"French boxing is a bold, unpredictable, and sparkling game full of romantic illuminations."

- André Dumas

This is a beautiful quote from a French professional boxer, who played the sport from 1911 to 1920 and took part in 25 professional fights. We would all love to have access to the joy that savate gave André Dumas!

This French-born kind of boxing is much less known in Canada compared to other forms of boxing like British boxing. This is also the case of most other boxing styles, such as the martial arts of karate, judo, viet vo dao, ju-jitsu, and aikido...

French style boxing is even popular in the UK
Get to know Savate even if you are Canadian-born!

In any case, Canadian boxers may be interested in learning how to box in the savate style, for French boxing is a sport that we think is very worth knowing.

And there is absolutely no need to wear a beret, striped sailor shirt, or a fine moustache for your French boxing classes, nor practise while sipping wine and bring home baguettes of bread. All you will only need boxing shoes, boxing gloves, and other boxing protective wear (mouthguards, shinguard, bandages, the official outfit, and chestguard). Here, we'd like to specify that Dumas's "romantic illuminations" can perhaps mean the lights before you blackout during a KO!

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Benefits to French Boxing

Boxing offers a lot of great benefits. It's a good sport for all ages and all body types. Boxing can be adapted to suit everyone's needs. If you are looking for something new to try boxing can be the perfect new thing. French boxing has a welcoming community. It can be nervous to walk into a boxing club your first time, but everyone there will be welcoming. French boxing has a strong community that supports its members. You're going to nervous regardless walking in, but just know everyone is there to help you. You're helping them grow the sport they love. There are so many great benefits to boxing we'll list a couple of benefits below.

Stress Relief - French boxing is huge stress relief. We all have stressful days or even weeks. It's important to find ways that help you destress. Boxing can be your solution. Hitting the bag or sparring you'll feel the stress melt away. Savate boxing is also very technical. You have to think about the moves you're performing. Your mind will be completely away from your stressful thoughts.

Fitness - French boxing and any boxing style for that matter are very physical. It may not seem demanding watching it on t.v but going head to head with someone for even a few minutes is exhausting let alone for a couple of rounds. Boxing is all about conditioning. This means most workouts are focused around cardiovascular so you can stay up in the ring. Workouts are also backed by strength training to ensure you can have a good punch.

Confidence - French boxing can help build your confidence level. You'll start to feel the physical changes from boxing, but you're also going to notice the mental changes. It provides you with a sense of achievement and that in itself builds confidence. Being able to tackle a tough boxing workout or knowing you can defend yourself in-ring brings confidence which will transfer inside and outside of the boxing gym.

Savate boxing can provide a lot of benefits such as stress relief, improving fitness and building confidence.
Savate boxing can provide a lot of benefits such as stress relief, improving fitness and building confidence. Source: Cottonbro, Pexels

Guide to French Boxing

Like all boxing, French boxing - also called "savate" - is a combat sport with some underlying violence and blows that can hurt receivers. Fans will sometimes call it a "fist-and-foot-fighting sport," although the feet are much more used than hands (up to 99% of the time). The savate happens with two opposing opponents in a boxing ring (4.5 × 6 meters) or in a boxing gym. The two boxers must wear boxing gloves, but also special boxing slippers. This is crucial because the use of feet is also allowed.

The kicking aspect of savate means that this sport is very technical and must be learned. In fact, the different forms of punching and kicking are varied and there is a high number of different techniques, which is important insofar as it allows both the defensive and the offensive to defend themselves.

If the feet are at the heart of the game (as the name of savate points to in French!), shins and knees are absolutely prohibited. The offensive blows which are allowed are named "armed kicks" (the other types of kicks are forbidden). This is a process specific to French boxing. In regards to the upper body, the four basic punches of boxing here are the jab, the cross, the hook, and the uppercut.

Here are two lists of the kicks and punches in savate:


  1. fouetté (literally "whip", roundhouse kick making contact with the toe—hard rubber-toed shoes are worn in practice and bouts), high (figure), medium (médian) or low (bas)
  2. chassé (side ("chassé lateral") or front ("chassé frontal") piston-action kick, high (figure), medium (médian) or low (bas)
  3. revers, frontal or lateral ("reverse" or hooking kick) making contact with the sole of the shoe, high (figure), medium (médian), or low (bas)
  4. coup de pied bas ("low kick", a front or sweep kick to the shin making contact with the inner edge of the shoe, performed with a characteristic backwards lean) low only


  1. direct bras avant (jab, lead hand)
  2. direct bras arrière (cross, rear hand)
  3. crochet (hook, bent arm with either hand)
  4. uppercut (either hand)

The punches clearly hail from English boxing. Note that sweeps and throws are both prohibited. Savate can be practiced by men, women, children, and adults. It requires a lot of agility and energy, sometimes seeming like a form of gymnastics (one in which we fight!)

Savate does not allow assault, that is to say, it does not allow its players to seek out a violent confrontation (the players are disqualified after three warnings). The referees, judges, or officials evaluate the style, tactics, and technique used by the opponents. This is usually done over three rounds of two minutes each, with one minute to one minute and a half of recovery time in between each round (each fighter is near the ropes in a corner of the ring).

You have to strike your opponent as many times as you can and protect yourself from his blows for a limited time. If you are looking to do this professionally, you must be of age and possess have attained at least the level of yellow. Strength is required here, and five sessions of two minutes each are favoured.

It's up to you to become one of tomorrow's pros.

Learn more by enrolling in some boxing classes here.

A good savate boxer has good conditioning. Skipping is a popular way to train conditioning.
A good savate boxer has good conditioning. Skipping is a popular way to train to condition. Source: Cottonbro, Pexels

Other Ways to Learn Savate Boxing

To learn savate boxing the common answer is to work with a coach at a boxing gym. This is going to provide you with the right information to learning everything you need to, but there are a few other ways we want to point out that can offer some assistance. One of the great things about boxing is you don't need a lot of equipment. It's a minimal sport that can be practiced anywhere. You can practice savate boxing in the comfort of your own you just need some space. Now, let's check out the ways you can learn savate boxing.

Books - Books can provide a great resource for the world of boxing. Books can provide you with a lot of information about savate boxing from the techniques to the history. Learning to box from books may not provide the best way due to the lack of detail that can be provided. It's one thing to read about boxing, you may have difficulty putting the words into actionable lessons. Books can provide a lot of in-depth information about the sport.

Videos - There are lots of great videos that provide step by steps to help you learn savate boxing. Youtube can be a good source for videos. You can find a savate boxing coach you like and stick with their lessons. Although Youtube is a free source of information, certain channels won't give you everything you need to know. They'll have a program or different lessons you can purchase. It's important to know this before looking for boxing videos.

Tutors - Tutors are usually seen for your typical subjects like math or English, but tutors are for everything you can, learn boxing included. Your boxing tutor/coach can offer a personalized lesson plan to help you learn savate boxing. You can get access to feedback immediately when working with a coach. They also have teaching experience and boxing experience so they know the best way to teach you to see you succeed.

If you are looking for a savate boxing coach Superprof has lots of boxing coaches across Canada that are ready to help you learn savate boxing. They have the knowledge and experience to teach you the best way possible. They've worked with so many students they know how to work with you. Superprof also offers lessons online and in-person to offer you the flexibility and freedom to learn boxing when you want to learn.

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Do You Have to Spar When Savate Boxing?

Your first negative thought about savate boxing is getting hit. This can be a fear most people have when thinking about boxing. The fact that you might have to be in the ring and get hit can turn a lot of people away, but it doesn't have to be. Sparring in boxing is a form of training to get better. You're in the ring with someone boxing back in fourth. Your goal isn't to knock someone out. When you spar you're not using your full power, but you're still looking to get some hits off. Sparring is used to see what works and what doesn't. It provides a great way to train for a fight. Practicing with the bag and performing workouts can only prepare you so much for being in the ring. This is why you spar.

With all this being said you don't have to spar when you join a boxing club, even if you do consider sparring you be honest with your sparring partner and say you don't want any heavy hits. Sparring is also more commonly used in intermediate to advanced styles of training. It is very unlikely that a beginner would be sparring. Beginners should be focusing on learning the fundamentals and having good conditioning. Sparring is used to become better at boxing, but if you are concerned about getting hit in the head or any other parts of the body you can say no to sparring.  A lot of people box for the health and mental benefits. You can stick with the pads and the workouts and stay clear of the ring.

You can always stay clear of the ring id you're not looking to fight. You'll still be able to get all the benefits from boxing.
You can always stay clear of the ring if you're not looking to fight. You'll still be able to get all the benefits from boxing. Source: Cottonbro, Pexels

The History of Savate

Western Boxing is called the "noble art" mainly because it has preceded all other kinds of boxing. This probably explains its popularity and universality today. In fact, it is the first kind of boxing to have acquired official rules in the eighteenth century, under the supervision of bookmakers...The first boxing champion appears in 1719, but it is not until 1857 that the modern rules of this discipline begin to come into effect.

In 1899, Louis Lerda returns from the United States of America and prides himself in introducing Western boxing to France, with a first Parisian fight at Wagram Hall, while the semblance of a sports federation is erected by enthusiasts in 1903. However, shortly before, French boxing - which is born in the streets - has been codified in the wake of its popularity throughout different regions in France (the most popular place for the sport remaining the capital of Paris). Charles Lecour (1808-1894) is considered the father of the Boxing Federation in France.

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Savate boxing in the early days
Here is an old photo of savate in its early days.

Charles codified French boxing into the sport that we currently practice today. It has evolved a long way from the different variants that existed some time ago. History reveals that Savate entered its "modern" era when one of Charles's pupils, the count Pierre Baruzy, became champion of France 11 times before, during, and after the Great War! In 1924, he participated in the Olympics.

For the record,in 1907, Georges Clemenceau and his mobile police brigades (called "Tiger" at the time) trained regularly in savate boxing. The first European Savate Championships took place in the 1970s.

It is no surprise then, that this typically French sport became part of the cultural heritage of France. You should also discover the art of muay thai. Nothing to do with American boxing - read on to find out why!

The Details of French Boxing Techniques

Savate clubs usually say that the spirit of French boxing resides in these four keywords: "ethical, educational, aesthetic, effective."

In French boxing, it is impossible to lie or lie to oneself: you have to give the boxing your all and know how to prove your skills if you want to give a good show and win. The brute force, the obsessive search for a KO, is far from being the key to any match.  Intelligence and subtlety are key to this kind of fighting, the latter requiring perfect psychomotor coordination.

You will need to develop your flexibility and balance, otherwise, you'll hit the floor on your own, no need for a KO ...


An illustration of French boxing techniques
A drawing of French boxing techniques.

You have to know how to be perseverant and courageous at the same time. You need special skills if you want to be the best at this sport and impress your opponents.

There is a strategic dimension to French Boxing Savate. The statistics on this type of boxing say it all. American scientists have found that "French boxing [...] has a lower number of injuries every year than in sports like American football, ice hockey, football, gymnastics, basketball, baseball, and rollerblading "- yes, you heard right! So, for those of you who are looking for injuries, go your way, Savate is a gentlemen's sport! It is played in fancy savate slippers, and the referees are normally required to wear a bow tie!

There is another kind of boxing you should know about. It is called Chinese boxing.

You need to have a medical certificate to be able to participate in boxing
Boxing equipment | To let off steam, you need a medical certificate in due form | source: upload.wikimedia.org

As a result, it is not surprising that this boxing is the boxing "most appreciated by the fairer sex," according to Cosmopolitan Magazine. Savate is both relaxing for the body as well as a fun activity that will allow you an escape from your daily life. No wonder savate attracts people seeking to maintain a slender and athletic figure.

There is also a "savate" adapted to French fitness boxing fans. In fact, fencing has been a great influence on this gentlemanly sport (Jean-François Loudcher believes that it initially was a resurgence of duels from the time of Louis XIII and Richelieu)...

If championships mean blows and danger, then you can be sure that regular practice sometimes lead to blows that do not result in getting hurt - this is all part of the etiquette of savate. There are outright competitions like this: we see that finesse with this type of boxing is at the heart of its concerns. There are other elegant elements to this sport, it is forbidden to aim at someone's private parts, but also the breasts for female fighters. Strikes from behind, considered unworthy, are prohibited.

Do you know what shadowboxing is?

The Levels and the Champions of Savate, French Boxing

French boxing has existed for centuries and had a rich history since its professional debut with Charlemont's 11 national titles in Baruzy during the First World War ..

The greatest French boxers that have ever existed are called Scheffler, Robin, Nandi, and Berro ... But before you get to the high ranks, you will have to do your learning and practice. If the martial arts are ranked according to colored belts, Savate is ranked according to the colour of "gloves."

These gloves allow you to have a worldwide ranking and understand how to register to a competition.

French boxing has existed for centuries
Educational Boxing | The fist is as old as the world | source: visualhunt.com

Here are the colours of gloves one must go through when evolving from the beginner's level to being qualified as a champion:

  • blue;
  • green;
  • red;
  • white;
  • yellow;
  • technical gold (GAT 1, 2 and 3);
  • bronze;
  • silver-contest / competition (from 1 to 5 - or 2 to 6 from the bronze);
  • silver-gilt;
  • gold.

Let's be clear though: it's hard to get to those top 5 ranks! But your motivation can work miracles and tackle these obstacles!

Savate can teach us many things, and courage is one of them!

Learn Savate Boxing

Savate boxing can be the perfect new hobby your looking for. You can one day be a golden glove savate boxing champion. If you're not looking to compete in savate boxing can be a fun experience for those looking to learn something new. It can provide you with a sense of community and offer so many other benefits. It's a great way to improve your fitness level, gain confidence and meet people. There are so many great ways to start savate boxing find your local gym or work with a boxing coach. You won't be disappointed.

Remember if you are worried about getting hit, you can avoid this altogether. You can still gain the skills in boxing with the pads and workouts. Savate boxing can be your way of letting go of your stress and getting a good workout in. You just need to make that first step and start looking for savate boxing gyms in your area. Learning to savate box can be a great new experience.

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You can usually find me writing at a cafe sipping on coffee or working out at the gym. I fell in love with writing a few years ago and have never looked back. I love being able to share my words with the world.