What is Savate?

David McLaughlin & Professor Salem Assli
Savate (pronounced ‘Sa-vat’ and also known as ‘Boxe Fran├žaise – Savate’) is a method of fighting using the feet and hands, with a traceable history, in its present form, back to the early part of the 19th century.

During the first half of the 1800’s, Charles Lecour (1808 – 94) combined English Boxing (‘Boxe Anglaise’) with French methods of kicking. These were taken from the old street fighting methods of ‘savate’ (a slang term for ‘old shoe’ or ‘old boot’), and the more flamboyant style of ‘Chausson’ (the name of a sailor’s deck shoe), also known as ‘jeu Marseillais’ (Sport Marseille).

Nowadays, Savate is made up of two inseparable parts: Savate Boxe and Savate Defence. Savate Boxe is one-on-one fighting, with rules, whilst wearing gloves (similar to Boxers), Chaussures (Savate boots), and Integrales (an all-in-one unitard / body suit). Savate Defence has no rules, however, as it is intended as a method of all-in fighting for self-defence.