For the last three years, French kickboxing, otherwise known as Savate, has been an integral part of my life. I started Savate with the intention of improving my health and fitness, but it didn't take much time to realize that the impact of the sport goes well beyond the physical.
Savate, is a French martial art that uses hands and feet as a weapon, taking its name from the French term for "Old Shoe." Savate grew it's fighting style from sailors who would brawl on ships in the south of France.
More than just a martial art, Savate has completely changed my perspective. Here are 7 things that Savate helped me learn that affected the way I live my life and handle situations.
1. Unveil What You Are Capable of
Try this exercise: Hold your hand high above your head. Now I want you to hold your hand even higher.
Did you see what just happened? You just discovered your real reach.
Now I want you to take that exercise and apply it to everything you do.
All too often we tend to do things based on preconceived standards and comparisons. But you never know what you are made of until you truly push yourself harder.
It doesn't matter what the odds are, it doesn't matter what the situation is, it doesn't matter if the person you are fighting is bigger or taller or more muscular. What matters is that you are doing your best and knowing that you gave it your all.
True winners are not the ones with the higher score on the leader board, they are the ones that tap into their strength, extend their reach, and create a great show.
It is your life, so own the show.
It is your life, so own the show.
2. Leave Your Ego At The Door
In every Savate class, you have to fight someone stronger, taller or faster than you. And, yes, you will get that occasional "Fouette Frontal /Uppercut" to the face, and it hurts, but what will hurt more is your ego and pride.
With time, you realize that getting hit is a part of the sport, and so is losing.
As my coach always says: "Leave your ego at the door. Don't bring it with you to class, we are here to learn".
So as in Savate, as in life, we are just learning. Don't take everything personally. Use that punch and learn how to dodge it and counter it, and ultimately grow better. Use these moments to propel yourself forward towards self-improvement.
3. Embrace Failure. You Either Win or You Learn.
If you are winning all your fights and sparring sessions, then you probably aren't fighting or training with enough people. In other words, you are sticking to your comfort zone, but you aren't really improving.
Failure is part of getting better, so you must get a couple of kicks to the head before you can learn to keep your guard up.
Don't settle on the fights that you are winning, don't settle for what is working now, try new things. Sure, you might fail, but that failure could teach you how to win later on.
4. Be The Student
You don't know what you don't know.
So be a student, because the moment you think you are a master, you have already failed. There is always something to learn and there is always someone out there pushing themselves harder. True competition is not what you see, it is what you can't see coming.
Never let yourself grow stagnant. Always take on the role of a student who is continuously learning.
5. Embrace Fear, And Channel it in the Right Way
Through Savate, you learn how to channel fear in the right way, to improve your training, technique, endurance and strength.
Savate taught me to be in the moment and to always concentrate on what I could create instead of what could go wrong.
If you let what could go wrong control you, you will become the biggest obstacle to your own success.
So, the next time you have that important presentation, client meeting, or interview, keep in mind that some fear is normal. Don't let it control you, embrace it. When you do, by the time you utter your first words, the fear will disappear and your preparation and inner strength will kick in.
6. Relaxing is Important
During a Savate fight, there are 1-minute breaks in-between rounds. These breaks are the most important part of the fight because how you re-energize is going to determine what will happen in the next round.
Most of us end up forgetting how to relax, or when we do get to relax, we don't do it properly.
So, don't go through your day without a break, use it to your advantage. Go for a walk and disconnect.
Relaxing is a skill too, one that needs to be perfected.
7. Breathe and Pace Yourself
Most of us take our breath for granted. Most of us don't even realize we are breathing, we are so indifferent about it that we don't even breathe properly.
What you learn at Savate is that before you eat or drink properly, you must first breathe properly.
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you took a deep breath?
Sometimes, we get so into what we do, or into an activity, and we forget to breathe and pace ourselves.
While we may think that constantly working is a good thing, it usually results in becoming overworked or burning out.
I can truly say that Savate has made me a better person mentally, physically and spiritually.
Don't just take my word for it. If you are already in martial arts, keep it up. If you have not yet tried a martial art, I highly recommend you do. How about trying a class, and experiencing these lessons for yourself?
Shout out to the Wolverines - Montreal Savate Kickboxing Club and Coach Raff.
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