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BJJ vs Sambo – Whats the Better Grappling Martial Art?

BJJ vs. Sambo: There’s a lot of debate in the martial arts world about which grappling based martial arts is superior.  

Both are incredibly effective combat systems that can be used in self defense scenarios which have a variety of takedowns, throws, and submissions (including leg locks).

Sambo includes takedowns, pins, and submissions and places a strong foucs on takedowns. Whereas bjj has all of those same elements but places a larger emphasis on submissions.

The training focus for sambo is likely in the below form:

Takedowns > pinning > submissions

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Sambo is also great if you are looking to take part in frequent competitions. BJJ does offer competition opputunities as well, but since it is more popular and commercialized it is meant to be more accessible to all regardless of age, sex, athleticim, or prior grappling experience.

To help you make an informed decision about each fighting discipline, we’ve included a breakdown of BJJ vs. Sambo and highlighting the similarities and difference between each fighting style.

This post will give you a quick overview of BJJ vs. Sambo. (We will be focusing on sambo vs bjj – and not combat sambo)

Both styles are incredibly effective combat systems with strengths, weaknesses and key differences.

BJJ and Sambo have numerous parallels and distinctions. It is true that both martial systems emphasize grappling and submissions, but they approach ground combat differently and emphasize different skills.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you based on your own goals and preferences.

Table of Contents

    Sambo vs BJJ

    Sambo vs BJJ

    What are the goals in each fighting discipline:

    Further, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Sambo are two of the most popular martial arts disciplines, though there are more to select from. Both methods have a lot to offer in fitness and self-defense, but they differ significantly in several ways.

    Taking an opponent to the ground and submitting them with joint locks or choke holds are the main goals of the grappling-based martial art known as BJJ.

    Both BJJ and Sambo are very similiar that majority of differences come from the ruleset of each fighting style.

    How to win a bjj match:How to win a sambo match:
    by points (based on takedowns, sweeps, position)by landing a perfect throw where opponent lands on their back (“total victory”)
    by submissionby being pinned (even from inside you guard)
    by disqualificatoin of opponent (illegal moves)by disadvantage of being going out of bound while defending
    by disqualification of opponent (for not being active/going out of bounds/illegal moves)

    Conversely, the Russian fighting discipline of sambo focuses on takedowns and throws with some submissions.

    It should be noted that there is a difference between sambo and combat sambo:

    • sambo: grappling based (no strikes) and can win by points, submission, or “perfect throw”
    • combat sambo: includes strikes* can win by points, submission, or tko/ko

    Here is a clip of combat sambo in action with a yough Khabib Nurmagomedov. As you can see, combat sambo more closely resembles mixed martials arts since there is striking, grappling, and submissions.

    One of the only major differences is that in combat sambo competitors are required to wear a jacket (known as“sambovka”) which resmembles gi found in other martial arts such as jiu jitsu and judo.

    Brazilian jiu jitsu is a foundational martial art for MMA. However, combat sambo is the culmination of many martial arts and more closely resembles MMA.

    Although sambo emphasizes stand-up techniques and takedowns more than ground fighting, it does incorporate some ground fighting.

    With the rise of several sambo martial artists such as Fedor Emelianenko and Khabib Nurmagomedov in the world of mixed martials arts, many have been wondering how sambo compares against Brazilina Jiu jitsu – a martial art that has shown to be effective time and time again in MMA (along with Muay Thai and wrestling, of course).

    What is martial art best for you, then? BJJ might be a fantastic option if you want a challenging workout and you want to grapple. But Sambo might be better if you’re more interested in competition with a more refined focus on takedowns.

    A good sambo gym with legitimate instruction is hard to find. So if you do find one and are interested in competition go for it!

    Ultimately, the best way to choose is to try both styles and discover which one you prefer. What do you think?

    Sambo Martial Art Explained

    Sambo martial art explained – what is a sambo fighter?

    Sambo is a martial art form that uses a variety of different techniques but has very strong ties to judo and folk style of American wrestling.

    Just like jiu jitsu it does have a variety of submissions – however, one key thing to note that in sambo chokes or submissions via strangulation is not alloweed (chokes are allowed in bjj/judo).

    It should be noted that sambo has a larger focus on throws and pins and less on submissions.

    Where did sambo come from?

    In the early 20th century its is believed that sambo originally came in the form of Soviet Union government funded combatives for military and police.

    While it has a very strong, visible influence from judo and likely a variety of local Russion wrestling styles, the shape of the modern martial art was heavily influenced by being shaped as a military combatives system.

    There were three men particularly responsible for creating Sambo:

    1.Viktor Spiridonov – Wrestler and martial arts master had a rich background in Japanese jujutsu and grappling during World War I

    2.Vasili Oshchepkov – was working with the Red Army and helped develop a new hand-to-hand fighting system. Oshchepkov studied judo in his youth and trained at Jigoro Kano’s (the founder of judo) academy in Japan.

    Tensions between Japan and the Soviet Union were high and Joseph Stalin (then leader of the Soviety Union in 1937) wanted to cut as many ties with Japan as possible and suspected Oshchepkov of being a spie for Japan which eventually laned Oshchepkov and left an overall political disdain on the sport.

    3.Anatoly Kharlampiyev, a student Oshchepkov’s, used his political savvyness and  worked to rewrite rewriting sambo’s history by emphasizing the fighting style’s Russian roots in Spiridonov’s teachings.

    The USSR State Sport Committee declared sambo the Martial Art of the Motherland in 1938, making it the nation’s official combat sport.

    Many sambo fighters are on the hunt for the perfect throw followed by a submsion:

    a perfect throw can win a competition match immediately (much like judo) if the opponent lands on his back*

    Submissions/Techniques allowed in Sambo:Submission/Technqiues not allowed in Sambo:
    joint locks (ie arm bars)guard pulling
    Kneebars,any form of stragulation
    calf slicers/crushersyou cannot submit standing opponent
    heel hooks*
    ankle locks
    all leg grab takedowns are legal (single/double leg)
    *heel hooks and other twisting leg locks may or may not be allowed based on competition rules

    This gives you a general idea of this martial arts form’s focus. As the title denotes, Sambo emphasizes using your body and physical movement to defend yourself in combat rather than weaponry.

    Throws, joint locks, and chokeholds (although not allowed in sambo competition) are a few techniques used in sambo martial arts.

    All these moves are designed to render an opponent helpless and can be used by a weaker individual on a stronger, bigger opponent

    In addition, the tactics can also be used to escape from an attacker who has you in the hold and disable an opponent.

    Sambo martial art is an excellent option for those desiring to learn practical and efficacious self-defense and who have the drive for competition.

    This versatile fighting style can be employed against larger adversaries, as the techniques are explicitly tailored to a takedown and control, such individuals.

    With its focus on usable self-defense, Sambo martial arts is ideal for anyone who desires to gain skills in protecting themselves and learn a competitive martial art.

    Sambo Training

    If you were to walk into any legitimate sambo training room you will see a strong focus on takedowns, pinning and submissions.

    It is important to note that sambo is highly competition based. It is a sport much like wrestling or judo that emphasizes frequent competion.

    The martial technique of sambo training has its roots in Russia. Combining techniques from several martial arts styles, including Judo, Jujitsu, and wrestling, is a compelling type of self-defense.

    Sambo instruction teaches trainees a variety of takedowns, throws, and joint locks to submit an opponent successfully. Sambo training has many more advantages besides being a great technique to defend oneself.

    For instance, it can improve coordination, flexibility, and strength.

    Additionally, it can aid in fostering confidence and discipline. In the end, Sambo training is a great technique to encourage physical and mental wellness.

    So if you’re looking for a martial art that has a strong foundation in competition sambo may be for you.

    What’s BJJ?

    What’s bjj? – here are the basics:

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that places a strong emphasis on groud fighting.

    The goal for bjj is to:

    take your opponent down > get into a controlling postion (pin) > achieve a submission

    It was created in Brazil after Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Judo expert, introducted it to the Gracie family who then made it there own and had the largest influence on what we’ve come to know bjj as today.

    Royce Gracie then went on to prove its extreme effectiveness against all of the other martial arts in the early days for the UFC and mixed martial arts:

    It is commonly thought to be one of the most practical self-defense arts and has been rising in popularity because of its success rates in competitions and mixed martial arts events like the UFC.

    Its fighters use various methods to take down their opponents and submit them using chokeholds or joint locks.

    Bear in mind that BJJ is a beneficial martial art for anyone wishing to learn self-defense, but it can also be a a great way to exercise your body and mind.

    Brazilian jiu jitsu likely provideds the most effective and safest techniques in any self defense scenario.

    BJJ is ideal for any one on one altercation (no martial art can effectively deal with mutliple attackers).

    With this is mind the safest martial art for any self defense scenario is to avoid it entirely by either walking are running away.

    A physicla confrontation outside the gym has no rules on hidden weapons, no spectators joining in, as well as other environmental influences.

    BJJ is perfect for some situations but not others. Also, BJJ or catch wrestling should be part of the bouncer’s armory because the job is to get troublemakers out of the door without maiming them.

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the perfect martial art form for your needs if you are looking for a well-rounded self-defense training program that doesn’t include striking and has the goal of controlling and subdueing an attacker while avoiding damage to yourself and them.

    BJJ has boomed in popularity worldwide in recent years, and one of the main reasons people enjoy it so much is its accessibility regardless of age or skill level.

    In addition, working out through Bjj ​is an excellent way to stay fit!

    BJJ Training

    So what is bjj training like?

    Below is a general jiu jitsu class structure breakdown. Some of these may or may not be implemented in your chosen gym, but does give a general idea of what to expect in an average bjj class:

    • Lining up or bowing in(~2mins: when class first starts some gyms will make all students line up by belt rank and often will have you “bow in” to the class instructor
    • Warm up drills: these are jiu jitsu related movements that are performed in the beginning of class to help prepare students for the rest of class. These movements are also likely seen commonly when rolling or in live situations. Some common movements may be shrimping, forward rolls, backward rolls, and granby’s (side rolls)
    • Guided instruction (~30-45 mins): after warm ups generally the instructor will present a technique to the class. They will likely perform the technique in front of the class several times with a partner and answer any questions the class might have. After the technique is shown, you will then be paired off or put in small groups in order to practice the technique. During this time the coach or instructor will make their rounds throughout the class and answer any questions that may come up
    • Positional and/or live sparring(~15-20 mins): after the guided portion of the class, then comes the last phase which is usually live sparring of some sort. This is when you are paired off with a partner and attempt to successfully perform any grappling or jiu jitsu techniques on a resisting opponent. These are usually split up into several rounds lasting anywhere from 5-7 minutes each. After a round is over, you are generally paired up with another partner either by your coach or by your own choice. 

    What’s the Best Grappling Martial Art?

    What’s the best grappling martial art?

    In all honesty, it would be hard to pick among bjj, sambo, judo, and wrestling.

    It can be challenging to select the best martial art for you because there are so many different styles that emphasize grappling.

    Every martial art has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s crucial to do your study and select the one that best meets your requirements.

    • Judo can be a suitable choice if you’re looking for a martial art that has a focus on throws and takedowns.
    • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also a grappling martial that includes throws and takedowns as well as a strong focues on submissions.

    On top of that, BJJ is an incredibly effective martial art, as it has been shown many times in MMA competitions. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu should be your go-to choice if you’re trying to decide which martial art focuses on grappling techniques and would like to become acquainted with common grappling concepts.

    Best Grappling Martial Art – BJJ vs. Sambo

    BJJ is a practical martial art for self-defense that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. It provides a great workout, helping practitioners increase their strength, flexibility, and stamina.

    Sambo is a martial art that originated in Russia, similar to BJJ. It focuses on ground fighting and submission holds but also incorporates a strong technical knowledge of throws and takedowns into its repertoire.

    Sambo is said to be more physically demanding than BJJ, due to its heavy emphasis on competition.

    Which martial art is the best for grappling?

    Both BJJ and Sambo have strengths and weaknesses. If you want an effective self-defense system, bjj or sambo are both great choices. However, we strongly recommend throughly researching any gym you plan to join before signing up.

    What’s the Hardest Martial Art – BJJ vs. Sambo

    To answer the question, what are the most challenging martial arts? Let’s take a look.

    Both BJJ and Sambo are challenging martial arts that require dedicated learning.

    From what we can see, BJJ might be the more technical of the two since it focuses on grappling and ground fighting skills with a hugh technical focus on submissions.

    This also means it can be harder to pick up at first, but with time and practice, you will learn the necessary patience and precision.

    BJJ, while difficult to master initially, can be an incredibly effective martial art.

    Sambo is more often seen as the aggressive one of the two because it emphasizes taking down opponents quickly and efficiently using a plethora of throws. While it does include submissions, it limits them and does not allow chokes or submissions from the guard position like in bjj.

    It is tough to say which martial art is more complicated. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Sambo require discipline and expertise to master. Ultimately, it comes down to what you prefer and which style best meets your needs.

    BJJ vs. Sambo – Conclusion:

    BJJ and Sambo have numerous parallels and distinctions. While both martial systems emphasize grappling and submissions, they take different approaches to ground combat with different technical emphasis.

    Sambo practitioners frequently concentrate on throws and takedowns, whereas BJJ practitioners prioritize submission moves. Both forms are suitable for self-defense, but Sambo may have the advantage because of its emphasis on takedowns and throws.

    The critical point is that bjj teaches you a full martial art with even focus among takedowns, control, and submissions.

    This scenario is beneficial for self-defense since everyone can get tackled to the ground for several reasons.

    Sambo is excellent if you want to mix if you prefer competition and a strong focus on takedowns.

    The martial art you enjoy and are most at ease with is ultimately the ideal one for you. Examine both approaches to choose which you prefer.

    For more reading, take a look at the posts below:

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