Savate (French Boxing)
Definition and Etymology
Savate is a French kickboxing style that first appeared in the nineteenth century. The discipline was originally known as savate or chausson, referring respecively to the old shoes worn by workers and the special shoes used by French fencers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Savate is renowned for its precision kicks to the body’s vital points. Its punches are similar to those of Western boxing, and its kicks are designed to work efficiently with the hand techniques.
The term “Savate” is rarely used in France to refer to the sport. People mostly use the term Boxe Française, B.F or B.F.S. The term savate remains in use mostly outside France or when referring to this French martial art in a language other than French. Purists conside that Savate is the original martial art, while boxe française is the sport developed from the martial art, where the more dangerous techniques have been banned.
Savate is a French martial art in which both the hands and feet are used as weapons. It combines elements of western boxing with graceful kicking techniques. Unlike some Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and Chinese boxing, which allow the use of the knees or shins, in Savate only foot kicks are allowed.
Savate is perhaps the only style of kickboxing in which the fighters habitually wear shoes (savate being a French word for “old shoe”). A practitioner of savate is called a savateur or tireur (male) or savateuse (female).
French boxing – Savate – is of a rather recent origin, being approximately one hundred and fifty years old. Much before it became an art, Savate was a mean of survival used by street fighter in Marseilles. These street fighters preferred using their feets to their hands. Experience taught them the many advantages of blow of the foot. The name “Savate” is taken from the word “shoe.”
In 1820, an intelligent boy named Michel observed the various kicking methods of the street fighters. He watched, and talked with those people who had the most skill. He systematically noted his observation, put them together, classifying various kicks and made a format theory which he called “The art of Savate.” The school he opened was a great success. He found the elite & rich of the place where his student and they continued to practice at his school even after they had mastered the art because they had discovered that Savate was excellent as exercise.
Charles lecour an apt student of Michel opened a second school in Paris. Charles Locour has the distinction of having added to his Savate the principles of English boxing. This gave Savate more versatility. He expanded and developed Savate it into a sport. He is credited of organizing the first Savate sports meet.
By 1840, there were many great Savate teachers. Joseph Charlemont was considered the best. It is he who gave the art its perfection. It’s through his effort Savate became a fashionable sports in France. Till 1914 Savate as a sport and self-defence flourished. The sports saw its decline due to war and has not recovered from the war losses of many of its top teachers. Today Savate instructors are rare. There are not many trained instructors globally. Savate is easy to learn for practical use. A layman can find partial mastery of Savate very useful and effective. For an instructor it is demanding on stamina, endurance and perfection. It calls on agility, co-ordination, quickness of mind and reflex action to be a real good instructor.
Ketsugo a street self defence system has incorporated Savate because it was born on the street for self defence and is best for the street as self defence. Its techniques are so well tailored for survival on the street in terms of defence. It keeps you away from the tangles of the law, as it leaves little or no tell-tale signs rendering you culpable. This has strengthened the invincibility of the system of self defence – KETSUGO.