Sambo, an eclectic system of hand-to-hand fighting skills created by the Russian military in the early twentieth century for the sole purpose of destroying one’s enemies on the battlefield. It was the brainchild of two men, Viktor Spiridonov an accomplished freestyle wrestler, and Vasili Oschepov a judoka trained at the Kodokan by none other than Jigoro Kano himself.
Like all military organizations acronyms are a way of life, and why not have an acronym for your army’s H-2-H system. Sambo is short for “Samozashchita Bez Oruzhiya”, which translated means “to defend yourself without the use of weapons”.
Around 1920 in the wake of WW1 the Red Army, in an effort to advance their soldier’s bare handed fighting abilities and breathe new life into the capabilities of the modern soldier, tasked Viktor and Vasili with the development of effective training methods that would set the Russian soldier above his foreign counterpart.
Both men drew heavily from their grappling backgrounds and skills. Interestingly enough each man, though they were contemporaries, developed their own particular style independently.
Each man with his own strengths and weaknesses contributed different skills and tastes to the development of Sambo. Vasili’s style was a hard hybrid wrestling style which is best expressed through a strong and elastic body.