The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the Stalin's purges of 1937 after accusations of being a Japanese spy. Oshchepkov spent several years living in Japan and training judo under its founder Kano Jigoro. The two men independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as Sambo. Compared to Oshchepkov's judo-based system, then called "Freestyle Wrestling", Spiridonov's style was softer and less strength dependent. This was in large part due to Spiridonov's injuries sustained during World War I.
Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is often considered the founder of Sport Sambo. In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.
- 1 Styles
- 2 History
- 3 Uniform and ranking
- 4 FIAS World Sambo Championships
- 5 FIAS Hall of Fame
- 6 Sambo fighters
- 7 Name controversy
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 External links
StylesThere are multiple competitive sport variations of Sambo (though Sambo techniques and principles can be applied to many other combat sports). Below are the main formats that are recognized by FIAS.
- Sport Sambo (Russian: Борьбa Самбо, Bor'ba Sambo, Sambo Wrestling (eng)) is stylistically similar to Olympic Freestyle Wrestling or Judo, but with some differences in rules, protocol, and uniform. For example, in contrast with judo, Sambo allows some types of leg locks, while not allowing chokeholds. It focuses on throwing, ground work and submissions, with (compared to Judo) very few restrictions on gripping and holds.
- Combat Sambo (Russian: Боевое Самбо, Boyevoye Sambo). Utilized and developed for the military, Combat Sambo resembles modern mixed martial arts, including extensive forms of striking and grappling. Combat Sambo allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutts and groin strikes. Competitors wear jackets as in sport sambo, but also hand protection and sometimes shin and head protection. The first FIAS World Combat Sambo Championships were held in 2001. The World Combat Sambo Federation, based in Russia, also sanctions international combat sambo events.
- Freestyle Sambo – Created and debuted by the American Sambo Association (ASA) in 2004. These rules differ from traditional Sport Sambo in that they allow choke holds and other submissions that are not permitted in Sport Sambo such as certain neck cranks and twisting foot locks. Freestyle Sambo, like all Sambo, focuses on throwing skills and fast ground work. No strikes are permitted in Freestyle Sambo. The ASA created this rule set in order to encourage non-Sambo practitioners from judo and jujutsu to participate in Sambo events.
Origins and influencesSambo's early development stemmed from the independent efforts of Vasili Oshchepkov and Viktor Spiridonov, to integrate the techniques of judo, jujutsu, and other foreign martial arts into native wrestling styles. Oschepkov taught judo to elite Red Army forces at the Central Red Army House. Vasili Oschepkov was one of the first foreigners to learn Judo in Japan and had earned his nidan (second degree black belt, out of then five) from judo's founder, Kano Jigoro. Spiridonov's background involved indigenous martial arts from various Soviet regions as well as an interest in Japanese jujutsu (though he never formally trained it). His reliance on movement over strength was in part based on the fact that he received a bayonet wound during World War I which left his left arm lame. Both Oschepkov and Spiridonov independently hoped that Soviet military hand-to-hand combat techniques could be improved with an infusion of the techniques distilled from other foreign martial arts. Contrary to common lore, Oschepkov and Spiridonov did not cooperate on the development of their hand-to-hand systems. Rather, their independent notions of hand-to-hand combat merged through cross-training between students and formulative efforts by their students and military staff. While Oschepkov and Spiridonov did have occasion to collaborate, their efforts were not completely united.
Each technique was carefully dissected and considered for its merits, and if found acceptable in unarmed combat, refined to reach Sambo's ultimate goal: to stop an armed or unarmed adversary in the least time possible. Thus, many techniques from jujutsu, judo, and other martial systems joined with the indigenous fighting styles to form the Sambo repertoire. When the techniques were perfected, they were woven into Sambo applications for personal self-defense, police, crowd control, border guards, secret police, dignitary protection, psychiatric hospital staff, military, and commandos.
DevelopmentIn 1918, Lenin created Vsevobuch (General Military Training) under the leadership of N.I. Podvoyskiy to train the Red Army. The task of developing and organizing Red Army military hand-to-hand combat training fell to K. Voroshilov, who in turn, created the NKVD physical training center Dinamo.
Spiridonov was a combat veteran of World War I and one of the first wrestling and self-defense instructors hired for Dinamo. His background included Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, many Slavic wrestling styles, and Japanese jujutsu. As a combatives investigator for Dinamo, he traveled to Mongolia and China to observe their native fighting styles.
In 1923, Oschepkov and Spiridinov collaborated (independently) with a team of other experts on a grant from the Soviet government to improve the Red Army's hand-to-hand combat system. Spiridonov had envisioned integrating the most practical aspects of the world's fighting systems into one comprehensive style that could adapt to any threat. Oschepkov had observed Kano's distillation of Tenjin Shin’yo Ryu jujutsu and Kito Ryu jujutsu into judo, and he had developed the insight required to evaluate and integrate combative techniques into a new system. Their developments were supplemented by Anatoly Kharlampiyev and I. V. Vasiliev who also traveled the globe to study the native fighting arts of the world. Ten years in the making, their catalogue of techniques was instrumental in formulating the early framework of the art to be eventually referred to as Sambo.
Kharlampiyev is often called the father of Sambo. This may be largely semantics, since only he had the longevity and political connections to remain with the art while the new system was named "Sambo". However, Kharlampiyev's political maneuvering is single-handedly responsible for the USSR Committee of Sport's accepting Sambo as the official combat sport of the Soviet Union in 1938—decidedly the "birth" of Sambo. So, more accurately, Kharlampiyev could be considered the father of "sport" Sambo.
Spiridonov was the first to begin referring to the new system with a name similar to 'sambo'. He eventually developed a softer style called Samoz that could be used by smaller, weaker practitioners or even wounded soldiers and secret agents. Spiridonov's inspiration to develop 'Samoz' stemmed from his World War I bayonet injury, which greatly restricted his (left arm and thus his) ability to practice wrestle. Refined versions of Sambo are still used today or fused with specific Sambo applications to meet the needs of Russian commandos today.
As an Olympic sportIt is often incorrectly stated that Sambo was a demonstration sport at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR. It is true that youth Sambo was demonstrated in the Games' opening ceremonies; however, Sambo was never formally recognised as a demonstration sport. This common error in history books is noted in several sources including From SAMOZ to SAMBO by Anatoly Makovetskii and Lukashev's History of Hand-to-Hand Combat in the First Half of the 20th Century: Founders and Authors. Furthermore, the official documents of the 1980 Olympic Organizing Committee do not mention Sambo as a participating sport in the Games. As a side note, demonstration sports were suspended after the 1992 Summer Olympics. With the changes in Olympics Judo in for 2013 and the proposed removal of Freestyle Wrestling from the Olympics, there has been a great migration of wrestlers to SAMBO because of its all-encompassing techniques and dynamic yet consistent rules.
TodayIn 1968, the FILA accepted Sambo as the third style of international wrestling. In 1985, the Sambo community formed its own organization, Federation International Amateur Sambo (FIAS). In 1993, FIAS split into two organizations, both of which used the same name and logo and the two groups were often referred to as FIAS "East" (under Russian control) and FIAS "West" (under US and Western European control). This split mirrored the last days of Cold War politics of the time as well as the recent break-up of the Soviet Union. In the U.S., disagreements between the sport's organizers and the rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the 1990s slowed down the growth of Sambo before the success of several Sambo fighters increased its popularity a decade later. In 2005, FILA reached an agreement with FIAS "West" and re-assumed sanctioning over sport Sambo. However, in 2008, FILA again discontinued sanctioning sambo and sambo is now notably missing from the FILA website. At present, only FIAS sanctions international competition in sport sambo. In 2014 FIAS and FILA signed a cooperative agreement. While this does not place sambo back on FILA's recognized list, it does move towards unity and prevents future 'turf wars' regarding the sport's promotion. A similar agreement was signed by FIAS and the International Judo Federation in 2014 as well. Both FIAS and the World Combat Sambo Federation host international combat sambo competition. The American Sambo Association has continued to host freestyle sambo tournaments in the US and Canada since 2004. These events are unrecognized by FILA. Rumours rising in 2012 stating that Sambo will be included as a demonstration sport in the 2016 Olympics are therefore not supported by any facts, and thus Sambo is still a very long way from maturing into an Olympic sport, notwithstanding the effort that is being put into the matter. Indeed, given the intention of the Olympic Committee to remove classic wrestling from the Olympic roster, there are rumors that Sambo is highly unlikely to ever make it to the Olympics. However, Sambo has been included in the 27th Annual Summer Universiade for the first time in history. FIAS submitted an application to the International Olympic Committee IOC to consider Sambo for the 2020 Games and has devoted 2010-2013 to creating a SAMBO Commission in the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). This close relationship is reestablishing the global popularity and media emphasis on SAMBO.
Uniform and rankingA Sambo practitioner normally wears either a red or a blue jacket kurtka (куртка) or sambovka (самбовка) similar to a gi top, a belt and shorts of the same color, and sambetki самбетки(ru) or bortsovki/борцовки(ru) (Sambo/wrestling shoes). The Sambo uniform does not reflect rank or competitive rating. Sport rules require an athlete to have both red and blue sets to visually distinguish competitors on the mat.
In many countries, a competitive rating system is used rather than the belt color ranking system used in judo and jujutsu. Various sport organizations distribute these ranks for high levels of competition achievement or in some cases coaching merits. People who have earned these ranks are known as 'Masters of Sport.' Institutions that grant a Sambo 'Master of Sport' in Russia include FIAS, FKE, and the International Combat Sambo Federation. Other nations have governing bodies that award 'Masters of Sport' as well, including the American Sambo Association in the United States