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Savate (French Kickboxing)

Savate, pronounced as “sa’vat”, is a French martial art that involves hands and feet as the only weapon for defense and offense. It is also known as French boxing, French footfighting, and French kickboxing.

Movements are a combination of western boxing and different kicking techniques. It is important to note that unlike Muay Thai, the use of knees or shins are not allowed in this sport. A pair of boxing gloves, a pair of shoes, and loose enough uniform are the three basic gears for this sport.

There are two types of savate during competitions: total combats and assault. During total combats, full-contact will be experienced. No kind of protective pads are worn, and there are sometimes knockouts. As for “assault”, protective pads/gears are worn and injuries are not as common.

Savate Demonstration at the 1924 Olympic Games. Savate Demonstration at the 1924 Olympic Games.
from: The Official Report of the Olympic Games of Paris 1924

There are different moves of boxing and kicking that are involved in this sport. For boxing, it would be across, hook, jab, and uppercut. And for kicking, that would be side, roundhouse, reverse, and low shin. Combining these basic moves can form a very good move and a skilled savateur definitely has their own combinations guided by the basic ones.

Savate has a ranking system marked by colors and you can find these on their gloves. Blue, green, red, white, yellow, and silver. Blue being the lowest and Silver being the highest in the rank. Competitions can only be joined by those who have red and above ranks and an approval from their instructors. There are weight categories for men and women. Matches have 3 rounds, 2 minutes each and each round has 1 minute-rest.

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