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Savate (sometimes called boxe Francais) is a French art of foot and fist fighting that dates back to the 19th century. Savate has two possible origin stories.

One story states that French troops learned kickboxing skills from Chinese armies and fighters over the years. The French version explains that during the French Revolution (1789-99), French navy personnel developed chausson, a gymnastic game of foot fencing that became a local street game in Marseille, Aubagne and Toulon.

In Paris, the art of foot fighting became known as la savate (author Alexandre Dumas was supposedly an expert).

In the Basque region, there’s a kicking and walking-stick art called zipota that is believed to be an offshoot of savate’s known cane-fighting skills. The ancient Visigoth warriors, who learned their fighting techniques from the Chinese via the Huns, might have influenced zipota.

Though savate is largely renowned for precision kicks to the body’s vital points, savate’s hand techniques are similar to Western boxing. It’s a popular full-contact ring sport in Europe.

  1. La Canne: Savate’s Walking-Stick Weapon Art

    La Canne: Savate’s Walking-Stick Weapon Art