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Sambo

From Russian tribes’ heritage of combat sports evolved a martial art called systema. Systema was created by the Cossacks in A.D. 948 and is thought to originate from Hun and Mongolian invasions and is thus likely influenced by Chinese martial arts. Systema formed the foundation for the art of sambo, which arose after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

Because of the Russian soldiers humiliating close-quarters defeat at the hands of superiorly trained Japanese soldiers, the new Soviet Red army developed intense hand-to-hand combat training methods for its military. These methods resulted in the effective art of sambo. An acronym for samooborona bez oruzhiya (self-defense without weapons), the art has its roots in judo, karate and folk styles of wrestling such as Armenian kokh, Georgian chidaoba, Romanian trit, Tatar kora, Uzbek kurash, Mongolian khapsagay and Azerbaijani gulesh.

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  1. Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 3)

    Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 3)

    In the conclusion of this story, the author discusses the rules of sambo competition, as well as the unique uniform practitioners wear and how it facilitates the use of certain techniques in matches.
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  2. Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 2)

    Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 2)

    In Part 2 of this article, judo legend Hayward Nishioka describes his early impressions of sambo, and the author — Black Belt’s Japan correspondent — compares the techniques of the Russian art with those of the Japanese art.
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  3. Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 1)

    Classic Black Belt Article From 1967: Russia Prepares to Export Sambo (Part 1)

    Written by Black Belt’s Japan correspondent, this article was one of the first to introduce the Russian grappling art to Americans. Learn about its origins—and find out what happened when a team of Russian sambo stylists battled a bunch of Japanese judoka!
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  4. Learn 3 Grappling Techniques From UFC Star Chael Sonnen

    Learn 3 Grappling Techniques From UFC Star Chael Sonnen

    Chael Sonnen isn’t your typical politician. For one, he actually answered our questions. But more important, the All-American wrestler from Oregon taught us some of the best tricks from his playbook.

    Despite his reputation as one of the UFC’s loudest stars, he doesn’t have a bad word to say about
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  5. Gokor Chivichyan: Fighting Tall Opponents

    Gokor Chivichyan: Fighting Tall Opponents

    If you don’t know Gokor, you’re not really into grappling. Disagree all you want, but you can’t dispute the fact that Gokor Chivichyan is the go-to guy for submissions, especially leg locks. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1997 as Judo Instructor of the Year,
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  6. Gokor Chivichyan: The King of Sport-Sambo Submissions

    Gokor Chivichyan: The King of Sport-Sambo Submissions

    If you don’t know Gokor Chivichyan, you’re not really into grappling.

    Disagree all you want, but you can’t dispute the fact that Gokor Chivichyan is the go-to guy for submissions techniques, especially leg locks. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1997 as Judo Instructor of the
    Read More »

  7. Fedor Emelianenko’s Rise to MMA Greatness

    Fedor Emelianenko’s Rise to MMA Greatness

    Born into a working-class family in Rubeshnoe Lugansk, Russia, in 1976, MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko established himself as a man of intelligence when he graduated with honors from college in 1994. But alongside his penchant for academic achievement lived a spirit of competition. After serving two years in the Russian
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  8. 9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    People tell me I tend to sound like an old-timer. I tell them to shut up and get off my lawn! Then I explain that a lot can be learned from comparing the way we did things in the past with the way people do them now. Case in point:
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  9. Up Close With Fedor Emelianenko, an MMA Legend

    Up Close With Fedor Emelianenko, an MMA Legend

    When Fedor Emelianenko—the baddest man on the planet—walks through the door, the first thing you notice about him is … he’s not all that big.

    The statistics list Fedor Emelianenko as 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, but even that seems a stretch. When he enters a Manhattan gym with an
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