Savate: A Comprehensive Guide to the French Kickboxing Style

Are you looking to explore a martial art that is graceful and powerful? Look no further than Savate, the French kickboxing style that has captivated practitioners for over a century. With a combination of kicks, punches, and intricate footwork, Savate offers a unique experience, unlike any other martial art.

But Savate is more than just a sport – it’s a way of life. This martial art promotes discipline, respect, and personal growth, helping practitioners develop physical skills and mental fortitude. Its dynamic and elegant movements have attracted martial arts enthusiasts from around the globe, and its popularity only continues to grow.

Whether you’re a seasoned martial artist or a newcomer to combat sports, this guide is for you. Here, we’ll delve into Savate’s history, techniques, benefits, and future, comprehensively understanding this fascinating martial art. 

So, join us on this journey as we explore the unique characteristics of Savate and its place in the world of martial arts.

two people train savate

Savate is a mixed martial art that combines boxing, karate, and fencing elements. The sport has its roots in French street fighting, where it was known as “Chausson” or “La Boxe Francaise.” 

Savate was initially practiced as a form of self-defense by sailors and dockworkers who needed to protect themselves from street thugs. It later evolved into a regulated combat sport with rules and techniques.

“Savate” means “old shoe” in French, and the sport was named after the shoes traditionally worn during practice and competitions.

These shoes had a stiff sole and a soft upper, which allowed fighters to deliver powerful kicks without injuring their feet. Over time, it has become a popular combat sport with a dedicated following worldwide.

Why Train Savate?

Reasons to Learn Savate
Effective form of self-defense, applicable to real-life situations
Improves cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility, and agility
Develops coordination, balance, and reaction time
Builds self-confidence and mental toughness
Can be a stress reliever and improve overall mental well-being

Savate: History

The history of Savate is rich and diverse, with roots in French street fighting and influences from various martial arts. This section will examine the origin, development, and its historical significance as a martial art.

Savate originated in the streets of France in the 19th century. At the time, the sport was known as “Chausson” or “La Boxe Francaise” and was primarily practiced as self-defense. 

Savate techniques were taught to French sailors and dockworkers who needed to protect themselves from street thugs. Over time, the combat sport evolved into a regulated combat sport with rules and techniques.

The modern era began in the early 20th century with the establishment of the French Boxing Federation. The federation was responsible for organizing competitions and developing a standardized set of rules. 

Today, the International Olympic Committee recognizes Savate as an official sport and is practiced in countries worldwide.


The historical significance lies in its unique blend of European and Asian martial arts influences. Savate borrows techniques and principles from Western Boxing, French fencing, and Asian martial arts, such as Karate and Muay Thai. 

This fusion of styles gives Savate its distinct character. It makes it a challenging and dynamic martial art to practice and master.

Savate also played a significant role in French culture and history. During the early 20th century, it was a popular sport among the French working class. 

Many famous fighters emerged during this time. The martial art was also used as a training tool for the French military. Some of the techniques were incorporated into military programs.

Savate has gained popularity worldwide as a competitive combat sport in recent years. The sport has evolved with new rules and regulations, and its techniques and strategies continue to be refined and developed.

Savate Benefits

Savate, as a martial art, offers a range of physical and mental benefits for those who practice it regularly.


Savate training involves a great deal of cardio, which helps to improve overall cardiovascular fitness. 

The constant movement and intensity of training sessions make it an excellent form of exercise for improving heart health, increasing lung capacity, and burning calories.

Strength and Endurance

Training involves a great deal of cardio, which helps to improve overall cardiovascular fitness. The constant movement and intensity of training sessions make it an excellent form of exercise for improving heart health, increasing lung capacity, and burning calories.

Flexibility and Endurance

Savate training requires a lot of flexibility and agility, essential for preventing injury and improving overall physical performance. Regular training can improve flexibility and range of motion, making performing various movements and techniques easier.

Mental Benefits


Training can help boost self-confidence, mainly as students master the various techniques and gain more experience. 

The sense of achievement that comes with mastering a new style or sparring with an opponent can be incredibly empowering, leading to increased self-esteem and self-assurance.

Focus and Discipline

Savate training requires excellent focus and discipline. Students must be fully present and engaged in each training session to learn and improve. 

Practicing the combat sport can develop these qualities, which can then be transferred to other areas of life, such as work or school.elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Stress Relief

Savate training can be a great stress reliever, as the physical exertion and mental focus required during training can help to clear the mind and release tension. 

Engaging in physical activity has also been shown to release endorphins, which can help to improve mood and reduce stress.

Savate: Training and Conditioning

To fully experience the benefits of Savate, proper training and conditioning are essential. In this section, we will explore some critical components of training.

Savate Training: Essential Components

Savate training involves various techniques, from basic kicks and punches to more advanced moves like spinning back kicks and flying kicks. It’s essential to start with the basics and gradually build up to more complex techniques. 

Students must also learn to combine different styles and adapt to different scenarios.

Strength and Flexibility

Incorporating various exercises into your routine, such as weightlifting, calisthenics, and stretching, is essential. Working on balance and coordination is also crucial, as these skills are vital for executing various techniques effectively.

Proper Diet

Proper diet and nutrition are crucial for anyone engaging in regular physical activity, and training is no exception. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates can provide the energy and nutrients needed for optimal performance during training and competition.

Man lifts weights for martial arts

The Future of Savate

Savate has gained popularity worldwide recently, with practitioners in countries such as France, Canada, and the United States. 

The sport has also gained recognition from international organizations such as the International Savate Federation (FIS), which oversees competitions and tournaments worldwide.

Savate Competitions

Competitions and tournaments in Savate are held at the local, national, and international levels, providing opportunities for practitioners to showcase their skills and compete against others. 

The most prestigious competition is the World Savate Championships, held every two years, and features top athletes worldwide.

Savate Future Developments

Savate has many opportunities for its future development and growth as it continues to grow in popularity. 

This includes expanding the number of competitions and tournaments, increasing awareness of the sport through media coverage and social media, and improving training and coaching programs for practitioners.


Savate is a unique and exciting martial art that offers its practitioners numerous physical and mental benefits. 

By incorporating essential components of training, specific techniques for improving strength and flexibility, and proper diet and nutrition, practitioners can build a strong foundation of physical fitness that can support their techniques. 

With the sport’s growing popularity and numerous opportunities for development and growth, Savate is an excellent choice for anyone interested in martial arts or fitness.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What equipment do I need to practice Savate? 

A: At a minimum, you will need hand wraps, gloves, and appropriate footwear. Depending on your level of training, you may also need shin guards, headgear, and a mouthguard. Talk to your instructor or a knowledgeable salesperson to find out what equipment is necessary for your level of training.

Q: Is Savate suitable for self-defense? 

A: Yes, it can be effective for self-defense in certain situations. Its focus on quick, powerful kicks and strikes can help you defend yourself in various scenarios. However, it’s important to note that self-defense is more than just physical techniques – it also involves situational awareness, de-escalation skills, and other non-physical tactics.

Q: Is Savate only for experienced martial artists? 

A: No, iy can be practiced by beginners and experienced martial artists. Many gyms and studios offer classes for people of all skill levels. Instructors can modify techniques and training drills to suit your individual needs.

Q: Can I use Savate to compete in tournaments? 

A: The martial art has a competitive aspect, and numerous tournaments and competitions are held worldwide. Talk to your instructor or local organization to learn more about your area’s competition opportunities.

Q: Is Savate a good workout? 

A: Yes, it can be an intense workout that provides cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility improvement. It can also help improve coordination and balance.

Q: Can Savate help with stress relief? 

A: Like other forms of physical activity, it can help reduce stress and improve mental well-being. The focus and discipline required in training can also have a meditative effect.

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