Charles Lecour

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Charles Lecour
Born 1802
Died 1894 (aged 91–92)
Nationality French
Style Savate
Teacher(s) Michel Casseux

Charles Lecour (1808 – 1894) had started his studies of Savate at an early age,[1] was a student of Michel Casseux [2] who merged Savate and English Boxing to a fighting style he eventually called French Boxing.[3][4]


While still in France Charles Lecour watched English boxing on a high level when he was a spectator of an official match Owen Swift vs. Jack Adams in 1838.[5]

It has been reported that Lecour would have sparred [6] with Owen Swift although Charles Lecour as a savateur was not used to exchanging fist blows.[7] Due to Savate's roots in street fighting, Savateurs even held their guard low.[8] In order to establish Savate as a fair sport[9] Michel Casseux had dropped a number of fighting techniques that henceforth had been considered unsporting. Subsequently, fighting a boxer at very close range (infight), especially someone who had cause the deaths of two English boxers[10] was difficult for him [11] because the use of elbows or knees was no part of the sport version of Savate.[12] Charles Lecour would mainly have to score with techniques that in English boxing should have led to his disqualification,[13] and the fight result fueled Lecour to learn English boxing too.[14][15]

Even so, Charles Lecour discovered that the previous evolution of Savate justified the addition of fistfight techniques. Moreover, he realised the compatibility of Savate and English boxing.[16] Pursuing a synthesis of both kinds of fighting he trained English boxing with Jack Adams.[17] Therefore, his new eclectic style could also be described as Anglo-French kickboxing.[18]
Following his boxing training he returned to France where he opened his own gym in Montmartre [19] and introduced boxing gloves [20] which now have a unique meaning in Savate since they display (instead of belts as in many Asian fighting systems) the ranks [21][22] and hereby symbolize that participation in competition is mandatory for a Savate student who wants to advance beyond beginner's degrees.[23]

He and his brother Hubert Lecour (1820–1871) also organised public demonstrations of French Boxing[24] and their schools we prosperous.[25] Like Michel Casseux they also had particularly wealthy gentlemen among their students.[26]


Charles Lecour's open-minded and pragmatic approach to martial arts and his according integration of boxing techniques into his inherited fighting style made him an early predecessor of Bruce Lee. But he was already succeeded during his lifetime by his student Joseph Charlemont who along with his son Charles Charlemont developed the French Boxing (respectively Anglo-French Boxing) as it is exercised up to this day.


  1. ^ "Lecour studied savate from an early age". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  2. ^ "Charles Lecour, Michael Casseux's best student, dreamed of perfecting the art of savate". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  3. ^ "Boxe francaise, an alternative name for savate, was founded in 1838 by Charles Lecour". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  4. ^ "Charles Lecour, a one time pupil of Michel Casseux, assimilated the French kicking methods and combined them with English boxing to create la boxe francaise". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  5. ^ "On 5 June 1838, French Savateur Charles Lecour (1808-94) witnessed a contest of English Boxing (Boxe Anglais), which took place near Paris". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  6. ^ "Lecour later took part in a friendly match against Swift". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  7. ^ "They depended upon getting in a good solid kick more than landing with their fists.". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  8. ^ " site". Retrieved 2011-08-27. (quote) The hands were held low and open to defend against groin attacks. 
  9. ^ "Savate | Complete Martial Arts". March 18, 2011. Retrieved 2016-04-21. (quote) A regulated version of chausson and savate (disallowing head butting, eye gouging, etc). 
  10. ^ "We do know, however, that Swift was responsible for the death of two English pugilists,". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  11. ^ "Lecour felt that he was at a disadvantage, only using his hands to bat his opponent"s fists away, rather than to punch". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  12. ^ "Savate | Fighting Styles". Retrieved 2016-04-22. (quote) ... foot kicks are the only ones allowed, though, unlike several systems like Silat and Muay Thai that allow the overall use of shins or knees 
  13. ^ "Striking Based - The History of unarmed combat". Retrieved 2016-04-21. (quote) The English despised the French method of using the feet for kicking... 
  14. ^ "After losing a bout to an English boxer named Owen Swift, Charles Lecour, one of Casseuxs top students in Savate, traveled to London to study English Boxing". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  15. ^ "He then trained in boxing for a time before combining boxing with chausson and savate". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  16. ^ "He welded the powerful high kick of the chausson marseillais with the low kicks of Savate and added the strength of the closed-fisted punches found in English boxing.". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  17. ^ "During the 1830s Charles Lecour, a student of Michel Pisseux, trains with Pugilist Jack Adams and combines classical English boxing with the kicks of the older Savate systems". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  18. ^ "Boxe-Française Savate is an Anglo-French kickboxing sport". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  19. ^ "Upon studying English boxing, Lecour returned to Paris and opened his own salle or school teaching a unique self-defense system". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  20. ^ "Lecour also introduced the use of boxing gloves for training". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  21. ^ "In Savate, students receive Glove ranking instead of belts". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  22. ^ "Savate ranks are marked by the color of the practitioner's gloves". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  23. ^ "Savate students cannot advance beyond the yellow rank without participating in competitions". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  24. ^ "Lecour and other major teachers regularly opened their schools for public viewing of full-contact competition patterned after the London Prize Ring rules". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  25. ^ "Charles and his younger brother Hubert Lecour (1820-1871) were very successful". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  26. ^ "They held public demonstrations and their classes included nobility, aristocrats and personalities such as Eugene Sue, Alphose Karr, Theophile Gautier and the author of The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas.". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 

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