Savate vs Kickboxing: What Is the Difference?

Savate vs Kickboxing: What Is the Difference?

The popularity of martial arts rose over the years to the point where it is today, where millions practice various arts. When it comes to striking, Kickboxing and Savate became frontrunners in popularity. They have some similarities that make people confuse them with one another, but they are quite different in every aspect. So, what’s the difference between Savate and Kickboxing?

Savate is a martial art developed in France that focuses on kicking and scoring points. Unlike Kickboxing, it has levels determined by the color of the practitioner’s gloves. Kickboxing is also a striking art but focuses on both punches and kicks delivered with full force.

Many people ask themselves which one they should choose. While both are highly effective for self-defense, recreation, or as a competitive sport, your choice should be based on what type of combat you prefer. To make an educated decision, you should know how both of these arts work and what makes them different from one another.

What are the differences between Savate and Kickboxing?

Although both of them are striking martial arts, there are many more differences between Savate and Kickboxing than there are similarities. Those differences are various: origin, style, scoring, technique – you name it. We’ll dive into the characteristics of each of the arts to see just how different they are.

More about Savate

Savate is a combat martial arts originating in France. It’s also known as French boxing or French kickboxing and has evolved into a combat art from French street fighting. That’s what makes it extremely effective for self-defense when utilizing all the techniques.

However, when it comes to Savate as a combat sport, the effectiveness is limited by the ruleset used in competition. Kickboxing has many similarities with Karate, but sport Karate and Savate have much more in common.

Both use a distinct point scoring system to determine the winner of a fight. To add to it, both are divided into levels with a distinct ranking system. While Karate uses the color of your belt to determine your rank, Savate uses the color of your gloves.

While there are many techniques in Savate that include striking, grappling, and even wrestling, today’s sport Savate includes only empty-hand techniques. The performance of a fighter is scored based on their performance and the techniques they used. Also, there is a big emphasis on kicks over punches.

More about Kickboxing

Unlike Savate, Kickboxing originates in the eastern cultures, namely Japan. Over the years, Kickboxing found its way to the west. Combining it with western Boxing gave birth to the martial art we usually see on TV and call Kickboxing. That’s American Kickboxing, a younger version of Japanese Kickboxing.

When talking about Kickboxing as a sport, the emphasis is on both punches and kicks. There’s no point scoring as in Karate or Savate. You aim to knock your opponent out. If not, the judges consider numerous criteria to determine the winner after the time runs out. Those criteria include the number of (significant) strikes thrown and landed, number of knockdowns, and overall domination.

Also, there are no levels that determine rank as there are in Savate. You compete in categories determined by weight, and that is the only limitation aside from the rules of the sport.

Which is better for self-defense: Savate or Kickboxing?

The answer to this question is different, depending on what you are referring to. If we are talking about Savate and Kickboxing in their regulated sports format, then Kickboxing is more effective. It is a lot more free-flowing and aims to maximize the power behind every strike.

Sport Savate is regulated and many techniques are prohibited, so it wouldn’t be very effective in a real fight in that form.

However, if we are talking about them as only martial arts, and taking into consideration all available techniques and moves, then Savate is superior when it comes to self-defense. Savate was developed from French street fighting, and many techniques are not that “sportsman-like”, which makes it extremely effective in a free fight.

You can use kicks to the shin, elbows, grappling, chokes, and all sorts of different techniques to help you defeat your potential attacker. Savate is designed to win you a street fight quickly, focusing on low kicks and defending yourself from a distance at all times.

Kickboxing can also be very effective for self-defense. However, due to it avoiding grappling and any sort of holds, you could have some difficulty defending yourself from that sort of attack. It is much more suited for hand-to-hand combat.

In the end, both have advantages that make them effective in their own way. Which one is better for self-defense is highly dependable on what the situation is.

Which one should you choose: Savate or Kickboxing?

It is easy to determine which one you should choose. If you are planning to train to compete in Savate or Kickboxing as a sport, then your decision should be based on what your preferences are. With Savate, you’ll have to use quickness and agility to outsmart your opponent and win.

Brute force will not win you a Savate match as often as it will win you a Kickboxing bout. It is not about how hard you strike, but the technique you are using, how you’re using it, and how well you can implement it into your defensive strategy.

Kickboxing requires a lot of skill and technique as well, but the aggressive nature of the art makes it way more possible for you to outpower your opponent for the win. One well-placed strike is often enough for you to emerge victoriously, but it’s easier said than done.

But, if you are looking to train for self-defense and being able to ward off any sort of attack, then Savate is the way to go for you. The techniques are primarily based on striking, but most of the moves are derived from street fighting, which makes them highly efficient in case of a surprise attack.

To conclude, if your strengths are power and physicality, you are probably better off with Kickboxing. But, if your goal is to be versatile and able to defend from all kinds of attacks, you should try Savate.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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