Babylon Nights Tidbit #14 ~ Savate

by Daniel Depp

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Babylon Nights Tidbit #14 ~ Savate

Unread postby Liz » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:07 pm


Pg. 193:

Spandau was trying to remember what the hell savate was when Vignon kicked him high inside his left thigh. His leg went numb and sickly weak form hip to toes.

I imagine that most of you are familiar with kickboxing. Some of you may even participate in it as part of your regular exercise routine. Did you know that savate (French pronunciation: [savat]) is the French version of kickboxing—also known as boxe française, French boxing, French Kickboxing or French Footfighting. The French version of this martial art uses the hands and feet as weapons combining elements of western boxing with graceful kicking techniques. Only foot kicks are allowed unlike some systems such as Muay Thai, Shou Shu, and Silat which allow the use of the knees or shins. "Savate" is a French word for "old shoe". Wikipedia claims that savate may be the only style of kickboxing in which the fighters habitually wear shoes. A female who practices savate is called a savateuse while a male practitioner is called a savateur.

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 (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. 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.

Savate was later codified under a Committee National de Boxe Francaise under Charles Charlemont's student Count Pierre Baruzy (dit Barrozzi). The Count is seen as the father of modern savate and was 11-time Champion of France and its colonies, his first ring combat and title prior to World War I. Savate de Defense, Defense Savate,Savate de Rue ("de rue" (which has no other spelling) means "of the street") is the name given to those methods of fighting excluded from savate competition. The FIS (International Savate Federation) is the official World Federation.

Perhaps the ultimate recognition of the respectability of savate came in 1924 when it was included as a demonstration sport in the Olympic Games in Paris. In 2008, Savate was recognised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) - this recognition allows savate to hold official University World Championships, the first will be held in Nantes, France in 2010. The 25th anniversary of the founding of the International Savate Federation, in March 2010, was celebrated with a visit to Lausanne, to meet with IOC President Jacques Rogge. FIS President Gilles Le Duigou was presented with a momento depicting the Olympic Rings. In April 2010, the International Savate Federation was accepted as a member of SportAccord (previously known as AGFIS) - a big step forward on the road to Olympic recognition.

Despite its roots, savate is a relatively safe sport to learn. According to USA Savate, "savate ranks lower in number of injuries when compared to American football,hockey, football, gymnastics, basketball, baseball and inline skating".

Today, savate is practiced all over the world by amateurs: from Australia to the USA and from Finland to Britain. Many countries (including the United States) have national federations devoted to promoting savate.

Modern codified savate provides for three levels of competition: assault, pre-combat and combat. Assault requires the competitors to focus on their technique while still making contact; referees assign penalties for the use of excessive force. Pre-combat allows for full-strength fighting so long as the fighters wear protective gear such as helmets and shinguards. Combat, the most intense level, is the same as pre-combat, but protective gear other than groin protection and mouthguards is prohibited.

Many martial arts provide ranking systems, such as belt colors. Savate uses glove colors to indicate a fighter's level of proficiency (unlike arts such as karate, which assign new belts at each promotion, moving to a higher color rank in savate does not necessarily entail a change in the color of one's actual gloves, and a given fighter may continue using the same pair of gloves through multiple promotions). Novices begin at no color.

Depending of Association or Commission that one belongs too, a savateur can compete. In the French Federation a Yellow Glove can compete, in Belgium a Green Glove can Compete, in USA SAVATE the Competition levels start at novice (6 months) and in Russia No Gloves.

Nowadays, savate is just a term meaning Boxe-Française Savate. In the 1970s the term "Savate" was rarely used in France to refer to the formalised sport: people mostly used the term Boxe-Française Savate, B.F, B.F.S. or simply Boxe-Française. The term savate remains in use mostly outside France or when speaking a language other than French.

The global distribution of schools (salles) today is best explained through their stylistic approaches:

 La Boxe Française-Savate (1980–present): the technical abilities of both Savate's major kicking arsenal and English Boxing were merged into a definitive sport of combat.

 La Savate Défense (1994–present): was first presented by Professeur Piere Chainge then produced into Self-Defense by Eric Quequet in 2000. After the French Federation dismantled Prof. Change and placed Michel Laroux in charge of the formations. It's based on La Boxe Française Savate, La Savate of the late 19th century, La Lutte Parisienne and the discipline* of La canne de Combat (stick) *includes also Le Bâton Français (staff), Le Couteau (knife), Le Poignard (dagger), La Chaise (chair) and Le Manteau (overcoat).

 Re-constructed historical Savate: Some savate has been re-constructed from old textbooks, such as those written in the late 19th or early 20th century. As such, this form of Savate would be considered a Historical European Martial Art. Re-construction of these older systems may or may not be performed by practitioners familiar with the modern sport and is not at present likely to be particularly widespread.

 La savate forme (2008): Cardio-kickboxing form of La Boxe Française-Savate.

Andre Panza, Champion Savateur
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3234
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Tidbit #14 ~ Savate

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:50 am

Very interesting as usual. I wonder how one fights with an overcoat? Perhaps it's used to hide the weapon.

And it never occurred to me that there were different kinds of formalized fighting besides traditional--i.e. Queensberry rules--and the Asian schools (karate, akito etc)

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
Posts: 771
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:09 pm
Location: Kentucky

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Tidbit #14 ~ Savate

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:29 am

Did not know the meaning of Savate - so informative tidbit. I am not a fan of kickboxing as younger members of my family are (grandkids). If I ever went to a match I would have to cover my eyes in fright! :fear: To me it is a gruesome sport.

User avatar
Posts: 2059
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Olney, Maryland

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Tidbit #14 ~ Savate

Unread postby fansmom » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:08 am

Ow. Don't think I'll be taking that up as a hobby.

Return to “Babylon Nights”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest