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понедельник, 3 августа 2009 г.

Combat Sambo - revitalized by mixed martial arts

Combat Sambo has been surrounded by a lot of mystique in the West. Most learn't about Sambo looking at the backgrounds of Russian mixed martial arts fighters, while others may have heard of this elsewhere in the grappling circles like the fact that the seemingly unbeatable Rickson Gracie lost to Ron Tripp, the famed US Sambo World Champion.


Sambo is a martial art that was developed in the Soviet Union in the first half of the twentieth century by Vasiliy Oschepkov, an able Kodokan Judoka and Viktor Spiridonov, a jiu jitsu practitioner who ran the famed sports academy Dynamo. The two never collaborated between themselves and it is known that their styles were very different with Spiridonov focusing on more aikido-like self-defense aspects while Oschepkov was more oriented at the sport aspects which were then further developed by Anatoly Kharlampiev, the father of sport Sambo.

Combat Sambo itself is said to have originated in the 30s in USSR used for the purposes of training security forces. Early work in this area was done by Ivan Lebedev, a Russian wrestler who published in 1915 a book "Self-defense and arrest" covering what was called the universal fighter fundamentals. Spridonov among others continued on to develop this work.

At the time Combat Sambo was banned for civilian use. It was only until 1991 when Combat Sambo became open to anyone and became a sport and in 1994 the first national championship was held.

Combat Sambo was radically different to the sport Sambo that was already well-known. It combined not only throws and submissions with the Gi (kimono) but actually most techniques from any martial arts style including striking of any kind. This form of Sambo today resembles mixed martial arts known today but practiced with the Sambo jacket known as "Kurtka" or "Sambovka" and shorts either blue or red in colour. Red or blue colour belts are used to match the jacket and shorts and also typically the Sambo player also wears Sambo training shoes which resemble trainers.

It is my understanding that unlike Sambo, the sport, Combat Sambo does not have official grades as Sambo has. Still many combat Sambo pracititioners have Sambo titles as well.

Titles replace belts of traditional martial arts entirely in Sambo and are given for achievement in competition. Typically most experienced practitioners who have studied Sambo for many years have the title Candidate of Master of Sports or Master of Sports. These signify that the fighter has achieved a certain level in competition and is a nationally ranked competitor.

Most elite athletes in Sambo have been awared the title International Master of Sports which means the athlete has successfully competed and won on an international level. The highest award is Distinguished Master of Sports, awared to very successfull athletes on the international stage like the World Championships.

These systems stem from the Soviet Union times and now are accepted in Russia and other CIS countries for many different sports. Typically the title Master of Sports signifies a high level of proficiency in the given sport.


Combat Sambo is a relatively rare art, practiced very little outside Russia and CIS. This stems from the small number of able practitioners in the sport today. Sambo the sport was once even nominated to become an Olympic sport but is no longer likely to be so. Combat Sambo on the other hand is far more rare and practiced in a few individual cases by people from the ex-Soviet republics. There are few however.

Sambo World Championships and Combat Sambo Championships are held each year and do receive some limited media coverage in Russia for example (Sport Channel) but this is far from a popular sport. It is perhaps a sport that is being revitalized as a result of the growing popularity of mixed martial arts globally and the effectiveness of the martial art.

Today we have already a number of MMA fighters with a Sambo background that have demonstrated the art in competition successfully on the international stage including Fedor Emelianenko (ex-Pride HW Champion and WAMMA Champion), Oleg Taktarov (ex-UFC HW Champion), Andrei Arlovski (ex-UFC HW Champion), Aleksander Emelianenko and Sergei Kharitonov.

Of course no one doubts that the fighters above are extraordinary athletes with substantial natural talent and ability. Combat Sambo however is not just for the talented. It has proven itself in sport and in self-defense situations and I think in time it may become one of the most popular "real-life" martial arts out there.

Combat Sambo one could argue is on par with MMA with one distinct difference being the Sambovka (gi) being worn. In a street situation this may be even an advantage. Wrestlers often comment how uncomfortable they feel when wrestling in a gi. Sambo prepares you for that. It will of course be a matter of support that Combat Sambo receives. Jiu jitsu benefitted a lot from what the Gracie family did for the sport. Sambo has its proponents but so far they clearly have been less successful. Time will tell.

Here is a demontration of Combat Sambo in action displayed by Fedor Emelianenko and his coach Vladimir Voronov.

Also check out below a video I wanted to show everyone of Volk Han training with Fedor Emelianenko and several other prominent MMA fighters. This is a just a training session but you can see these guys would do well against any bjj fighter.

For those that don't know, Volk Han competed in Rings and actually fought Antonio Nogueira Minotauro in a spectacular grappling match which set the brazilian submissions legend against Volk Han, an extremely technical Sambo and wrestling specialist.

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