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nielmag's picture
Stealing Kicks from Savate

Hello all, just saw an interesting video from Jesse enkamp about karate "stealing" kicks from Savate.  Obviously high kicks aren't recommended for self defense and they were added later but never thought about savate and karate connection. I don't know much about savate Just want to get peoples thoughts.

Marc's picture

Very interesting observation by Jesse.

I know nothing about savate, but the similarities presented in the video are striking.

By the way Jesse quotes from a book by Donn F. Draeger. Does anybody know which book that might be?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

nielmag wrote:
just saw an interesting video from Jesse enkamp about karate "stealing" kicks from Savate.

I really enjoyed that video and I think he makes a strong case for Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi using Savate as the inspiration for the kicks discussed.

Despite claims to the contrary, karate has always been something of a “magpie” when it comes to the methods of consensual violence which are absent from the traditional kata; and the same with cultural acquisitions too. We see photos of the old masters adopting the guards of old school boxing; boxing footwork; judo’s clothing and belt system; three and five step practises borrowed from Judo and Kendo (which are a very bad fit for karate); the adoption of the “do-ethos” from Judo … which in turn got the idea of sports of character development from the English education system; and so on.

You go back a little further and we know the karate of the kata was also a fusion of methods from all over the place.

Karateka has always been evolving and changing, and it’s always been happy to take what is deemed useful from other systems. That’s the true tradition. The idea that karate was, or should be, fixed and unchanging does not stand up to any scrutiny.

When anyone remarks, “That’s not karate!”, there are three valid responses:

1) Not yet … but it will be!

2) Maybe not your “karate”, but it is ours.

3) It was … and will be again!

All the best,


Heath White
Heath White's picture

On this topic ....    http://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=6356

Most bo kata are designed for right-handers.  There one kata, Yonegawa no kon, which has the left hand forward. It seems to be derived from (ultimiately western) bayonet practice:

In the interview is noted the kata called Yonegawa no Kon 米川の棍. It was created by Masami’s grandfather Chinen Sanrā 知念三良 (1840–1922), the retrospectively designated founder of Yamane-ryū bōjutsu 山根流棒術. .... the techniques of this kata are mainly performed with the left hand leading. ... On the left-sided performance of Yonegawa no Kon, it is noted in the interview that:

“The left-sided posture (of Yonegawa no Kon) was Chinen Sanrā’s interpretation of the left-sided posture employed in Jūkenjutsu (bayonet fencing).”

So, according to Chinen Masami, the left-handed Bō-kata called Yonegawa no Kon, which was created by his grandfather, was devised or adapted to the bayonet-rifle fencing of the time, therefore holding the  like a bayonet-rifle with the left hand forward. Looking at Chinen Sanrā’s life dates (1840–1922; or otherwise 1842–1925), this completely corresponds to the era of Western visitors to Okinawa, Western bayonet fencing introduced to Japan, and Western bayonet fencing as an indispensable part of infantry tactics.