One of the first major international Sambo tournaments took place in the wee hours of Friday morning in Belarus. It was a Class A event, which denotes a superior level of competitor and field expected to turn out for the event.
There were nine men’s weightclasses brackets contested by twelve national teams. The video contains the opening ceremonies and the action gets going around the 26 minute mark.
A quick summary of the rules of Sambo:
Only joint lock submissions are legal: all armlocks are allowed, and only straight footlocks, no heelhooks or toe holds. In addition to that neck and spin cranks are also illegal.
Scoring in Sambo is based around throws and pins, much like in Judo and Wrestling. Throws are scored based on how the throwee lands and how much control the thrower maintains of his opponent. Getting an opponent to land flat on their back is worth more than getting them to land on their side initially.
The maximum score for a throw is a total or instant victory score, but that can only be achieved if a fighter throws his opponent from a standing position and remains standing while maintaining good control of the opponent and getting the opponent to land flat on their back.
A throw where the opponent lands flat on his back and the thrower doesn’t meet the total victory criteria is worth 4 points, a throw where the opponent lands on their side is good for 2 points, and if the opponent lands on the stomach, but not their elbows and knees, the throw is worth 1 point. To score a throw, the thrower must be standing at the start of a throw, but if the victim is on their knees at the start of the throw, the point value is halved. A 4 point throw becomes a 2 point throw, and so on. A 1 point throw is not scored from the knees.
Pins are awarded when a fighter is held down flat on their back for 10 seconds, which is worth 2 points, and 20 seconds, which is worth 4 points, regardless of position. Pin points are only awarded once per fighter each match, so once a fighter gets his pin points, he needs to be pursuing submissions to avoid a stand up.
If a competitor is able to open up a gap of 12 points or more in the score he is awarded a total victory similar to the Tech Fall in Wrestling competitions.
Ground fighting in Sambo is a prevalent part of the competition, but there are strict rules in place to keep the action flowing on the ground. For instance, the closing of one’s guard is considered stalling, so all the guard work in Sambo is mandated to be open guard. If a fighter begins to attack a submission, the referee will hold a fist over the competitors, signalling that the fighter has one minute to either finish the submission or switch to a different submission.
The result of this rule set is a highly entertaining brand of grappling, even for those that don’t practice Sambo or grappling in general. Bloody Elbow will continue to post streams of large international Sambo events, both Sport and Combat Sambo, included a Class A world cup event taking place on U.S. soil, in Philadelphia in April.
For some technical looks at Sambo ground work and talking Sambo, here is the Budovideos Rolled Up with Stephen Koepfer.
To find a Sambo school near you check out the American Sambo Association
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