Canne de Combat - the French Connection
Cane-Fighting, A Dynamic French Sport
Canne de combat is a modern dynamic sport, developed from an ancient French form of self defense. This very French sport places an emphasis on agility, co-ordination and graceful movement, not on aggression. It is often referred to as "La Canne", although this term actually refers to the complete art, including self defense skills, as well as the sporting aspect.
Canne is a product of the history and culture of France, having begun as a method of self-defense taught alongside French boxing. More about the history later.
This photo is copyright of Ollie Batts. It was taken at our gym, in 2009, during the British Championships. See more photos on our website. Please do not copy without permission.
If Cirque de Soleil and Mortal Kombat had Babies...
I filmed this Canne de Combat demo in Trebes, in the south of France, in 2007, during the Finals of the World Savate Combat Championships. Actual competitions take place in a circular "aire", not in a roped ring.
Canne de Combat in the 19th Century - Some history
La Canne developed in early in the 19th century. Around this time, French Gentlemen often carried canes as fashion accessories, but they were also useful for self-defence.
In 1843, Professor Leboucher published a series of lessons on the use of the cane. The practice of Canne continued to flourish throughout the 19th century - it was taught in gyms, schools and in the military services.
During the first and second world wars, the arts of Savate and La Canne came close to extinction when many top instructors were killed. Between the two wars, however, the techniques of canne were taught in a few Savate boxing clubs, and even featured in the programme of national sports in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
Cane fighting techniques of the late 1940s to 1960s were influenced by a small number of highly-skilled individuals, including Comte Pierre Baruzy and Roger Lafond. Maitre Lafond, was born in Paris in 1913, and died only recently. He trained at Joinville-le-Pont. Taken captive during the second war, he was released from a prisoner of war camp in 1945, and was still involved in the sport at the age of 96.
My photo shows an Italian Sword stick on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.
Canne de Combat canes are made of chestnut wood. They are very light, slightly tapered, and 95cm long. They come in three weight categories:
1) black, the lightest at around 100g - 125g, is used for competition
2) red, for practice, is a little heavier at 125g - 150g
3) green, for manipulation practice, is between 150g and 190g
Green canes are often engraved and presented to fighters who take part in major championships.
Cannists wear a padded suit and gloves. They also use fencing masks with padded covers for extra protection. The sport was standardized, by Maurice Sarry, in the 1970s.
Fighters compete in a circular arena, with judges raising flags to show points as they are scored.
Sebastien Pilot, a French cannist and wheelchair-user, has been a pioneer of cane-fighting for individuals with reduced mobility. Wheelchair cannists can compete, in equality, with the same striking techniques and regulations. They can also show the same level of combativeness.
World Combat Games - St Petersburg, October 2013
Canne de Combat attracted a lot of attention at the World Combat Games in St Petersburg, Russia !
Gold medal : Benjamin Latt, France
Silver medal : Peter Nyilasy, Hungary
Bronze medals : Thomas Horstmeyer, Germany, and Matthieu Paquette, Canada
The 2016 World Championships will be in Varazdin, Croatia.
Cane Making & Collecting
Many cannists are interested in the history of canes and fencing, making canes and collecting canes. Participants in canne de combat championships are often presented with engraved canes to commemorate the event.
In this book, you will find step-by-step projects for beginners, as well as more sophisticated projects for experienced woodworkers. Includes information on the techniques, materials and best types of wood to use.
With this useful book, you can also find out the value of your canes.
Carving your own Cane
If you enjoy carving, and a looking for a new project, why not carve your own unique cane.
World & European Championships
The first World Championships were held in Ile de Reunion in 2004. Four years later, in 2008, Germany hosted the championships in Frankenburg. From 2012, the World Championships will take place every two years.
There have also been three European Championships: Schiltigheim (France) in 2006, Cambridge (England) in 2010 and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) in 2013.
The 2012 World Canne de Combat Championships took place on 22nd & 23rd September, in Saint Herblain, Nantes, France. The men's category was dominated by the French team, but Slovenia and Germany took medals in the women's event. Results for the 2012 World Championships:
Men: Champion du monde Benjamin Latt (France)
Women: Championne du monde Selenia Claudin-Mabire (France)
The men's and women's team competitions were won by France
The 2014 Championships were held in Budapest, Hungary in September 2014. In the 2014 World Championships, Benjamin Latt (France) and Selenia Claudin-Mabire (France) retained their titles.
Canne de Combat Masks
For safety, fencing masks are used in training and competition. A padded head cover is attached by velcro to give extra protection to the back, top and sides of the head.
Trying A Combat Sport?
Would you like to try a combat sport? If so, which?
Useful Links for French Cane
- Federation Internationale de SAVATE - Accueil
Presentation de la Federation Internationale de SAVATE et de ses activities
- Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts
Classes in canne de combat available here
- CNCCB - Comite National de Canne de Combat et Baton
Le Comite National de Canne de Combat et Baton (CNCCB) est l'association chargee du developpement national des disciplines : canne de combat, baton
- Women in Savate and Canne