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Savate: A Devastating Art of French Kickboxing! (2023 Guide)

Did you know that Savate, also known as French boxing, is a unique combat sport that combines elements of kickboxing and martial arts? If you’re looking for a thrilling way to learn self-defense and stay fit, Savate might be the perfect hobby for you.

In this article, we’ll explore the origins, equipment needed, personal benefits, and how to get started with Savate.

By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to kickstart your journey into this exciting combat sport.

Savage beginner guide, featured image "what is savate"

What Is Savate, French Boxing?

Savate, often referred to as “French boxing” or “Savate kickboxing,” is a dynamic and elegant martial art with its roots deeply embedded in France’s rich history.

It combines elements of striking, footwork, and self-defense techniques, making it a unique and effective combat sport.

Let’s dive into the key aspects that define this French martial art:

  • Striking Excellence: Savate places a strong emphasis on precise and powerful strikes using both the hands and feet. Practitioners are trained to execute a wide range of kicks, punches, and elbow strikes with precision, making it a versatile stand-up fighting style.
  • Footwork Mastery: A hallmark of Savate is its intricate footwork. It’s known for its fluid movements and the ability to maintain a balanced stance while executing high-velocity kicks. Savate’s footwork is both an art and a tactical advantage in combat.
  • Elegance and Style: Savate is often celebrated for its grace and stylish techniques. The sport emphasizes not only effectiveness but also the beauty of movement. This unique blend of combat and artistic expression sets it apart from other martial arts.
  • Self-Defense Principles: Beyond its role as a competitive sport, Savate equips practitioners with practical self-defense skills. Techniques for blocking, parrying, and evading attacks are integral parts of training.
  • Sport and Competition: It has a thriving competitive scene with various forms of competition. These include “Assaut,” which focuses on controlled sparring for points, and “Combat,” which allows full-contact fighting with protective gear.
  • Historical Significance: Savate has a rich historical background, evolving from street fighting techniques used in France during the 19th century. Over time, it developed into a formalized martial art with a strong emphasis on sportsmanship.

Today, it is practiced and admired worldwide for its blend of athleticism, precision, and tradition.

Whether you’re interested in improving your fitness, honing self-defense skills, or exploring a unique martial art, Savate offers a captivating and challenging journey.


Savate has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century in France. It was developed as a form of self-defense and quickly gained popularity as a combat sport.

Over the years, it has evolved, incorporating techniques from various martial arts disciplines and adapting to modern combat sports standards.

Today, it is practiced worldwide and has become a recognized discipline in the martial arts community.

Current Trends

Savate has experienced a resurgence in recent years, with an increasing number of practitioners and enthusiasts joining the community. Popular practices include regular training sessions, sparring matches, and participation in competitions.

There are also dedicated online forums and social media groups where enthusiasts can connect, share their experiences, and learn from each other.

Additionally, Savate events and tournaments are held globally, providing opportunities for practitioners to showcase their skills and compete at different levels.

Cultural Significance

Savate holds cultural significance in France, where it originated. It is considered a part of the country’s sporting heritage and is recognized as a national sport.

It has also gained recognition internationally, with various organizations promoting and governing the sport.

Its unique blend of techniques and emphasis on footwork make it a distinct combat sport that continues to captivate practitioners and spectators alike.

For a COMPLETE list of martial arts, browse our guide: List of Martial Arts: All Types & Styles Broken Down.

Equipment Needed

To fully enjoy Savate, it’s important to have the right equipment. Here are the essential items you’ll need:

  • Savate shoes: These specialized shoes provide the necessary support and flexibility for the footwork-intensive movements.
  • Hand wraps and gloves: Hand wraps protect your wrists and provide support, while gloves are essential for sparring and training.
  • Mouthguard: Protect your teeth and jaw with a properly fitted mouthguard.
  • Groin guard: For added protection during sparring sessions, a groin guard is recommended.

While not mandatory, additional accessories such as headgear, shin guards, and a training bag can enhance your training experience.

When choosing equipment, consider your budget range.

There are affordable options available for beginners, as well as high-end gear for more advanced practitioners.

You can find equipment at specialized martial arts stores, both online and offline.

Mastering the Techniques of Savate: A Deep Dive

Savate is renowned for its unique blend of striking techniques, footwork, and elegant movements.

To excel in this dynamic martial art, practitioners must become well-versed in its various techniques.

In this section, we’ll explore the key techniques that define Savate.

1. Savate Stance

The Savate stance is the foundation for all techniques. It involves a side-on position with the lead leg forward, similar to a fencing stance.

This stance provides excellent mobility and allows for quick kicks and punches.

The rear leg is used for powerful kicks, while the lead leg is for swift jabs and kicks.

2. Savate Kicks

Savate is celebrated for its array of kicks, each executed with precision and flair:

  • Front Kick (Coup de Pied Frontal): A straight-legged kick aimed at the opponent’s midsection or face, often used as a jab in Savate.
  • Low Kick (Coup de Pied Basse): A kick targeting the opponent’s thigh or calf, designed to destabilize and hinder mobility.
  • High Kick (Coup de Pied Haut): A powerful roundhouse kick targeting the head or upper body, executed with finesse.
  • Side Kick (Coup de Pied Latéral): A lateral kick aimed at the opponent’s midsection or head, often used for distance control.
  • Axe Kick (Coup de Pied en Hache): A descending kick executed from above, targeting the opponent’s collarbone or head.

3. Savate Punches

Savate incorporates punches to complement its kicking techniques:

  • Jab (Direct): A straight punch using the lead hand to maintain distance and set up combinations.
  • Cross (Croisé): A powerful straight punch delivered with the rear hand, generating significant force.
  • Hook (Crochet): A horizontal punch targeting the opponent’s head or body, executed with a bent arm.
  • Uppercut (Uppercut): An upward punch aiming at the opponent’s chin, often used in close-quarters combat.
  • Back Fist (Revers): A backhand strike executed with the rear hand, useful for surprise attacks.

4. Defense and Parries

Savate places a strong emphasis on defensive maneuvers and parries to evade strikes:

  • Parry (Parade): Using the forearms or hands to deflect or block incoming strikes.
  • Dodge (Esquive): Quick body movements to avoid kicks or punches.
  • Clinch (Corps à Corps): Close-quarters grappling to nullify an opponent’s striking ability.

5. Combination Techniques

Savate encourages fluid combinations of kicks and punches to confuse and overwhelm opponents.

Combinations often start with a jab or low kick and may involve intricate footwork to maintain balance and position.

6. Feints and Fakes

Savate practitioners use feints and fakes to deceive opponents and create openings.

These techniques involve pretending to initiate a strike before launching a different attack, keeping opponents off balance.

7. Footwork

Savate’s footwork is vital for maintaining balance, evading attacks, and setting up counterattacks.

Practitioners learn to pivot, shuffle, and step dynamically to control distance and angle.

8. Roundhouse Kick Variations

Savate features various roundhouse kick variations, such as the “chassé,” “revers,” and “fouetté,” each executed with precision and aiming at different target areas.

9. Retreating and Advancing

Savate incorporates techniques for retreating to create distance or advancing to close the gap strategically.

Practitioners use these movements to control the pace of the fight.

Why It’s a Good Hobby to Try

Savate offers a range of personal benefits that make it an excellent hobby to try:

  • Physical Fitness: Savate is a high-intensity workout that improves cardiovascular endurance, strength, and agility.
  • Self-Defense Skills: By learning Savate, you’ll acquire practical self-defense techniques that can help you feel more confident and secure.
  • Community and Camaraderie: Savate has a strong community aspect, with opportunities to connect with fellow practitioners, attend events, and join online forums.
  • Mental Stimulation: The strategic nature of Savate requires focus, concentration, and quick decision-making, providing a mental workout as well.
  • Creative Expression: Savate allows practitioners to express themselves through their movements, combining athleticism with artistry.

How to Get Started

If you’re ready to dive into the world of Savate, here’s how to get started:

  • Research: Begin by researching to gain a better understanding of its techniques, rules, and training methods. Reliable sources include books, reputable websites, and instructional videos.
  • Basic Training: Consider enrolling in a class or finding a qualified instructor who can provide basic training and guidance.
  • Joining Communities: Connect with other enthusiasts by joining online forums or local communities. This will allow you to learn from experienced practitioners and share your progress.
  • Setting Up: Acquire the necessary equipment, including Savate shoes, hand wraps, gloves, and any additional accessories you prefer. Prepare a suitable training space or find a local gym that offers classes.
  • Practical Tips: Start slowly and focus on mastering the fundamentals. Practice regularly, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when needed.

Comparisons to Other Similar Hobbies and Activities

When comparing it to other similar hobbies and activities, several factors come into play:

  • Difficulty Level: it requires a certain level of physical fitness and coordination, making it more challenging than some other combat sports.
  • Cost: The cost of equipment and training can vary, but it is generally comparable to other martial arts disciplines.
  • Community Aspect: This martial art has a strong community aspect, with opportunities to connect with fellow practitioners and participate in events.
  • Educational Value: It offers a unique blend of physical and mental stimulation, providing both a workout and a learning experience.

Savate vs. Other Martial Arts:

Savate isn’t your average martial art.

Let’s break it down, no frills attached, and see how it squares up against some other tough contenders.

1. Savate vs. Muay Thai: Finesse vs. Beast Mode

Savate: Savate is all about finesse. Think stylish kicks and precise strikes that’d make a ballerina proud.

Muay Thai: Muay Thai is beast mode. Elbows, knees, shins, and fists – it’s the ultimate striking powerhouse.

No-Nonsense Comparison: Savate’s the dancer; Muay Thai’s the brawler. Your choice: elegance or raw power.

2. Savate vs. Karate: Mix It Up vs. Karate Kid Vibes

Savate: Savate isn’t shy about mixing punches and kicks, with a dash of flair in every move.

Karate: Karate sticks to punches and kicks, adding some old-school kata routines.

Straightforward Comparison: Savate’s the mix-master; Karate’s the traditionalist. Which path suits you?

3. Savate vs. Taekwondo: Flow vs. High Kicks

Savate: Savate flows with style, emphasizing balance and grace in every kick.

Taekwondo: Taekwondo serves high-flying kicks, quick sparring, and an Olympic vibe.

No-Frills Comparison: Savate’s the smooth operator; Taekwondo’s the high-flier. Pick your kick style.

4. Savate vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): Stand or Ground

Savate: Savate sticks to stand-up combat, focusing on precise strikes and agile moves.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): BJJ takes the fight to the ground with grappling, submissions, and strategy.

Straightforward Comparison: Savate prefers standing; BJJ takes it to the mat. Where’s your comfort zone?

5. Savate vs. Boxing: Kicks vs. Punches

Savate: Savate dishes out both punches and kicks, with a flair for style and self-defense.

Boxing: Boxing is punch-perfect, with head movement and footwork in its arsenal.

No-Nonsense Comparison: Savate’s the versatile striker; Boxing’s the master of fists. Choose your weapon.

When it comes to picking a martial art, it’s like choosing your flavor at an ice cream parlor. Savate’s got its distinct taste, but the right fit depends on your craving – whether it’s elegance, power, or something in between. Now, go punch, kick, or dance your way to martial arts glory!

DIY Tips and Tricks

If you’re looking to enhance your Savate experience, here are some DIY tips and tricks:

  • Cost-Saving Tips: Look for affordable alternatives for equipment and training resources, such as second-hand gear or online tutorials.
  • Creative Ideas: Experiment with different training drills, incorporate music into your sessions, or create your own training routine to keep things interesting.
  • Tutorial Resources: Explore online platforms and video tutorials that offer step-by-step guides for DIY projects related to Savate, such as making your own training equipment or conditioning tools.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As a beginner in Savate, you may encounter some challenges along the way.

Here are a few common ones and tips to overcome them:

  • Lack of Flexibility – Incorporate regular stretching exercises into your routine to improve flexibility over time.
  • Footwork Coordination – Practice footwork drills and focus on mastering the basic movements to improve coordination.
  • Stamina and Endurance – Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your training sessions to build stamina and endurance.
  • Fear of Sparring – Start with light sparring sessions and gradually increase the intensity as you gain confidence and experience.


Savate, the French boxing hobby, offers a thrilling and engaging way to learn self-defense, stay fit, and connect with a vibrant community.

By exploring its origins, understanding the equipment needed, and discovering the personal benefits it offers, you’re now equipped to embark on your journey. Remember to start with research, seek guidance from experienced practitioners, and practice regularly to progress in this exciting combat sport.

So, what are you waiting for?

Put on your shoes, wrap your hands, and step into the world of French boxing!


Here are some common questions beginners have about Savate:

Q: Is Savate suitable for self-defense?

A: Yes, Savate is an effective self-defense martial art that teaches practical techniques for real-life situations.

Q: Can anyone practice Savate?

A: Savate is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. However, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new physical activity.

Q: How long does it take to become proficient in Savate?

A: The time it takes to become proficient in Savate varies depending on individual dedication, training frequency, and natural aptitude. Consistent practice and guidance from a qualified instructor are key.

Q: Are there any competitions or tournaments for Savate?

A: Yes, Savate has a competitive aspect with various tournaments and competitions held at regional, national, and international levels.

Q: Can I practice Savate at home?

A: While it’s beneficial to train with an instructor or in a class setting, you can practice certain techniques and drills at home. However, it’s important to prioritize safety and ensure you have enough space to train safely.

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Savage beginner guide, featured image "what is savate"