Judo + BJJ = Sambo Success?

If someone were to achieve a high degree of proficiency in both Judo and BJJ (with the gi), i.e. a black belt in each of these arts under a reputable instructor, as well as competing at a decent level in both of these sports (such as at a regional championship or tournament), how well would they do in a Sambo tournament that was at a decent level (such as at a regional championship level) once they learn the rules and roll around for a few weeks with a sambo practioner under sambo rules?

I am asking because I think that they would do quite well because, at least according to what i've learned on this forum, there is a negligible difference between Sambo and Judo throws and how they are performed (the only difference in Sambo being tha tyou must remain standing in order to perform a "perfect throw" and some differences due to the different uniforms worn) and because BJJ's groundwork should be enough to get them through the groundwork in Sambo so long as they are careful not to be caught in certain leglocks and avoid using strangles/chokes (since they are illegal.

What do you guys think?

This post is not meant to slight Sambo in the least, but because I am a fan of all sorts of grappling and would love to compete in all sorts of grappling (BJJ, Submission Grappling, Judo, Sambo, Folkstyle Wrestling, Freestyle, Greco-Roman, etc.), albeit not necessarily at a high level in all of these arts (because I'm being realistic), I would like to know where my training time would be best spent and so if by studying Judo and BJJ quite intensively (since I have a very strong background in Folkstyle wrestling already competing at a decent level) there will be significant overlap, by virtue of the combination of the two, with what I'd learn in Sambo (with the exception of leglocks and how to throw while remaining standing).

So please respond....the guys who have a background in two or three of these disciplines, i.e. Judo, BJJ, and Sambo, please contribute too.

Sure you would fare well. Just watch out for the leg/ankle locks and rolling type attacks. I am primarily a combat sambo guy who cross-trains occasionally with Judo and BJJ guys. Their weak point is often ankles and legs when we roll together. I actually think the Judo groundwork might give you slightly more advantage in Sport Sambo (rather than BJJ). In the end though, a good thrower/grappler in any style will simply need to train for particular rule sets. Having said that, there is a difference in movement style between the three arts which is tough to articulate. Judo and BJJ guys I have rolled with have noted it as well. Input on this would be welcome.

Well said Steve and mighty big of you to not go on the immediate defensive..

A good grappler is a good grappler. Now understand the rules you're working with to identify the strategy and techniques you will use.

I'm sure you'd do fine in Sambo with that kind of background, especially if your Judo training is up-to-date, and includes European-style gripping and attacks (many of which are apparently derived from Sambo).

Where you'll run into problems (if you do), will be in the realm of leglocks. Sambo guys seem to know a million leglocks from all kinds of odd positions, far beyond the basic achilles locks and kneebars you see in BJJ tournaments.

i have not done sambo :( and i always wanted to...i would think that it would help a great deal...to me, sambo athletes are so darn agile and powerful, you have nothing to lose, so if you can, enter in the tournament...

yes, the leg locks and rolling attacks would be difficult for me, but nonetheless fun to try...

Goldmedal: I disagree strongly.



Thank you for the input. I know you said that it is tough to articulate but could you or someone else try to explain just a little bit about hte difference between Sambo's movement style and that of Judo or BJJ?

And also, how developed is the guard game of sambo players when compared to BJJ'ers?

If you are good at Judo and BJJ, there isnt much out there you wouldnt do well in..


No problem. Let me give it a shot. This is just my experience...I would love to hear others.

The way I was trained was to focus on movement first and technique second. In other words, learn to move, roll, fall, jump, push pull, or whatever...continuously. Go with the flow, respond to your opponent viscerally. Lots of people talk about this but don't really do it in practicality. We always focused on maintaining fluid movement over memorizing techniques. Early days of training Combat Sambo for me was simply moving, rolling, etc with different folks. Breaking the desire to stop and think "what do I do next?" One finds that locks and throws will evolve naturally when just rolling around with someone..."Oh wow I have this arm in my grasp, what can I do with it?". I teach my students techniques based on what they discover naturally through movement. Of course I show this lock and that, but that comes later.

This, is quite opposite from many schools which start students with a large curriculum of techniques before they feel comfortable moving in their own body. Not that this is wrong, it just points out differences in approach and mindset. It seems to me that in real life, you will have a tough time pulling off any technique if you can't move smoothly and continuously without hesitation.

I have found that when I roll with guys, the most common feedback is not about ankle locks (there are some of those comments) but, more about the fluidity of movement and willingness to simply go with my opponents energy and take risks. When I do private lessons with people or just roll with non-sambo guys, they feel choppy to me...not flowing from one technique to next quickly as if it were one solitary move. My teacher always used to say "stillness is death". It's a bit dramatic, but makes the point.

The other big difference I find is that BJJ and other grapplers often leave much more wiggle room when they grapple - space between each other. We focusing on leaving "No Gaps" when we grapple or throw. Once you make contact with someone, keep it, smother them, scare them, stick to them like crazy glue. Any space given is a gift to your opponent...a chance to escape.

I hope that helps a bit. Any other thoughts?


Your joking right?! In the 2001 Europa Cup(Judo) my friend 3x World Sambo Champion Igor Kurinnoy of Russia defeated Frederic Demontfaucon the 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist from France. Dmitri Maximov a Sambo Champion from Russia defeated Tamerlan Tmerov and Alexandre Mikhaylin(both judo players) to win the Russian Olympic Judo trails.
Ukrainians Ruslan Mashurenko and Anatoly Larykov(Judo Players) competed in the Sambo Worlds. They did well but did not win.

"Once you make contact with someone, keep it, smother them, scare them, stick to them like crazy glue. Any space given is a gift to your opponent...a chance to escape.

I hope that helps a bit. Any other thoughts?"

I come from a pure Judo background, and that is exactly what I was taught to do in ne waza as a general principle.

Ben R.

I hear ya Ben. I think at a certain point, if one really progresses, grappling becomes grappling. There are only so many things that will work against a resisting opponent. The more advanced one gets, the simpler they should look. How one gets there is a chicken or egg thing. The real differences, I think, can be felt earlier on in training when folks are on the way up (not that one ever stops learning). I have rolled with high level Judo guys who felt absolutely "sambo" and high level BJJ guys who feel "sambo". In the end, it is the man and what art he feels comfortable with, not the art itself.

On another note,
I agree with Goldmedal ONLY in that Sport Sambo has in many countries been a "second string" event due to the larger popularity/support of Judo and that there has been cross training between Judo and Sambo. I disagree completely with his assessment that this reflects the quality of sambo fighters in general.

yea.. the guys who win on a world level in sambo are some of the best judo players in the world. to add just a few more names to the list that dynamo gave earlier..

Bilodid (UKR) took silver in the same world cup and he is a european and super-A gold medallist in judo.

Kashiwazaki (that coach at IBU) was also a world sambo champion. if there is any university in japan whose players are going to be very well suited to sambo is is his. he is a genius in newaza and i am absolutley sure that he takes a very real interest in the sambo training that the guys from his team do.

and.. please.. lets keep in mind that any team can be beat by any team on any given day.. thats why people actually have to show up and fight. a goodwill team tournament is not anywhere near the end-all, be-all of the sport... no matter who is on the mat.

"and.. please.. lets keep in mind that any team can be beat by any team on any given day"

Absolutely agreed


The "tightness" of Sambo groundwork that you described above as well as the flowing with the opponents energy and what not, is that foun din Sambo players more so than others due to the way Sambo is taught or because the rules of the game make the Samboists wrestle in that way, i.e. wrestling in that manner is most conducive under Sambo rules/scoring?


A bit of both I suspect. I think Sport Sambo rules and training methods evolved together over time...that's only natural. However, I was trained in Combat Sambo which included many things not used in Sport Sambo so, some of the training methods are definitely different.


You are right about apples and oranges of Sport Sambo/Judo/BJJ. That's why I think non-sambo guys would have to train specifically for Sport Sambo rules for a while if they were to compete in that venue. BJJ/Judo guys would have to lose their choking game. BJJ guys would have to lose to comfort of long ground time, guard game, position points, and adapt to throws among other things. Judo and BJJ guys would have to really guard their ankles. Judo guys would most likely appreciate to gripping freedom. But, these are not insurmountable barriers. Judo guys would make a MUCH easier transition than BJJ guys.