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Savate Boxe Francaise
Savate is a combat sport that originated in France about two hundred years ago. It is also known as boxe francaise, French boxing or French foot-fighting.
Savate is a dynamic sport combining traditional French foot-fighting techniques with elements of English boxing. The word Savate actually means an "old shoe". I have heard it used on Paris streets to mean "a kick". "J'ai lui donne un savate" - I gave him a kick. The shoe or boot is fundamental to the sport. In Savate competition, you can't strike with the knee or shin, only with the boot.
Savate is practiced in around 90 countries, but the highest concentration of savateurs is in the home country of the sport, France. The French Federation of Boxe Francaise Savate has more than 50000 members.
This photo was taken by Ollie Batts at a training day, at our club, Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts. It is copyright to Ollie, and can only be used with his permission. See more photos on our website
More than "just a sport"
Savate has two inseparable parts: savate boxe franÃ§aise and savate defense. Savate boxe franÃ§aise, the sport, includes Savate Assaut, Savate Combat and Savate Pro. These are "one-on-one" fighting disciplines, which take place in a ring, with judges, a referee and rules. The fighters, called "tireurs" wear gloves, similar to boxing gloves, and special boots, called chaussures. Savate Defense, however, is a form of self-defense, and as such has no rules.
Other associated disciplines include canne de combat, canne & baton defense. Savate forme is becoming very popular with fitness fans.
Photo by Ollie Batts
I took this photo at the University World Championships, in Nantes, 2010.
Assaut is a form of competition in which accuracy, good technique and good control are essential. Contact can be with the gloves or boots, but there should be no force in the "touches". Knock-outs are forbidden in assaut.
An assaut bout can take place in a ring or on a matted area. The bout is controlled by a referee, and judges award points for each round. Bouts are normally of 3 rounds (1.5 or 2 minutes in length) with a short rest between rounds.
Fighters are separated into age and weight categories. In senior competitions, there are usually eight weight categories for men and eight for women.
The most recent World Championships were held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in autumn 2012. The results were:
under 56kg Charles HERBERT (FRANCE)
56/60kg Sinisa ZELKOVIC (SERBIA)
60/65kg Jeff DAHIE (FRANCE)
65/70kg Vincent MICHAUX (FRANCE)
70/75kg Reda KAROUM (ALGERIA)
75/80kg Sebastien CARRE (FRANCE)
80/85kg Kevin MONZA (FRANCE)
over 85kg Brahim ANNOUR (FRANCE)
under 48kg Sarah HAMOURIT (ALGERIA)
48/52kg Marion TROUILLET (FRANCE)
52/56kg Julia CHRISTOFEUL (FRANCE)
56/60kg Marina HORVAT (CROATIA)
60/65kg Marlene CIESLIK (FRANCE)
65/70kg Helene LELANT (FRANCE)
70/75kg Adeline BOUCHET (FRANCE)
over 75k Melissa QUELFENNEC (FRANCE)
Savate Assaut on Video
This is my video of some of the fights from the 2007 European Championships, which took place in Tournai, near Lille.
Savate: French Foot Fighting - by Bruce Tegner
Savate : French Foot Fighting was probably the first book written about Savate in the English language. It includes historical information and practical application.
Savate Assaut Gala, London - February 2013Click thumbnail to view full-size
There are many Savate books available in the French language, not so many in others. But, if you look carefully, you can find some excellent Savate books in English.
This photo was taken by a friend, Yonnel Kurtz, at the finals of the French championships in 2009. For more of Yonnel's excellent photos, visit his Flickr photostream
Combat is a form of competition in which knock-outs are allowed. Fewer people take part in Combat competitions due to the high level of training and conditioning required.
Combat bouts are fought in a ring, with a referee to control the fight, and judges to give a score, if the fight "goes the distance". In tournaments, the bouts are normally three round of two minutes, but in championships there can be as many as five rounds.
The most recent World Combat Championship Finals were held in Clermont Ferrand, France, in November 2013 and Hainan, China, in December 2013. The results were:
under 56kg Ousmane SARR (FRANCE)
56/60kg Jonathan BONNET (FRANCE)
60/65kg Laurent Olivier CRESCENCE (FRANCE)
65/70kg Georgy FERNANTE (FRANCE)
70/75kg Tony ANCELIN (FRANCE)
75/80kg Damir PLANTIC (CROATIA)
80/85kg Alexey SHACHIVKO (RUSSIA)
over 85kg Fabrice AURIENG (FRANCE)
under 48kg Elisa PICOLLO (ITALY)
48/52kg Margot BOUYJOU (FRANCE)
52/56kg Anissa MEKSEN (FRANCE)
56/60kg Cyrielle GIRODIAS (FRANCE)
60/65kg Julie BURTON (FRANCE)
65/70kg Blandine JOUARD (FRANCE)
70/75kg Nives RADIC (CROATIA)
56/60kg Narek BABADZHANIAN (RUSSIA)
60/65kg Cedric KHELIF (FRANCE)
65/70kg Jeff DAHIE (FRANCE)
70/75kg Herve KIRCH (FRANCE)
75/80kg Dylan COLIN (FRANCE)
80/85kg Jovan IKIC (SERBIA)
over 85kg Drazen KURAJA (CROATIA)
Savate Combat on Video
A compilation of clips of Savate Combat, including finals of the World Championships. I filmed this at Trebes, France, in December 2007.
The qualifying tournament of the European Combat Championships took place on 13th & 14th June 2014 in Bugeat, in Correze, France.
Taking part in combat sports
I took this photo at the semi-finals of the French Championships in Lorient, March 2013.
Do you participate in a combat sport?
World Youth Championships
Children and young people can participate in Assaut competitions, as fighters and as officials. In July 2011, the first World Championships for cadets were held in France. Boys and girls aged 15, 16 and 17 years took part in two days of competition. This excellent video by Jamel gives a taste of the event.
The second World Youth Championships took place in Karatas, Serbia, 7-11th July 2013
A little history
The history of Boxe FranÃ§aise - Savate is traceable back to the early 1800's. Charles Lecour combined the hand skills of Boxe Anglaise (English Boxing) with French kicking techniques. The kicks were taken from the old fighting methods of savate and chausson. The word "savate" is a slang term for 'old shoe' or 'old boot', while 'Chausson' was the name of a sailor's deck shoe.
The image above is taken from the "Denver Republican" newsaper, published in Denver, Colorado on 20th June 1896. It shows a variety of kicks and other techniques in use at that time.
For a detailed history of the development of Savate, have a look at Ollie Batts'
Savate Fight in 1894
This video shows an early photo animation of a savate fight. Photographed in 1894, it shows kicking techniques similar to those in use today. Hand skills have developed a lot since that time.
More reading on Savate
Including classic books by Bruce Tegner, Salem Assli and Richard Muggeridge
Savate in Germany
Savate is a popular sport in Germany too!
Links for Savate
The website of the International Savate Federation, the world governing-body for Savate and associated disciplines.
- Federation Internationale de Savate on Facebook
Federation Internationale de Savate on Facebook
- Ollie Batts' website on Savate
Includes a history of Savate, along with information about the modern sport.
- French Federation of Boxe FranÃ§aise Savate
Info on Savate and associated disciplines in France
- Great Britain Savate Federation
Info about Savate and associated disciplines in the UK
- United States Savate Federation
Info about Savate and associated disciplines in the United States
- Women in Savate and Canne
Are martial arts and combat sports good for self-discipline? Or fitness? Is it just a fitness fad? Does martial art training make you more controlled or more violent? What do you think?