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Savate – french boxing

Updated on April 14, 2015
This is a photo I took at the University World Championships in Nantes, in 2010. It shows athletes from Algeria and France.
This is a photo I took at the University World Championships in Nantes, in 2010. It shows athletes from Algeria and France.

Savate is an elegant combat sport

Savate boxe francaise is a combat sport. An elegant combat sport that originated in France, but it is now practised world-wide. In it's home country, France, there are currently more than 50000 licence holders, and many others who practise the sport in schools and private gyms.

In fact, Savate is a combination of English Boxing and French Foot-fighting. These traditional forms of skirmishing were commonly tested out in ports and docks around the English and French coasts. Eventually, the two forms of fighting were found to be complimentary, and were combined to form a more effective system of fighting.

These days, fights take place in a ring, or on mats, depending on the discipline.

There are several disciplines of Savate, these include:
Savate Assaut, Savate Combat, SavatePro, Savate Forme and Savate Defense. There are also some stick-fighting disciplines in this family of combat sports. The best known is Canne de Combat. Read on to discover more!

Photo by Ollie Batts, Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts, 2013
Photo by Ollie Batts, Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts, 2013

Savate Assaut

Assaut is probably the most popular discipline of Savate. It is a combat discipline that can be practised by men, women and children for leisure or for competition. The aim in Assaut is to touch the opponent without being touched by them. Accuracy, balance and good control are valued.

In the sporting disciplines of Savate, fighters can only use their hands and feet to strike. Fighters wear gloves, usually with a padded palm, to protect their jhands when striking or blocking. They also wear smooth-soled boots to protect the feet.

Potential competitors can participate without fear of injury or knock out, so it's a lot of fun!

The Federation Internationale de Savate (FISav) organises World Championships in Savate Assaut for cadets (aged under 18 years) and Seniors (aged over 18 years).

Savate Combat

Savate Combat is for the fittest and toughest! In this discipline, fighters are permitted to hit hard, and to attempt to knock out their opponent. It's generally considered best to have a good level of experience in Assaut before beginning in Combat.

The Federation Internationale de Savate (FISav) organises World Championships in Savate Combat for junior men (aged 18 to 21 years), senior men (aged over 21 years) and senior women.

Savate on video


SavatePro is a discipline for elite fighters. Top athletes in Savate Combat are able to compete for SavatePro World titles and belts issued by the Federation Internationale de Savate (FISav) and Continental titles issued by the FISav Continental Federations.

French Boxing: Champion Techniques

French Boxing: Savate - My Champion Techniques
French Boxing: Savate - My Champion Techniques

A video/DVD for budding champions, showing some great combinations that worked well in competition for Kamel Chouaref, who held the greatest number of titles in French Boxing History.

Ollie Batts, professor of Savate Defense, teaching at Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts.
Ollie Batts, professor of Savate Defense, teaching at Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts.

Savate Defense

Savate, the sport, originated from Savate, the self defense system. Two hundred years ago, top masters would teach French boxing, along with fencing and cane-fighting.

Savate defense includes a much wider range of techniques than those permitted in sport Savate. In the sport, you may only strike with the foot or glove. In Savate defense, you can use shins, knees, elbows and more.

Savate Forme

Savate forme is a fun, energetic type of exercise, performed to music. It is popular with women, but men also participate. Classes are run for overall fitness and flexibility. Some clubs have put together teams who compete in Savate forme competitions. This is actually a great way to begin Savate - increasing your fitness and beginning to understand the various kicks and punches.

Photo copyright of Ollie Batts, taken at our gym, during the British Championships in 2009.
Photo copyright of Ollie Batts, taken at our gym, during the British Championships in 2009.

Canne de Combat

Canne de Combat was traditionally taught alongside Savate boxe francaise as a complementary self defence art. In the sport of Canne de Combat, fighters use a long chestnut cane to try to touch their partner, without being touched. At the elite level, it's a very dynamic athletic sport. It can also be played on a more recreational level for those of us who are a little older or less fit.

Taking part in Martial Arts and Combat Sports

There are many reasons why people participate in martial arts and combat sports. Some people enjoy a competitive challenge, but others train for fitness, self defence, personal development, making new friends, and many more reasons.

Do you take part in Martial Arts or Combat Sports?

See results

Boxing Gloves

Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves (Black, 16 oz.)
Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves (Black, 16 oz.)

Available in red, blue and black, sizes 12oz, 14oz, and 16oz, these pro-style gloves have full padding on the front and back of the wrist, ThumbLok feature to keep the thumb and fist positioned, and EverFresh odor and microbe guard.


Which are your favourite sports? And why?

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    • Pawpawwrites profile image


      5 years ago from Kansas

      In my younger days maybe.

    • savateuse profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you all for your encouragement. I hope to have several more hubs on similar topics very soon. ;)

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks for sharing! A little too active for me these days, but I do like to know what is out there! ;-)

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Tres bien. Good crisp verbal attack on this. You were quick with your hands and did not type with your feet!

      In Marvel Comics back in the 60s, a master of Savate, Batroc the Leaper, was featured. I think the character made a return in the 2014 Captain America film.

      Welcome to Hubpages. Stay in writing shape and give us another bout soon. Oui?

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Seems like I learn something new every day, and this was certainly one of those things! I'd never heard of this before but I find it very interesting.


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