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Spotlight on Sambo

Sambo is a martial art and combat sport that originates from the Russian Federative Socialist Republic, an independent state from 1917 to 1922. As a sport, Sambo is relatively new and was first developed in the 1920s by the Soviet NKVD and Red Army. The purpose was to improve hand-to-hand combat of all the servicemen. The word is an acronym from the romanization of a Russian phrase the literally means ‘self-defense without weapons’.   

Although there are several competitive sport variations of sambo that also form part of many other combat sports, the two main formats recognized for competitions are Sport sambo (or Sambo wrestling) and Combat sambo. Sport sambo takes its style a lot from the influence of judo. It is also very similar to the old-time catch wrestling. Various types of leg locks are allowed, but not chokeholds. The focus is also on throwing and groundwork that ultimately leads to submissions. There are very few restrictions on gripping and holds. Combat sambo displays strong similarities with mixed martial arts. This includes the forms of striking and grappling. Developed for the military, in terms of spontaneity and dynamism, it surpasses ARB (another Soviet military martial art) by design. Competitors wear jackets as in sport sambo, including hand protection, shin protection and headgear.   

The Fédération Internationale de Sambo (FIAS) is the officially recognized international governing body for the sport. There are currently over 90 national federation members with over 120 nations that practice the sport. FIAS is a full member of the international organizations such as ‘SportAccord’ and The Assocation For International Sport for All (TAFISA). Sambo is also recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia and the European Olympic Committee. The headquarters are currently based Lausanne, Switzerland, with the President’s office in Moscow, Russia. 

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