By Yossi Sheriff

Savate is a type of French kick boxing created in 1785 to 1803 and developed from the sailor-invented street fighting technique called Chausson.

Savate is a combat sport. The word Savate comes from the French word of "old boot," referring to the heavy boots worn during combat.

The Development of Savate

Modern Savate is actually a conglomerate of many of the self-defense/street-fighting techniques used or created in the 18th and 19th century, among them and also the most prolific, Chausson. Chausson, while disputed, is credited to the sailors of Marseilles at around the early 1700s. Chausson, at the time, was also called Jeu Marseillaise and Jeu bas de Batuque, meaning The Game of Marseilles and The Game of the Low Boat, respectively. While known for is high kicks, Chausson also involved elbowing and grappling, and in many cases open-hand slaps, head butting, eye gouging, and strikes to the groin. This aside, the main focus of Chausson were free-handed high kicks, allowing the the fighter a free hand to balance himself on a ship. Chausson, now an extinct martial art, was replaced by the sport Savate, which had disallowed all the street-fighting aspects of Chausson.

Boxe Française

After the development of Savate by Casseux, One critical part of Savate was missing, though, and would come to Casseux's attention when in 1830, his pupil Charles Lecour was handily defeated by British boxer Owen Swift. Strikes with the hand were never an integral part of Chausson or Savate, and Lecour was at severe disadvantage, being only able to block with his hands. Fueled by his defeat by Owen Swift, in 1832, Charles Lecour developed the modern Savate combat system called Boxe Francaise. Boxe Francaise included more boxing-based punches, included the clean kicks of Savate, and still omitted the street-fighting pugilism of Chausson. Lecour then later added, mainly for their training attributes, Le Baton and Le Canne, which were both stickfighting techniques. Charles Lecour fought and won in many Savate and boxing bouts using his Boxe Francaise. Lecour went on to teach his methods throughout Europe, and it gained a large popularity for its proficiency in self-defense. Lecour's personal pupil was Charels Charlemont, who went on to teach Count Pierre Baruzy, who is commonly known as the Father of Savate. A student of the Count, Baron James Short of Castleshort, instituted Boxe Francaise in the UK.

Savate Today

Savate-Boxe Francaise is yet another form of Savate. Savate-Boxe Francaise came about in the 1980s, when the National Committee of Savate and the French Federation of Boxe Francaise agreed to merge. Simply put, Savate-Boxe Francaise is the exact same discipline as Boxe Francaise, but with more rules and regulations. There are three different forms of the sport: Combat, Pre-combat and Assault. Assault is similar to sparring; while still allowed to strike, the fighters focus more so on their techniques. Pre-combat is full-strength but only if protective gear is worn. Combat is the same as pre-combat, but protective gear is omitted.