The bottom line on SAMBO

What's the bottom line on SAMBO? It possesses limited interest and diminishing numbers.

Fact: There has never been an "official" SAMBO doctrine. It has three main "authors" - each creating a different "style" altogether. Within, it has three different flavors: Sport, Combat, and Specialized. There are many reasons for this mostly spinning from the fact that there were/are layers upon layers of misinformation regarding SAMBO: deliberate disinformation intended to confuse even Russian practitioners as well as interested international parties. Anyone that is old enough to remember, understands W. Churchill's 1939 description of the Soviet Union as, "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

The USSR's State platform established "Readiness to Work and Defend" (the Motherland) as a primary goal for every Soviet citizen. Foreigners were meant to learn about SAMBO, but on Soviet terms and definition. One of the methods was to decentralize training standards, including hand to hand combatives. (ALL H2H Combat training was outlawed in the USSR INCLUDING SAMBO! Figure that one out.) Therefore, each academy, each division, each unit had a different approach, concentration, and flavor to SAMBO. It is impossible to establish what was standard - which is really a Western educational concept anyway.

Many people may act proactively defensive and commercially competitive because of past or present political tension.

FIAS, USSA, AASF, WSA, WFA, USCSA, USCSF, UFRS, etc... Who cares? I do not care if someone starts the Galaxy Federation of SAMBO. If they train people well, if they support the exploration of SAMBO, and if they are inclusive rather than exclusive, then they will ultimately contribute to SAMBO continuing to offer something positive. This is why I support Igor Yakimov's intent with the United Federation of Russian SAMBO, because it is DELIBERATELY an inclusive organization seeking to create a meeting ground for various federations, associations and affiliations.

Of course, you could always choose the path of Wing Chun versus Wing Tsun, or JKD Concepts versus Jun-Fan JKD, or whatever...

I could care less about who is official or not; and I have no interest in that kind of drama. Be too busy training and exploring and no drama competes for your attention.

Whether Vladimir Vasiliev, Michael Galperin, Mark Densberger, Gokor Chivichian, Josh Henson, Leonid Polyakov, Mikhail Tikhomirov, Bruce Jones, Brett Jacques, Oleg Taktarov, Alexander Retuinskih, Igor Yakimov, or any of the numerous (and growing) authorities in various aspects of Russian Martial Art, live and let live.

Do "the work" and everyone else do their work. There are enough actual Bad-Guys out there without everyone bickering about this or that.

There was an old Russian saying, "Don't fight over crumbs. Together take down a stag."

Coach Sonnon

Great post, Coach Sonnon!


Yikes! Sombo was three things from the very beginning, and now has, what, eight or nine different organizations (if not more) active? Makes all the USJx stuff seem mild by comparison.

Perhaps a major benefit of judo's presence in the Olympics is that it has kept judo relatively unified & uniform, across the globe. Without the Olympics/International competition, no telling how many USJx's we'd have. Not knocking sombo, just making an observation. There's something to be said for making sure that everybody is reading from the same sheet of music.

Scott nailed it on the head.

Instead of fighting with each other we should just be out there training and training others introduce them to the sport. Everyone has their own experiences with Sambo, whether they learnt it is Kstovo, or Kansas.

Everyone has to work to increase the sport as a whole, and not bicker over who is more authentic.

A lot of us do our won thing in our own style. Hopefully in the future we will all come together to train and compete.


Serious question,

How do you work to increase "the sport" when we are talking about mutiple different sports...

To me, this defeats the "lets work together" sentiment...How can you work together, yet seperately?

I truely feel that if there is to be a "coming together", you have to have common rules to do so, otherwise everyone will just split up into these different obscure sects and we will be left with what we have...

What are your guy's oppinions?


We already have the rules, FIAS in Russia has a long established rule system. This should be kept intact.

People can continue to train the way they want but when they compete it should be under one set of rules.

We need not to seperate the different groups as different sports but just the way they train is different. Of course there has to be some connection to actual Sambo techniques, but we need to not sweat the A's vs. O's in names so much.

Well the rules are not the same from sambo tourney to sambo tourney...

FIAS in Russia is no longer FIAS. The name changed to WSA - World Sambo Association.

People have argued over rules in Sambo for far longer and to far greater extent than over spelling of the name. Walt experienced this first hand. And Marc, just a friendly elbow in the ribs regarding your discussion with "Samatikan" but should the transliteration of Muy Tai/Muay Thai be any beef either? :)

I propose to all parties to not even worry about rule standardization. It's unrealistic AT THIS POINT IN TIME. Allow all of the various organizations to be inclusive, and to invite people from other organizations to their tournaments. Everyone competes with everyone. EVENTUALLY, through enough cross-pollination, people will through mass consensus start to gravitate towards tournaments which hold the most appeal. Those rules will become de facto standard. The numbers will then give the opportunity for Olympic consideration again. This is a long term 20 year viewpoint. But trying to agree short-term/immediate-term to a standard set of rules will only be met with hardship and political in-fighting.

This is just the opinion of someone who has served in all of the big player organizations. Take it for what it's worth.

Just practice, train and compete. Do your thing. Keep the door open to others. Be honest about your rules. Be fair. Be tough. Be consistent yourself first and don't expect others to be so.

It can happen. It just takes time and no emotional attachment to what you personally feel "ought" to happen.

Coach Sonnon


Unlike Sambo/Sombo Muay Thai is always spelt Muay Thai, unless Thialand changed it's name to Tailand. It's just a pet peeve to see people do this great art and have no idea how to spell the name.

As for Sambo...oh well that is another post for another time.

Marc, just giving you a hard time...

So everyone does not misunderstand my post/position, does anyone remember the "International Combat Sambo Federation" which started in NY in 1994? It evaporated in less than a year, and can anyone guess why it did not survive?

Coach Sonnon

IMO,There is enough guys in "sambo" (all the flavors) now to make it a legit,active and attractive sport, they are all just seperated by these different governing bodies...

I have no doubt the "take the high road" budo stuff comes back to ya, but I'd like to see a real sambo national championship,in my lifetime! (I understand there is a "real" one now but it is as dead as a college sausage party.)..Color me selfish...

I'd really like to see a well run, classy sambo/sombo
nationals. It does not matter if it is small or not at first because if it is together it will grow.

There are some solid dudes on this forum that are really into sambo.

Todd, read my last post here. This is what I alluded to in our last email. It's only a matter of time.