Through a Lens Darkly (29): Savate: French Kickboxing and the Military

Kung Fu Tea

A vintage French Postcard. Source: Author's Personal Collection. A vintage French Postcard. Source: Author’s Personal Collection.

The back of the previous postcard.  Source: Author's personal collection. The back of the previous postcard. Source: Author’s personal collection.

Introduction

I recently discussed an account of the Chinese martial arts in late 19th century which was provided by the American diplomat, explorer, scientist and scholar William Woodvile Rockhill. While buying supplies for an upcoming expedition through western China and Tibet he recoded the following note in his journal:

“The inn-keeper and a number of persons got up for my benefit a Kuan-wu, a fencing, wrestling, single-stick, double sword, spear performance, which was really very good. The single stick and quarter-staff exercises were capital, and an old fellow of nearly sixty (an ex pao-piao-ti or “insurance-against brigand’s-attack-agent”) went through some marvelously agile stick and savate exercises, but his son was the hero of the entertainment.”
William Woodville Rockhill. 1894. Journey through Mongolia and Tibet, 1891 and 1892. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute…

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