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Combatives:  Military Martial Arts

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


ROSS and SAMBO are often described in the same breath, as they share many similarities. Both are acronyms: ROSS standing for Rossijskaya Otechestvennaya Sistema Samozashchity (Russian Native System of Self-defense), and SAMBO standing for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya (Self-defense Without Weapons). Both, as you might have guessed from the acronyms, originated in Russia. And since we're talking about military martial arts here, both have roots in the Russian military, with ROSS taught to the Spetsnaz Special Operations units (similar to the US Green Berets or UK Special Air Service), and SAMBO used during World War II by soldiers on the Russian front.

SAMBO is the older of the two, originating in the 1930's as a collection of the different wrestling styles of the nations comprising the former USSR. It's said that the art evolved with the addition of street-savvy techniques known only by criminals--prisoners were released from prison to fight on the front lines, and passed along their combat knowledge to their fellow soldiers.

ROSS is a more recent development, developed by General Alexander Ivanovich Retuinskih of the Cossack Military. In 1991, ROSS was recognized by the Russian Olympic Committee as the representative Russian Martial Art.

How are ROSS and SAMBO connected? ROSS seems to incorporate SAMBO as part of its technique repertoire, and adds other techniques derived from traditional Russian fist fighting and modern biomechanics. SAMBO is mostly seen as the third style of international wrestling competition--this "sport sambo" looks much like judo but lacks chokes. It's "combat-flavor," though, is more like other military combative programs, emphasizing neutralizing the enemy rather than scoring points.

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