Thursday, June 03, 2010

Savate + Muay Thai = ???

A few weeks ago the head instructor went to a gym in California for a few days. The primary mission was to get our gym affiliated with an MMA gym/system to start developing a curriculum for MMA. From what I have heard it was a great success.

I have now experienced another part of what came out of that trip - a little Savate.

In the past several decades many martial arts have been blending and mashing with each other to create different styles. Maybe I should back up a bit. If you practice any martial art and get involved in it, you will emulate the style that your gym teaches. There are different styles of Kung Fu, Karate, TKD, and Jiu Jitsu. Muay Thai is no different. Our Muay Thai curriculum, which is descended from Master Toddy, and those who taught him, has been tweaked by our instructor. We practice a much more athletic and functional (as relates to self defense) style with more movement than most traditional Muay Thai styles. We always start out in the traditional MT stance, marching and pumping our lead leg, but typically try to get "off the angle" or "off center" with aggressive footwork. This is because our gym teaches JKD and MMA. Parts of those strategies have been blended into our Muay Thai curriculum. You can even see flashes of western boxing in some of our footwork drills.

In the past I have liked to get out of my art for a bit to see what others are doing and to learn a new thing. I take a Jiu Jitsu lesson about once every six months. I enjoy sparring with others who are better than me in a different art just to understand and have fun with different arts and to experience how others are taught. We have a Panantukan seminar at the gym in a month that I will probably attend. In MT class last night our instructor gave us a short intro to Savate and told us to use it in our sparring, which is traditionally at the end of class.

Here is a video of a Savate match. Note that the fighters are constantly in motion, jumping on the balls of their feet. Also note the decreased importance of hands:

Now contrast this to what I have been doing for the last three years, Muay Thai. Note the slower pace, utilizing techniques with more power, and the higher emphasis on hands and the clinch:

You might have also noted that the Muay Thai fighters don't try to come offline, or off the angle too much. Well, that is my art. At my gym we try to get off the angle a lot, part of that martial art mashup I was speaking about previously.

So last night we combined some of the more active, fluid jumping around of Savate with Muay Thai and that, for me, sucked. You have to remember that I have been practicing "marching" in place, and pumping my lead leg for three years now and was challenged to get out of my element and start to deliver my techniques while bouncing around like a Savate guy. You can see an example of what I have been doing for three years at 1.05-1.15 in the previous video if you look at the fighter on the left. That is pretty much the extent of my footwork until I throw techniques and try to get off line.

I think all of us were like fish out of water for this little interlude into Savate. I didn't like it at all as I didn't know how to throw my techniques while jumping around - and it was more tiring.

But in the end I think it is good to get a taste of other martial arts. I just hope it doesn't last in this particular case as I am very at home with the structure I have worked so hard on for the past three years.

PS - while I was looking for youtube videos for the above post, I stumbled on this one - neat from a historical perspective:

I like at the end how the one guy throws himself on the ground - I think any of us who have done a martial art that has kicks in it have done that.


knirirr said...

Those videos make for a very interesting comparison - thanks.
In the last one there appears to be a kick used (coup de pied de pointe) that is not permitted under modern rules.

Dan from Madison said...

Milo - can you give me the time of that kick as I am not sure which one you are talking about. And when you say modern rules, which ones?

Dan from Madison said...

One other comment, that last video is sort of like human fencing as they certainly aren't out to destroy each other, but to score points. Pretty obvious when they let each other out of the corners.

knirirr said...

Dan, it's the very first kick shown by the chap on the right as he warms up at the beginning, and it crops up at various other times such as around 40s.
As for the rules, when I went along to the local Savate club one of the first things they said was that such kicks were banned. I have some texts c. 1900 that include instruction on that kick but also sparring rules saying it's forbidden, and another text from the 1920s where it's not included.
I agree that it looks like fencing and authors on the subject are often keen to point this out. In some early sparring rules participants were even required to halt after a hit and call "touché" when they received them. There are, in some texts, comments along the lines of "French boxing is a game of skill, but English boxing is one of endurance."

Dan from Madison said...

Huh, it just looks like a TKD type of front snap kick to me, not much power behind it, and I can't see how you really could put much power behnid it if you wanted to as you can't clear your hips. Why was it banned I wonder? Because it goes for the head?

knirirr said...

A comment from one text c. 1903 says:

...on peut tirer [le coup de pied de pointe] au creux de l'estomac, mais il est préférable de ne pas le faire en assaut, car même en tirant à l'estomac, si l'adversaire marche, on l'attendrait dans les parties viriles.

Which says:

…one may aim [the toe kick] at the pit of the stomach but it's preferable to not use it in sparring for, even if aimed at the stomach, if the opponent moves it may land on his virile parts.

Dan from Madison said...

Heh, that was my next guess - I have seen that front snap kick land low before in TKD matches.

knirirr said...

I should have added earlier that when I tried a little Savate I found the bouncing about a quite difficult as well.
I sent you an e-mail that may be of interest, by the way.

James R. Rummel said...

Good post.