Which Has the Best Kick: Savate or Muay Thai?
In my post on the shoe as a weapon, I began thinking about kicking. If you read this blog you know that I am a believer in the effectiveness of Thai boxing as taught to me by my teachers, Khru Paul Metayo and Khru Ike Villaflores 0f Dumaguete, Philippines. I practice and prefer the Thai round kick (Seen here.)
But then I started to think, “To what extent does a person’s footwear influence kicking?”
The Japanese kick with the ball of the foot, because in the traditional arts Japanese were often barefooted. Kicking with the ball of the foot isn’t much of an option when you’re wearing rigid shoes.
The word “savate,” in fact comes from the word “old shoe.” Wikipedia states that “Savate is perhaps the only style of kickboxing in which the fighters habitually wear shoes.” Savate kicks (the fouetté, or “whip”) use the toe as a point of contact.
Someone explained that the difference between Muay Thai and Savate is that Muay Thai kicks are like using a bat. In Thai boxing the long shin bone is the striking surface and hits like a baseball bat. In Savate, the kicks are like a hammer, where the foot (which is wearing a shoe or boot) hits like the weighted end of a hammer.
I always wear either slip-on shoes, like tasseled loafers to work, or tennis shoes. With this footwear, the Thai roundhouse with the shin makes sense. Kicking with the toes doesn’t make much sense with a thin leather shoe.
The only time in my life when I’ve worn boots was when I took a motorcycle class and was required to wear over-the-ankle boots. I wasn’t used to the weight of the boots and the immobility/inflexibility of my ankles. With thses boots, a Savate kick with the toe might very well be the most effective kick. For the person who works on the docks and wears steel-toed boots or rides a motorcycle and wears heavy boots, the toe kick makes sense, and a kick with a heavy boot to the head can kill a man.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whose-style-is-better debates, but the truth is that so much depends on your individual circumstances. The best fighting art is based on the life you live, the clothes you wear, and the environments you find yourself in. And the best kick depends on the type of shoe you’re wearing.