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BJJ VS SAMBO
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BJJ VS SAMBO

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There is a significant resemblance between the art of Sambo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Both Martial Arts have a vast amount of grappling and both utilise Wrestling techniques and Judo throws. Sambo is similar to bjj or krav maga, as the Russian fighting system was developed for hand to hand combat. BJJ is purely a ground fighting art, as a practitioner will spend limited time on the feet.

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sambo vs bjj

BJJ is a highly complex Martial Art that incorporates a high volume of techniques ranging from basic through to advanced. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters have a wealth of technical knowledge and a unique skill in the art of strangulation. In BJJ a practitioner will utilise a string of transitional movements to secure dominant control positions. Sambo is a little different as it relies on its Judo and Wrestling prowess to dominate their opponents on the feet. Once the fight hits the ground a Sambo technician will utilise a series of transitions very similar to Wrestling and BJJ, before showcasing a dominant submission system. Sambo has an extensive leg lock submission game, which can be extremely effective in finishing their opponents.

What This Article Covers:

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THE ORIGIN OF SAMBO 

In 1918 the Russian head of government Vladimir Ulyanov or better known as Lenin created Vsevobuch which was a General Military Training. Under the leadership of the commissioner of Military Nikolai Podvoyskiy they set out to train the Red Army in these hand to hand combative techniques. The further development of this Military training was sent to Kliment Voroshilov who was a Soviet Military officer, so he created the NKVD physical training center and the Dynamo Sports Society. Viktor Spiridonov was a combat veteran of World War I and one of the first wrestling and self defense instructors hired for the Dynamo facility. He had a background in Catch wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, many Turkic folk wrestling styles, and Japanese Jujutsu. Viktor traveled to Mongolia and China to observe their nations' different fighting styles. 

In 1923, Vasili Oschepkov and Viktor Spiridonov collaborated with a team of experts on how to improve hand to hand combat for the Soviet government's Red Army. Viktor had a vision of integrating all of the best fighting styles into one combative system. Vasili had observed the famous Kano Jigoro's systems of Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, Kito Ryu and Fusen-ryū jujutsu amalgamate into judo. Ten long years of collaboration and trial and error led to a series of techniques that became instrumental in formulating the framework of what would eventually be called sambo.

In 1938 the USSR Committee of Sport accepted Sambo as the official combat sport of the Soviet Union, as this officially was the birth of Sambo. Viktor Spiridonov was the first person to call the combat sport Sambo. He eventually developed an easier style called Samoz that was extremely effective for smaller or weaker practitioners, it was also developed to be used by wounded soldiers and secret agents. Viktor's inspiration to develop Samoz came from his World War I bayonet injury, which effectively inhibited the use of his left arm and his ability to practice wrestling. Nowadays Russian Military, Law Enforcement and even Commandos are using Sambo and Samoz as their direct hand to hand combat systems.

THE ORIGIN OF BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also shares a history with Sambo, as they both have ties to Jigoro Kano's style of Judo and Jujitsu. History shows that in the early part of the 1900’s Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to Brazil with the intention of helping many Japanese settlers fight conflict situations. Mitsuyo was also seen teaching seminars to many local Brazilian Nationals. After Carlos Gracie watched a seminar he was extremely interested in learning the art, and after his father Gastao Gracie introduced him to the Japanese legend, Carlos became his student. 

Carlos would spend several years learning the philosophy of Kokudan Judo and Japanese Jujutsu. He would then pass on the knowledge to his younger brother Helio Gracie. As Helio learnt the principles of these Martial Arts he realised that he was not able to execute many of the Judo throws, so he began developing his own system of ground fighting techniques that could be used against larger opponents. This was the birth of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, as all of his sons began learning in the arts. The Gracie family became prominent in the streets and beaches of Brazil as they defended their legacy by answering every challenge that came their way. 

Helio would then attempt to spread his legacy throughout the United States of America. His son Rorion was in charge of marketing the business, as he was the only Gracie to speak fluent English at the time. Rorion would manage his brothers as they collected fame all over Japan and the US. By the early 1990's Rorion entered his younger brother Royce into a UFC contest, to see which Martial Art was superior. Even though Rixon was the clear choice because of his undefeated run of wins, Rorion still persisted with the inexperience of Royce Gracie. After the event Royce had put the Gracie name on the map and kick started an evolution of Martial Arts that reached every corner of the world.

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THE CORRELATION OF SAMBO AND BJJ 

The similarities between Sambo and BJJ are often highlighted, as both Arts are partly descendants of Jigoro Kano's Judo and Jujitsu. The correlation between arts is similar to the make-up of jiu jitsu vs mma, as Sambo has distinctive similarities to Mixed Martial Arts. BJJ is a ground fighting system that utilises a sequence of extremely complex movements with a goal of control and submission. BJJ will also use concepts from Judo and Wrestling to help compliment the ferocious nature of this grappling art. Sambo is extremely similar as it too uses Judo and Wrestling to take an opponent to the ground. Like BJJ, Sambo has a remarkable ground fighting system which is predominantly wrestling based complemented with some technical submission strength.

The main difference between Sambo and BJJ is the same difference between bjj and muay thai, which is that Sambo utilises striking as a part of their combat. In BJJ there is no striking at all, unless it is a Combat Jiu Jitsu match which utilises open palm strikes. BJJ is a high intensity grappling art that uses strength, speed, flexibility, dexterity, agility, patience and intelligence to acquire dominant control positions against an opponent. Sambo on the other hand uses more of a crushing wrestling style to control their opponents. In Sambo a practitioner will still use many attributes like in BJJ to secure submissions like chokes, arm locks and leg locks. 

WHAT ARE THE TRAINING REGIMES OF SAMBO AND BJJ 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a high intensity Martial Art that uses complex movements in order to submit their opponents. Learning the foundations of BJJ starts with mastering the warm up drills, as they all have a direct link to certain movements. BJJ is widely known for its increased mobility, dexterity and its flexibility components. Students will often compare their grappling vs bjj training, as No Gi grappling has its distinctive similarities. In BJJ a class will usually start with a series of warm up movements, followed by some drilling of certain positions. Instructors will then teach two to four techniques, where students will partner up and practise the technique. The class is often finished with live sparring rounds.

Even though Sambo is similar to BJJ, the training regime is different. A Sambo class will usually begin with warmups, as they adopt gymnastic movements including rolls, squatting jumps and other movements for developing the feeling and strength in the appropriate places for grappling. Sambo is more conceptual, so there is a lot of time spent learning the stance, gripping and footwork. Techniques are taught but it's the concepts behind it that are important. Learning to take outside grips, get angles on your opponent, and develop the sensitivity and reactions to expose them to a throw is a higher priority. Instructors will teach the mechanics of a technique and then students will learn to apply it in multiple angles. Sambo uses a philosophy of teaching the armbar, kneebar and straight ankle in three steps. Alignment - aligning yourself with the limb, Isolation - separating the limb from the rest of the body and using the source of strength and ability to resist, and Tension - stretching the limb and subsequently applying the submission. All these concepts give Sambo a real academic feel which is similar to other Martial Arts like Hapkido, aikido jiu jitsu and luta livre.

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WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE THERE BETWEEN SAMBO AND BJJ

There are some subtle differences between Sambo and Jiu Jitsu. BJJ relies heavily on its ability to grapple on the ground, where Sambo can utilise many standing techniques. Even though BJJ does use Judo and Wrestling takedowns, Sambo is much more reliant on utilising these age-old forms. BJJ also has its own identity in its grappling form, where Sambo is considerably aligned with the core principles of wrestling.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a points system in place during competitions. A practitioner can earn points for obtaining different control positions like 4 points for the mount, 2 points for knee on belly, 4 points for back control or back mount, 2 points for sweeps, 3 points for passing the guard and 2 points for takedowns. This accumulation of points will result in a win if no one is submitted within the time limit period. BJJ competitors are not allowed to strike, knee reap, slam, neck crank or do any twisting leg locks. 

Sambo has a very similar ruleset to Judo but it’s scored a little differently. You need to gain a 12 point lead to get the total victory. Throws are scored from 4 to 1 points depending on the position and the position of their opponent. If a Sambo fighter performs a total throw, which is; making their opponent fall on their back or roll rapidly while they remain standing, that’s a total victory. Pins are also scored in sambo, as that's when a practitioner holds an opponent down on their back so their shoulder blades are in contact with the mat for a certain period of time. Pins can be scored 4 or 2 points, depending on how long they hold their opponent down for. In Sambo, submissions are also allowed, and are usually by way of arm or leg locks to get the total victory. In the event that no one has scored a 12 point lead before the 5 minute match is over, the winner is the person with more points.

The belt ranking system in BJJ is awarded through a slow progression of acquired skills. An instructor will analyse every student by how they move, their technical knowledge and their character inside the academy. Four stripes are awarded on each belt before a student can move up the ranks. A beginner starts at the white belt before moving through the blue, purple, brown and black belt. There are also two coral belts and a red belt, but unless a student starts from a young age they will never achieve these rare belts. Sambo used to only have two belts, a blue or a red and a student would wear the same coloured belt as their Gi. In more recent times the sport of Sambo has added 7 coloured belts. The first belt ranking is called rookie which is the white belt. After this, the belts go from yellow, orange, green, and blue; these belts are titled as student ranks. The next belt is the brown belt, which is labeled the master candidate, and then the final belt color is black, which is also called the master belt. 

Gi's are worn in both Martial Arts, as in BJJ it is commonly called a Gi, where in Sambo it is called a Kurtka. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi is used as a weapon, as practitioners will use the lapels to wrap up or choke their opponents. BJJ also uses a No Gi uniform which consists of compression pants, shorts and a rashguard. In Sambo a practitioner will wear a Kurtka which is very similar to a Gi top, the only difference is they wear shorts instead of Gi pants. 

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WHO WINS OUT OF SAMBO AND BJJ

This battle is similar to the old Brazilian days of luta livre vs bjj, where the two arts would battle out on the beaches of Brazil. In terms of who would win out of BJJ vs Sambo, this is another tough call. Sambo is a really tough sport that uses Judo, Wrestling, Striking and Grappling to defeat an opponent. BJJ uses Judo, Wrestling and Grappling to win against their opponent. It is fair to say that BJJ has a wider variety of submissions compared to Sambo, but Sambo has a more comprehensive Judo and Wrestling game. Sambo can also utilise strikes making this art the more deadly in a street situation. Never underestimate a BJJ fighter though because if it is a street fight then they could utilise striking too. This could be a bit of a stalemate but it feels like Sambo may have a slight advantage, but on any given day each of the arts could easily win.

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