From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia

Savate, also known as French Boxing, French Kickboxing, or boxe française, is a martial art that origianted in France which employs the use of both the hands and the feet. As with many martial arts, there is both a self-defense version (savate defence) and a sport version (boxe savate). A male practitioner of savate is called a savateur while a female fighter is called a savateuse.


Savate was created at beginning of the 19th century by French sailors in the port city of Marseille. They felt they needed to create their own style of self-defense because Marseille, like many port cities, was a rather rough-and-tumble kind of town--no doubt due in large part to the sailors themselves. It is a matter of debate whether these sailors created savate on their own, independently of any influences from Asian martial arts, or if they took fighting skills they learned during their travels in the East and turned them into their own style of street combat.


Whereas fighters' skill levels in most Asian martial arts are indicated by the wearing of colored belts, in savate, fighters wear colored gloves. From lowest to highest rank, the colors are blue, green, red, white, yellow, and silver.


Self-defense Savate contains many elements of wrestling in addition to punching and kicking techniques. It was turned into a regulated, striking-only sport largely by the efforts of Michel Casseux and Charles Lecour, who in the early 19th century organized the first official Savate competitions. On the other hand, sport savate, unlike Muay Thai, does not allow the use of knee or shin to deliver a kick, only the foot. In the ring, a savate fighter is required to wear a special savate shoe called a chaussure ("shoe" in French.) Savate uses standard kickboxing training, including the heavy bag, pad work, and sparring.

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