Athletes from Dominion MMA who just recently competed in a Sambo Tournament in Austin, Texas.

Athletes from Dominion MMA who just recently competed in a Sambo Tournament in Austin, Texas and won Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.


SAMBO is an acronym of Russian words “SAMozaschita Bez Orujiya” – “Self-Defense Without Weapon.”  SAMBO was created in the 1930’s. Official recognition of new art was in 1938. At first it was named “free-style wrestling”, then “free wrestling,” and in 1946 was renamed “SAMBO.”  This system is compilation of techniques from a number of martial arts including Japanese and Chinese martial arts; national martial arts of USSR area natives (Georgians, Armenians, Mongols, Russians etc.); French wrestling and other arts.  At the time of the 2nd world war the system was widely “tested” by the Soviet army.  “Special” techniques were added at the time, for example fighting in cells, quick-and-quiet sentry killing, and so on. Because of the number of criminals in the Soviet army at that time (during WWII each prisoner was “invited” to the front with each year at the front worth two or so years of their sentence) SAMBO experts acquired many lessons on criminal street fighting, and a number of these techniques were included in SAMBO.  SAMBO continues to accept new techniques and modify old ones.

Today, SAMBO is built from 3 parts:

  • the sportive part (Olympic sport)
  • the self-defense part
  • and the special or combat part.

The sportive part is similar to Judo but with some differences in allowed techniques. SAMBO allows leg locks where Judo does not, but Judo allows choking but SAMBO does not.  There are somewhat more techniques in SAMBO than in Judo.

The self-defense part of SAMBO is similar in form to Aikijujutsu because it is intended to be entirely defensive. The founder of SAMBO said this about the self-defense part:

“We give defensive weapons to citizens. Some people say that this kind of martial art may be learned by criminals or hooligans and used against citizens. Don’t worry! This art does not include even one attacking technique! If a hooligan will learn, he will be able to apply it only against another hooligan who will attack him, but never against a citizen.”

There are many specific techniques for defending specific attacks, including escaping from grips and chokes, defenses against punches and kicks, defenses against weapons (knife, stick etc.), and floor-fighting. The self-defense part of SAMBO is based on body movements and locks with a few punches and kicks.  The object is to allow defense but not to injure the opponent more than necessary because this part was created for citizens. In the former Soviet Union the law was that if you injure your opponent more than needed in a self-defense situation you could receive a 5 year prison term. Some of the self-defense techniques are based on sportive SAMBO.

The third part – combat SAMBO – was created for the army and police.  It is a very severe, and dangerous system.  If the idea of sportive SAMBO is “Take points and win,” and the idea of the self-defense part is “Don’t allow to attacker injure you,” the idea of combat SAMBO is “Survive, and if someone hinders you – injure or kill him.”  Combat SAMBO includes sportive and self-defense techniques, but uses them in different ways.  For example, sportive SAMBO uses the traditional shoulder throw of Judo and Jujutsu.  In combative SAMBO the throw is done with the opponents arm rotated up and locked at the elbow, and can be done to throw the opponent on his head.  If the opponent attempts to counter by lowering his center of gravity and pulling backwards (as is taught in sportive SAMBO) the arm will be broken.  Combative SAMBO teaches shoulder throw counters that might be able to deal with a locked arm like kicking out the opponents knee and pulling back by the hair or eye sockets.

In addition to modified sportive and self-defense techniques, combat SAMBO includes kicks, punches, “dangerous throwing” (throws that can’t be include into sportive part because they cause injury), locks on the spine, things that are prohibited in sportive wrestling (biting, for example), many “sadistic dirty things,” working against weapons (with or without a weapon of your own), tricks like putting your coat on your opponents head (works nicely), floor fighting (very strong), fighting in closed space (small room, pit, stairs), quick-and-quiet sentry killing, and so forth.  Students also learn strategy and tactics of fighting alone or in groups against single or multiple opponents.  SAMBO is less popular today in Russia because the influx of oriental martial arts in recent years. But, the development of SAMBO has continued and elements of it are incorporated into other modern combat systems.

 Sport Sambo Available for Both Men and Women. 

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