Savate Footwork | Changing lines of attack

Savate footwork is at the core of the art. Savate fighters move lightly and quickly and there is a focus on lateral movements in escaping and changing the line of attack. The Savate Red Glove syllabus asks for mastery of two types of lateral stepping – décalage and débordement.

savate footwork decalage demonstration

Savate Footwork.


A Savate stance is with feet about walking distance apart. It should feel comfortable and evenly weighted. Heels are raised off the floor. One side (usually left) will be in advance, and the other will be your rear side. This gives your stance some depth and structure from which to defend, move, and throw strikes.


Literally to ‘make a gap’ or ‘to shift’. To décalage is to step one foot off the line, then strike, before catching up the other foot. The French phrase ‘décalage horaire’ literally means ‘time zone’, and you can imagine a map with timezones drawn vertically as describing the sidestepping locations to each side of your opponent.


Literally to ‘outflank’, either in the sense of water overflowing a bath or a river, or of an army outflanking its adversary on the side. Débordement is made with two steps before striking, so one escapes the line of attack completely before replying on a different line.


None of our drills is static. Every technique requires movement into and out of it. Our instructors will show you how to improve your footwork along with every other part of your Savate game. Practising your footwork every time you train will give you a great foundation – whether it is in service of your next grading, for club sparring, or competitive Savate. Footwork underpins everything else, literally and metaphorically.

Example: Décalage

demonstrated by head coach James Southwood.

Recent online footwork classes