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Learn Sambo And Wrestling To Improve Your BJJ

Learn Sambo And Wrestling To Improve Your BJJ


Learn Sambo And Wrestling To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu

If you have spent any time on the mat, you already know that jiu jitsu is incredibly hard to learn and takes many years to master. There are many opinions and many tips on how to become effective at learning jiu jitsu more quickly. For example, consistency is one of the most fundamental keys to success when learning any type of martial art. If you force yourself to show up for class two to three times a week, even when you are not up for it, you will learn much quicker than the guy who only shows up every once in a while.

But one often overlooked method for enhancing your jiu jitsu game is crossing training in other grappling arts. Two of the best to cross train are sambo and wrestling. Both of these martial arts have similar aspects to BJJ which make them incredibly powerful tools in your learning tool belt. For example, you will often see wrestling techniques incorporate into high level BJJ matches. Single leg and double leg take downs are a very effective way of getting an opponent to the ground. So is a Russian tie, which comes straight out of the world of Sambo.

With this in mind, let’s explore how cross training Sambo and wrestling can be effective methods for improving your Brazilian jiu jitsu game.



Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. It originated in the Soviet Union. The word “SAMBO” is actually an acronym, which literally translates to “self defense without weapons.” It is a relatively modern martial art, with its roots forming in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army in order to improve their hand to hand combat techniques. Its goal was intended to merge all of the most effective techniques of other martial arts. Because of this it has very effective methods to use in any grappling based sport. Take world renowned 3 time representative Sambist of USA in the Combat Sambo Worlds Vlad Koulikov. Vlad is a master of Sambo and has also won several NAGA and Grappler Tournaments. Vlad describes Sambo as “jacket wrestling with certain arm locks and leg locks.” Because of its grappling heavy techniques Vlad Koulikov says in regards to BJJ, “My Sambo background has enhanced my jiu jitsu performance. I have learned to implement and adapt my Sambo skills to the jiu jitsu rules. Just like in chemistry, you get a reaction if you mix two agents. It took some time to get rid of ‘bad’ habits from SAMBO such as turtling once in a danger of being pinned. Also, it took some time to be comfortable to be on my back. I would willingly play off my back in practice but would try my hardest not to end up facing the ceiling in competition.”

Check out this video of Vlad Koulikov teaching you the pinch headlock control for take downs in wrestling, judo, sambo, and of course, BJJ. Vlad shows a variety of takedowns for Sambo Jiu jitsu and details on the setup for the pinch headlock. Some of the takedowns he shows includes Pinch Headlock Osoto Gari Throw, Pinch Headlock Harai Goshi Throw, and Pinch Headlock Tai Otoshi Throw. Some of other takedowns Vlad Koulikov shows from the pinch headlock are from when your opponent resists the takedown in one direction, you can throw your opponent the other direction with the same pinch headlock grip.

We have seen many Sambo practitioners perform well at submission grappling tournaments. For instance, one of the all time greatest Sambo grapplers in the UFC is Khabib Nurmagamedov. Rustam Chsiev has placed several times in tournaments such as ADCC. Chsiev has also beaten BJJ black belt world champions utilizing Sambo.

Check out this video below where Rustam Chsiev shows a cool choke from the mother land


As one of the oldest grappling forms there are literally hundreds of its methods used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. The essence of BJJ has been around for many years in these age old arts. Wrestling can help you in many different ways. Take half guard for example. Whether you are on top or bottom, under hooks, over hooks, and just scrambling for position you will often find yourself in one of wrestling’s most common positions: the dog fight position.

Wrestling will also greatly improve your cardio in BJJ, which is an often under thought aspect of training in a grappling based sport. Drilling wrestling take downs for only 5 minutes will leave you completely out of breath. Why not drill the heck out of a single leg take down? Check out bad ass video of Hudson Taylor showing a twisting finish to single leg take down.

Inegrating Sambo with Jiu Jitsu is one of the best tips Vlad can offer you. Sambo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are a perfect compliment for each other. BJJ is known for it's guard, chokes and body positions, while Sambo is known for it's takedowns and foot locks. Vlad should put out a DVD on how to integrate both.... oh wait.


Sambo For BJJ By Vlad Koulikov


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