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Explore Sambo: What is Sambo & Why Try It? 2023 Guide!

Sambo is a martial art that originated in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s. It combines elements of judo and wrestling and is known for its dynamic throws, grappling techniques, and quick submissions. Sambo is gaining popularity worldwide, thanks to its effectiveness in combat sports and its ability to provide a full-body workout that improves physical and mental well-being.

If you’re looking for a new martial art to try, consider Sambo.

Its unique fighting style and emphasis on practical combat techniques make it an exciting and challenging sport for both beginners and experienced martial artists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sambo is a martial art that combines elements of judo and wrestling.
  • It is known for its dynamic throws, grappling techniques, and quick submissions.
  • Sambo provides a full-body workout that improves physical and mental well-being.
  • It is gaining popularity worldwide, thanks to its effectiveness in combat sports.
  • Sambo is an exciting and challenging sport for both beginners and experienced martial artists.

Understanding Sambo: Definition and Origin

Sambo is a Russian martial art that combines elements of wrestling and judo.

The term “Sambo” is an acronym for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which translates to “self-defense without weapons.” Sambo was developed in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army as a means of improving their hand-to-hand combat abilities.

The founder of Sambo was Vasili Oshchepkov, who had trained in both judo and jujutsu in Japan. Another key figure in the development of Sambo was Victor Spiridonov, who was a wrestler and a self-defense instructor for the Soviet Red Army.

Spiridonov combined his wrestling knowledge with Oshchepkov’s grappling techniques to create what we now know as Sambo.

Sambo’s development was also influenced by other martial arts, such as catch wrestling and various forms of indigenous wrestling from around the world.

As a result, Sambo has a unique combination of techniques that make it a highly effective martial art.

Although Sambo originated in Russia, it quickly gained popularity in other parts of the world.

Today, Sambo is recognized as a legitimate combat sport and is practiced in many countries around the world.

The History of Sambo: Evolution and Influences

Sambo has a rich history, with its evolution being influenced by various factors over time. Developed in the 1920s and 1930s by the Soviet Red Army, Sambo was intended to be a comprehensive combat system that incorporated techniques from various martial arts. Its creation was a response to the need for a combat sport that could be used by soldiers in hand-to-hand combat situations.

The term “Sambo” is an acronym for the Russian phrase “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which translates to “self-defense without weapons.” The sport quickly gained popularity in the Soviet Union, with the establishment of the All-Union Sambo Federation in 1938.

Sambo continued to evolve over the years, with new rules and techniques being developed. In the 1960s, the International Amateur Sambo Federation (FIAS) was established to oversee Sambo competitions worldwide. FIAS is now recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the governing body for Sambo.

Throughout its history, Sambo has been influenced by various martial arts, including Judo, Karate, and Wrestling. The grappling techniques used in Sambo are similar to those used in Judo, while the striking and kicking techniques resemble those used in Karate. Wrestlers also played a significant role in shaping Sambo, with many of the techniques used in the sport originating from wrestling.

Sambo Combat Techniques: A Unique Fighting Style

Sambo’s combat techniques are renowned for their unique style and effectiveness in combat situations. Sambo fighters are skilled in a range of techniques, including throws, joint locks, and strikes, making the martial art suitable for both self-defense and competition.

The fighting style of Sambo is focused on fast and efficient movements that allow practitioners to take down their opponents quickly. Its techniques are designed to enable its practitioners to gain the upper hand in combat quickly. Sambo’s combat techniques emphasize staying close to opponents, using leverage to unbalance them, and then taking them down to the ground for submission.

Sambo’s combat style is highly versatile, primarily due to its origins in the Soviet Union, where it drew from a wide range of martial arts, including judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. As a result, Sambo has become a comprehensive fighting style that incorporates elements from various martial arts, making it unique in many ways.

One of the key features of Sambo’s combat techniques is its focus on the use of the legs. Sambo practitioners use a range of kicks and sweeps to unbalance their opponents, which is beneficial for practitioners facing larger, stronger opponents. The use of leg techniques also allows Sambo fighters to defend against takedown attempts from their opponents, making it an effective style to use in combat situations.

Sambo’s combat techniques are designed to give practitioners the upper hand in any combat scenario, making it a highly effective martial art for both self-defense and competition.

The emphasis on speed, leverage, and staying close to the opponent makes Sambo a unique and challenging martial art to master.

Sambo Rules and Regulations: The Framework of the Sport

Sambo competitions are governed by a set of rules and regulations that define the framework of the sport.

These rules are designed to ensure fairness, safety, and sportsmanship among competitors.

The rules of Sambo are overseen by the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) and can vary slightly between different competitions and events. However, the basics of Sambo competition remain consistent across the board.

Scoring System

The goal of Sambo is to defeat your opponent by either throwing them to the ground or submitting them with a joint lock or chokehold. Points are awarded for successful throws, takedowns, and submissions. The number of points awarded varies based on the complexity and effectiveness of the technique used.

In addition to individual points, there is also a team scoring system in place. Points are awarded to the winning team of each individual match and the team with the most points at the end of the competition is declared the winner.

Prohibited Techniques

While Sambo is a full-contact combat sport, there are specific techniques that are prohibited in competition. These include striking techniques such as punches and kicks, as well as other dangerous moves like neck cranks and spinal locks.

Competitors who use prohibited techniques risk disqualification from the match or even suspension from future competitions.

Uniform Requirements

Competitors in Sambo competitions are required to wear a uniform that consists of shorts and a jacket. The uniform must be made of a durable material that can withstand the physical demands of the sport.

Additionally, competitors must wear protective gear such as a mouthguard and headgear during matches to minimize the risk of injury.

Refereeing and Judging

Sambo matches are monitored by referees who ensure that the rules are being followed and that the safety of the competitors is maintained. The referees also award points for successful techniques and can call a match if they feel that a competitor is at risk of injury.

In addition to the referees, judges are also present to evaluate the performance of the competitors and award points accordingly. These judges are responsible for determining the winner of each match based on a combination of points and performance.

Overall, Sambo rules and regulations are designed to create a safe and fair environment for competitors while allowing for the full expression of their skills and abilities.

By following these rules, Sambo practitioners can engage in high-level competition and showcase their talents in this unique martial art.

Sambo Training: Building Skills and Conditioning

Sambo training is a rigorous process that requires physical fitness, technical skills, and mental discipline. The training methods used in Sambo are designed to build strength, endurance, and flexibility, while also developing the techniques needed to excel in combat.

One of the key aspects of Sambo training is conditioning. This involves a combination of cardio workouts, strength training, and stretching exercises. Cardio exercises like running, jumping jacks, and high knees are used to improve endurance and stamina.

Strength training exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and bodyweight squats are used to build muscle and improve overall strength. Stretching exercises like the butterfly stretch, hamstring stretch, and quad stretch are used to improve flexibility and prevent injuries.

Technical skills training in Sambo focuses on teaching students a wide range of combat techniques. These techniques include takedowns, throws, submissions, and striking techniques.

Students learn how to execute these techniques with precision and speed, often through repetitive drilling and partner work. By the end of their training, students should be proficient in a wide range of combat skills, allowing them to adapt to a variety of combat situations.

The mental discipline required for Sambo training is equally important. Students must learn how to stay focused, calm, and composed even when under intense pressure. They must also learn how to analyze their opponents and respond quickly and effectively to their movements.

Mental toughness is a critical component of Sambo training, and students learn to develop this through challenging drills and simulated combat situations.

Overall, Sambo training is a comprehensive process that requires dedication, discipline, and hard work. However, the rewards of this training are many. Sambo students can expect to improve their physical fitness, develop technical combat skills, and gain mental toughness and self-confidence.

Sambo Tournaments and Championships: Showcasing Skill and Talent

Sambo tournaments and championships provide a platform for showcasing the combat skills and talent of practitioners from around the world. These events take place in various countries and attract a significant following of fans and supporters.

One of the most prestigious Sambo competitions is the World Sambo Championships, held annually since 1973 under the auspices of the International Sambo Federation (FIAS). This event brings together athletes from over 80 countries to compete in a range of categories, including combat Sambo, sport Sambo, and beach Sambo.

Other notable Sambo tournaments include the European Sambo Championships, the Pan American Sambo Championships, and the Asian Sambo Championships. These competitions attract some of the best Sambo practitioners in the world and serve as a training ground for future champions.

Over the years, many Sambo champions have emerged, each with their unique approach and style. Notable champions include Fedor Emelianenko, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Aleksandr Karelin, amongst others.

Aside from showcasing talent and skill, Sambo tournaments also promote the growth of the sport by providing opportunities for athletes to compete at different levels.

Whether at the local, national, or international level, Sambo tournaments and championships continue to play a vital role in the development and promotion of the sport. They provide an avenue for practitioners to test their abilities, gain recognition, and build connections within the Sambo community.

The Benefits of Sambo: Physical and Mental Well-being

Sambo is not only a combat sport but a form of physical and mental training as well. Practicing Sambo aids in building strength, improving flexibility, and refining endurance, all while developing an array of technical skills.

Sambo combat provides a full-body workout, testing both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. The martial art entails several high-intensity movements such as throws, takedowns, and striking. The training involves techniques for defense and attack, encouraging practitioners to use their bodies in various ways, thus, promoting overall fitness and well-being.

Sambo is not only beneficial for physical health but also provides benefits for mental health. Training in Sambo teaches self-discipline, self-control, and patience, which can help practitioners become more focused and better able to handle stress. Moreover, Sambo training instills self-confidence and improves mental fortitude, attributes that can be applied in all aspects of life.

Furthermore, Sambo is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety. It provides practitioners an outlet to release tension while promoting a disciplined mindset. The physical and mental benefits provided by Sambo can significantly reduce stress levels and lead to an overall improvement in well-being.

Sambo Across Different Countries: Global Reach and Popularity

Sambo, originally developed in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, has since gained global recognition as a legitimate combat sport and martial art. The sport has spread to various countries around the world, with many establishing their own Sambo organizations and hosting international competitions.

Today, Sambo is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee and is a regular feature in the World Combat Games. It has a particularly strong presence in Russia and former Soviet republics, as well as in countries such as Bulgaria, Germany, and Iran.

The popularity of Sambo has been driven by its unique combination of wrestling, judo, and striking techniques, as well as its emphasis on both physical and mental discipline. Many practitioners enjoy the challenge of mastering a multifaceted combat style that requires technical skill, strength, and agility.

The growth of Sambo across different countries has also been supported by the establishment of international governing bodies, such as FIAS (International Sambo Federation), and national federations that oversee the promotion and development of the sport.

These organizations provide training and certification for coaches, referees, and judges, and also organize major competitions, such as the World Sambo Championships.

Overall, Sambo’s global reach and popularity is a testament to its effectiveness as a martial art and combat sport.

As more people around the world discover the benefits of Sambo training, we can likely expect its reach and popularity to continue to grow in the years to come.

Sambo in the United States: Growth and Opportunities

While Sambo has been popular in Europe and Asia for decades, its presence in the United States is relatively new. In recent years, however, the sport has gained traction in the U.S. and established a growing community of practitioners and enthusiasts.

One of the main driving forces behind the growth of Sambo in the U.S. is the establishment of various organizations dedicated to promoting the sport. These include the United States Sambo Association (USSA) and the American Sambo Association (ASA), both of which provide resources for people interested in learning more about the sport and getting involved.

Additionally, Sambo training facilities have started to emerge in different parts of the country, providing opportunities for people to learn and practice the sport. These facilities offer both beginner and advanced classes, allowing practitioners to develop their skills and work towards competition-level performance.

One of the unique aspects of Sambo in the U.S. is its incorporation into other combat sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA). Many MMA fighters have begun to incorporate Sambo techniques into their fighting style, recognizing its effectiveness in a variety of situations.

Overall, the growth and opportunities for Sambo in the U.S. bode well for the future of the sport. As more people become aware of its benefits and unique fighting style, it’s likely that we’ll see an increase in interest and participation in the years to come.


Sambo is a fascinating martial art that combines elements of wrestling, judo, and other combat disciplines. As we’ve explored throughout this article, it offers a unique fighting style that emphasizes speed, agility, and technique.

By engaging in Sambo training, practitioners can improve their physical conditioning and mental discipline. They can also develop valuable skills that can be applied in self-defense situations or on the competition mat.

Whether you’re an experienced martial artist or just starting out, we encourage you to explore what Sambo has to offer, even if it’s just something new to do! With its rich history, global reach, and growing popularity in the United States, this sport has much to offer those seeking a new hobby that is a challenging and rewarding martial arts experience.

So why not give it a try? With its emphasis on technique, speed, and agility, Sambo is sure to provide a unique and fulfilling martial arts journey.


Q: What is Sambo?

A: Sambo is a martial art that originated in Russia. It combines elements of judo and wrestling, focusing on throws, ground fighting, and submissions.

Q: Why should I try Sambo?

A: Sambo offers a unique fighting style that can improve your physical fitness, mental discipline, and self-confidence. It is a challenging and rewarding martial art to practice.

Q: What are the key features of Sambo training?

A: Sambo training typically includes a combination of physical conditioning exercises, technical skill development, and mental training to prepare practitioners for combat situations.

Q: What does the term “Sambo” mean?

A: The term “Sambo” is an abbreviation of the Russian words “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which translates to “self-defense without weapons.”

Q: How has Sambo evolved over time?

A: Sambo has evolved from its origins as a military combat system to becoming a respected sport recognized worldwide. It has incorporated influences from various martial arts and continues to develop and adapt.

Q: What are some unique combat techniques in Sambo?

A: Sambo is known for its emphasis on throws, sweeps, and submission holds. It also utilizes ground fighting techniques and has a focus on controlling an opponent.

Q: What are the rules and regulations of Sambo competitions?

A: Sambo competitions have specific rules governing scoring, allowed techniques, and prohibited techniques. The aim is to showcase skill, sportsmanship, and fair play in a controlled environment.

Q: How can Sambo training benefit me?

A: Sambo training can improve your physical fitness, including strength, flexibility, and endurance. It also promotes mental well-being, self-confidence, and discipline.

Q: Is Sambo popular worldwide?

A: Yes, Sambo has gained popularity globally and is practiced in many countries. It has international governing bodies and is recognized as a legitimate martial art.

Q: How has Sambo grown in the United States?

A: Sambo has experienced growth in the United States with the establishment of Sambo organizations and the availability of training facilities. Opportunities for practitioners are increasing.

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What is sambo? A beginner guide, featured image, 2 people wrestling