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organisBritish Sombo Federation 1986


British Sombo Federation

Founded 1986

 In 1986 Martin Clarke founded the British Sombo Federation. Why and How did this happen; 

Martin had competed in Sombo with the British Amateur Wrestling Association in the early 1970s in those days it was refereed to as either Cambo or Sombo, the word Sambo was considered racist by the powers that be. Using the C instead of the S was because in the Russian Alphabet the S sound was written as a C as for Sombo some maintained this was the correct spelling in reality the only spelling was Sambo. With the Sport moving to Olympic Games recognition, the FIAS directed all member countries to use just word which is Sambo.

THE BSF have been advised that the use of the name SAMBO could affect our recognition as governing body for the Sport. SAMBO is considered a highly racist and derogatory term in the English language, Government and National bodies could distance themselves from such an organisation that uses that form of terminology.
The British Sombo Federation was formed in 1986 and was content in using the name SOMBO.  We were asked to stop using SOMBO by the International Body FIAS as it was not the International known name for the Sport, which was SAMBO.
Most people in the UK a know Russian Sambo as Sombo

In 1977 Martin tried for the Judo Moscow Olympics you can read the full story by reading his book "Martin for Moscow" which is also on the net. With his unsuccessful bid Martian tried other Combat Sports and in 1984 he participated in the 1st World Jiu Jitsu Championships in Canada where he won Silver. On his return journey he picked up an old copy of the Daily Telegraph where he saw an article about the "World Games" which was to be held in London in 1985. The World Games is basically an organisation, which accepts all the non Olympic Sports one being Sambo. On his return he contacted the British Amateur Wrestling Association and asked to be considered for the British Team only to be told GB would not be entering a team. Couple of days later the Chairman of BAWA Bert Jacobs contacted Martin and asked him to organise a team and he was made Chairman of the BAWA Sombo Committee. Martin had entered several Sambo events in the 1970's when it was controlled by the BAWA it was the called Cambo in the UK he represented BAWA as part of the GB team at the World Championships in San Sebastian  in 1985 he was place 5th



Martin's first job was to find out about the rules as the last time he fought there were no ground holds and the scoring was a mixture of Sombo and Free Style Wrestling, for this he contacted Josh Henson USA who came over and gave a seminar. The rules had returned to Sombo Tradition scores for throws, leg locks and arm locks, all the freestyle rules have been removed with the only concession to the

 Free Style fraternity was the inclusion of ground holds. Some months later a trial was held at his club at Sittingbourne and a team selected, the British Team at the World Games won Gold, Silver, 4 bronzes, referees Alan Kontozi and Brenda Jones were awarded International Level 3 status. Martin had not only been successful as a World Silver medallist but also managed a very successful team.

In the October 1985 Martin along with Tony Bull and Trevor Roberts competed in the World Championship in San Sebastian Spain, Martin could only manage a 5th place but in later years would eventual win another two World Silver and a European Bronze in Sambo. As the team was part of the BAWA they were obliged to pay all expenses for this trip and this was the main reason why eventually the British Sombo Federation was formed. Martin was summoned to BAWA HQ and Chairman Bert Jacobs said the BAWA did not have the funds to support Sombo and would I be prepared to start a separate organisation with his blessing this he agreed to.



                         Josh Henson                                                                                                                                                                                       One of the first BSF Teams this was for the US Open 1987

In early 1986 an inaugural meeting was called to form the British Sombo Federation a constitution was agreed upon and a committee was formed which consisted of:

Chairman Martin Clarke Vice Chairman Alan Kontozi   Secretary/Treasurer Brenda Jones Committee Members Valerie Clarke Dave Boulding  



                                                                                          Martin Dave Brenda 1988                                       Alan 1986                                                       Valerie 1986

The BSF went on organise British and regional championships as well as taking teams to world and European championships and in 1990 the Sports Council recognised the BSF as the Governing for Sombo/Sambo in GB. Martin went on serve as Treasurer of the international Organisation FIAS , was awarded a Grand master of Sambo the only person in GB ever to receive the award ,in the last few years was presented with a Gold medal for Services to International Sambo and was also awarded a Star of Sambo this given to him while at the World Championships in St Petersburg 2008 this was awarded to the top 10 most influential people in World Sambo. 2013 World Championship martin was just one of 8 people to receive a special Gold Medal celebrating 75 years of sambo

 Brenda Jones sadly no longer with us became the first Women Exceptional Referee the highest position for a referee; she refereed all over the World. In 1989 BSF she was on the organising BSF Committee for  the European Sambo Champions and 1992 they organised the World Championships both held in Herne Bay.

 Times move on and the British Sombo Federation which is now a "Federation of Sambo/Sombo Organisations" is represented by the following organisation which have affiliated in 201  English Sombo Federation, British CombatSombo Association, Sombo Union of Great Britain , Federation of Russian Martial Arts (Sambo) Scottish Sombo Federation, Red Star Sambo, Northern Ireland Sombo Federation, United Kingdom Sambo Association and Russian all Round Fighting

In 2014 and 2015 the BSF were involved in organising the very prestigious "Presidents Cup" held in Dartford and Manchester


D.O.B. 20/1/50 

Father: John Martin Clarke 6th Dan 1927 - 1990 English
Mother: Margret Gertrude Clarke 4th Dan - German. 
Wife: Valerie Susan 2nd Dan. 
Children: Donna Louise 19/5/70, John Martin William 4th  Dan Judo 2nd Dan Jiu Jitsu, 4th Degree Sambo Wrestling 16/10/73, Susan Joanne 1st Dan 30/8/74. 

PRESENT GRADES: 8th Dan Judo, 6th Dan Jiu Jitsu, Grand Master CombatSombo and Sambo Wrestling. Black Standard Strength Sets. 

COACHING QUALIFICATIONS: Teachers Certificate in Handball & Weightlifting. Coaching Supervisor for the International Budo Federation, CombatSombo International, British Sambo Federation and Academy of Sport and Movement. Founder Member Academy of Coaching and Guild of Sports Internationalists.


POSITIONS HELD: Former Borough Councillor, President International Budo Federation GB, President British Sambo Federation and English Sambo Federation, Former Chairman Sittingbourne Sports Advisory Council, Former Treasurer Southern Region British English Olympic Wrestling Association, Former Council Member International Amateur Sambo Federation. International Budo Federation International Council Member. FIAS Gold Medal for Service to International Sambo 2008. FIAS Academy of International Sambo Masters 2008

COMPETITION RECORD: won in excess of 300 medals in Judo, Sambo Wrestling, Weightlifting (Olympic and Power), Jiu Jitsu and Amateur Wrestling. 

Represented Great Britain at Judo, Jiu Jitsu and Sambo Wrestling. 

Member Olympic Judo Squad 78/79/80. 

World Games Silver 1985, World Silver 1986 Sambo Wrestling. 

World Silver 1984 Jiu Jitsu. 

European Bronze in 1991 at 41 years, first international at 16 years. 

World Sambo Silver Veterans 1998

World Master's Judo Champion 2001 

ORGANISATIONAL RECORD: Since 1980 Martin has organised the IBF National Judo and karate Championships on an annual basis, before that he organised Area and County events for The British Judo Council and British Schools Judo Association, He has organised the British Amateur Wrestling Junior Championships, 5 Multi-Nation Judo Tournaments, 2 International Karate Meets, 1989 European Sambo Wrestling Championships, 1992 World Sambo Wrestling Championships. He has coached/managed Jiu Jitsu, Sombo Wrestlers and judo Players at International and World Events. Since 1989 he organised the International Summer School at St. Mary's Bay and Dibgate Folkestone this finished in 2012. In 20154 and 2015 he helped organise the prestigious “President's Cup held in Dartford and Manchester

Awarded Gold Medal for services to International Sambo by FIAS (World Governing Body for Sambo) only person in GB to receive this award. Member of the Academy of International Sambo Masters (only 8 people were invited to this Academy)


2013 8 Special Gold Medal was minted by FIAS to celebrate 75 years of Sambo I received one of these 8 medals the only person outside of the Eastern Block Countries

WORK EXPERIENCE: Left School 1965. Agricultural apprenticeship, Agricultural College 1968 - 1969. Various city & Guilds, County Exams and National Certificate in Agriculture. 

Coached Professionally since 1971. KEC Coach 1971 - 1980. 

Since 1980 Managed the East Street Sports Centre. Owns a small boarding house, in 1990 opened Clarkes Sports Studio, 1997 opened Clarkees Bar. Continues Coach professionally.

 More Information on the British Sambo Federation go to or




Q What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?

I have had many challenges regarding Sambo/Sombo. The first was the thrive to win medal as I had always been competitive and winning a World Sambo Silver in 1986 was to be my best achievement in the Sport. My next Job was to coach the sport, which I was very successful in training many International Player even a World Champion. Yet the hardest Job was in administrating and publicising Sambo/Sombo in GB. Which I am very pleased with what I have done in fact a leading Martial Arts Magazine said I Was Sambo in GB this was one of the best compliments I have had. I also managed to get UKSport to recognise the Sport of Sombo and had the British Sombo Federation recognised as the Governing body for the Sport in the UK. I have used the word Sombo as UKSport refuse to accept the word Sambo, we are the only country in the world now using the word Sombo. The BSF still does not receive any grant aid, sadly UKSport only gives grants to successful Olympic sports very short sighted in my opinion



Q Could you let me know a little more about the sport?


Sambo is an acronym of a number of Russian words and means self defence without a weapon. (SAMozaschita Bez Orujiya)


Sambo was devised in Russia the 1930's. Official recognition of new martial art came in 1938. At 1st it was called "free-style wrestling", then "free wrestling," and in 1946 was renamed "SAMBO." Sambo is a martial arts system that combines the techniques from a number of martial arts including Chinese and Japanese Chinese forms; national martial arts of USSR area natives (Georgians, Mongols, Russians etc.); French wrestling and other unarmed combat techniques. During world War II the system was widely "tested" by the Soviet army. "Special" techniques were added at the time, for example fighting in cells, quick-and-quiet sentry killing, and so on.

Sambo was and is currently being used for military, police, self-defence, and as a sport throughout the world. Sambo is now considered to be one of the 4 main forms of amateur wrestling along with Greco-Roman wrestling, Freestyle wrestling, and Judo.


SAMBO is similar to Judo, but with differences in rules, protocol, and uniform.

Self-defence SAMBO is very much like Aikijujutsu as it is designed to be entirely defensive against attacks by armed and unarmed criminals. It is also ideal for use by specific professions, such as taxi drivers, bank employees, bodyguards, various law enforcement agents, etc.  It is also very useful for rape prevention and children’s self-defence.

Sambo primarily was developed as a Self Defence, when invented under the Soviet Union it had no need to differential between Sport and Combat. With the collapse of the Soviet Union those practising Sambo decided there should be a need to differentiate between the two. Martin Clarke from the UK was the first to separate Self Defence from Sport he called his system CombatSombo which he registered in the UK , the International Governing Body for Sambo FIAS also recognised Martin's Style. CombatSombo differs from Combat Sambo it advocates control and restraint. The aim is not to turn people into Barbaric Animals with no consideration for others. Combat SAMBO, which came into being many years later is a very aggressive martial arts system designed to prepare an individual to be effective in any situation. The purpose of Combat SAMBO is to “survive.” Combat SAMBO includes techniques from both Sport and Self-defence SAMBO, but uses them in different ways. It includes techniques that are dangerous and prohibited in sports.

Combat SAMBO is constantly changing and evolving. With its ever-growing arsenal of techniques adopted from many martial arts and fighting forms. It has now developed into a Grapple Strike sport


Q What are the main aims and objectives of the Federation?

The British Sombo Federation is the recognised National Governing Body for the sport of Sombo (Russian terminology Sambo) in the United Kingdom. The primary activities of the Federation are to manage, promote, control, regulate and develop the sport of Sombo and associated disciplines

The sport is delivered through coaching and training sessions, gradings, competitions, seminars, meetings, forums and other channels. It is impossible to produce a single Health and Safety policy that can accommodate all of these different localised environments. Therefore, we need everyone to assist in the process.

As the control body we have set numerous minimum standards and guidelines that need to be adhered to when delivering the sport Sombo and its associated disciplines


Sombo is a dynamic sport with a fascinating spectrum of technical actions.

These techniques are practiced by thousands of Somboist all over the world, producing a wide range of personal styles.

The universal nature of Sombo allows every individual to adapt these fundamental techniques and skills to fit their personal needs, culture and match their physical abilities.

Sombo as an international sport is constantly evolving. However, its basic technical principles and fundamental must not be sacrificed in order to obtain short term competitive gains.

Ratio of Supervision** Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1 supervisor per 20 students in a club environment and up to 30 students in a school environment.

For the purpose of this document Sombo performed in a school environment is defined as Sombo delivered as part of the schools curriculum or in a school approved breakfast, lunchtime or after school club held on the schools premises.


** The above is the Sombo supervision rations however clubs/coaches also need to remember that there are minimum general supervision ratios, which must also be followed. The NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit website has the latest guidelines

Mat Standards – Mats must comply with EN12503-3: 2001. The it must be firm under foot and have adequate shock absorbing properties. We recommend 230 kg per cubic metre density for club and competition environments. Mat surfaces must not be torn or tattered and should have a strong base to ensure they do not slide during activities.

􀂃 Mat Spacing Standards – depending on the type of activity and intensity for practice or competition simulation there should be adequate spacing to ensure there is a safe area in which to participate. Recommended ratio of mat area per pupil 1:2m2


 The British Sombo Federation is a true Federation of Sombo/Sambo Associations of Great Britain. Its membership is restricted to Sombo/Sambo Associations and Societies who in turn administer their member clubs and Individual members. The BSF appoints  Sombo Masters, National Coaches, National referees and they select British Teams. Individual Associations/Societies administer their own awards such Instructor, Coach referee, grading system all of which have to be ratified by the BSF. Competitions are organised by individuals Association/Societies but have to comply with BSF Standard. All Association/Societies have to have a constitution that has been approved by the BSF




Q How would you say 2015 has gone so far?

We have had some very exceptional highs in 2015 a very Successful British Open, Teams taking part in Both European and World Championships but the highlight was the very successful 2nd Presidents Cup held Manchester. There was one massive low Russell Dodds Vice BSF President died in June. He was  one of the main stays of not only British Sambo but International Sambo he was in his late Forties.


Q What are your plans for 2016?

We want to produce more Coaches to increase participation in the Sport and we have arranged several seminars during the year as ell as organising more competitions but we are limited on the growth because of lack of funding


Q How important is youth development to the Federation?

Over the years we have relied on Judo clubs having a go at Sambo which has been reasonable successful as the rules are a more easier to follow. National Coach John Clarke has been making head way young people and at his Club in Sittingbourne he has several 15/16 year olds who have already competed in World junior Championship


Q Have you any advice for people interested in getting involved?

They will need to get in touch with BSF HQ for more information as we do not have clubs in every own and sometimes we recommend other grappling styles as a precursor to Sambo


Q What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges you may face in the next 5 years?

As always finance is the thing at present all players have to fund themselves to compete in International Events, as do Coaches. This year the International Body FIAS has introduced a  International Coaching certificate but this is costly and time consuming plus the same is for International Referee status.  He BSF will continue to rumble on in a very amateur fashion

Q What are you ambitions for the next 5 years?

1n 2020 Japan holds the Olympic Games and it is proposed that Sambo will be a demonstration Sport, once this becomes official you will see a massive increase in Sambo membership and participation. I have been with International Sambo since the formation of Federation International Amateur Sambo and when that started a World championship would consist of 12 countries now we have over 90 and a potential Olympic sport



British Sombo Federation a success story

Listed below are the British results of World Sambo Championships you can also seethe progress the British Sombo Federation has made since its formation in 1986

The list is for Worlds only and doesn't include Europeans and other International Tournaments

The BSF have been in attendance at every World Championships since 1986

The BSF have run over 20 British Opens and many National, County and Open Championships

In 1989 it Organised the FIAS European Championships and in 1992 the FIAS World Championships both at Herne Bay Kent

All of this has been done without any grant aid one wonders how many other Governing bodies can boast the the same success on a nothing budget



FILA Worlds

1966 Steve Pullen Bronze

1973 Richard Barraclough Bronze.

1974 Richard Barraclough Bronze

1974 John Lawinson Bronze

1974 Maurice Allen Gold



FIAS was Formed in 1985

1985 World Games London Martin Clarke Silver BWA

1985 World Games London Bill Ward Gold BWA

1985 World Games Fiona Boty Bronze BWA

1985 World Games Sarah Williams Bronze BWA

1985 World Championships San Sebastian Martin Clarke 5th

1986 World Senior Pau France Martin Clarke Silver

1986 World Senor Pau Nula Sayer Bronze

1986 World Senior Pau Lisa Poole Bronze

1989 World Senior Newark USA Craig Scott Bronze

1989 World Senior Newark Matthew Clempner Bronze

1989 World Cadet Newark John Clarke Silver

1989 World Senior Newark Fiona Boty Gold

1990 World Senior Moscow Alex Wadden Silver

1990 World Senior Moscow Fiona Boty Silver

1990 World Senior Moscow Minnie Brazil Bronze

1992 World Masters Herne Bay England Silver Trevor Roberts

1992 World Masters Herne Bay Dave Jenkins silver

1992 World Senior Herne Bay Rowena Sweatman ladies gold

1992 World Senior Herne Bay Tracey Farmer ladies gold

1992 World Masters Herne Bay Stephen Sweetlove Silver

1992 World Masters Herne Bay Mick Poole Gold

1992 World Cadet Herne Bay Robert Barraclough Gold

1993 World Senior Kstovo Russia Claire Lynch Bronze

1998 World Masters, Malta silver Martin Clarke, Dave Boulding bronze Colin Carrott, Paul Sawyer

1998 World Small Nations, Malta gold Paul Sawyer

2001 World Seniors, Krasnoyarsk, Russia bronze Emily Gittens, Marian Wood

2002 World Masters, Greece bronze Paul Sawyer

2005 World Masters, Prague silver Robin Hyslop bronze Vadim Kolganov, Roland Newson, Grant Waterman, Darrin Richardson

2005 World Combat Sambo, Prague bronze Chris Freeborn

2007 World Masters, Greece bronze Darrin Richardson, Colin Carrott

2008 World Masters, Minsk, Belarus bronze Leigh Till, Paul Sawyer

2009 World Masters, Kaunas, Lithuania silver Leigh Till, bronze Paul Sawyer

2010 World Masters Prague Darren Richardson Silver

2010 World Masters Prague Leigh Till Silver

2013 World Championships Minsk Matthew Clempner Bronze

1985 Brenda Jones and Alan Kontozi Awarded FIAS International C Referee BWA

1986 British Sombo Federation founded by Martin Clarke, Alan Kontozi, Tony Bull, Valerie Clarke, Brenda Jones, Dave Boulding

1990 Brenda Jones Awarded FIAS Exceptional Referee

1990 CombatSombo recognised by FIAS and President Fernando Compte as a Style of Sombo

1991 Martin Clarke made FIAS Grandmaster

1990 BSF recognised as governing for Sombo by all 5 UK Sports Councils

2008 Martin Clarke St Petersburg Russia FIAS Gold Medal services to Sambo and Medal of Honour

2008 Robin Hyslop FIAS Silver Medal services to Sambo

2008 John Clarke FIAS Bronze Medal services to Sambo

2008 Colin Carrott FIAS Bronze Medal services to Sambo

2008 Paul Sawyer FIAS Bronze Medal services to Sambo

2009 Robin Hyslop BSF Master of Sombo

2009 John Clarke BSF Master of Sombo

2009 Colin Carrott BSF Master of Sombo

2008 Paul Sawyer BSF Master of Sombo

2013 Valerie Clarke BSF Honorary President

2013 Josh Henson BSF Honorary President

2013 Robin Hyslop BSF honorary President

2013 Martin Clarke awarded 75 Year of Sambo Commemorative medal one of only 8 people in the World to receive this