“Boxing is not always about standing in the middle going toe to toe. It’s about poise and grace under extreme pressure.”
– Peter Berg
Is boxing a sport for bullies? Certainly not!
We are going to lie to all those who claim that boxing is only about hitting like a nag in order to let off steam and get to the moment where “KO” is shouted…
In reality, this combat sport is subtle and refined, made up of a number of variations depending on which countries and regions we are looking at…
If films, books, popular culture, and the craze of the public highlight most of all the noble art – that is to say British boxing, which solely admits fists for weapons – it should not be forgotten that there exists different kinds of boxing in almost every country on the planet.
American boxing, karate, kickboxing, taekwondo, Burmese boxing, MMA, Vietnamese boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, free fighting, Khmer boxing, full-contact, kung-fu, aikido, Laotian boxing, budo, Chinese boxing, self-defense, French boxing, Thai boxing and British boxing…the list goes on!
For now, we will only focus on the last three, while adding shadowboxing as a way to get to the ring smoothly and bridge the gap between all the different boxing styles out there.
French boxing stems from French kick-boxing, which was a kind of boxing called “savate” in the 19th century and involved using one’s feet.
As its name may suggest, French boxing is most popular in France. Despite the modern form being relatively young and its rather chaotic history (with its virtual disappearance in the inter-war period), this patriotic French sport is nowhere near new.
Already, in the nineteenth century, in French literature, several books were closely interested in the “ring” (which was obviously a boxing anglicism at the time).
These writers who became interested in “savate” included Theophile Gauthier: “French boxing is a profound science that requires a lot of composure, calculation, agility, and strength,” or “French boxing is a bold game, sparkling and full of romantic illuminations.” Clemenceau understood this well when he began his famous “brigades of the Tiger”!
Alexandre Dumas, the writer of the three musketeers and other fun adventure stories had some witty remarks about savate or French kick-boxing: “Savate is exactly the same as boxing, except that it ‘is quite the opposite.” He spoke of the modern inventor of French boxing, Charles Lecour, as a “man of genius.”
Whipped kick | The French Boxing Federation has more than one boxing club | source: upload.wikimedia.org
With all the information we have just given you, it is up to you to find a circle of gentlemen wearing those famous boxing shoes – savates !
Savate is a French martial art that uses the hands and feet as weapons combining elements of Western boxing with graceful kicking techniques.
French boxers wear chest guards, mouthguards, boxing gloves, and boxing shoes.
There are generally between 3 and 5 rounds lasting from 1 minute 30 to 2 minutes depending on gender, weight, class, age, and competition.
The accepted techniques are very sophisticated and limited by rules, which say that only certain blows are acceptable. Knowing how to use your feet is of utmost importance, hence the name “boxing feet-fists”.
French boxing generally astonishes with how delicate it is and its great show of fair play, as well as the savoir-vivre it imposes on its practitioners. Today there are more than 50,000 French boxers in France!
If you’d like to increase your knowledge, you should know that French boxing has several related disciplines: savate form, savate baton defense and, above all, cane fighting for fans of fencing!
Is it really necessary to introduce British boxing, which, without surprise, is the most popular form of boxing and has spread, along with English, to the rest of the globe?
This success and the fact that its rules are relatively easy compared to other forms of boxing has earned it the nickname of the “noble art.” Most fighters secretly wish to become champions of the world in boxing. This kind of boxing has the honor of being counted among the Olympic disciplines.
It evolved from the codification of the clandestine and somewhat barbarian fighting organized between British bookkeepers. Everybody knows about the British propensity to bet on everything or anything…
From the first improvised street boxing, we have arrived at a regulated form of boxing, which put an end to the wild pugilism, which always ended up doing too much damage. This kind of boxing caused too many deaths. It was manslaughter in the ring that pushed Jack Broughton to ask himself whether the sport should not be more regulated in the 18th century.
Punching bags | Good physical preparation also requires warm-ups, strength training, equipment, muscle building, and stretching | source: pxhere.com
He benefited from the help of the famous Scottish Marquis of Queensberry, whose 16 rules still are part of the spirit of English boxing today.
Protective gloves, end of fighting when one calls finish, a prohibition of seizures and other medical anomalies, not allowing one to hit a challenger on the ground…these are all rules which seem obvious to us today, but which are completely linked to these pioneers!
The equipment is basic: boxing gloves, boxing shoes, and a helmet for your amateur days. A pro boxer always wins the affection of the public.
Think of all those big names everyone knows: Mike Tyson, Mohammed Ali, Tyson Fury, etc…
Thai boxing has its origins, as its name attests, in South-East Asia, where martial arts are particularly popular–especially in Thailand.
There, Thai boxing is an institution, a largely professional sports discipline which serves as a national sport and an important element of the local economy.
What we call “Thai boxing” in order to categorize it as one of the different forms of boxing is designated in South-East Asia as Muay-Thai, an expression which attests to the basic martial art character of this ancient fighting technique.
Quite frankly, Thai boxing is much more violent than the two previous forms of boxing we have just studied. It is the contact sport we will recommend to those wishing to know how to fight and defend themselves in any context, which can be very useful in our time of extreme violences…
However, don’t think that everything is allowed in Thai boxing…that would be a pure lie! There are rules like anywhere else.
Shin guards | A minimum of boxing equipment is necessary for boxing, including women’s boxing | source: media.defense.gov
The Thais have moved away from a time where boxers died regularly and unexpectedly during fights (some duels used the dirty trick of crushed glass on the fists, so that the fighters would fight more quickly and efficiently…).
This era ended when Muay Thai was banned in Thailand almost a century ago, in 1921. This ban allowed the violent boxing to come back into question and reappear a few years later with more contemporary rules, largely inherited from British boxing.
Gloves, rings, and rounds made an appearance, as well as ending the fight at the bell, and low and high shots (such as to the head, for example). From there, Thai boxing conquered the world too, and that is what it has done for the last half a century!
Thai boxing has more weapons (fists, feet, forearms, shins, knees, elbows) than its two boxing siblings from France and
Seizures are allowed, as well as alter egos.
After reading through this myriad of blows, you may want to take it easy for a second, right?
If that’s the case, shadow boxing is for you. It is a solitary and painless kind of boxing.
How is this possible, you might want to ask…Well, it’s possible because you are facing an imaginary adversary – a ghost, a shadow. In other words, you’re boxing with the void!
This exercise is much more exciting, enjoyable, and effective than you might think at first glance. It was initially designed to take the place of trainers for professional and amateur boxers.
This exercise consists of cardio. This exercise counts for every type of boxing: whether you are a savateur, a British boxer, or an Asian boxer. Boxers use it to adapt their guard, their techniques, their strokes, and their footwork to the rules of their respective federations. It will also be useful to keep rhythm with the official timing of your sport: this many times, this many minutes, this many seconds, etc.
Having a coach monitor you is great. It will mean that he or she can give you tips and point out what does not work. Otherwise, you can always film yourself shadow boxing or do it while surrounded by one or more mirrors in order to observe yourself in action.
Music lovers can help themselves out by adding a little music. Fitness boxing is just one step away from shadowboxing! And quite close to the punching ball or punching bag…
Savatte (which is how it was spelled at the time) appeared on the scene in 1797. It was a sport for the bad boys of the time.
The boxing shoe appeared near Marseille. It was used in a combat sport which used only the feet.
The two sports, combined with some boxing rules, merged to create what would become the French boxing we know today.
Savate boxing today is no longer a street sport but part of certain aristocracy circles. The rules of the sport appeared in 1877, thanks to Joseph Charlemont. He later created the French Boxing Academy.
The meeting between Charles Charlemont and Jerry Driscoll allowed French boxing to come to the foreground.
Since 1903 and the creation of the French Federation of Boxing Companies, many employees have gone into the ring. Today, there are 50,000 French persons practicing savate.
The beginnings of French boxing as we know it today…
In French boxing, there are age categories:
It also has weight categories:
Boxers also have to pass certain levels. Each level is divided into three degrees and bears a color:
The last two ranks allow access to certain competitions which are closed to others.
The International Savate Federation recognizes 11 different kicks (whipped, chased, and swayed) and 4 categories of punches (hook, direct, swing, uppercut). Knees, shins, and elbows are strictly forbidden.
First of all, talking about Chinese boxing is reductive. What we call in the West Chinese boxing is actually a set of 360 styles of Chinese martial arts.
Martial arts emerged out of the necessity for self-defense and intensive training in the Chinese military in ancient China (27th century BCE).
More recently, in the 5th century, a Buddhist monk from Shaolin Monastery invented sports exercises to improve the physical condition of the monks and protect the monastery.
Chinese boxing is a true philosophy of life!
Chinese boxing did not come about before the 16th century, before the practice of martial arts by the Shaolin monks was discovered. Chinese boxing and martial arts without physical confrontation – Shaolin kungfu and kungfu Wushu – gradually became the official sport of the Chinese people and state in 1949.
The reintroduction of martial arts in boxing schools was only done at the end of the Maoist era, in 1975.
Of course, Chinese boxing differs from British boxing, French boxing, or Thai boxing. Chinese culture is so marked by spirituality and control over the human body that their boxing is not just about hitting the opponent to knock him out.
It is a true art of self-defense, a philosophy of life and a development of the physical and mental potential of the participants.
Building muscle and paying attention to the body are essential if you want to avoid injury. They are especially important for the practice of Chinese martial arts: boxing sanda, kungfu, boxing Tao lu, etc.
American boxing is focused on closing the gap between two adversaries, hence its alternative name: full contact.
KO is allowed and opponents can hit each other, even on the ground. This makes the risk of infection greater than in other types of boxing. American boxing has also given birth to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), which is much freer in terms of rules.
It was in the 1960s that boxing made its appearance on American soil. But we are still far from full contact. If the United States is the cradle of boxing stars such as Mike Tyson, Mohamed Ali, Joe Frazier, and Floyd Mayweather, MMA only appears in the 1970s.
Kickboxing (American boxing) is gradually making its way on the international scene and is now acclaimed by the whole world through tournaments.
It borrows from the codes of English boxing (punches allowed) and classic martial arts (kicks allowed), such as krav maga (self defense). American boxing admits the head, torso, and feet as targets.
Kickboxing is accepted as an international sport.
It is forbidden to grab the opponent, attack him when he is on the ground, to continue fighting after the referee’s whistle, to turn one’s back on the opponent, to lift or throw the opponent or attack the opponent when he has his back against the ropes of the ring.
British boxers could get used to American boxing. Many of the techniques and rules overlap:
One just has to work on his defense in order to excel and avoid getting hurt!
So why not make your choice regarding which boxing most interests you and get started with boxing!