An interesting examination of the French 'Savate' fighting style. My French friends say different things. One is adamant that 'Savate' derived from a Celtic (Gaul) martial art, whilst another states its comes from Asia - whilst both agree that English Bare-Knuckle Boxing had an influence on the closed hand-work. My view is that Savate looks different to the Asian arts I have seen - and I think its round-kick is unique and could well be an old European kick:
This Style of kicking, punching and throwing is also known as 'boxe française' (French Boxing) - but since 2002 has been officially referred to as 'savate boxe française' or 'Savate French Boxing'. The word 'Savate' means a:
1) 'French method of fighting with the feet, 1862, from French savate, literally "a kind of shoe" (see sabotage).'
2) 'The first known use of savate was in 1843. A form of (French) boxing in which blows are delivered with either the hands or the feet. From the original French, literally, "old shoe".'
3) '"Savate" means literally an old shoe or boot in middle French. Savate kicks use the boot effectively – some with the heel, some the toe, some the blade or side of the shoe. The word ‘Savate’ has its etymological root in ‘sabot’, from where the word ‘sabotage’ comes. The term Savate now embraces a set of arts – or associated disciplines – around the French art of fighting with the shoe.'
Therefore, I think we can say that 'Savate' is another way of saying 'Sabot' in French. This is how 'Sabot' is defined in a modern English to French Dictionary:
'A kind of simple shoe, shaped and hollowed out from a single block of wood, traditionally worn by French and Breton peasants.'
These clog-type shoes must have been formidable devices as they caused substantial damage when used on the foot when 'kicking' - and when thrown into the machines of the Industrial Revolution - these machines were invariably 'broken' and 'stopped'! Today, I think fighters in the ring wear a padded boot and shin guard - and Savate fighters are graded with coloured gloves - with 'White' being the highest achievable in a Club - and 'Yellow' awarded by the French government!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.