Savate offers kickboxing with soles


Savate Kick Boxing
Savate Kickboxing

Yann Sanchez is a first-degree black belt in judo who doesn't believe in being limited to one discipline. So, he co-founded MultiDou, a unique multidiscipline dojo near Shinjuku, with Bruno Malik in January 2005. It offers 10 different martial arts and activities that include kickboxing, freefight, krav maga and savate (pronounced savat), which he has also studied, as well as fitness boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, judo, aikido, yoga and capoeira. Needless to say, some of these disciplines are a rare find in the Land of the Rising Sun. Sanchez tells Fitness Japan about one such rare gem - savate.

Q: What is savate and what does it involve?

A: Savate, also called French boxing, literally means 'shoe.' It is the only kickboxing style that uses shoes in the ring. As in kickboxing, savate uses kicking techniques as well as punching techniques (there are no knee techniques) but the number of techniques is much more important in savate. You find forms of kicks and punches that don't exist in other boxing sports, making savate one of the most technical forms of boxing there is. Targeting and hitting your opponent's entire body with the hands or feet (hitting with the tibia is not allowed) is permitted except for behind and on the top of the head.

Q: How was savate developed and where does it come from?

A: Savate was created in Paris, France in the beginning of the 19th century. Its creation is attributed in part to Michael Casseux who spent a lot of his time studying the techniques of hoodlums and street fighters. Casseux defined and categorized these fighting techniques and then taught them to the rich and other members of high society, thus popularizing the art. What once began as a bunch of street fighting techniques for hoodlums became a systematic method of fighting for well-off elites.

Charles Lecour, Michael Casseux's best student, dreamed of perfecting the art of savate. One day Lecour fought with a well-known boxer, Owen Swift. It was at this time that Lecour decided to include the hand techniques from English boxing.

Q: Other than wearing shoes, what else is unique about this kickboxing art?

A: Since the spirit of savate is "touching without being touched," you won't see opponents grappling each other. Instead, they work at getting to one another with fast moves, striking with various techniques in combination and then moving away, making savate a very fluid boxing style.

You will not only find techniques in savate for making contact with an opponent from a short and medium distance, but also from long a distance, using elaborate steps and flying techniques. This makes savate a very pleasant boxing style to look at, as well. As it is full of complex combinations of techniques mixing short-, medium- and long-distance, punches and kicks, high, low, straight, side, turning and flying techniques, savate is a very fascinating sport to learn.

Q: How is savate practiced as a sport today?

There are three types of fighting in savate: duo, "assaut," or attack, and combat. Duo is a technical show of combinations. In assaut, fighters are judged based on their techniques during the fight and have to control their power. Combat is similar to assaut but fighters use full power.

Q: What are some of the fitness benefits to savate?

A: Due to the numerous punching and kicking techniques that require you to use your whole body, and especially high demands for mobility in order to be able to touch without being touched, savate is a very good activity for getting or staying in shape.

Practicing savate will also increase your stamina, reflexes and capacity for self-defense. Since savate is more technical than other kinds of boxing and it allows for fighting without using your full power, it is a relatively safe sport to learn and practice. It can also be more suitable for women than other types of boxing sports. It is an ideal choice for women interested in practicing boxing for fitness purposes but who prefer to avoid the crudeness sometimes associated with these sports.

Q: Please tell us a little about MultiDou, where savate is offered.

A: MultiDou's dojo concept is to practice different martial arts or activities in a relaxed and motivated atmosphere that can help you improve mind and body. We help our members choose - or mix - these activities to reach their goals, eliminate stress and get in or maintain shape. They can learn a martial art, boxing techniques or how to defend themselves. At MultiDou, everybody can find a way to reach their own goals. Monthly memberships and a ticket system are available and we also offer a free trial lesson. So please don't hesitate to come try!

For more information about savate and other martial arts offered at MultiDou visit:, call: 03-3205-2971 or e-mail: You can also e-mail Yann Sanchez at:

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