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Learn Savate Style Self Defense

Mar 15, 2008
Like many of the other arts of unarmed combat, the origin of Savate is lost in past ages.

In the beginning man fought without weapons, using just his hands and feet as means of attacking and defending.

Although Savate is primarily the art of foot fighting, the hands do play a part in this technique. The use of the hands to fight as a sport can be traced back over five thousand years. During the Greek era, hand fighting, or as we know it, boxing, flourished through the use of gloves with metal spikes. In the Roman age, metal-spiked gloves were replaced by gloves of hard leather.

The combination of boxing and foot fighting, or Savate, into a systemized art is recent, about 125 years old.

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, it was a practice of street fighters in Marseille, France, to use their feet instead of their hands in combat. Through many years of experience, they had learned the advantages of using the feet in defense of their lives.

Finally in the 1820's, the best of the foot fighting techniques used by the street fighters were collected and classified into a formal art called Savate. A school was opened in Paris for teaching Savate, and many people, including noblemen, became experts in this art. Because there was such a need for good defense by those who had occasion to venture into a city streets after dark in those days, the art of Savate flourished until there were many schools teaching it.

Although Savate is relatively unknown in North America, with only a handful of teachers in the United States and Canada, it is still in use in France today.

The Savate Striking Points And Kicks

In Savate the foot is the major striking point. In considering the foot as the major striking point, we must be more specific by breaking down the striking point into the parts of the foot used at the actual point of contact. The following are the parts of the foot used as striking points:

1. Heel
2. Instep
3. Inside edge of foot
4. Outside edge of foot
5. Bottom of foot
6. Toe

It is wise to know how to use all the foot parts as striking points. Then you can vary your type of defense and confuse the attacker.

There are many different types of kicks in the art of Savate. One of the most important kicks is called the vertical kick. For this kick, the leg is drawn back with the knee in a high position and brought forward with tremendous force, hitting the antagonist in any one of the target areas.

The next kick to be studied is the horizontal kick. Here you pivot on the ball of the left foot and, leaning back and away from the attacker, draw your leg up and point the toe at the attacker's target area. Then you swing the leg around in a horizontal movement, striking the target.

One of the most important types of Savate defense is called the high kick. Much practice is required before a high kick can be mastered. Although the effort is great, the high kick becomes a powerful defense once mastered.

Bending your knees from a crouched position, straighten your legs and lift your body, leaving the ground with your legs drawn under you. At the top of your upward movement, direct both feet toward the target area, striking it and then recovering into a good defensive stance. Remember, do not use this until you can recover properly!

Another high kick is executed by rotating your body, bending slightly forward and pivoting on the balls of both feet. Then, as you complete your turn away from your opponent, place both hands on the ground so that you are in a crouched position. At the moment your hands touch the ground, shift your weight to them, and kick back and upward toward the target area using your feet as a striking points. After contacting your adversary, recover to a defensive position by reversing the procedure.

A little practice is all you will need to master these techniques.
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