SAVATE is a colloquial word meaning “shoe.”
An evolutionary product of Western though we can trace Savate’s origins back to
France during the later half of the 1700s.
Of the writing on Français Vidocq, it is said that Vidocq was taught the French fighting art by Jean Goupil who was considered the ” Saint George of Savate.” So popular is the history of Vidocq that television series and several movies have been produced based on his character.
In Paris, savate became renowned in the early 1800s as a simple but efficient system of personal combat which focused on utilizing the open hands and boots as weapons.
Along the Southern coast of France, a second kicking art called “Chausson” (meaning Slipper) was developed by sailors as a form of exercise. Focusing on sophisticated high kicks and open hand strikes, a distinguishing feature of Chausson was the practice of placing one or both hands on the floor while kicking.
During the 1830s Savate gradually changed from a method of street survival to a sport, and there was a discernible change in kicking skills.Influenced by either the Aristocracy, English pugilism, or Chausson (or perhaps elements of all three), the kicks began to frequently target the upper body and head. This amalgamation resulted in the system being renamed La Boxe Française or French boxing – later to be also termed simply ‘Savate’. For a period of time Sport Savate actually became the “in fashion” amongst the high society, making it assessable to men, women, teenagers and children.
During the beginning of the 20th century Savate would undergo another change this time brought on by the increasing problems of street gangs known as la Apaches.
Terrorizing France, the Apaches spread through Europe like a plague, law-abiding citizens turned to many Savate instructors for assistance in combating the Apache epidemic.
As a direct result of the brutal attacks perpetrated by these thugs a specific method of self-defence was developed to provide a new weapon in the fight against the Apache gangs, this method of French street defence was referred to as “Defense Dans La Rue.”
The efficient skills that made up this method of French street defence consisted of the low line kicking techniques from Savate, bare knuckle boxing of English pugilism, wrestling maneuvers from Lutte, and weaponry training which included among other things the walking stick method of self-defence known as la canne and the improvise street use of the jacket, belt, scarf, umbrella, and even the hat.
The system was supplemented to varying degrees with several skill components from Jui-Jitsu, these skills included hand strikes, chokes and ground fighting.
Today Savate is governed world-wide by the International Savate Federation.