Savate (French pronunciation: [savat]), also known as boxe française, French boxing, French kickboxing or French footfighting, is a traditional French martial art which uses the hands and feet as weapons combining elements of western boxing with graceful kicking techniques.
Only foot kicks are allowed unlike some systems such as muay Thai, and silat which allow the use of the knees or shins. Savate is a French word for “old shoe”. Savate is perhaps the only style of kickboxing in which the fighters habitually wear shoes. A male practitioner of savate is called a savateur while a female is called a savateuse.
Savate takes its name from the French for “old boot” (heavy footwear that used to be worn during fights; cf. French-English loanwords sabot and sabotage and Spanish cognate zapato). The modern formalized form is mainly an amalgam of French street fighting techniques from the beginning of the 19th century. There are also many types ofsavate rules. Savate was then a type of street fighting common in Paris and northern France.
The two key historical figures in the history of the shift from street-fighting to the modern sport of savate are Michel Casseux (also known as le Pisseux) (1794–1869), a French pharmacist, and Charles Lecour (1808–1894). Casseux opened the first establishment in 1825 for practicing and promoting a regulated version ofchausson and savate (disallowing head butting, eye gouging, grappling, etc.). However the sport had not shaken its reputation as a street-fighting technique. Casseux’s pupil Charles Lecour was exposed to the English art of boxing when he witnessed an English boxing match in France between English pugilist Owen Swift and Jack Adams in 1838. He also took part in a friendly sparring match with Swift later in that same year. Lecour felt that he was at a disadvantage, only using his hands to bat his opponent’s fists away, rather than to punch. He then trained in boxing for a time before combining boxing with chausson and savate to create the sport of savate (or boxe française’, as we know it today). At some point la canne and le baton stick fighting were added, and some form of stick-fencing, such as la canne, is commonly part of savate training. Those who train purely for competition may omit this. Savate was developed professionally by Lecour’s student Josheph Charlemont and then his son Charles Charlemont.
Many martial arts provide ranking systems, such as belt colors. Savate uses glove colors to indicate a fighter’s level of proficiency (unlike arts such as karate, which assign new belts at each promotion, moving to a higher color rank in savate does not necessarily entail a change in the color of one’s actual gloves, and a given fighter may continue using the same pair of gloves through multiple promotions). Novices begin at no color.
Savate did not begin as a sport, but as a form of self-defense and fought on the streets of Paris and Marseille . This type of savate was known as savate de rue. In addition to kicks and punches, training in savate de rue (savate defense) includes knee and elbow strikes along with locks, sweeps, throws, headbutts, and take downs
Conclusion : Savate is a great kickboxing style that works well for street defense due to it’s style of kicks while wearing shoes.
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