Sambo (martial art)

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Russian: сaмбо
International Federation
of Amateur Sambo
Also known asSombo (in English-speaking countries)
Country of originSoviet Union
Famous practitionersList of Practitioners
Ancestor artsJudo, Jujutsu, Boxing, Folk wrestling
Olympic sportNo, but IOC recognized
Official websiteInternational SAMBO Federation

Sambo (Russian: сaмбо, pronounced [ˈsambə]) is a martial art with Soviet origins, an internationally practised combat sport,[1][2] and a recognized style of amateur wrestling included by UWW in the World Wrestling Championships along with Graeco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling.[3][4]

Sambo at the 2015 European Games
Highest governing bodyFédération Internationale de Sambo
Registered as a sport disciplineSoviet Union, 16 November 1938 (Goskomsport)[5]
TypeMartial art
Country or regionWorldwide
World Games1985, 1993


It originated in the Russian SFSR in the Soviet Union. The word sambo is an acronym of samozashchita bez oruzhiya (Russian: самозащита без оружия), which literally translates to 'self-defence without weapons'.[6]

SAMBO is a martial art and combat sport developed and used by the Soviet Red Army in the early 1920s to improve their hand-to-hand combat abilities.

The sport is similar in many ways to judo and jiu jitsu but also incorporates different types of wrestling and various self-defence systems.

Soviet martial arts expert Vasili Oshchepkov is credited as one of the founding fathers of SAMBO.

Born into a family of exiles in 1893, Oshchepkov also played a key role in introducing judo into the Soviet Union.

An intelligence officer during both Tsarist and Soviet periods, he was educated in Japan and later returned there to work in the 1920s.

He studied at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, founded by Jigoro Kano, and eventually became the first Russian to receive a second dan in the sport.

This led to him developing the SAMBO self-defence techniques which were developed and utilised by the Soviet Red Army and intelligence services.

Oshchepkov, despite his important legacy, ultimately died in prison aged just 45 as a result of the Stalinist political purges of 1937 after accusations of being a Japanese spy.

He was posthumously "rehabilitated" and cleared of wrongdoing in 1957.

Viktor Spiridonov and Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Oshchepkov, are also considered pioneers of SAMBO.

Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as SAMBO.


Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet NKVD and Red Army to improve hand-to-hand combat abilities of their servicemen.[1] It was intended to merge the most effective techniques of other martial arts.

The pioneers of sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov spent several years living in Japan and training in Judo under its founder Kano Jigoro.[7] Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the Great Purge after being accused of being a Japanese spy,[8] and judo was banned in the USSR for decades until the 1964 Olympics, where Sambists won four bronze medals.[9]

Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as sambo. Compared to Oshchepkov's system, called "free wrestling" in Russia, Spiridonov's style was softer and less brutal. It was also less strength-dependent, which in large part was due to injuries Spiridonov sustained during World War I.[10]

Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is also considered a founder of sambo. In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.[8]


There 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.[11]

Sport Sambo[edit]

Sport Sambo
Also known asSambo Wrestling
FocusGrappling, Wrestling
Country of originRussia
Famous practitionersList of Practitioners
ParenthoodJudo, Jujutsu, Bokh, Chidaoba, Freestyle wrestling, Graeco-Roman wrestling, Catch wrestling, Ssireum
Olympic sportNo, but IOC recognized

Sport sambo or Sambo wrestling (Russian: Борьбa Самбо, romanizedBor'ba Sambo, lit.'Sambo Wrestling') is stylistically similar to old-time judo, and in a lot of ways influenced by it, but with some differences in rules, protocol, and uniform. Sambo allows various types of leg locks like old Judo before the ban of the Ashi Garami techniques, while not allowing chokeholds. It also focuses on throwing, groundwork, and submissions, with very few restrictions on gripping and holds.[12] Sambo is an international style of amateur wrestling recognized by the FILA (now UWW) Congress in 1966.

Combat Sambo[edit]

Combat Sambo
FocusHybrid, Striking, Grappling, Self-Defence
Country of originRussia
Famous practitionersList of Practitioners
ParenthoodFreestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Catch wrestling, Folk wrestling, Bokh, Judo, Jujutsu, Ssireum, Boxing, Kickboxing, Pankration, Savate
Olympic sportNo, but IOC recognized

Combat sambo (Russian: Боевое Самбо, romanizedBoyevoye Sambo). Used and developed for the military, combat sambo resembles modern mixed martial arts, including forms of striking and grappling. Combat sambo allows regular punches, kicks, elbows, and knees, as well as soccer kicks, headbutts and groin strikes, in addition to throws, holds, chokes and locks, except for a standing or flying wristbar.[13] The chief distinction from Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), apart from striking techniques, is that combat sambo rules and regulations do not permit a one-sided resort to ground fighting without throws or other combative manoeuvres (i.e., by simply sitting down and continuing from the ground without touching his opponent that BJJ allows). In terms of aliveness, combat sambo surpasses ARB by design, though both were designed for combat situations only. Competitors wear jackets as in sport sambo, but also hand protection and sometimes shin protection and headgear. 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. Combat sambo is designed to tackle certain tasks. The effectiveness of this martial art determined by its structure, namely by three components: boxing, sambo, and adapters. Adapters of combat sambo were developed by the academician G. S. Popov. The task of adapters is to ensure the safe transition from middle distance to close one, as well as the consistent usage of sambo and boxing techniques. The given configuration provides the fusion of two martial arts into a single system.

Both Sambo wrestling (left) and Combat sambo competitions require Sambovka jacket and shirts as a uniform, and held at a standard wrestling mat. However, Combat sambo competitions also require gloves, headgear, mouthpiece, groin, and shin protection equipment to minimize injuries.

Women participated in Combat Sambo for the first time in an official tournament in the Paris Grand Prix 2015. The first recognized instance of women competing in an international combat Sambo tournament was in the 2022 Asian and Oceania Sambo Championships.[14][15] In 2022, Australia and New Zealand competed for the first time in the Asian sambo championship.[16]

Freestyle Sambo[edit]

This type of Sambo was introduced by the American Sambo Association in 2004. Its purpose was to encourage non-Sambo practitioners such as Judo and Jiu-Jitsu to participate in Sambo. Freestyle Sambo allows the use of chokeholds and other submission techniques that are not used in Sambo wrestling.


This was developed in 2003 as a form of Sambo without competing in the traditional uniform of Kurtka (jacket), shorts and boots. Competitors just wear fight shorts and gloves. One competitor wears blue and the other red, the same as traditional Sambo. Matches are held on a traditional wrestling mat, not in a cage or ring like normal MMA fights. Techniques from all martial arts are used to defeat an opponent by knock out, submission or point victory.

Self-Defence Sambo[edit]

This kind of Sambo is about defending oneself. In it, practitioners are taught to guard against weapons. Most of the moves that are taught include using the attacker's aggression against them, which is similar to what is done in both Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido. Spiridonov's influence is strong in this style of Sambo.

Concrete Sambo[edit]

This type of Sambo was made for the Argentinian Army during the military dictatorship. It is similar to special sambo in terms of origin and uses.

Special Sambo[edit]

This type of Sambo was made for Army Special Forces and other rapid response forces. It is only designed for the particular group that uses it. In that sense, it's similar to sambo combat, which is also designed for a specific purpose.

Beach Sambo[edit]

Sambo beach, as the name suggests, is held on soft beaches or strips of sand.

Derivatives of sambo[edit]

Systema (or System) is also known as "Combat Sambo Spetsnaz". This Russian martial art is the evolutionary form of Spiridonov's Samoz. Systema falls into the category of military Sambo. The evolution of Spiridonov's Samoz and Ochtchepkov's Sambo was maintained in parallel by the NKVD which itself became the KGB. It is out of the official path of the evolution of Military and Sports Sambo that Systema was created, even if the latter is based on similar bases to Sambo. The Systema design has been designed to be highly adaptable and practical. It uses breathing exercises, "drills" and "sparring" exercises to replace traditional kata. Because it is open and scalable in nature, Systema is very effective in many situations and against many fighting styles. This is also why the special units, the spetsnaz, are trained in Systema. There are two major streams of Systema; one more "flexible", the other more "hard"


Origins and influences[edit]

Sambo's early development stemmed from the independent efforts of Vasili Oshchepkov and Viktor Spiridonov to integrate the techniques of Catch wrestling, Judo, Jujutsu, and other foreign martial arts into native Turkic wrestling styles, Armenian kokh, Romanian trântă, Mongolian khapsagay and Georgian chidaoba (ru:Чидаоба, ka:ქართული ჭიდაობა). 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 because during World War I, he received a bayonet wound which would leave 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.[17] Rather, their independent notions of hand-to-hand combat merged through cross-training between students and formulating 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.[18] Thus, many techniques from jujutsu, judo, and other martial systems joined with the indigenous fighting styles to form the sambo repertoire.[19] When the techniques were perfected, they were woven into sambo applications for personal self-defence, police, crowd control, border guards, secret police, dignitary protection, psychiatric hospital staff, military, and commandos.[20]


In 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 centre, Dynamo Sports Society.

Spiridonov was a combat veteran of World War I and one of the first wrestling and self-defence instructors hired for Dynamo. His background included Free wrestling (i.e. Catch wrestling), Graeco-Roman wrestling, many Turkic folk wrestling styles, and Japanese jujutsu. As a combative investigator for Dynamo, he travelled 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 Jigoro's distillation of Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, Kito Ryu and Fusen-ryū 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 travelled 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 more legend than fact, 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 manoeuvring 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.[21] 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 practise wrestling. Refined versions of sambo are still used today or fused with specific sambo applications to meet the needs of Russian commandos.

Running up to an Olympic sport status[edit]

After being recognized by FILA (known since September 2014 as United World Wrestling) in 1968, by the U.S. National Amateur Athletic Union in 1972, and after being included to the programme of the 1973 World Wrestling Championships along with Graeco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling (which are indeed Olympic sports,) Sambo was rapidly making its way to become an Olympic sport.[22]

The first World Cup was contested in 1969. Don Curtis, a member of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Committee, had predicted in 1975, that the Russians would introduce Sambo wrestling in the 1980 Olympics programme in Moscow.[23] In 1975 the first United States National Sambo Championships were held in Mesa, Arizona, in 1977. It was contested along with G.R. and Freestyle at the first Pan American Wrestling Championships in Mexico City, and included in the schedule of the upcoming 1983 U.S. Olympic Festival[24][25] and the 1983 Pan American Games (the 1983 Pan American event in Caracas became the first and subsequently the last edition of Sambo at the Pan Am Games.) In 1979 the National AAU Sambo Committee established several annual awards to honour outstanding persons in the sport of Sambo wrestling.[26] By the 1980s it has been included to Pan American Games, National Sports Festival and AAU Junior Olympics programme.[27]

But as a result of political complications of the 1980 Olympic boycott which arose after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Sambo was at first reduced to a demonstration sport at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR. But later, because of the sport's strong association with the Soviet Union, it was removed from demonstration sport status. It is true that youth sambo was demonstrated in the Games' opening ceremonies; however, sambo was never formally recognized 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.[28] Furthermore, the official documents of the 1980 Olympic Organizing Committee do not mention sambo as a participating sport in the Games.[29] Nevertheless, Jerry Matsumoto, Head of the U.S. Sambo Association, saw in 1990 Sambo becoming an Olympic sport, at least at the demonstration level, within the next eight years.[30]


In 1968, 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.[31] In 2005, FILA reached an agreement with FIAS "West" and re-assumed sanctioning over sport sambo.[32] However, in 2008, FILA again discontinued sanctioning sambo and sambo is now notably missing from the UWW website.[33] At present, only FIAS sanctions international competition in sport sambo. In 2014 FIAS and FILA signed a cooperative agreement.[34] While this does not place sambo back on UWW'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.[35] 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 UWW. 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 rumours 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.[36] 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). As of 30 November 2018, sambo has indeed received temporary recognition by the IOC.[37] This close relationship is reestablishing the global popularity and media emphasis on sambo.

Uniform and ranking[edit]

Similar to wrestling, a sambo practitioner normally wears either a red or a blue competition outfit. The kurtka (куртка), also called a sambovka (самбовка), looks similar to a Judogi top and belt but has belt loops, shoulder straps, wrestling-style shorts, and shoes which match the uniform's colour. 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.

Also similar to the wrestling ranking system used in Russia, a competitive rating system is used (rather than the belt colour ranking system used in judo and gendai 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,[38] FKE,[39] 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. [40]


FIAS World SAMBO Championships[edit]

Number Year Dates Host Champion Events Participating
1 1973 6–11 September Iran Tehran, Iran  Soviet Union 10 11
2 1974 26–28 July Mongolia Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia  Soviet Union 10 5
3 1979 11–14 December Spain Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union 10 11
4 1980 30–31 May Spain Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union 10 11
5 1981 28 February – 1 March Spain Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union 10 12
6 1982 3–4 July France Paris, France  Soviet Union 10 11
7 1983 30 September – 1 October Soviet Union Kyiv, Soviet Union  Soviet Union 10 8
8 1984 14–15 June Spain Madrid, Spain  Soviet Union 10 10
9 1985 19–21 September Spain San Sebastián, Spain  Soviet Union 10 11
10 1986 21–24 November France Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France  Soviet Union 10 8
11 1987 November Italy Milan, Italy  Soviet Union 10 9
12 1988 1–5 December Canada Montreal, Canada  Soviet Union 10 11
13 1989 8–11 November United States West Orange, United States  Soviet Union 10 9
14 1990 7–10 December Soviet Union Moscow, Soviet Union  Soviet Union 10 18
15 1991 28–29 December Canada Montreal, Canada  Soviet Union 10 8
16 1992 6–10 November England Herne Bay, England  Russia 10 14
17 1993 9–15 November Russia Kstovo, Russia  Russia 10 28
18 1994 7–9 October Serbia and Montenegro Novi Sad, Yugoslavia  Russia 10 20
19 1995 1–3 September Bulgaria Sofia, Bulgaria  Russia 9 23
20 1996 1–3 November Japan Tokyo, Japan  Russia 18 23
21 1997 10–12 October Georgia (country) Tbilisi, Georgia Georgia (country) Georgia 18 20
22 1998 16–18 October Russia Kaliningrad, Russia  Russia 18 20
23 1999 12–14 November Spain Gijón, Spain  Russia 18 20
24 2000 25 November Ukraine Kyiv, Ukraine  Russia 18 21
25 2001 20–21 October Russia Krasnoyarsk, Russia  Russia 18 26
26 2002 26–29 November Panama Panama City, Panama  Russia 18 19
27 2003 18 October
6–10 November
France Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Combat Sambo)
Russia St. Petersburg, Russia
 Russia 27 32
28 2004 16–21 June
25–26 September
Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic (Combat Sambo)
Moldova Chișinău, Moldova
 Russia 27 23
29 2005 21–23 October
11–14 November
Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic (Combat Sambo)
Kazakhstan Astana, Kazakhstan
 Russia 27 27
30 2006 30 September – 2 October
3–5 November
Uzbekistan Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Combat Sambo)
Bulgaria Sofia, Bulgaria
 Russia 27 33
31 2007 7–11 November Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic  Russia 27 43
32 2008 13–17 November Russia St. Petersburg, Russia  Russia 27 48
33 2009 5–9 November Greece Thessaloniki, Greece  Russia 27 46
34 2010 4–8 November Uzbekistan Tashkent, Uzbekistan  Russia 27 26
35 2011 10–14 November Lithuania Vilnius, Lithuania  Russia 27 65
36 2012 8–12 November Belarus Minsk, Belarus  Russia 27 64
37 2013 7–11 November Russia St. Petersburg, Russia  Russia 27 70
38 2014 20–24 November Japan Narita, Japan  Russia 27 82
39 2015 12–16 November Morocco Casablanca, Morocco  Russia 27 80
40 2016 10–14 November Bulgaria Sofia, Bulgaria  Russia 27 77
41 2017 9–13 November Russia Sochi, Russia  Russia 27 90
42 2018 8–12 November Romania Bucharest, Romania  Russia 27 80
43 2019 7–11 November South Korea Cheongju, South Korea  Russia 27 80
44 2020 4–8 November Serbia Novi Sad, Serbia  Russia 27 30
45 2021 12–14 November Uzbekistan Tashkent, Uzbekistan  Russia 27 50

FIAS World Cup[edit]

Sambo World Cup and Supercup have been contested since 1969, initially held by FILA, and since 1985 by FIAS.

Sambo World Cup editions
Year Dates Location
1969 Soviet Union Riga
1970 Soviet Union Sochi
1975 Soviet Union Moscow
1976 Japan Tokyo
1977 9–12 June Spain Oviedo[41]
1980 Spain Madrid
1981 18–20 September Spain Pontevedra
1982 11 June Spain Bilbao
1983 France Lyon
1984 12–14 October Venezuela Puerto la Cruz
1985 22 September Spain San Sebastián
1986 Japan Tokyo
1987 4–5 April Morocco Casablanca
1988 June Soviet Union Moscow
1990 Venezuela Caracas
1992 Spain Spain
1993 Russia Nizhny Novgorod
1994 May Russia Kstovo
1999 28 November France Nice
2000 27–29 November France Nice
2001 Russia Moscow
2006 26 November France Nice
2012 Russia Kazan

United States National Sambo Championships[edit]

United States National Sambo Championships known initially as the National AAU Sambo Wrestling Championships are the annual championships held in the United States. American enthusiasts of martial arts took up Sambo shortly before it was contested at the 1973 World Wrestling Championships and was rapidly making its way to become an Olympic sport in 1980.[22]

Year Dates Location Venue Events
1975 10 May Mesa, Arizona Community College 10
1976 5 June Chandler, Arizona Chandler High School gym 10
1977 23 April Southeast San Diego, California Jackie Robinson Memorial YMCA 10
1978 20 May Chula Vista, California Southwestern College 10[42]
1979 21 April Walnut, California 10
1980 2 August Kansas City, Missouri 20
1984 3 March Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City North Community Center
1984 30 March Washington, D.C.
1987 28 March Kansas City, Missouri Bishop Ward High School
1988 9 April Newark, New Jersey Essex County College 29+3(t)[43]
1989 10 November Newark, New Jersey
1990 13 May Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 27
1991 31 March Covington, Kentucky
1992 28 March Cincinnati, Ohio
1993 27 March Norman, Oklahoma Norman High School
1994 26 March Chula Vista, California Southwestern College
1996 South Annville, Pennsylvania Annville-Cleona High School
1998 11 April Washington, D.C.
2006 19–20 August North Palm Beach, Florida North Palm Beach Community Center
Note: (t) stands for team events.

Sambo at the National Wrestling Championships[edit]

The national Sambo competition also was held along with Graeco-Roman and Freestyle events at the 1987 and 1988 AAU/USA Grand National Wrestling Championships on July 1, 1987, and July 6, 1988, respectively, both held at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.[44] The next year it was contested at the 1989 AAU/Carrier Grand National Wrestling Championships on July 5 at Metra in Billings, Montana.[45] 1990 AAU Grand National Wrestling Championships also hosted a national Sambo competition at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 10.[46] 1992 AAU Grand National edition hosted a national Sambo competition in July in Amarillo, Texas. 1994 AAU Grand National Wrestling Championships also hosted a national Sambo competition at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan, on July 13.[47] 1995 AAU Grand National edition hosted a national Sambo competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 1999 AAU Grand National Wrestling Championships also offered Sambo to competitors on June 30 at Metra in Billings, Montana.[48] The 2002 AAU Grand National Wrestling Championships saw Sambo competition on June 19 at Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana.[49]

USA Wrestling has added Sambo as a style since the 2007 U.S. National Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.[50]

Notable practitioners[edit]

Name controversy[edit]

Although sambo is a Russian acronym, exponents of the sport in the English-speaking world have faced problems concerning the linguistically unrelated racist term. Sambo representatives have opted to use the alternative spelling Sombo to avoid offence.[51] FIAS references the sport with its acronym spelling: SAMBO.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schneiderman, R. M. (19 June 2010). "Once-Secret Martial Art Rises in Ring's Bright Lights". the New York Times.
  2. ^ "Once-secret KGB martial art fights for recognition". The Independent. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  3. ^ The final report of the President's Commission on Olympic Sports, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977, p. 261.
  4. ^ Combs, Steve ; Frank, Chuck. Winning Wrestling, Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1980, p. 3.
  5. ^ Sombo wrestling history and basic rules BY JOSH HENSON | MAY 01, 2006 | United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Official Website.
  6. ^ "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. 2 November 1964. p. 13 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Борьба САМБО — ИСТОРИЯ — Михаил ЛУКАШЕВ, Сотворение САМБО". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b Andavolu, Krishna (4 February 2013). "Sambo's Gulag Past and MMA Future | FIGHTLAND". Archived from the original on 11 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  9. ^ Egorov, Boris (29 May 2019). "Why Vladimir Putin would have struggled to be a black belt in the Soviet Union". Russia Beyond.
  10. ^ Виктор Афанасьевич Спиридонов (Viktor Spiridonov) – biography at (in Russian).
  11. ^ "Sambo Ranking System (Approved on XVI FIAS Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, 2005) | SAMBO.COM – Federation Internationale de Sambo". Sambo.Com. 31 July 2013. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  12. ^ Classic Sambo – Get the Upper Hand on Your Opponent With Nasty Leglocks Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine by Stephen Koepfer, in Grappling magazine
  13. ^ "UNITED KINGDOM SAMBO ASSOCIATION". Mixed Martial Arts – Knucklepit. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Combat Sambo among women and other surprising moments of the Paris Grand Prix 2015 | International SAMBO Federation (FIAS)".
  15. ^ "Results of the first day of the Asian SAMBO Championships and the Asian Youth and Junior SAMBO Championships in Lebanon | International SAMBO Federation (FIAS)".
  16. ^ "Congress of the SAMBO Union of Asia was held in Lebanon | International SAMBO Federation (FIAS)".
  17. ^ T.P. Grant (8 August 2013). "MMA Fan's Guide to Grappling: Sambo". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  18. ^ Adams, Andy (26 March 2013). "Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 3) – – Black Belt". Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  19. ^ Adams, Andy (22 March 2013). "Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 2) – – Black Belt". Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  20. ^ T.P. Grant (8 March 2013). "MMA Origins: Russian Revolution". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  21. ^ Adams, Andy (21 March 2013). "Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 1) – – Black Belt". Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  22. ^ a b Nishioka, Hayward (July 1977). "Can America "Sambo" Its Way to the 1980 Olympics". Black Belt. 15 (7): 23–27.
  23. ^ "Curtis has a few ideas". The Argus: 19. 10 August 1975.
  24. ^ National Sports Festival Schedule By The Associated Press
  25. ^ COLORADO (UPI). Results from Saturday's events at the fifth National Sports Festival
  26. ^ SOMBO NEWS, AAU News, 1979, p. 8.
  27. ^ National Sombo Group Being Formed, Black Belt, January 1985, vol. 23, no. 1, p. 116.
  28. ^ Sambo a demo sport in 1980 Olympics? Archived 2008-01-07 at the Wayback Machine (Worldwide Grappling Forums)
  29. ^ Games of the XXIII Olympiad (Volume 3 – Participants and Results) Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (640 pages)
  30. ^ Part judo, part wrestling, Sombo has CV resident captivated By Phillip Brents, The Star-News, Chula Vista, California, August 31- Sept 1, 1991, Page D4.
  31. ^ Schneiderman, R.M. (19 July 2008). "Once-Secret Martial Art Rises in Ring's Bright Lights". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  32. ^ Struggling To Survive – Can FILA End Sambo's Civil War? Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine – in Grappling magazine
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