Skip to content

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style

Two combat sambo finalists of the championships.

Table of Contents


Combat sambo is a combat-style Russian martial art. It combines elements of grappling, striking, and self-defence techniques we find in other similar martial arts. It is a highly effective and versatile fighting style due to its practicality and effectiveness in real-life situations. And has gained wide popularity in the martial arts world.

We will explore the importance of combat sambo in martial arts. Its rules and techniques, along with how it compares to other fighting styles such as MMA, judo, and BJJ. Regardless of your experience in martial arts. This article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding and its place in the martial arts world.

Defining What Sambo is

First developed in the early 1920s in the former Soviet Union. Sambo stands for “self-defence without weapons” in Russian. It was designed as a comprehensive and practical martial art for combat situations. Initially developed for the military, it quickly gained popularity among civilians. First becoming a popular sport in the Soviet Union, then later around the world.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
Clinching in combat sambo.

It’s a versatile martial art that combines elements of wrestling, judo, and various striking techniques. Emphasising practical self-defence techniques in real-life situations. While also includes ground fighting techniques, such as pins, submissions, and escapes. And is a well-rounded martial art suitable for a wide variety of scenarios.

While having its own unique features, Sambo shares some similarities with other martial arts, such as judo and wrestling. For example, placing a greater emphasis on strikes and kicks than judo, and it includes leg locks, which are not allowed in most forms of judo. Additionally, it allows for a wider range of techniques in ground fighting than wrestling, making it a more versatile martial art overall.

Today, it’s practised around the world with many countries having their own unique variations. However, the Russian version which is known as Russian combat sambo. Is still considered to be the most comprehensive and effective form. It is widely used by the Russian military and special forces. And many MMA fighters have trained in the Russian style to improve their fighting skills.

Combat Sambo Rules

Combat sambo is a full-contact combat sport that combines elements of sambo, wrestling, and striking techniques. As with any martial art or combat sport, specific rules must be followed by competitors.

Explanation of the rules

In combat sambo, competitors aim to defeat their opponents through a combination of throws, takedowns, submissions, and striking techniques. The ultimate goal is to render the opponent unable to continue the fight.

Differences between sport sambo and combat sambo

Sport sambo, which is also known as sambo wrestling. Is a more regulated version that emphasizes throws, grappling, and submissions. Combat sambo, on the other hand, allows striking techniques and is more similar to MMA.

How combat sambo is judged

In combat sambo, competitors are judged on their ability to control the fight and effectively execute techniques. Judges consider factors such as effective strikes, takedowns, and submission. As well as defence and overall dominance in the fight.

Importance of rules

The rules of combat sambo not only ensure the safety of competitors. But also promotes fair play and good sportsmanship. And adhering to these rules has helped it to maintain its sports integrity and its reputation as a legitimate martial art.

Combat Sambo Fighting Techniques

Sambo is a comprehensive martial art that includes a range of techniques for both standing and ground fighting. Some of the basic techniques include throws and takedowns, ground fighting techniques, and striking techniques.

In addition to these basics, there are also a number of techniques that are unique to Russian sambo. These techniques have been developed over many years of military training and have been influenced by other Russian martial arts. Examples of Russian techniques include leg locks, arm locks, and chokeholds.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
Two sambo fighters in competition.

One of its unique aspects is its combination of standing and ground fighting techniques. Unlike some other martial arts that focus primarily on one or the other, practitioners are trained to be effective in both areas. This makes it an excellent choice for self-defence, as it prepares practitioners for a variety of situations.

Another key aspect of sambo is its emphasis on flexibility and adaptability. Its practitioners are trained to be able to adjust their techniques on the fly. This makes it an effective martial art for both sport and self-defence.

When compared to other fighting styles like judo, it emphasizes throws and takedowns. And like BJJ, it includes a range of ground fighting techniques. However, it also has some unique aspects that set it apart from these other styles.

It’s a combination of standing and ground fighting techniques. With an emphasis on flexibility and adaptability makes it a formidable martial art.

Combat Sambo vs MMA Similarities and Differences

Combat Sambo and MMA share many similarities, including their focus on grappling and striking techniques. Both styles involve full-contact fighting, with the goal of knocking out or submitting an opponent. Its practitioners have had significant success in MMA, with fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov showcasing the effectiveness of the style.

There are however also key differences between the two styles. Combat Sambo allows for the use of a wider range of techniques, including strikes to the head, throws, and joint locks. In contrast, MMA has more limitations, such as banning certain strikes and only allowing a limited range of grappling techniques. It also allows for the use of weapons, such as knives and guns. Making it more versatile for real-life combat situations.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
A fighter being thrown in combat sambo.

Another key difference is the ruleset. Combat Sambo has fewer restrictions on certain techniques and allows for greater aggression, making it more brutal than MMA. However, MMA has a larger emphasis on sportsmanship and competition, with a more structured scoring system and penalties for fouls.

In terms of advantages and disadvantages, it has a wider range of techniques and emphasis on practical self-defence making it a strong choice for real-life situations. However, the brutality and less structured rules may not be suitable for everyone. On the other hand, MMA’s more regulated ruleset and focus on sportsmanship. This makes it a great choice for competitive fighters, but it also may not be as effective for real-world self-defence situations.

Overall, both Combat Sambo and MMA have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them will depend on the individual’s goals and preferences.

Why Does Sambo Work in MMA

Due to its effectiveness, combat sambo has become increasingly popular in the sport of MMA. Here are a few reasons why it is a valuable asset for MMA fighters:

One reason it is effective in MMA is due to its emphasis on throws and takedowns. Which can help a fighter control the pace and position of a fight. In addition, it places a strong emphasis on ground fighting and submissions, which is a critical component of MMA. By mastering these skills, a practitioner can effectively neutralize their opponent and gain the upper hand in a fight.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
PRIDE FC champion Fedor Emelianenko.

Several successful MMA fighters have utilized their techniques to great effect. Including the great Fedor Emelianenko, who is considered by many the greatest MMA fighter of all time. And who was a sambo champion in Russia before transitioning to MMA.

Another reason why it is effective in MMA is that it offers a unique set of techniques and strategies that can catch opponents off guard. MMA is a sport that rewards diversity in fighting styles, and adding sambo techniques to one’s arsenal can give a fighter a significant advantage in the cage. By mastering the throws, takedowns and submissions, that emphasize a fighter can become a well-rounded competitor who is difficult to defeat.

In conclusion, sambo’s focus on throws, takedowns, and ground fighting makes it a highly effective martial art for MMA. By incorporating its techniques into their training. Fighters can become more well-rounded and better equipped to handle a variety of opponents and situations.

Comparing Judo and BJJ

Sambo, Judo, and BJJ are all grappling martial arts with many similar techniques and principles. But there are some notable differences.

Sambo and Judo share some similarities, such as the emphasis on throws and submissions. Judo techniques are more focused on throws and pins, while Sambo techniques include throws, takedowns, and ground fighting techniques. It also allows leg locks, while Judo does not.

BJJ is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting, submissions, and joint locks. Similarly, Sambo has a strong emphasis on ground fighting and submissions, with a range of joint locks, chokes, and holds. However, BJJ has more emphasis on positional control and guard work, while Sambo focuses more on transitions and attacking from different positions.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
A judo player throws his opponent.

Choosing the right martial art depends very much on someone’s goals and personal preferences. For someone looking to compete in MMA, Sambo’s diverse range of techniques may be advantageous. For those interested in ground fighting and submissions, BJJ may be the best option. Judo may be more suitable for someone interested in throws and pins, particularly in a self-defence context.

In conclusion, while there are similarities between Sambo, Judo, and BJJ, each martial art has unique techniques and principles. It is important to consider individual goals and preferences when choosing the right martial art to pursue.

Learning Combat Sambo

Combat sambo is a unique and effective martial art that requires proper training and instruction to master. Finding a qualified instructor is crucial for anyone interested in learning.

Involving a wide range of techniques that can be dangerous if not executed properly. It is crucial to find a qualified instructor who has extensive experience in the martial art to ensure proper technique and safety. A good instructor should be able to guide students through the various techniques and strategies, while also emphasizing the importance of safety and injury prevention.

Combat Sambo: The Russian Fighting Style
A combat sambo demonstration.

There are various options for finding combat sambo classes. Some martial arts schools and gyms may offer classes, while others may specialize. It is important to do research and find a reputable and experienced instructor or school to ensure quality instruction and proper technique.

There are no specific requirements for learning combat sambo, although it is recommended that individuals have a basic understanding of martial arts and physical fitness. It involves a lot of grappling, throwing, and striking techniques, so a strong physical foundation is important. It is also important to have an open mind and willingness to learn and practice the various techniques involved. With dedication and proper training, individuals can become proficient in the art.

In Conclusion

In summary, combat sambo is a unique fighting style that combines several martial arts techniques, from judo and wrestling to boxing. With a rich history, originating in the former Soviet Union. But has gone on to gain popularity around the world, particularly in the MMA world.

It has its own set of rules, different from the sport, which emphasizes practical techniques for self-defence and combat situations. With Its range of techniques that have proven effective in MMA.

While it shares similarities with other martial arts like judo and BJJ. It still has its own distinct style and techniques, making it a valuable addition to any fighter’s skill set. Finding a qualified combat sambo instructor and training regularly is crucial for mastering.

Overall, martial arts provide not only physical benefits but also mental and emotional growth. Whether it’s sambo, judo, BJJ, or another style. The most important thing is to find the martial art that fits your objectives and personality. If it sounds like a sport which would suit you, why not give it a shot!