started to prove myself as a martial artist and instructor. My coach asked me to specialise in ladies and children’s self-defence. (Qin now runs Kapap as its CEO).

Congratulations on receiving the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. How did the award come about?

Sometime in 2016, my coach/mentor asked permission to nominate me for the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for my social entrepreneurial work with vulnerable groups. I did not in my wildest dreams expect to become the only Singaporean to win the award for Singapore in 2017, or the first martial artist in the world to receive a medal from the Queen for empowering others with life-saving skills in self-defence.

In the lead up to meeting the Queen, you received a week of mentoring and networking in the UK as part of the award? What was that like?

The week was a whirlwind of activities organised by the Young Leaders team. We attended back to back talks, seminars and discussions with fellow young leaders on collaborative projects and visited major British governmental and UK-based multinational (companies). We were overwhelmed by the activities, but found the once-in-a-lifetime experience exhilarating, even magical. The Queen in person, has an air of splendour and decorum, and an old-world charm that one can only imagine from reading books of a particular era. The brief time we had with the Queen and the opportunity of personally receiving a medal from Her Majesty has increased my resolve to carry on as a young leader of the community.

Find out more about Qin Yunquan in the upcoming September 2017 issue of Prestige Singapore.