What Is Sambo?
The sport of sambo (also spelled sombo) is a rough and tumble grappling sport and method of fighting native to the old Soviet Union. The hybrid fighting sport that was first publicly called "sambo" in 1938 was developed by Vasili Oshchepkov after his return to the Soviet Union from Japan in 1914. Oshchepkov studied judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo and earned the rank of Nidan (2nd Grade Black Belt) directly from Prof. Jigoro Kano, judo's founder. Oshchepkov was commissioned by the Svoiet government to develop a self-defense activity for both the Soviet soldiers and citizens. Along with a number of colleagues, Oshchepkov toured the Soviet Union's republics and studied the many regional wrestling, grappling and fighting styles native to each republic of the Soviet empire. Oshchepkov's aim was to develop a Sovet form of judo and he and his team of colleagues blended the many cultural grappling and fighting styles into the judo he brought back from Japan and formed a unique and highly effective hyrid form of sport combat.
Oshchepkov's mistake was to give credit to Japanese judo for this developing wrestling form, and in the isolated, communist dictatorship of the Soviet Union this was considered "treason" by Stalin's henchmen. As a result, Vasili Oshchepkov was arrested and shot in 1937 in a Soviet prison. Oshchepkov never referred to this hyrid grappling style as "sambo" and it was later given this name by Anatoli Harliempf and officially called sambo in 1938. The name "sambo" is an acronym for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya (SAMBO) which means "self defense without weapons."
There are 2 primary forms of sambo. The most popular form is sport sambo, but the combat sambo has gained popularity in recent years. At Welcome Mat, we practice the sport form of sambo where throws, takedowns, armlocks, leg/ankle locks and hold-downs are used. Scoring in sambo matches is similar to how Olympic style wrestling is scored and the emphasis is on effective throws followed by effective submission holds. Some people mistakenly believe sambo is only done on the ground or mat, but sambo has many unique, skillful and effective throwing techniques. In all reality, the goal of a sambo wrestler is force his opponent to submit by an armlock or leg/ankle lock. Hold-downs are used as in submission grappling where you can earn points but not victory. Physical fitness is stressed in sambo training