Savate offers many advantages and options to the martial artist, including control of range, timing, and unusual angles, contributing to its deceptive approach to combat. A key difference from other arts is how the boot or shoe is used in combat to supercharge techniques.
I was a Muay Thai player from the early eighties, which meant I trained barefooted, except when I was down the Western boxing gym. I used my shin to make contact where possible and my instep as a second-choice fallback position for my round kicks. There is a concept in Muay Thai of kicking without fear, to be so conditioned you can unload power in every kick. Not so easy when your instep bounces off shins, knees and elbows. Part of avoiding collisions with unwanted objects is the correct use of deception, something Savate excels at and something I will cover in a later article.
The remarkable growth of MMA means that most of us are training on wrestling mats for safety. Still, one trade-off due to the matted area is mostly barefoot training, which means many students do not consider the advantages of using the shoe.
One tip is to wear footwear when training boot kicks. It seems obvious, but many people don’t and don’t get the best out of their training. There are some nice Savate shoes and boots that work well, which you may like to consider. Over the years, I have trained in trainers, shoes and walking boots to get the correct feel and impact.
Part of any Savate study should be studying how to use the shoe, the toe point, the heel, and the shoe’s rim where the sole meets the upper; these areas can supercharge your kicks. Most kicks can be thrown with the heel as the striking area. The toe of the shoe can be used on kicks to direct the force into a tiny area to increase penetration and increase the kick’s range. The toe can reach around or behind defensive shields to attack vulnerable areas such as the liver, sternum and back of the head.
Wearing dress shoes or walking boots is better for your feet in general but can also offer increased protection, especially if you have steel toe caps. The protection you gain will allow you win collisions you would otherwise have lost, this enables you to kick without fear.
In my class, we broadly split shoe-wearing during training into two areas, hard shoes for impact training, ideally on equipment or suitable protection and soft shoes for drilling and sparring.
Boot kicks can be safely trained, but it requires qualified and experienced coaching as they are dangerous. In the eighties, I got very good at relocating dislocated knees. The targeting of the kicks is considered an in house secret in my style.
Once you have the kicking motions down and know the targets, you need to create the openings to apply your art. That’s a whole book in itself.