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Did Gauls use Savate kicks in fighting the Roman Legions?

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

Years ago,I first learned about the French Martial art of Savate and became an enthusiast about the art.For those who never heard of the art,here is a good intro video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuQOvXKy1p4

 

For years after learning of the art,I done serious studies on Savate's origins and histories.I came upon this interesting piece.It was originally from Wikipedia but the site removed it for being unsourced and the article where this statement is from is can now be found in this link:

 

http://www.websters-online-dictionary.net/definitions/Savate?cx=partner-pub-0939450753529744%3Av0qd01-tdlq&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=Savate&sa=Search#922

 

There are quite a few historical hints of kick fighting going back to Frankish and even Gaulish roots with the modern footwear changes and boxing amalgamation being just the most recent adjuncts in a long honorable line.[/Quote]

 

Being a serious student of Savate, I have tried to search for Roman records of battle that show or descibre the Gauls as using unarmed kicks in the manner of Savate but came up empty.After years of trying to research, I still couldn't find anything.Are any of you familiar if such records exist and could any verify the credibility of the above quote?I assume that the Roman Legions have fought Gauls who knew such kicking techniques and its not surprising since Savate is pretty much a combination of techniques from Europe's past according to Savate experts and historians.

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

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The Gauls are reported as fighting battles in a particular style which doesn't include kicks of this kind. Perhaps the art evolved from wrestling/fighting as sporting contests?

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

The Gauls are reported as fighting battles in a particular style which doesn't include kicks of this kind. Perhaps the art evolved from wrestling/fighting as sporting contests?

I do know Savate is evolved from various Classical European Martial Arts including those from the Middle Ages(some Medieval Manuals confirm this) and I do know that Savate in its original codified form in the 1800s had wrestling techniques in addition to kicks and Boxing.Do you happen to know what the Gauls fighting style is called and where I could find pictures and translated descriptions of it(preferably scans and online)?If I could at least see a photo or written description of Gaullish striking techniques,I might be able to find similarities to modern Savate Techniques.

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The gauls fought as pretty much any other iron age tribespeople. They yelled in a bloodcurdling fashion, rushed forward with a sword, and based their attack on intimidation and slicing motion. Don't underestimate the importance of the sword in celtic mythos. Such weapons often carried a mystical status, sometimes even magical, and form a popular sacrifice in water to find favour with the gods.

 

With this sort of peer example, the less bold would nonetheless seek to emulate their heroic and daring warrior leaders in a similar manner, except perhaps as a mass rather than indivuidually. So in battle you would see the braver ones rush forward to attack, retreating again if necessary, but emboldening their colleagues if the attack proves succesful.

 

Now, as to where this Savante comes in, I'm not sure. There's no mention I know of in ancient texts of such a fighting style (have you checked out the Basque angle? - Just a thought) and in all honesty, it does not appear to have been a great influence in medieval times either.

 

Let me suggest however that Svanate might have had an early origin as a deviant form of wrestling/boxing in post-Roman times as the tradition of fighting publicly for sport continues and no longer adheres to the standards set by Rome. That's only my speculation - I would be curious to see if it proves valid.

 

Although the tribes varied in character, Julius Caesar reports that Gauls, Belgae, and Germans all named themselves 'celts'.

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[being a serious student of Savate, I have tried to search for Roman records of battle that show or descibre the Gauls as using unarmed kicks in the manner of Savate but came up empty.After years of trying to research, I still couldn't find anything.Are any of you familiar if such records exist and could any verify the credibility of the above quote?I assume that the Roman Legions have fought Gauls who knew such kicking techniques and its not surprising since Savate is pretty much a combination of techniques from Europe's past according to Savate experts and historians.

 

 

I don't mean to come across as sounding ascerbic, but ... I think its all poppycock. What good are some karate kicks against a wall of shields and stabbing swords formed by the Roman legions? If Gauls fought this way against a legion in formation, they'd simply get their feet chopped off.

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After much tapping of fingers, I believe savate evolves from experience of oriental forms during the French colonisation of India/Indo-China. The more I think about the less it sounds likely that we can assign a direct ancient origin. After all, 'martial arts' was an eastern phenomenon with modern enlargement in popular culture. I would be careful about the sources that suggest an earlier western origin. It might well be urban myth.

Edited by caldrail

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

 

I don't mean to come across as sounding ascerbic, but ... I think its all poppycock. What good are some karate kicks against a wall of shields and stabbing swords formed by the Roman legions? If Gauls fought this way against a legion in formation, they'd simply get their feet chopped off.

A couple of things to point out.Savate KICKS ARE NOT KARATE AT ALL.Europe has its rich traditions in martial arts contrary to popular belief.Also, Savate kicks were designed to use heavy footwear.If anything, in the Renaissance Era and Medieval Warfare, kicks were common parts of hand to hand techniques.Plus the Gauls wore footwear which offered protection(anyone who's familiar with Savate and European martial arts knows that armor was an important consideration in Medieval and Renaissance warfare).Also another thing to point out, ARMIES NEVER DIRECTLY use hand to hand combat techniques at the start of the battle.They rely on typical formation and tactics of the day.When techniques such as wrestling and kicks are used, its during the middle of muddy battle were formations were broken or in close pitched battle.

After much tapping of fingers, I believe savate evolves from experience of oriental forms during the French colonisation of India/Indo-China. The more I think about the less it sounds likely that we can assign a direct ancient origin. After all, 'martial arts' was an eastern phenomenon with modern enlargement in popular culture. I would be careful about the sources that suggest an earlier western origin. It might well be urban myth.

Actually, its a myth that Savate originated from India/Indochina.If one observes the kicking techniques, Savate kicks look nothing like oriental martial arts.Take the Foutte.A closer examination of the kick shows it does not resemble roundhouse or Muay Thai kicks.

 

In the field of martial arts, beware of assigning martial arts to Eastern origin. There are many non-oriental art styles already being accused of coming from Asia such as Brazilian Capoera and Russian Systema..This is a topic that has caused many arguments in martial arts forums.All I'm saying is be careful of the claim non-Asian martial arts originated from Asia. In fact this article from Blackbelt Magazine(a Magazine specializing in Karate) even doubts the claim of Savate being of Asian origina and bluntly states that its probably of European origin.

http://books.google.com/books?id=4tsDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA64&ots=ow2pBXiQDr&dq=Savate%20originated%20from%20Asia&pg=PA63#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Also about the claim martial arts is of Eastern origin, this is a flawed stigma that emerged thanks to popular media and popular culture.Martial arts is as old as a mankind and where ever there is way, there is always guaranteed to be a a developed system of martial arts around.Ever heard of Historical European Martial Arts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_European_martial_arts

http://www.thehaca.com/

http://www.thearma.org/

In fact Medieval and Renaissance Era fencing manuals do show kicks resembling Savate.Also have you ever heard of Zipota?Its an art similar to Savate found in Northern Spain which according to practitioners,was a descendents of ancient hand to hand combat styles and there is plenty of arguments stating its not of French origins and probably existed centuries before Savate did.Nor was Savate influenced by it given the fact it was exclusively found among the Basques of Northern Spain.

 

I think its safe to say that Savate had its origins from Medieval Fencing(which is absolutely nothing like modern fencing and was crude and straight to the point with instant killing techniques).If one observes the Savate Stance and even the footwork,it resemble fencing very much.

 

While we may never know for sure until more texts are found on the Gaullish hand to hand combat, its not unreasonable to say Savate may have descended from Gaulish martial arts(though Gaullish martial arts probably have huge differences and were more crude).As I often heard in Renaissance martial arts sites, Fencing is the descendent of Medieval Swordsmanship and swordsmanship of the Romans and other ancient world civilizations and cultures including the Gauls.Seeing the similarities of Savate with fencing, there probably are elements of modern Savate that came from the Gauls even if some Savate kicks were of oriental origins.In reality, martial arts taken from other regions are never primarily adopted.Simply elements are taken and added into the current local martial arts.This happened when Savate fighters lost to English Boxers so its not far off to say perhaps the French took some oriental kicks, but I think overall Savate is of European origins and most of its kicking techniques were developed by European master swordsmen and fencers.

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

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[<SNIP....Also another thing to point out, ARMIES NEVER DIRECTLY use hand to hand combat techniques at the start of the battle.

 

ParatrooperLirelou, this is factually incorrect especially if you are considering 'medieval' armies as your baseline for comparison. It is well recorded as a common practice from at least the Anglo-Saxon/ Viking period onward well into the later medieval period for individuals to go forward and call out champions from the opposing side to individual, usually hand to hand or mounted, combat. In the Medieval period I would suspect that 'kicking' or general wrestling would have been considered unchivalrous ;)

 

I would suggest you look to Caesar's Gallic Wars for the few known details of how the Gauls fought.

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

Also another thing to point out, the first Savate schools emerged in 1825 which would be over 40 years before the establishments of the French colonies in South East Asia and the creation of French-Indochina.Prior to that, it was almost exclusively missionaries who went to the region.This would basically put the claim of Savate originating from Oriental Martial Arts into huge doubt and highly unlikely.

 

Also to add onto this, the word "Savate" originated from Napoleonic times as a term of punishing soldiers through hard kicking.

http://www.worldblackbeltbureau.com/savate.html

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

[<SNIP....Also another thing to point out, ARMIES NEVER DIRECTLY use hand to hand combat techniques at the start of the battle.

 

ParatrooperLirelou, this is factually incorrect especially if you are considering 'medieval' armies as your baseline for comparison. It is well recorded as a common practice from at least the Anglo-Saxon/ Viking period onward well into the later medieval period for individuals to go forward and call out champions from the opposing side to individual, usually hand to hand or mounted, combat. In the Medieval period I would suspect that 'kicking' or general wrestling would have been considered unchivalrous ;)

 

I would suggest you look to Caesar's Gallic Wars for the few known details of how the Gauls fought.

Read this link.

http://www.alliancemartialarts.com/history.html

You will see identical techniques (particularly throws and arm locks) done with all the different weapon forms, showing the integrated nature of this system. The Medieval knight truly understood how to

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I'm not sure how references to Rennaissance fighting manuals or speculation about the medieval combat really helps identify Gallic fighting techniques in the time of Casear? :blink:

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While this not the best site to post it on, the Medieval concept of chivalry has to be clarified.In Medieval Warfare, the reality was that Hand to Hand combat was extensively thought and many so called duels actually resembled modern MMA fights with kicks and wrestling techniques and Knights/medieval soldiers were not ashamed to use kicks, wrestling, and other street fighting techniques such as eye gouging in duels,street fights, and the battlefield.

:D :D :D

 

Jackie Chan in plate mail? I don't think so. The upper class of medieval society bore arms in a fashion particular to themselves. Whilst it was sometimes viewed a sign of competence to employ lower class weapons (such as a knight demonstrating his ability with a bow and arrow), to fight like a common peasant in a bar room brawl is completely foreign to their mindset. I do agree that a real melee might be less than chivalrous, but that doesn't change the nature of beast - or the culture that breeds them.

 

Also the Medieval sense of Chivalry was way different from the modern sense of honor and knights often did what would be called unchivalrous in today's world.

 

Actually, the modern sense of chivalry evolves from medieval romances, which are exaggerated versions of the rulebook. However, we no longer have any real use for chivalric values other than politeness especially since the social order that was supposed to live by those rules no longer has the same direct ruling function it once had. Further, the rules of chivalry were only set as a standard late in the medieval period when the whole thing was wrapped up increasingly in fantasy anyway.

 

In that sense you're right. However, that does not justify your view that knights fought in an ahistorical manner.

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While this not the best site to post it on, the Medieval concept of chivalry has to be clarified.In Medieval Warfare, the reality was that Hand to Hand combat was extensively thought and many so called duels actually resembled modern MMA fights with kicks and wrestling techniques and Knights/medieval soldiers were not ashamed to use kicks, wrestling, and other street fighting techniques such as eye gouging in duels,street fights, and the battlefield.

:D :D :D

 

Jackie Chan in plate mail? I don't think so. The upper class of medieval society bore arms in a fashion particular to themselves. Whilst it was sometimes viewed a sign of competence to employ lower class weapons (such as a knight demonstrating his ability with a bow and arrow), to fight like a common peasant in a bar room brawl is completely foreign to their mindset. I do agree that a real melee might be less than chivalrous, but that doesn't change the nature of beast - or the culture that breeds them.

 

 

I would agree on this point. Having fought for several years under full contact Medieval Tourney rules I would only add that anyone trying to kick an oppenent while in full armour probably needs their head examined. If the ground is at all uneven or boggy you need to keep your feet firmly planted while swinging your weapons or defending yourself. Lose your footing and you literally are dead meat in the face of an armed and still firmly upright opponent.

 

BTW given how complete the protection was around the eye's on some medieval knights combat helmets eye-gouging would seem an activity with very limited currency - enough said B)

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

to fight like a common peasant in a bar room brawl is completely foreign to their mindset. I do agree that a real melee might be less than chivalrous, but that doesn't change the nature of beast - or the culture that breeds them.

 

 

Common misconception that people in historical martial arts have often corrected(and I myself was once believed this claim). There are multiple eye witness accounts and records of the upperclass in the Medieval times engaging in crude street fighting that can easily be found in Historical European Martial arts site.Getting thugged, being targeted for assassination, and sudden outbursts of violence were a common part of life in the Middle Ages.Everyone of these eye witness accounts and every Historical European Martial Arts sites will bluntly state that Nobles and knights were not ashamed of using crude streetfighting that peasants would use such as picking up a random stone and smashing it at an aggressor's skull.After all one has to do everything to survive.

 

I would agree on this point. Having fought for several years under full contact Medieval Tourney rules I would only add that anyone trying to kick an oppenent while in full armour probably needs their head examined. If the ground is at all uneven or boggy you need to keep your feet firmly planted while swinging your weapons or defending yourself. Lose your footing and you literally are dead meat in the face of an armed and still firmly upright opponent.

 

BTW given how complete the protection was around the eye's on some medieval knights combat helmets eye-gouging would seem an activity[/Quote]

 

Of course hand to hand combat techniques were not the primary means of fighting-using weapons and military formations is always the way to fight.Its when things get muddy or formations get broken that kicks and wrestling and what not were use.

 

I got a question, are the Medieval Re-enactments you participate in part of Historical European Martial Arts?I seen medieval manuscripts in Historical European Martial arts were they show Knigths in Full PLATE armor ACTUALLY KICKING :huh: !Also in many videos of re-enacting Medieval Hand to Hand Combat techniques, I seen people in full armor doing the same kicks shown in manuals :blink: !

 

Well then again alot of the European Martial Arts manuscripts on Historical European Martial Arts also predate Plate Armor so the Plate Armor in the illustrations may merely be symbolic.Afterall many of these manuals were published in the 1200s/1300s, a time when Plate Armor was rare even for Knights and Soldiers and only the richest of the nobility used them.I got to go verify this tidbit with the opinions of experts.

 

As for the eye-gouge comment, thats not literally meant to be taken.What I mean in that is dirty street fighting techniques such as attacking an oppenent from behind when he is unaware,ganging up on an opponent, etc.

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

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...back to the ancient Romans,

...if this should stay in this forum than please focus...

 

regards

viggen

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