Savate and Purring and Wing Chun

The similarities are striking. Or the kicking. Good writing does not happen through bad puns.

Targeting the Shin and Knee

The common advice among all practical forms of self-defence regarding kicks is: “Never use high kicks.” I hope you’ve heard that before, so I won’t spend too much time explaining the reasoning.

  • The higher the kick, the more your balance is compromised
  • The victim can see the kick coming because it is closer to their eye-line
  • It takes longer to deliver the kick, so there is more time for the target to react
  • Low kicks cannot be effectively blocked with the arms
  • Kicking the legs successfully or unsuccessfully will destabilize the opponent
  • High kicks require stretching and accurately assessing target height, whereas everyone’s shins are the same height and always accessible
  • Many more…

Wing Chun Kicks

Purring Like an Irishman

This video discusses purring in the first 30 seconds then goes on to Savate and the instructor’s personal preferences regarding those techniques.


Modern Savate includes high and low kicks, but for practical purposes, you see that low kicks are preferred.

Bartitsu Kicks

In our ongoing study of Bartitsu, we incorporate the low kicks of Savate, which we know were included in the curriculum of the Bartitsu club, although Barton-Wright’s advice is “not as the French,” and there is some debate as to his meaning.

Kicks are an important component of Bartitsu because they are surprising to most assailants, can be very effective and painful when a solid hit connects with the sensitive shin, knee and ankle, and great for enhancing throws by disturbing the opponent’s balance.

I have training in Wing Chun, so my use of kicks in neo-Bartitsu is highly influenced by the skills I learned through that art, while trying to keep the techniques practical for real-world situations.

Let me know your thoughts and preferences on kicking techniques as they pertain to gentleman’s personal protection in the comments section below.


David McCormick Head of Stage Combat at Academie Duello and certified Instructor with Fight Directors Canada. Head of Bartitsu at Academie Duello, the longest continuously running Bartitsu program in the world.
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