Sambo Australia Inc 


What is Sambo?

Sambo is a Russian form of martial art created in the Stalin era to prepare soldiers to fight for one of the largest military machines in the world. Today as a sport it is played around the globe with its own international federation, six continental bodies and a popular world championship, but its history is surrounded by Cold War politics. The word sambo is actually an acronym from the Russian phrase SAMozaschita Bez Oruzhiya meaning 'self defence without weapons' and was coined in 1923 by Viktor Spirindov, who worked for the NKVD (Secret Police) training centre called the Dynamo Club. A veteran of WWI, Spirindov used the knowledge he had gained of unarmed combat in real war scenarios to develop pragmatic techniques of self defence.


Working in tangent with him was Vasili Oshchepkov, the first Russian to gain a black belt in judo and who later began to create a sportive form of Russian combat called borba sambo, borrowing many elements from Kodokan Judo. In 1938 sambo was recognised by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee as a national Soviet sport but Oshchepkov was later executed during the Stalinist purges for refusing to deny sambo's connection to judo, at a time when hostilities were growing between the USSR and the Japanese Empire.


The leadership of the USSR Sambo Federation then fell to Anatoly Kharlampiev who sent students throughout the Soviet Union on fact finding missions to study the indigenous sports of the peoples of Central Asia. Sambo borrows as much from sports such as Moldovan trynta, Georgian chidaoba, Armenian kokh, Azerbaijani gulesh, Mongolian bokh, Tuvan khuresh, Uzbeki kurash, Tartar koras & Kazakh kures as it does from judo, therefore is truly a sport of Russian origin, rather than another type of jujitsu as many people assume. A movie called "Nepobedimyy" meaning "Invincible" was made in 1983 describing this origin for sambo


In 1968 sambo was adopted as the third discipline by FILA (the International Amateur Wrestling Federation) and the first world championships of 40 nations were held in Tehran five years later. Despite several applications to have sambo included as an Olympic sport, because of the dominance of judo as the Olympic style of jacket wrestling, there was not as much growth as was hoped under FILA control, so after the Moscow Olympics a new international body was created for sambo in the Federation International de Amateur Sambo FIAS, who have controlled the sport since 1984. FIAS has been a member of the General Association of International Sporting Federations GAISF (now known as Sport Accord) since this time and sambo is one of the sports of the Sport Accord Combat Games, last held in Beijing in September 2010 and next due in St Petersburg Russia in 2013. 


The FIAS website has up to date information about what is happening around the world in sambo;


Sambo is divided into two sporting disciplines; the older style of Sport Sambo (A.K.A as borba sambo or sambo wrestling) and the newer system of Combat Sambo, which combines punching, kicking and grappling, similar to modern MMA. Because of its history, Sport Sambo looks like a fusion between Freestyle wrestling and Judo. Jackets known as kurtka are worn by competitors which assist in the powerful throws just like judo but they also wear shorts, boots and compete on wrestling mats with circles rather than the judo/jujitsu squared tatami. Submission holds are limited to the limbs of opponents as it is taught in military philosophy that breaking an enemy combatants arm or leg not only disabled one soldier but the other who must carry his comrade from the battle field. Chokes were therefore traditionally not part of the sport but Sport Sambo has the most advanced leg locks of any martial art. In tournaments, points are awarded for throws, takedowns, holddowns and mat dominance as well as submission finishes. 


Combat Sambo has competitors wearing padded helmets similar to boxing headgear, shin guards and grappling gloves in addition to the kurtka. Submission comes from kicking, punching or grappling submission, this time with the inclusion of chokes. This style has been made world famous by the successes of the professional fighter Fedor Emelianenko who credits Combat Sambo as the most complete style of amateur combat training to prepare athletes for professional MMA fights. The former president and current prime minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin is a big supporter of sambo, (he is actually honourary president of FIAS) holding a Master of Sports degree in both it and judo, ensuring continued state support for the activity. In 1995 the World Academy of Sambo was built in the town of Kstovo along the Volga River in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast as the headquarters for international sambo.


Sambo Australia Inc

There were several attempts to promote sambo tournaments in Australia, beginning as early as the 1970s, but for various reasons they all failed and few left a lasting legacy. Eugene Vlasov was running classes in Western Sydney in the 1990s and Imran Szabo established his Sombo Wrestling Academy in Perth WA in 2006 but until recently he was isolated from any other samboists in Australia. Sambo Australia Inc was formed in 2010 to help develop sporting forms of sambo across Australia but consisting only of a small group of enthusiasts, struggled in its formative year.


The Russian community of Australia responded to this call for help by declaring Victor Serga the first president of this new organisation and Alexander Grigoriev as the first vice president, creating a board of directors to assist the continued growth of sambo in Australia. There are now state representatives of Sambo Australia Inc in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA with new connections recently being gained in Tasmania and SA, giving the sport complete national status. The Russian Sports Club in Kemps Creek Western Sydney has become the base of operation for Sambo Australia Inc but there are numerous affiliated clubs around all capital cities and some regional centres. With the establishment of Robert Belonogoff as the new president in 2011, Sambo Australia Inc has seen a period of dynamic growth as it continues to expand across Australia. 


The first tournament in Sport Sambo was held in Western Sydney in December 2010 with over 30 competitors turning up from several wrestling, judo and jujitsu clubs, demonstrating the need felt for the sport in this country. In September 2011 Sambo Australia Inc held it first national championship under the auspice of Wrestling Australia Inc as part of its multi-style grappling tournament called War on the Floor at Sydney University. Members of Sambo Australia Inc have competed for the first time at the Sambo World Championships in Lithuania in November 2011 and plan to continue this trend. This new Russian Revolution in martial arts is gaining momentum in Australia because it offers a wide array of combat techniques that Australian martial artists are hungry to learn. Sambo Australia Inc is also busy preparing a team for the next Sport Accord Combat Games as well as for future Oceania and World Championships. If you would like to learn more about sambo, find a class near you and get on board this new growth sport while it is still in its formative stages, please contact me at this site or check out the site for Sambo Australia Inc for more info. If you are on Facebook you can also follow the progress of the sport at;





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