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~ 'f ~~
he precise Origin of sav~te is ., ," known, and puzzled even its earli• .' est practitioners. It is known that. 17th-century sailors ofMarseiII es were re'" quired to practice stretch-kicks. to keep tbemincondition forocean voyages. Some historians speculate that these sailors were influenced by contact with the Asian martial arts during their' occasional visits to BUIlTIa. Thailandand China Certainly streetflghting the barrooms 'BIndalleys of French seaports 'did begin 10 feature crescent kicks to the head, body and legs -thoug_h they lacked power and often missed the opponent altogether. Sailors called this Conn offoot-fighdng "chausson," gf "slipper," in reference to the felt slippers they wore when practicing stretch-kicks. . Meanwhile, perhaps influenced by , chausson, the soldiers in Napoleon's army -developed alii unofficial punishment for , regiments] misfits. A group of soldiers would' hold the offender in place while another kicked him severely in the but~ rocks, The punishment was caned "'Ja' l I savate," literally "old. shoe." but might be best translated as "booting." Perhaps Parisian soldiers introduced savate to the publie. booting undesirables in the shins or confronting the disorderly with a reg lciele '. • Whatever the case, by the beginning of 'the 19th century the ruffian elements" of IParis brawled with their feet rather than theirfists, and theirkick-fighting was popu1:', lady called.savate,









17th-century sailors . -' ners, regularly descended upon Casseuse's of Marseilles were school to challenge his mastery. Fortupate1y, Casseuse, himself an excellent required to practice fighter.always rose to the occasion. But as . stretch-kicks to keep' a result of these encounters with chausson, savate came to them in condition for . , high-level kicks,include both mid-level and in addition to Casseuse's low kicks. ocean voyages. Some' . historians speculate . Later,CharlesLecour,oneofCasseusc's beststudents.joumeyed to London to study that these sailors were "bare-knuckle boxing from England's most' respected teachers, AdernsandSmith. Upon influenced by contact his return to Paris in 1832, he synthesized with the Asian martial, .. English .boxing and ~asseuse's savate to create la boxe Francaise.sx "French boxarts during their . ing," Lecour- also introduced the' use of,' , to Bunna, Thailand, Chin a. and
. s,

nal lsits :
.. ,.VISI

boxing gloves, for training. which mini~.- '. mized accidents and increased the art's ~-~. ' popularity, Again, France's elite nook'nt)! ~;::,." ticeandLecourbecameasought~fterfighf', .master, ~~




r. " ,, : ~ Savate

Gets Systemized

' ,.


.~~'., . Eventually, ayoungman named Michael
cass~usesougbloutthebettecstreetfigbters ~atld observed and categorizedtheir tech'iiiq~es', The result was a refined fighting ~systern, His 'offensive techniques empha. ,sized front, side and roundhouse kicks to i the knee. shin' or instep. 'The hands were held low and open to defend against groin . ~attacks, Palm heelstrikes were used to' attack the face, nose and eyes .. ~ ..

" l'l11824, Casseuse authored a pamphlet' . on savate that caught the attention ofPar1-







:s,ianpolite society. Almost 'overnight


1naster of self-defense, His clientele ranged from the wealthy to the noble and included both Lord Seymour and. the Duke of OT- . 16ans:(heir to theFnmeh thtoiie).~' . ~.''f ,Streettighten; throughout Paris !llId'across" France. many of them chausson pracfificr'


he .


most sought, after

·~·~~~~~~~~~__ ~~~,»~~~~t

DEFENS,E,AGAINSTAJAB#1 . From a Ught~ng position (1), opponent Michael Mal throws a leftJab, which Nicolas Saignac blocks with his left.hand whllechaml3erlng his left leg (2). Hecounters first with a Jeft·legged low chas$sC"thrust") (3), chambers his le'ft legl (4), and II res .. fouette('!whlp") kick to,the solar plexus (:~). e steps forward will;! a left jab (6), followed by a rig ht cross H (7). He chambers his left leg again (8) 8lndfloilshes with a low fouertekickjulstabovethe opponent's leU knee (9).





. ,. The "Cannonman"


Lecour and other major teachers regu~ lady opened their schools for public viewing of'full-contact competition patterned 8fter the London Prize Ring rules. And in 1850, Louis Vignezon,: nicknamed the YCannonman," emerged as savate's first major ring champion. VignezoQ carried a cannon ~n hls shoulders as he made his way into the ring to dishearten his opponents. His greatest fame came frqm knocking out
the giant wrestler".A!pin the Ternble' with'

Savate. or Boxe Francaise.ls a fighting sport that uses fist and feet in successive movements caUedMhits." These hits are g.lveriaccording to precise lecihnical rules which respect the basic pfinclj?19 of savate - that every movement must be conceived In order to be both educative and efficient. To practice savate today, one wears a T-shirt, gym tights or tracksuit trousers, sf1leakerllkeboots, and special boxing gloves (usually 16 ounces). The wrist of the savate glove extends haJf-way up the forearm and is used for blocking. - Today's :savate incorporates all :of th~ innovations of the 20th~enlury boxing ring, from Jack Oempsey to Muhammad Ali. Kilcking techniques have been designed that are cornpatlcle with a boxers hand techniques. And the unusual ool.mterbaJancing actions O'f the arms have been eliminated from ring use.
Competitively. sport savate uses flill-contact rules and emphasizes fast kicking


-only four kic'ks.

One of the few men who could stay in the ring with Vignezon, and Ithus serve as an
. adequate sparring, partner. was his best student, Joseph Charlemont. In 1862. , . fighters orall stylistlcpersuasions.He

oomblnations. Wo~ld champlonehlpe are held ,everytwo years, As aself-defensesystem. open-hand and bare-knuckle techniques are still tallght. and eomblnsd with weapons
skills (the




Charlemont toured Europe, challenging was In !Pin 1Q4)'4 • Ilf IMSOOS' _

In 1992, the CalifO'rniaSavala Association (CSA) was created to promote and develop the art by preparing fighters, teachers.judqes and referees. This effort has been highly successful with twO'fighters from the GSA chosen toccmpete in the semi-finals 'of the

world championships.

From a flghl:lng p0811t1on(1), opponent Michael Mal front kicks with ~he left foot. which NI'col'asblockswlth his right glove (2). Hacounters wlth,a rlghtfrQnl klckto the opponent's abdomen (3), then steps forward and executes a left fouettetot'heface (4). S,tepplngdownwUh his l'etHoot fnrward, he applies a rlght,crosstothe body (6), a 'left hookto thefa,ce(1), and a lert-Iegged front chas'seto the opponent' I chl'n (8).




undefeated in the ring. When Charlemont returned to France he Introduced fencing theory and footwork, added wrestli ng tecbniques, and improved kicking and punching techniques" He was tbe firstto prove the value of high kicks- He is still considered the greatest savateur of all time.
Charlemont's flghting system used

Streetfigbters through ..

- out Paris and across
France, many of them

the same figt'lt~ngstance found in modem fencing. His punches were based on a forward lunge and included straights, swings, and uppercuts. His kicks, on the other hand, stressed speed and accuracy above power" The leg was lifted straigh; from the floor to the target with little
preparatory recoil. Cheracteristic ofthese

kicks, again in t1uencedby fencing, wasa peculiar eounterbalaneing movemem of, the arms to improve accuracy.

chausson practitloners, regularly descended upon Casseuse's school to challenge his mastery, Fortunately, Casseuse, himself an excellent 6ghter" always rose to . the occasion. But as a
tets With chaosson, ~ savate to include both mid-level, and highlevel kicks, in addition to

sword itselfbad been forbidd.en by law; its role as part of the dress of. the fashionable Frenehgentleman was repl aced by tbecane.) Charlemont could deliver 140 cane blowsin 80 seconds. The cane,' or "la canne," is still taught to savate students. The second range deals with long-distance techniques, such as kicking. The third range is a medium-distance, with nand techniques. And
the last range consistsof wrestling tech-

, niques,

by the example of Joseph Charlemont.
savateurs througnou t France began tornake an effort 1:0 promote their art around the _ world. The greatlohn L. Sulli van was once staggered. and then knocked to UJeground by the kic'ks of Ii savateur, Charlemont's son, Charles. fought a world-class B,ritish " prizefighter namedferry Driscoll and won by knockout in 'the 6th round. Georges Carpentier, who challenged Jack Dempsey for the world hea:vyweight boxing ehampionship was also a savateur. During the two world wars. thousands of savateurs were killed and the art was

By the tum oftbe 19th centuryinspired

result of these encoun.

The Four Ranges of

Sava·teCombat .
CJ:iarlemo"t taught his system arournd the concept of four ranges, The first range. for me cane, -i~-derived from fencing; (The
.."."".".... ;~;p:~_.",'i~ < __


.Casseuse's 'low kicks .


threatened with extinction. In 1945, Count

Pierre Baruzy, a student of Charles
Charlemont and an eleven-lime French national champion. attempted torevivesavate .. Sincethe Count was also a black belt in judo, and bad had some exposure 10 karate. hesolicited helpfrom thegrowing numbers of post-war French j udo instructors. By the mid- 19608 there wereenough savateschools to justify the creation of a national organization. 'Ihe Count became its founder and first president. A savate club was started. in Genoa. Italy •.as long ago as 1830. Today, mere is a

DEFENS,EAGAINSTA ROUNDHOUSE K~CK 'From afighlilng posltlon (11. the opponent f1'res a I:eft Iroundhouse tlcktothe head, which Nlco:lasblockswlththeo'IJtsldeof'hls rlghtglove (2). He counters, wl;th 8 dghtfronl "reverse" kilck {sl,mllar to ,8 karate crescent kick)to thesolarplexus (3). Hesets andehambers h is left leg (4),and foUo'Ws'With a front left chasset,othe inside otthe opponent's' right knee (5),8 left hookta the Jaw (6) ands right hookto llhejaw (7); Nlcollas steps back (8), chambers the right 10'9(9) and fini;shes wHh a right fouettoklc:k behind the opponent's knee (10), knocking hilmto the

modern French boxlng/savate center in
Milan. The art was established in Belgium when Joseph Charlemont traveled there in the 1880s and taught the novelist Alexandre




. During the course of the 20th century, savate has become widely practiced ..It is taught in the French army as part of basic training, and schools have opened in Belgium, S witzerland, Italy and Germany. In 1924. it was a demonstration sport at the


From:aflghtlng posltlen (1), the opB left Jab sind Nle'olas steps outsldet.he p'Uln:chto the rlghUo • 8:v,o'ld 1'1: He chambers his left leg (3) (2).
pone":1 throws andexecutesaleft:chsssebehind

opponent·s left knee(4). Hecli'lambers hls,left ~~gagal n (5)8 n~ appUes~·re- .
ve:rsle'·'group~' kick to thle sl:de af the fs'ce (6i). He c'h ambers his right Ie9 (7) and tlnlshes with a front kick to the oppo:nen,t'sbac'k(8) •.
I' •




..~ '



Nloolas Salgnac began his education ln sava1e 1.2 years ago and
has been continually practicing since that time. He has studied with 'some of the art's best masters:

franco Di Guglielmo; former French

National Trainer Herve Bruandet; and former French Technical Dfre~ tor Bob Allx. Sagnacis a also a savats coach, Judge., referee and teacher. He fought competltlvsly for sIx years, reaching the finals of the French Cup ln 1987 and win'nin,g tha tltla In 1988. , Since he moved to Ca.lifolil1la in 1992, 'he has co-founded the, . Cafflomla 8avate Association and has been avidly teaching hIs art. Readers Interested In further Information about olasses ,and sernlnars can call {"310)452-6429. .'
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In 19~5,Count Pierre Bamzy, a student of Charles Charlemont
andan eleven-time French national champion, attempted to revive: savate. Since the Count was also a black belt.in judo, and had had some exposure to karate, he solicited help from- the _ growing numbers of post-war French judo instructors. By the mid-1960s there were enough savate schools to justify the , creation of a nationa1 organization.


Thel next 'Itlree degrees are the Srlver Gloves. Th,!)se are the 9upel'lor ranks of ttie technical progressIon and ttle,y are only conferred by a Jury named by the Federati'on. They are composed' allhe same 'Itll'&e parts as the lower degrees., but r~ulrel a Vi9r'f high technical level and have to be executed !O ,8 point of master. Ther,a are three dffferent Sliver G'Ioves. Sliver Glove t 51 Cegree (hdlders·of this degree can participate In the pTellmil'l.1.trles the French Cup) or Sliver Glovo 2nd Degree (Only two people Iitoldthis ranking In the U.S.) Sliver ,Glove Srd O,egreB (Only 10 people hold this ranking In Franoe) . Tho testing for the first two of Ihesa degrees are composed of: SlIyer glove - 1st o'egre, Slfyer__Gloy8 ~ 2.ndOeqree 16 Combl'natlons &. 6 Techno-Tactical Themes 20 Comblnatl'ons & 6 Techno-Tactical Themes (411"1 Attack, 4 In Delanse) 4, roond'·s, of Free ,sparrfng In wt1llch all possible techniques have to be demonstrated The third and final degree requires mOre complex testing: SHver glove - 3rd Degree Construction & execution of a s'h.!dy of forms (at least 20} using combll"!atlons with e: partner rn aftemate situations of aftack and defense, presenting 'techniques of the highest level of dlfflCIJIIy. Construction & exerutiolilof two rounds of sparring with a 1tieme. Including techn'lques of a high level of difficulty In defens}ve and ,offensiVe sli!uatlons. . TIle tesHaker must fully present and develop a thesis for each e)(:ecution, and B'ach of these' paris must be aCCompaI1lled by a written program.


The ful"ldamentalleachlng diploma Is called Mon/tond and It enalllB~ those wh.o hold this degree to teach classesano Is reoogl'llziKI by l:I'ie 'lederaHon. A Yellaw Glove and a minimum age of eighteen are raqu'lred In order 10 qualify fOl' MMitorattesting. The test Is composed ofwritten; oral Md" pi'actilcal sections. The tem IS extremely complex and material covered rnnges froni speclf1c Savate techniques to analtomy, physiology, history and pedagogy. Afte:r teaching with the Monlforatfor two years, and·acqulrlng the silver Glove 1st Degree, Q test can be takan to become a Bavaro Prof,essor. The Professor Is the highest teaching level, 8Jild requir'9s a test of a slmn.ar 'form to the Monltoratbut at a higher level.


Competttlon Is highly stnrctursd and organized by technical rank, weight and age categories. The earilest leva I of competi'Uon starts with a polnl'·system decision called Assaut. This type of competition deals In effB<ffive hits. Thel\& Is no mock-Qut c;lactslofl, and points can only bel earned throogh leOhnlcal scoring. Assautcompelmonpriorl'tflZed effective lechnlqL!8 over-power. llheFie Is also fighting system In wI1lclh the knock-out clecl'slol'll.ls lIJSecl, ,snowing the fun power of nilS to be dellveli8d, These flaNs require that !thecompatirof hes attained at least the Yellow Glove level, and ara plIDgresslvely structured as well. The first five ftghtsare done wirth headgain and shin guards, and ara dlvfded Into four rounds of one-end-s-half mInutes. After these five 'Initial fights, no prcrtective padding Is used , and the time progresses to ftve rounds of (Wo minutes each. TII&ra are tINO dlfferant types of competition: • Reglulsf Competitions 'for national or Int9~l!onal tides organlzecibythe fed'eTetiol"l. These' Include; World Champlonlihlp' & Eur,opaan C:h8mploli1ah~p-reVOlving every two years. IFr.,nch Cup--every year with direct ellmlnatioo bouts. . . Fr"nc'h Ch~Ul,!plkHl'hlp---Gve!y yearwi1J!l direct eUmlnatioo bouts. OHlcrlllllzedl ' Organized by a promoter In accord wflh the federatlon, no titles are delivered.


,.Olympic Games In Paris.

Since World War n, savate has had a grading system: grade isindicated by

first ~de

inch-wide. colored band around the glove's
wrist; these grades are called "gloves.l'The

an '.

blu9,. ,~n.

aver~ge student reaches yellow glove I,nartic;{e was for the most pari excerpted/rorn ' abolU two years. Above this. there is the his acclaimed reference book. The Original" , silvergloveofthelnstructcr andthegolden . Martia~ Arts, Encyclopedia: Tradition, His!,· , '• ;' , ~ory,Pioneers. < glove ofthe "professeur." '~

is p~leg]ov~, followed by John Corcoran is a 25·year veterall writer reH:w~te, ~d y~Uow.:11!.e and Inanial artist. The lnformation for this


ARIOUNDHOUSE KI'CK,#'2 position, (1), opponent Michael Mal throws ,ale,ttroundhouse kick, which Nicolas blocks with right knee (2 & 3). He steps ,off to tlite right with, both feet (4)" and pertormsa sweep coup de pled ,bas ("Io,w kick") to tho opponent's planted ~eft foot (5), which knocks the opponent down (6). Nicolas chambers his right leg (7) and 1ln,lshes with a chasse to the I,ower ribs (8).

DEF'ENSE~GAINST From a fighting

touette behind thle opponent's

hls right glove whUe almultaneously

del:lvering Blow

36 q 199~ • lXf.msOOS-

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