Detroit Combat Sambo

Self Defense without Weapons

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What is Sambo?


​Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. "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. It was intended to be a merger of the most effective techniques of other martial arts.

The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov, a combatives researcher and Infantry Officer and Vasili Oshchepkov, a Kodokan Judo expert.  Oshchepkov spent several years living in Japan and training in judo under its founder Kano Jigoro. Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed two different styles, which eventually cross-pollinated and became what is known as 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 ability to practice wrestle. Refined versions of SAMBO are still used today or fused with specific Sambo applications to meet the needs of Russian commandos today.

Today Sambo consists of three components: Sport Sambo, Self-defense Sambo, and Combat Sambo.

Sport Sambo is divided into two categories; Sport Sambo which is similar to Judo and sport Combat Sambo which closely resembles modern MMA.

Self-defense Sambo is similar to Aikido and Jujitsu because it is intended to be entirely defensive against attacks by armed and unarmed criminals. It is also designed for specific professions, such as taxi drivers, bank employees, bodyguards, various law enforcement agents, etc.

Combat Sambo includes techniques from both Sport and Self-defense Sambo, but uses them in different ways. It includes techniques that are dangerous and prohibited in many combat sports. The Russian Military, Police, special Crowd Control units, Marines, and others have employed Combat Sambo for all aspects of self-defense and close combat.