Sambo (Russian: са́мбо; IPA: [ˈsambə]; САМозащита Без Оружия) is a Russian martial art and combat sport.
The word “SAMBO” is an acronym for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as “self-defense without weapons”.
Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand-to-hand combat abilities.
Intended to be a merger of the most effective techniques of other martial arts, Sambo has roots in Japanese Judo, international styles of Wrestling, plus traditional folk styles of Wrestling such as: Kazakh Kures, Georgian Chidaoba, Tatar Köräş, Uzbek Kurash, Mongolian Khapsagay, Azerbaijani Gulesh, Armenian Kokh and Romanian Trîntǎ.
The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov.
Oshchepkov died in prison as a result of the political purges of 1937 after accusations of being a Japanese spy.
Oshchepkov spent much of his life living in Japan and training Judo under its founder Kano Jigoro.
The two men independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as Sambo.
Compared to Oshchepkov’s Judo-based system, then called “Freestyle Wrestling”, Spiridonov’s style was softer and less strength dependent.
This was in large part due to Spiridonov’s injuries sustained during World War I.
Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Vasili Oshchepkov, is often considered the founder of Sport Sambo.
In 1938, it was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.
To be continued…