Sambo is a Soviet (Russian) grappling martial art, developed to satisfy the Soviet Red army needs during the early 1920s. The word SAMBO translates to “self-defense without weapons”. Its purpose was to combine the most effective techniques of other martial arts into. The famous MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko has a background in Sambo. Emelianenko was a four-time World Combat Sambo Champion.
Nowadays we differentiate three types of competitive sambo: the Sport sambo, the Combat sambo and the Freestyle sambo.
1) Sport Sambo
Sport Sambo is the combination of catch wrestling and judo. This type of Sambo is actually more similar to catch wrestling. Why? Because it allows leg lock and takedowns like double/single leg, which are not allowed in judo. However, chokeholds are not permitted in Sport Sambo.
2) Combat Sambo
This type of sambo is similar to the modern MMA and it is the only Sambo type that allows striking. The difference between MMA is that fighters in Combat Sambo wear uniforms and sometimes a head protection.
3) Freestyle Sambo
The difference between this style and the Sport Sambo is that Freestyle Sambo allows submissions (some types of neck crank and twisting footlocks). On the other hand, as well as Sport Sambo, Freestyle Sambo also focus on takedowns and ground game.
Uniforms in Sambo
Sambo uniform is similar to the combination of BJJ gi with belt and wrestling style with shorts and shoes.
The uniform color is full red or blue, like in wrestling. For example, you can differentiate the level of each BJJ fighter by the color of their belts. With Sambo, that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been training this martial art for, it never translates how advanced the competitor is.
How Effective is the Sambo?
The Sambo style utilizes a lot of effective takedowns from judo and wrestling. The big advantage is that Sambo is a lot less limited, compared the mentioned martial arts.
A huge variation of submissions, like leglocks, puts Sambo style on par with BJJ. In fact, Combat Sambo, complemented with striking, gives Sambo effectiveness both on the street and at a sports level.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that Sambo’s effectiveness originates from the way it was created. Simply by taking the best from other grappling martial arts made Sambo the effective grappling sport that it is. The effectiveness of Sambo techniques, like leg sweep, calf crusher, scissor takedown and more in the video below.