Leon Legrand and the Leclerc method

By Roman Hliva & Craig Gemeiner © 2011

The kicking skills of Defense dans la Rue were heavily influenced by the older Lecour system of Savate. They are not untrained rough house kicks, instead these leg manoeuvres consist of specific principles and bio mechanics that govern their application in both practise and self defense.

Lecour’s most famous student Julien Leclerc continued the tradition of instructing his masters system by teaching out of a number of salles, notably L’Arbe Sec street Richelie and the “French School of Fencing” at Saint- Marc Street. Leclerc produced numerous outstanding fighters. Duchesene, Briat, Gaucher, Jeanniot, Deligny, Piet and Legrand were all French champions to emerge from the Leclerc salle.

Salle Leclerc

Leon Legrand, in particular, gained notability in 1904 when he won the title of world champion of French boxing in Paris. His approach was based on quick and hard kicking and punching combinations without the flamboyant arm extensions found in the academic method of Charles Charlemont. Legrand was extremely skilful at both the French and English styles of boxing which attracted the attention of Parisian spectators.

Together with Renaud, Chabrier, Antoine , Andre and others, Legrand belonged to a generation of savateurs whose more combative style was totally opposed to the academic method. The following pictures show Legrand displaying the 3 prime low kicks of the Leclerc system of Savate, these being the “coup de pied bas”, “chasse bas” and the “coup de pied pointe”.

The pictures of Legrand provide insights into the workings of the Lecour system, for instance the en garde position plays an intrinsic role in the use of low kicks. Maintaining the guard position of the hands during the process of kicking provides a number of advantages, such as easier follow up into hands strikes and rapid application of defensive guards.

Gabriel Bonval, a student of Leclerc, wrote a preface for his master’s book and informs us that when practising the Lecour method the attacker is always en garde when delivering a kick and is not required to seek balance by utilizing excessive arm extensions. This, he adds, is a useful approach as it makes it easier for the student to follow up with their hands after kicking. Bonvalot also states that Leclerc’s teaching approach was highly efficient and as such made it possible for less gifted students to rapidly gain practical results.


Leclerc, Julien. La Boxe Anglaise et Française

Paris: Les Sports Pour Tous (Date unknown)

Loucher Jean- François. A history of Savate, Chausson and French Boxing

(Date unknown)

Bibliothèque national de France