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European Judo Is Really Japanese Sambo.pdf




 “European Judo is really Japanese Sombo”

This is quite an in depth research on Sambo but I would like to correct a couple of things in the article, I base these on my own experience as I started Sambo in 1975 and have been active ever since


Sambo or Sombo? This has always been a controversial issue the official title of our Sport is SAMBO. The word SOMBO came from Josh Henson USA in approx 1985 and the reason for the change of name was there had been complaints about the use of SAMBO because in the English Language it had derogatory racial overtones, Josh rightly, decided to change the name in the USA and the rest of the English speaking countries soon followed suit in fact we in GB for a while called it CAMBO this is the Russian spelling their C is pronounced as an S we used the C sound. Josh did try and put some legitimacy behind the Sombo spelling by producing an article about it could be Sombo in the Cyrillic Alphabet but it did not have any real substances. I have yet to hear any one from Russia use the word Sombo in fact they get quite irate about the use of the name.

In 2000 the British Sombo Federation asked our Sports Council (This is the Government run body for Sport) if we could change our name to British Sambo Federation, they were not happy with the suggestion a compromised was reached where would use Sombo/Sambo in conjunction with each other. After the World Championships 2010  all Countries were informed that we must use the word SAMBO this was ordered by FIAS, one unified name was needed in our Olympic bid


Throughout the paper the word Sombo is used even to describe books from Russian authors and even describes Kharlampiev the father of modern Sombo, once again  I have yet to meet a Russian who would use the word Sombo in fact most of them found it insulting to change the name of their sport, so the continual use of the word SOMBO is incorrect.


A lot of emphasis is put on how Sambo started and its Russian founders and yes it became more well known when FILA introduced a Sambo Committee but the real turning point for it becoming a World Wide Sport was when Federation International Amateur Sambo (FIAS) was formed in 1984 and featured in the World Games in London 1985, the first President of FIAS was Fernando Compte I would suggest he is the true Father of World Wide Sambo he now holds the position of Honorary Life Time President and the second important person to help develop Sambo on a World Wide basis was Josh Henson USA who sadly is no longer involved but these two people must be recorded in any History of the sport. My own involvement with FIAS was from 1984 when Bert Jacobs who chaired the BAWA asked me to run Sambo on behalf of the BAWA, Bert was a signatory on the original FIAS Charter. I with the permission of the BAWA formed a separate Body called the British Sombo Federation in 1986 I have been either Chairman or President ever since and in 1986 at the World Championships in Pau I was  co-opted on to the FIAS Board when Josh Henson was President I held the position of FIAS Treasurer. My first two Sambo International Caps were with the British Amateur Wrestling Association World Games London 1985 Silver, World Championships San Sebastian 1985 5th place.


In the article they refer to the World Championships as the World Games this incorrect as the World Games is Multi Sports Tournament for all non Olympic Sports.


It is also mentioned that Sambo was a demonstration Sport at the Moscow Olympics this is not the case. When a Sport is given the title demonstration sport it means its is actual tournament this was not the case with Sambo, there was a demonstration of Sambo given but these are two different things but an easy mistake to make. FIAS Olympic bid is a very strong one which is being made now, FIAS is the biggest it has ever been with over 90 countries affiliated thanks to the Presidency of David Rudman


Quotes from the article:


Jigaro Kano derived judo (“the Gentle Way”) from jujitsu to be both a sport and system of physical and moral education that could preserve the Japanese martial tradition and be readily used for self-defence


The thing that stands Judo out from other Grappling Styles is Kano’s Philosophy of it being a Physical and Moral Education to produce better Human Beings. Yet I still have a problem with someone of only a few years Martial Arts Experience inventing this new JUDO? And just from Jiu Jitsu? I even suggested in an article I wrote some 25 years ago that maybe he saw Cornish Sailors arriving in Japan practising their Cornish Wrestling Men Fighting but not getting hurt. The best paper I ever read was from Geof Gleeson “Life and Times of Jigaro Kano” well worth a read


SAMBO, as its name implies, was a combat system that developed a sport version to condition the troops and allow them to practice combat techniques in a relatively safe environment


This an excellent summary of the Sport of Sambo

A major difference between judo in the East and West is the sprung floor that is common in all Japanese dojos…The effect of the sprung floor is to encourage movement and spring to allow the judoka to train with less fear of injury, and to move faster, and without inhibition…The typical western judo club mat is slower…and, because taking falls is harder, players tend to be more defensive and attempt to pin their opponents in place, rather than moving with them



I am sorry can not agree with this, the idea that you participate in Judo and worry how you fall is totally negative, the Japanese I fought had a much better flowing style and would like move withy some speed around the mat so they could build up memento for the big Throw, so the answer to that was slow them down clamp your opponent down. To compete with an opponent on his/her terms you are sure to lose.

It also suggested that the Word Combat Sombo was used in the early day of Sambo, this not the case Sambo was used for every aspect of the System. I Martin Clarke was the first to use the word CombatSombo to describe my system of Grappling Self Defence this was recognised by FIAS in 1990 (I have the letter signed by FIAS President Fernando Compte) It was registered as a British Trade mark in 1988 but was introduced in 1985 My CombatSombo is not the same as Combat Sambo it is a self defence grappling system based on the philosophy of Jigaro Kano


So is European Judo really Japanese Sambo? No. All Jacket Wrestling Sports will have similarities purely because they wear Jackets but what makes them different is the Rules and Philosophy.

Judo Philosophy is about producing better human beings and Shiai is a manifestation of that competing is as much about beating yourself as your opponent. The concept is to throw you opponent in a controlled way, to hold on the floor for a set period to gain a controlled submission. The rules are very restrictive in what you can do and cannot do and if it based on Jiu Jitsu as a self defences system and upright position would be preferred for much of the Gokyo.

Sambo Philosophy is to defeat you enemy no more no less, scoring is based round this throwing your opponent on his back and remain standing was what you are aiming. Simply and enemy thrown to his back with you standing on the battlefield would mean death to your enemy. All other throwing points 4, 2, 1 are incidentals for the benefit of the Sporting aspect, Arm and Leg locks are simulating breaking not submission and enemy with a broken arm or leg would need attention hence this would require some one else to help, taking away another enemy combatant. In Sambo Sport you are granted submission.  With regards to hold on the ground this was not brought in till the late 1970’s to appease FILA and the Freestyle Wrestlers no Soldier in the heat of battle would want roll around the ground with his enemy. Ground play, Wrestling, Grappling call what you like would be for sport only

My thoughts are my experiences of 55 years in Judo and 34 years in Sambo I have attended over 30 World Championships as either a competitor or Official, hopefully you will read the article which is very informative.

I am always asked what is your favourite and my answer is I like both but the Competition Rules of Sambo are far superior to Judo but the philosophy of Kano is much superior to Sambo and Sambo does not have Kata or the wiliness to understand it


Martin Clarke 8th Dan Judo FIAS Grand Master