Savate

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Savate (French pronunciation: [savat]), also known as boxe française, French boxing, French Kickboxing or French Footfighting, is a French martial art which uses the hands and feet as weapons combining elements of western boxing with graceful kicking techniques.[3][4] Only foot kicks are allowed unlike some systems such as Muay Thai, and Silat which allow the use of the knees or shins. "Savate" is a French word for "old shoe". Savate is perhaps the only style of kickboxing in which the fighters habitually wear shoes. A male practitioner of Savate is called a Savateur while a female is called a Savateuse.[5]

Contents

Early history

Savate takes its name from the French for "old boot" (heavy footwear that used to be worn during fights). The modern formalized form is mainly an amalgam of French street fighting techniques from the beginning of the 19th century. There are also many types of savate rules. Savate was then a type of street fighting common in Paris and northern France. In the south, especially in the port of Marseille, sailors developed a fighting style involving high kicks and open-handed slaps. It is conjectured that this kicking style was developed in this way to allow the fighter to use a hand to hold onto something for balance on a rocking ship's deck, and that the kicks and slaps were used on land to avoid the legal penalties for using a closed fist, which was considered a deadly weapon under the law. It was known as jeu marseillais ("game from Marseille"), and was later renamed chausson ("slipper", after the type of shoes the sailors wore). In contrast, at this time in England (the home of boxing and the Queensberry rules), kicking was seen as unsportsmanlike. Traditional savate or chausson was at this time also developed in the ports of North-West Italy and North-Eastern Spain.

The two key historical figures in the history of the shift from street-fighting to the modern sport of savate are Michel Casseux (also known as le Pisseux[6](1794–1869), a French pharmacist, and Charles Lecour (1808–1894). Casseux opened the first establishment in 1825 for practicing and promoting a regulated version of chausson and savate (disallowing head butting, eye gouging, grappling, etc). However the sport had not shaken its reputation as a street-fighting technique. Casseux's pupil Charles Lecour was exposed to the English art of boxing when he witnessed an English Boxing match in France between English pugilist Owen Swift and Jack Adams in 1838[7]. He also took part in a friendly sparring match with Swift later in that same year. Lecour felt that he was at a disadvantage, only using his hands to bat his opponent's fists away, rather than to punch. He then trained in boxing for a time before combining boxing with chausson and savate to create the sport of savate (or boxe française', as we know it today). At some point la canne and le baton stick fighting were added, and some form of stick-fencing, such as la canne, is commonly part of savate training. Those who train purely for competition may omit this. Savate was developed professionally by LeCour's student Joseph Charlemont and then his son Charles Charlemont.

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