This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
(Contributor: Alex Levitas - email@example.com)
SAMBO is an acronym of Russian words "SAMozaschita Bez Orujiya" -
"Self-Defence 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 were 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-defence 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-defence 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-defence 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.