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Russian Sambo Martial Arts

Sambo is quite a complex sport to those who are not familiar with it. Some classify Sambo as a wrestling event, while others see it as a Russian form of martial arts that was created by combining different wrestling styles, self-defense techniques and a little Judo. The Russian Sambo is unique to the country and was recognized as an official Russian Sport, in the year 1938.

In the Russian language, the word SAMBO means ‘self-defense without weapons’. Just as with the combination of sports, which are said to have inspired SAMBO, it is also not easy to point a finger at just one founder. There are three men that have been singled out in this regard. The possible creators of Sambo are: Vasili Oshchepkov (achieved Black Belt status in Judo); Victor Spiridonov (said to have experimented with the development of Sambo after suffering a terrible shoulder injury); and lastly, Anatoly Kharlampiev (often referred to as the founder).

Russian Sambo can be practiced in four different forms. There is the Sport Sambo, which is generally a form of Judo combined with amateur wrestling. The Self-Defense Sambo concentrates on educating students on how to defend them in any scenario and is very similar to other martial arts forms such as Aikido or Aikijutsu. Most military personnel practice combat Sambo as the sport teaches disarming techniques, weapons training and a more aggressive approach, including a greater variation of martial arts. Army Special Forces and Sambo fanatics usually choose the Special Sambo, as it has specifically been designed for rapid response units and law enforcement units. This form of Russian martial arts was even taught to the famous Russian Red Army, and the true form of Sambo was reserved for the military and government forces for many years. Sambo is usually practiced in a jacket, a belt and a pair of shorts. Students also wear Sambo shoes, which are known as Sambovki.

Even though Sambo might sound new to some, fictional characters such as ‘Blue Mary’ of the ‘King of Fighters’, ‘Sergei Dragunov’ of the game ‘Tekken 5’ and even ‘Bayman’ of the ‘Dead or Alive’ games, all fight in the Combo Sambo style. It is a sport that has been in existence for years and it is a creation that is unique to Russia, its culture and its founders. Sambo is a form of Russian Martial Arts that has assisted law enforcement in many aspects, trained military forces to be ready for hand-to-hand combat and empowered citizens to protect themselves.


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