The idea for this blog came to me yesterday while I was laying in the bath. Unusually for me I was reading in the bath. I had located a copy of a book I was curious about for a price I could afford (money is tight, please click the links :P) and it had finally arrived.
The book was “Savate” by Bruce Tegner. While there is plenty of material on the web on Savate, there do not seem to be that many printed books in English. Tegner's book had been one of the first published in the modern era and I had been curious as to his treatment of the subject.
For those who are not familiar with the name, Bruce Tegner wrote a large number of martial arts and self-defence related titles in the 60s and 70s. This was a time of widespread interest in the martial arts but very little decent information and Tegner saw a niche in the market and attempted to fill it. Some may consider his works to be “potboilers” but it has to be said that his book “Self Defence Nerve Centers and Pressure Points” is quite well written and is a sensible and rational treatment of a subject that often strays into the fantastical. His comment that: “There is a danger in regarding legend as literal truth. If you believe everything – without verification – it will dull your ability to distinguish fantasy from fact, lies from truth. A credulous person – one who does not ask questions and demand verifiable proof – is in a perilous position. As a consumer, as a voter, as a participant in a highly complex society, it is your duty and in your survival interest to be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, between promotional hucksterism and plain fact.” is a very sage piece of advice.
Tegner's book on Savate does have some interesting information. He often points out that the techniques shown are for sport rather than practical self-defence. There is a statement that sports and many martial arts require high levels of skill, constant training and practice and high levels of fitness and that self-defence is often needed by those who do not have these attributes.
Tegner states that in Savate competitions kicks to the upper body score more points, and that this is why high kicks are so prevalent when they are not so practical for actual self-defence.
One of the things I was looking for from this book was some information on how to perform the “Revers Lateral” kick from Savate, a reverse roundhouse that hits with the sole of the foot. Unfortunately this book has no information on how to perform any of the techniques shown. Even more surprisingly the French name for a technique is only used once in the entire book. Kicks are simply called “hook kicks”, “stamping kicks”, “roundhouse”, “toe kick” etc. Kicks to the shin region are shown, but the characteristic ankle area kick of Savate the “Coup de Pied Bas” is absent. An inward crescent kick is shown on one page, which I believe isn't a legal kick for sporting Savate. Backfist strikes are also shown which I believe also may not be ring-legal.
While Tegner seems sincere, this is not a very good offering, especially since this is the third revised edition published 23 years after the first.