Friday, October 9, 2009

Batman -- Martial Artist - 03 - Savate

Savate is, essentially, a French form of kickboxing. The martial art takes its name from the French phrase for “old boot” or “old shoe”. This is because Savate is derived from older “kick fighting” styles that originated in the 19th century. In a time in which it was thought that kicking was ungentlemanly (and for sissies), French street fighters threw that false sense of honor to the wind and used their feet for more efficient fighting.
Some claim that it started as a fighting style for French sailors. They would hold on to something like a mast or rigging and would use kicks.

The style uses the basic punches of boxing, but Savateurs tend to prefer kicks. This is most likely ingrained by historical practice. Since your legs are longer and stronger than your arms, you can typically keep a safer distance and do more damage by kicking rather than punching.
There is also the fact that punching tends to look more savage and hostile, so French street fighters would use kicks and even slaps to avoid harsher legal punishments. This way of thinking is actually beneficial to street fighters, or even law abiding citizens who simply have to defend themselves, of modern day America. Police officers and most jurors are rather typical people who primarily see boxing as the fighting mainstay and think kicking is for sissies (I find this odd, as one would think that the proliferation of Asian martial arts would have changed this mindset by now), so they are more likely to believe you were just defending yourself.

Savate kicking is rather interesting because (at least from my observations) the hips are not used much. Kicking with the legs and not the hips (and punching with the arms and not the waist) does not produce the same amount of power, but it is more deceptive. This type of kicking allows you to plant your foot on someone’s face much more quickly because you don’t telegraph your move by twisting.

Would Batman know Savate? You bet. While I don’t know of any specific issue in which Batman uses or learns Savate, Scott Beatty does mention it in “The Batman Handbook”, and we should remember that Bruce did train in France for a time. While he was learning from Henri Ducard, he probably picked up plenty of Savate techniques.Savate would be a good supplement to Bruce’s boxing training, and while the kicks might not be as powerful as those learned in Muay Thai, Karate, Kung Fu, or Tae Kwon Do training, they would be more deceptive, and Batman is big on deception.


Bruce said...

Is Savate very common?

M.C. Elroy said...

Not really. That's kind of why I chose it to write about this week. It's common enough in France, but karate and other eastern martial arts are much more popular.
While Tae Kwon Do is probably the most widely practiced martial art, with different forms of karate and kung fu following, there are Savate schools in many countries like America, France, England, Germany, and Australia.
And while karate is much more popular than Savate in France, you can still find Savate in Japan (