• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • What is Sambo Martial Arts?

SAMBO is a martial art that originated in the former Soviet Union. It is a combat sport that is practiced internationally. It is also recognized as a style of amateur wrestling, similar to Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling.


The original pioneers of new martial art called SAMBO were actually two Russians men by the names of Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. In the early1920s these 2 men created their own martial art. At this time in history, the Soviet union's Red Army was worried that its servicemen's hand-to-hand combat abilities were not quite adequate and were subpar compared to other armies around the world.  SAMBO was invented and they took the most effective techniques of various martial arts and merged them together.

Oshchepkov was one of the first foreigners (Non Japanese) ever to learn Judo in Japan. Consequently, SAMBO is heavily influenced by Japanese Judo. Oshchepkov earned his Nidan (Second Level Black Belt) belt from Judo's founder and creator, Kano Jigoro himself.

Spiridonov's martial arts background, came from both experience in multiple indigenous martial arts that existed in the Soviet Union and Japanese Jujitsu

During World War I, Oshchepkov received a bayonet wound, which would leave his left arm unable to function. This handicap eventually led to his fondness for movements that favored leverage over strength. This aspect of fighting is now one of the most prominent aspects of SAMBO.

SAMBO's early development was essentially pioneered by Oshchepkov and Spiridonov. They integrated the various techniques of Catch wrestling, Judo, Jujutsu, and other foreign martial arts into something that formed a a cohesive system of fighting. Their ultimate goal was to take native Turkic wrestling styles, Armenian Kokh, Romanian Trîntǎ, Mongolian Khapsagay and Georgian Chidaoba and create something both new and old at the same time. Spiridonov traveled extensively to both Mongolia and China to observe and take notes of their native fighting styles.

Oschepkov and Spiridonov had several chances to collaborate with each other on the path for their new martial art called SAMBO. 

However, they were not completely united in their vision. Eventually, their thoughts and beliefs about the direction of SAMBO merged, but not through the men themselves: rather, their own students came to organize and unify the art.

Each technique in SAMBO was carefully dissected and evaluated. The techniques were scored based their practicality and effectiveness in combat. If the techniques could actually be used in unarmed combat against a resisting opponent with ill will, then and only then would it be refined. The ultimate goal: to stop an armed or unarmed adversary in the least time humanly possible.

Once these chosen techniques were perfected, they were then taught to police, crowd control personnel, border guards, secret police, dignitary protection personnel, psychiatric hospital staff, the military, and commandos.

In 1938 SAMBO was recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee. 

SAMBO is actually a fascinating martial art. It is not as ancient as some other martial arts styles from central Asia. It is a modern martial art for modern times. It has evolved over the last few decades to be incredibly effective. If you ever get a chance to train in this incredible martial you need to take advantage of that opportunity right away.