Savate, or boxe francaise, originated in France around 1830. It is a kickboxing style, involving punches and kicks with a shoe. There was a lot of street fighting in these times and people would kick each other wearing their everyday shoes. These shoes were called "savate" - old shoe - which is how the style got its name. The first man to systemise it was Michel Casseux (1794-1869) who opened the first savate training centre in 1825.

In 1830 there was a fight between a pupil of Casseux, Charles Lecour and an English fighter Owen Swift. The English style was to fight only with the fists, and the French to fight only with the legs, using their hands just for blocking and parrying. Swift defeated Lecour, fighting at close range where the Frenchman's kicks were useless. Recognising the limitations of his art Lecour studied English boxing (pugilism) and began to combine the two styles to create la boxe francaise.

Savate became a demonstration sport in the 1924 Olympic Games but many of the top savateurs were killed in the two World Wars, bringing the sport to near extinction. There has been a revival in recent years with many English and French clubs teaching the style.

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