A Few Techniques of French Boxing

From “Le Plein Air”, 30th Dec. 1910, by Max Spitzer.

Parry of the coup de pied bas.

Our old French boxing appears to be rather forgotten at the moment, where minds are yet occupied by the exploits of the American pugilists, the Jeffries, the Johnsons, and the other “kings” of the punch!

In our boxing gyms, as well as in our sorting clubs, English boxing is now the order of the day in such an exclusive manner that it appears to us almost imprudent to speak of French boxing? And, however, if it is impossible to deny the great combative sense of English boxing, on the other hand this exclusivity in favour of one method emphasises the ungratefulness from which the French school is struck!

In the preceding articles we have already devoted ourselves to the study of some general principles of French and English boxing.

Today, we apply ourselves to a few kicks which are valued for they avoid the habitual tendentious criticism: These are not fantasy blows!

Slipping the coup de pied bas and riposting with a punch.

Figure 1 shows us the most simple means of avoiding the coup de pied bas; one need only take the right moment to withdraw the leg aimed at. To do so it is necessary to withdraw the front leg near to the rear leg, maintaining the position indicated in the figure, but leaving the toes in contact with the ground. In figure one the boxer who has just parried is about to do a riposte which we will examine later.

In figure 2 we can consider a coup de pied bas which has not reached its destination. He at whom it was launched has performed a very lively “slip” at the targeted leg and has riposted by a superb straight punch at the stomach.

To slip it is necessary, if one is in a left guard, to move the left leg to the right, and if one is in a right guard one must move the right leg to the left. If one is in a false guard relative to one's adversary one will be able, after having slipped the leg, to enclose with a punch as is shown in fig. 2.

With fig. 3 we will examine besides the coup de pied bas another kick which enters in the category of stop kicks. As it's name indicates, this blow “stops” the adversary. We see in fig. 1 that the boxer aimed at by the kick is about to place his stop kick!

To annihilate the attack which is made against him, the boxer first performs a retreat of the “front” leg which he lifts around 30cm from the ground, then he straightens it vigorously, placing his foot horizontally in order to strike the shin of his adversary.

With the “chassé bas” we're going to examine a technique which is much more serious than the coup de pied bas and with much superior effectiveness.

Stop hit against the coup de pied bas.

The chassé bas is executed in two times which must be joined into one, without hesitation or stopping, when one is well in possession of this technique.

Our photographs indicate the two phases or attitudes of the boxer who launches the chassé bas. In fig. 4 we see the first movement or start of the technique.

In fig. 5 we see the second movement or the arrival of the blow.

One may give this kick from no matter what position of guard; if one is in a left guard, one passes the right foot close to the left foot and places the right foot on the ground a little in advance of the left, but having care to place the toe of the right foot well to the outside.

There we have the first movement. One can judge that being in this position the boxer has his knees bent.

Chassé bas, first movement.

In he second time, the boxer puts all the weight of his body on the right leg, then he throws the left leg forwards, very extended in the direction of the adversary's leg, which ought to be struck by his heel.

We have already said that the two movements which serve for the study of the chassé bas ought to be joined into one at the time of execution, and that for the purpose of losing none of the rapidity which is the basis of success. Furthermore, it's necessary to know how to make use of the quickness furnished by the right leg, which moves the weight of the body. That the execution of the chassé bas may be perfect, if is necessary that at the instant when the right foot rests on the ground, the left foot strikes the adversary! It is particularly recommended to not leap on launching the chassé bas! The foot which, in the first time, moves, ought to be put down lightly or, to state better, glide!

For the chassé bas, as for the coup de pied bas, there are several parries from amongst which it is difficult to accord any specific preference: Actually, all depends on the circumstances in which the boxers find themselves.

Chassé bas, second movement.

One can parry the chassé bas by retiring the leg as we have seen done for the coup de pied bas (fig. 1).

On may equally transform this parry into an effective riposte by means of a stop hit, which we have already described for the coup de pied bas (fig. 3). But the stop hit against the chassé bas, although it is executed in an identical manner as against the coup de pied bas, does strike on the same place, for the adversary's leg is then struck across the calf and not on the shin; the respective position of the boxers explains this difference.

We are going to examine, to finish, a parry which could, in real combat, have an enormous importance!

It's the parry by seizing the leg which is shown in fig. 6.

The seizing or lifting of the leg can be done as well against a coup de pied bas as against a chassé bas, but we indicate our preference for the latter technique, although the execution is more difficult. Besides, these parries by lifting the leg ought not to be executed but by boxers who are absolutely sure of themselves.

Parry of the chassé bas.

For seizing the leg it is necessary, at the moment where the adversary launches his chassé bas, to bend the knees whilst avoiding bending the head forwards, and seize the leg by passing the closest hand under the enemy's heel. Then it is necessary to get up quickly, assuring the hold with the free hand; pushing, pulling of lifting the imprisoned leg, it is easy to make your adversary fall, a fall which will be more violent if the movement is executed with more rapidity!

We will continue in the next issue this study on French boxing and its principal techniques.


Creative Commons license

Please right click and open in a new tab or window to enlarge the pictures.