Savate (boxe française) on film, circa 1898

Attributed to the Lumiere brothers and dated circa 1898, this film appears to be one of the earliest cinematographic representations of la boxe française. The athletes may be soldiers at the famous Joinville-le-Pont military physical training school.

The “Four Point” drill, which is probably what is being demonstrated in this film, was basically a formal exercise designed for group practice, in which students perform a set of postures, flourishes etc. while turning sequentially to each of four directions. This type of drill was popularised through the physical culture training of the Joinville school and was later adopted by the French education system.

2 thoughts on “Savate (boxe française) on film, circa 1898”

  1. The skipping step reminds me of traditional Italian knife fighting footwork; the way it’s being performed here, it might be intended as a way to gain distance while avoiding a low kick to the lead leg, or it might just be a calisthenic action.

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