What is Savate, Boxe Francaise

Savate, (Sa-Vat) is a French style of boxing using both the hands and feet. Savate began as a street-fighting system, using low kicks, wrestling, open hand striking, and head-butts, however over time it began to develop into a sport, with the establishment of the first Salle, or training gym by Michel Casseux in 1825.

Around the same time, another method of foot fighting was being practiced in the docklands of Marseilles known as Chausson.  Chausson was known for its high kicks, with the practitioner’s hands often being placed on the ground during kicking.

Despite the differences in the kicking primary targets, the common theme in both Savate and Chausson was the wearing of the shoe by practitioners. 


A Brief History

During the 1800’s Charles Lecour took on Owen Swift, an English Boxer in a friendly match after which he combined the techniques of English Boxing (then bare-knuckle boxing) with what he considered the best techniques of French Kicking (from both Savate and Chausson) to create what became known as La Boxe Française, or French Boxing.

Later, after the introduction of specific targets and boxing gloves for English Boxing under the newly formed Queensbury Rules, those involved in French Boxing followed suit. It is for this reason that it is permissible in French Boxing to kick an opponent in the back, but not to punch him or her there, and why it is no longer permitted to touch the floor with the hands when kicking.

Savate (Boxe Française) continued to develop and in 2000, it was decided to introduce the rules of a touch contact version of Savate called Assaut where practitioners use the techniques and tactics of Savate, but must control their strikes, making it a sport of strategy, speed, timing, agility, and endurance. This is a particularly enjoyable method of competition, suitable for people of all ages.

There is an annual event in France under Assaut rules where participants must be a minimum of 50 years of age to enter, and are often aged over 70 years, a reflection of the life long learning and training associated with Savate.


Details, Where and When

There are now three levels of competition in Savate:

  • Assaut or touch contact
  • Pre-Combat or padded full contact
  • Combat, the original full contact version where the competitors wear boots, groin guard, chest guard (for ladies), a gum shield and gloves.
  • The world governing body of sport for Savate within SportAccord is the Federation Internationale de Savate.
  • White Tiger Martial Arts is a registered member of Savate Na hÉireann, the representative body for the international federation in Ireland.
  • Beginners should wear loose clothing, indoor training shoes (you can train without shoes at the start), and bring water and a towel.
  • Everyone is welcome to try out the French Boxing style of Savate.

    No special equipment is needed to get involved in Savate, so why not give it a go!

    For further information call Martin O’Malley on 087 640 7263