Savate also known as Boxe Française (French boxing) or French kickboxing, is a martial art which employs both the hands and feet as weapons and contains elements of boxing and graceful kicking techniques using the whole foot (no shins or knees like in Muay Thai). Savate distinguishes itself from the 'harder' standup styles like Muay Thai by employing a more elusive style of offence and defence.
The history of Boxe Francaise Savate is not totally clear, but the following is a brief history of what is known of Boxe Francaise Savate.
Savate was first recognized by the public in 1820 concentrated upon the different methods and styles of foot fighting from the various provinces of France and these were combined with open handed defensive blows.
The creation of Savate is attributed in part to Michael Casseux. He would spend a lot of time studying the techniques of hoodlums and street fighters. He defined the techniques and he would each his techniques to the rich and the noble, thus popularizing the art. What once began as a bunch of street fighting techniques for the hoodlums, was now a systematic way of fighting for the rich and noble. Interest in Savate also began to spread throughout Europe, Russia and even the United States.
Charles Lecour, Michael Casseux’s best student, dreamed of perfecting the art of Savate. One day Lecour fought with a well-known boxer, Owen Swift. It was at this time that Lecour decided to include the hand techniques from English boxing, Charles Lecour combine English boxing with French Savate. This resulted in French boxing or Boxe Francaise Savate.
The individual most responsible for making Boxe Francaise savate a true sport and a complete system of physical education was Joseph Charlemont. Charlemont opened the first official school in 1887. One of his students was Alexander Dumas, the author of The Three Musketeers. However his two best students were his own son, Charles and another fighter named Casteres.
In October of 1899, a contest had ensued to determine which was better, English boxing or French Savate. This was billed as the “fight of the century.” The French choose Charles Charlemont and the English choose Jerry Driscoll. The match concluded with Driscoll being KO’d by a hard round kick to the stomach.
The 20th century began with First World Championship of Boxe Francaise, and the victory of Charlemont over Casteres. Savate was also included in the Olympic games in 1924 in Paris, France as a demonstration sport.
Between the two world wars, Count Pierre Baruzy emerged as a remarkable fighter and a “grand champion,” winning 11 French championships.
During World War II, Boxe Francaise Savate was dealt a heavy blow, as many fighters and teachers died. However Count Baruzy reorganized and aggressively promoted the art. If not for the efforts of Count Baruzy, Boxc Franchise savate would cease to exist.
It was in 1965 that the National Committee of French Boxing was created by Bernard Plasait and Marc Kunstle. On December 12, 1965 the committee found refuge with the French Federation of judo.
A warmup consisting of shadow boxing and bodyweight exercises start the class. Students are then partnered to do striking drills, using controlled contact on each other. This allows the student to progressively develop their timing, balance, distance, precision and defense. Sparring at the end of class is optional under the supervision of the instructor.
Shoes are needed, preferable wrestling shoes, shorts, t-shirt, hand wraps, gloves. If sparring is involved additional equipment such as a mouthguard are recommended.