From Academic Kids

Savate (pronounced ), also known as boxe française (French boxing) or French kickboxing, is a French martial art which uses both the hands and feet as weapons and contains elements of western boxing, grappling and graceful kicking techniques (only foot kick, no knee, no tibia). Practitioners of savate are called savateurs (men), and savateuses (women).

Savate takes its name from the French for old boot (heavy footwear used to be worn during fights) and is actually an amalgam of French street fighting techniques from the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, savate was a type of street fighting common in Paris and the north of France. And in the south, especially in the port of Marseille, sailors had developed a form of fighting involving high kicks, which was known as jeu marseillais (game from Marseille), which was later renamed chausson (slipper, after the type of shoes sailors wore). In contrast, at this time in England (the home of boxing and the Queensberry rules), kicking was seen as unsportsmanlike or as something that only cowards would resort to.

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), and Charles Lecour (1808-1894). Casseux opened the first establishment in 1825 for practicing and promoting a regulated version of chausson and savate (disallowing head butting, gouging etc). However the sport had not yet managed to shake off its reputation as a street fighting technique. A pupil of Casseux's, Charles Lecour was exposed to the English art of boxing around 1830 and felt that he was at a disadvantage, only using his hands to bat his opponent's feet away, rather than punching. He trained in boxing for two years before, in 1832, combining boxing with chausson and savate to create the sport of savate boxe française as we know it today.

In competitive savate, there are four allowed kinds of kicks, and three kinds of punches [1] (

  1. fouette (whip kick), high, medium or low
  2. chasse (piston-action kick), high, medium or low
  3. revers (sole of the shoe makes contact), side or front
  4. coup de pied bas (sweeping kick), low
  • Punches
  1. jab (lead hand)
  2. cross (rear hand)
  3. hook (bent arm)

Perhaps the ultimate recognition of the respectability of savate came in 1924 when it was included as a demonstration sport in the Olympic Games in Paris. Despite its roots, savate is a relatively safe sport to learn. According to USA Savate [2] (, "savate ranks lower in number of injuries when compared to football, hockey, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, baseball and inline skating".

Today, savate is practiced all over the world by amateurs: from Australia to the USA and Finland to Britain. Many countries (including the United States) have national federations devoted to promoting the sport.

Modern codified savate provides for three levels of competition: assaut, pre-combat, and combat. Assaut requires the competitors to focus on their technique while still making contact; referees assign penalties for the use of excessive force. Pre-combat allows for full-strength fighting so long as the fighters wear protective gear such as helmets and shinguards. Combat, the most intense level, is the same as pre-combat, but protective gear other than groin protection and mouthguards is prohibited.

Many martial arts provide ranking systems, such as belt colors. Similarly, savate uses glove colors to indicate a fighter's level of proficiency. (Unlike arts such as karate or capoeira, which assign new belts at each promotion, however, savate rank is actually reflected in the color of one's gloves.) Novices begin at no color. Promotion tests allow the fighter to graduate successfully to blue, green, red, white, and yellow. Competition is restricted to red glove rank and above; fighters at white glove rank are considered to be instructors in training, and yellow gloves are required to teach what they know to others.

Related articles

External links

ja:サバット sv:savate de:Savate pl:Savate


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