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Book Review:
Savate: French Foot Fighting

Savate: French Foot Fighting, by Bruce Tegner. Ventura, CA: Thor Publishing Co. (1960)
Savate: French Foot and Fist Fighting (third revised edition) by Bruce Tegner Ventura, CA: Thor Publishing Co. (1983)

Among the many fighting arts witnessed these days, one which is rarely seen, save on the Documentary Channel or National Geographic Channel, is Savate, a fighting art of French lineage, incorporating hand and foot fighting techniques, as well as select weapons. In 1960, Bruce Tegner, a martial artist whose books have been reviewed in arresting solutions in the past by this reviewer, authored a text on Savate. Tegner trained extensively in Savate, and this worked reflects that training. Included in the 1960 edition are various stances, hand blows, kicks and foot techniques, training methods, blocks and counters, and specific ways to defend against specific attacks. Additionally, there are chapters on weapon defenses using Savate techniques, methods to defend against a trained boxer, and rules for Savate contests and matches. One of the items which makes this 163-page text fascinating is detailed toe and heel pivots which distinguishes Savate from other forms of hand and foot fighting. All photographs are large and detailed, and the accompanying text clear and easy to follow and understand. Tegner demonstrates all of the techniques which appear, some very spectacular.


For those wishing to learn about a relatively unknown art, its history and its techniques, either as an academic exercise or to enhance one's repertoire, this book is highly recommended. The drawback is that it is out of print, and except for some libraries, used bookstores, and online booksellers such as Alibris, it may be difficult to come by.

There is, however, the 1983 edition. This third and final revised edition does not have the author demonstrating any of the techniques. It is shorter than the first edition (109 pages including the index), omits some sections of the original (most notably the details of the footwork, and specific defenses), and includes a few techniques the first edition did not have, as well as demonstrating sparring sequences and routines.

As in the previous edition, the photographs are large with easy-to-follow accompanying text, albeit a little less detailed than the first. This edition includes the historical introduction, with photos of practitioners of the art from the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are four photos in the Introduction of Bruce Tegner taken from the first edition performing some impressive jump kicks for training and practice.
While this reviewer prefers the earlier edition, this third revised edition is recommended as well, with the same understanding that locating it may be difficult since it too is out of print. However, it is more readily located than its predecessor.


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