Coach: Sambo leg locks come from catch wrestling
In a recent interview with Iain Kidd for BE, Sambo coach Vadim Kolganov discussed the Russian approach to submissions and grappling, and contrasted it with Brazilian, Japanese, and Western disciplines.
Iain Kidd: When we see people come over from Judo, they sometimes struggle with the lack of a jacket. What is it about Sambo that makes the transition easier from jacket to no jacket?
Vadim Kolganov: I think it's probably that most Sambists cross-train. The adaptability of Sambo makes it easy to transfer from one thing to another because it's so flexible. Judo is great, I really do like it, but there are a lot of restrictions, especially nowadays. If you change the grip from the classic sleeve and lapel grip, they complain, ‘that's not Judo, that's wrestling,' but Judo was wrestling the last time I checked! It seems like Judo practitioners want to keep Judo pure, but along the way they lost the point a little bit.
So they do well on the Judo circuit, but when the rules change, they can find it difficult to adapt. Sambo is more flexible, especially with the grips. My favorite is two-on-one grip, but Judo guys hate that, because it's not 'normal'. They get panicky and don't know how to deal with it. In Sambo, there are lots of different grips and wrestling applications, so it's easy to transition.
Part of Sambo was catch-as-catch-can wrestling, which is where Sambo takes its leglocks from… Sambo improves it though. Because it's Russian, it's better [Laughs].
IK: In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling, there aren't any strikes. As a result we sometimes see black belts come into the cage and their technique suffers when they start taking punches to the face. That doesn't seem to happen with Sambists, is that something trained for in Sambo?
VK: There are some old Sambists who only like grappling, but Sambo, from the start, was an evolving sport. The good thing about Sambo is it has never lost that essence; it uses techniques that work, and doesn't use techniques that don't. It's natural selection again, if a technique doesn't work, we don't use it anymore.
With Judo practitioners now, their stand up throws are great, but the ground work is awful. My students went into training with some Judo guys and a guy with a black belt said to one of my students, ‘Hey, Sambo guy, watch out for our chokes!' My student, who is a novice, choked him out in about 20 seconds.
In BJJ, the ground work is awesome. There are so many transitions that sometimes I actually find it too complicated. I like simple things, because simple things work. You know that KISS principle? Keep It Simple Stupid? Yeah, I like that, because the more complex something is, the more space for error there is.
Sambo has got both. It has good stand up, and good ground work. To me, it's also more simple, and that's why it works. Well… not simple, but less complex. The correct term to use might be that Sambo is more direct.