An English translation of several short chapters from the manual
‘De La Boxe Francoise Et Anglaise’ – written by Devotes 1885.
English translation provided by our Tahitian Correspondent – Andy Lee.
It exists, in French boxing, two guards: one, the true guard; the other, the false guard. One can only be posed into a true or false guard after having examined the decided position of his adversary. The true guard can be described as the opponents are facing opposite one of the other, both having the right leg or the left leg forward. The false guard is thus nominated when one of the combatants has the right leg forward, and the other with the left leg forward.
It exists in French boxing two manners of approaching its adversary, just like there is also two ways to break off. The first way of approach is done while changing guard forward towards the opponent, while to break, one changes guard backwards. To change guard forward, admitting that one is in right guard, one will advance the left leg forward, swivelled on the right leg to end up in the left hand guard. To break backwards, the front leg will pass backwards, and take the position of the front foot, which will change the guard position. In the new method, the second means of advancing or of breaking is more favourably used. One replaces the front leg by the rear leg by maintaining the direct position of the body. This precept is the opposite of the principle of weaponry. To break off, the front leg replaces the rear leg, by keeping a distance of two feet. Using this method one can, depending on the circumstances, to increase or restrict the approach towards the opponent to stay within reach.
The true guard
The right leg forward, the man who wants to remain on the defensive has much less advantage to stay in a false guard. Being placed in true guard, one has little to fear the rear leg of his adversary. A low kick launched by this last would almost always only hit soft tissue, the calf. When opponents are brought closer one to the other, beyond the distance prescribed for the guard, it sometimes happens that the low kick strikes, on the external malleolus, a sensible body part which when hit could result in disabling a man. The same low kick against one in a false guard could break the tibia at the top of the kneecap. Aimed either on the right, or on the left, this blow as named the low kick.
Placed in false guard, either on the right, or on the left, the dangerous kicks are carried by the rear leg, usually hitting at will in all the vulnerable parts of the body. The low kick normally will strike the region of the internal malleolus; the tibia. This blow is extremely serious; it often fractures the bones. Directed higher, men of average heights could reach the virile parts of the abdomen or the chest; however taller men or with longer legs could easily strike the head. In this false guard, the front leg kick could have dangerous effect only if it was directed in the ribs. It was announced higher, to direct to carry the blows outwards.
Description and ways of punching
There are several manners of punching. Punching while advancing is the first lesson taught to pupils. The only principle to carry these blows, is to be placed in false guard: The left arm forward, elbow slightly bent, the fist nervously contracted at eye level, to allow full sight of the adversary; inclined slightly on the left, a position with facilitates blocking prompt and vigorous blow from outwards, the body positioned side on, the right arm at chest height, in order to avoid with promptness kicks directed to the groin or the chest.
Principle of the right arm punch while marching
To perform a right arm punch, it is necessary to withdraw the elbow backwards, hold the fist in at chest height, advance with the right leg of a distance of around two feet, while swivelling on the point of the left foot, to end up in a right guard. Note that the points of the feet must be always turned a little inside. At the same time as this movement takes place, the right arm is rapidly extended with force, to strike the adversary on the chest or the face. The extension of the right arm must be assisted by the joined forces of the shoulder, waist and legs, to deliver a more potent punch. Whether the hit inflicted was decisive or not, it is always necessary to maintain balance in case of counter hitting. This punch used while advancing can also be used in attack and counter hitting.
Left arm punch while marching
So that students are well understood of our theoretical explanations, we will repeat the principle for punching with the left arm, though the principle is the same one when punching with the right arm, placed in a left false guard. Being placed in a right false guard, the right arm is placed at eye level, the fist leaned on the right, to allow full view of the opponent, the left arm opposite the pit of the stomach. The left elbow should be withdrawn backwards, the fist raised close to the left side of the chest, then advance the left leg of about two feet, and extend with force the left arm to carry a strong blow either to the chest or to the face of the adversary. It is important to judge the exact distance which separates yourself and the adversary. A miscalculated blow would open you to counter-hits before regaining your balance.
Note on fist punching while marching
The above principle for fist punching is immutable. It is always necessary to keep aside the front arm of the adversary with your own front arm, allowing the other arm kept backwards to be freely extended towards the adversary to deliver the punch. For those who did not use these precautionary measures, the adversary could stop you in your advance, by spontaneously extending their front arm. The inability to parry in this instance would result in a strong blow by the adversary. Thus the process of pushing aside the front arm of the adversary is called keeping off the front arm.
Parrying the false left hand guard punch
The adversary placed in a left false guard must strike with the right arm, while always seeking to keep aside with the left arm the right fist which threatens the head hit. To parry the blow aimed at the face by the adversary, it is necessary to move the right leg backwards, noting the distance before changing guard, and at the same time, abruptly raise the left arm above and to the left hand side of the head, to accomplish the block. One names this parry “block while changing of guard”as on ends in a left hand guard from starting in a right hand guard. The same applies when the adversary, placed in a false right hand guard, punched with the left arm and then seek to keep the front arm off with his right arm. It would be necessary, then to move the left leg backwards and to raise the right arm with strength, to drive out the left arm punch (see figure 4). The parry would change if the blow was directed to the chest. It would be necessary in this case to strike the forearm vigorously, in order to deliver the blow from top to bottom, while for the parry of the punch to the head, the arm used for the parry strikes under the forearm. In order to make the commotion more violent, it is necessary to bend the knees at the same time the parry is made; this manner of curling eases off all the hits in general.
Fist punching while advancing after parrying the punch from an advancing Adversary
The advancing adversary will deliver with his right arm a punch to the face; one will parry using his left arm by moving to the side; then to retaliate, the right elbow is drawn backwards to deliver the counter hit to the face. At the same time, the right leg steps forward and is placed behind the right leg of the adversary. The punch moves the adversary back, and the leg stopping his leg moving backwards forces the opponent to fall (See Figure 5). For this blow, it is necessary to combine together the force of the arm which strikes the face with that of the leg which initiates the leg trip, as those two combined movements will determine the fall. This blow can be performed using either leg. Avoiding the leg trip can be achieved by simply changing guard.
Dodging punches and counter hitting without changing guard
Does a man placed in a left hand false guard want to push aside with his left arm your right arm to strike with his right fist? Parrying is achieved by withdrawing the right arm backwards with speed, at the same time, the left arm is quickly raised above the head to initiate the block. The adversary, which has advanced the right leg originally placed backwards, to lazily deliver the blow that you avoided, is placed at a suitable distance for you to counter hit, with choice, at the chest or the stomach. This counter hit using the right arm requires that the blow is delivered with force, by advancing the shoulder, to give more power to the extension of the arm. Dodging can also be made using the left arm. When the adversary, placed in a right hand false guard, delivers the blow with the right arm, it is necessary to withdraw the left arm backwards and block with the right arm, and counter hit with the left hand punch. This blow is drawn from English boxing. (See Figure 6)