Boxing & slipper in the 99th Infantry Regiment in 1897. Catalogue no. 499. Light
We'll have to wait for the second half of the nineteenth century to see the French boxing breaking into the army. The evolution of military confrontation then requires a new approach to the training of soldiers, more individualized, in which the gymnastics occupies an important place. In a context favourable to the physical exercises gymnastics is necessary in order to meet these new challenges and it is through the exercise of the body that the French boxing if introduced gradually in the military institution, from the 1850. S.
Several writings attest to the practice of French boxing in the army at around 1850. in his memories of a poor student (Memoirs Real) published in 1930 Jules vallès tells:
" in Nantes, near the street of the castle, I had a day overview, to the door of the cabaret, a sign that had me tired eyes with his two pugilistes in dirty colours which boxaient. On the door, stood a little man, to mine of hunter on foot gray, common, who looked like one of the heroes of the sign. I spake unto him. He had been provost of chausson - and dance! - in the regiment, carpenter now... He was giving lessons of savate, in the evening, after having finished his day " 1.
In his memoirs Joseph Charlemont brings a large number of meetings carried out between the soldiers of the army. This is also in the army he discovers the savate during his stays in Algeria between 1856 and 1860:
" they had a special way to execute him and held in custody. They stood completely rights, feet touching almost, his hands hanging down on each side, along the body, as in the position of the soldier without a weapon. The body turned aside, a shoulder in before. In this position they resembled marionettes making small leaps forward, backward, to the right and left, without any bending or the body or legs and beat in rhythm their thighs of their hands. At some point, the leg that was in back left with great speed, Drew a semi-Circle Horizontal and was hit with a great force the kidneys of the opponent. In his movement, the leg remained supple, soft, without bending or extension, it was like a shot of scourge. This blows they were doing beautifully, may be compared to our former kick by turning (...) 2 ".
Similarly the savate is practised in the navy from the middle of the nineteenth century as the evokes the report of the captain of ship edouard bouët-Willaumez3, the work of Charles-Athanase thomassin4 or an engraving dated 1857 which shows shows snipers Of chausson evolving on the pontoon a bateau5.
If the French boxing is known in the army from the middle of the nineteenth century, the practice remains however informal. Indeed the teaching of gymnastics in the military institution is so playful and differs according to the body of armies, and more on the inside of each garrison where a certain freedom is left to the commanders of the places in terms of physical exercise.
We'll have to wait for the 1870's for that French boxing is integrated official way the training programmes of the soldiers. In 1867 the establishment of a new military organization is conducive to the institutionalization of the French boxing in the army. This is the marine who the first gives instructions in this sense and published in 1875 the first manuel who sets a curriculum of the French Boxing, stick and canne6.
In 1877, the ministry of war publishes his manuel de gymnastique7, whose 5th party is devoted to the boxing at the stick and the stick, and that includes the exercises proposed by one of the navy two years earlier . If the book is considering french boxing as a collective practice, orderly and disciplined, adapted to the formation of the soldier, the rules of the assault conclude, however, the manual. Laid down in nine points they constitute the first official rules. The assault is so far away from a confrontation but is seen as an exercise of implementation of the lessons received. The dimension of opposition and physical commitment is not casting vote. The boxers must attack of alternating manner and give shots that can easily be manned. The assault stops when one of the two boxers is hit according to the rule say "la touche announced" already in force in the meetings of before 1870:
" the two adversaries should avoid simultaneously address (...) the opponent who is attacked should not retaliate as far as he was ready and that he has not been touched (...) so when you're hit, we'll have to tell Aloud (hit! ) and continue immediately." 8.
This film rare shot of the catalogue of brothers lights shows us an assault of boxing between two soldiers from the 99th Infantry Regiment filmed in 1897 according to the regulation of the manual of 1877.