At first glance, sambo and judo have a lot of similarities between them. Both focus on grappling and taking your opponent down to hinder him, and both have the same basis of elements, moves, etc.
But, what is the difference between sambo and judo?
Sambo was developed using judo as its basis. It combined judo with other combat skills, including wrestling, boxing, and even street fighting. While sport sambo looks a lot more like judo, combat sambo allows many more techniques in terms of attacking.
Developed for military purposes in Russia, sambo is considered to be one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense.
On the other hand, Judo has deep history and tradition and will get you into a completely different mindset.
If you want to start training one of these arts, you should know what each of them can offer to you.
What Are the Differences Between Sambo and Judo?
As mentioned in the introduction, judo was a parent martial art to sambo. A Russian judoka master developed sambo in the 20th century to help the troops be more effective at hand-to-hand combat.
He implemented all the useful judo techniques, stances, and takedowns and combined them with some striking methods, among other things.
Therefore, you can say that judo is a part of sambo.
In terms of them as combat sports, the similarities are even more evident between them. But, the most obvious difference is the philosophy.
Judo teaches you mental calmness and avoiding conflict, just like almost every ancient Japanese martial art.
If a dispute does occur, you should always try to end it as quickly and as smoothly as possible, without hurting your opponent. Because of that, there are no strikes, only takedowns, and when the fight gets to the ground, it stops.
On the other hand, sambo (combat sambo) allows you to try and win virtually by any means necessary.
There’s no strict moral or philosophical code you have to go by. You can use almost all the basic striking techniques, including kicks, elbows, etc.
Also, there’s a lot more grappling, and leg grabs are also allowed. You can use none of these techniques under judo rules. But, most of them are also forbidden in sport sambo.
Sport Sambo is much more similar to judo, even visually. No elbow or knee striking is allowed, and other striking techniques are restricted. It focuses more on takedowns, although there’s still a lot more grappling than in Judo.
Still, to determine which one would be better for you, first, you need to know why you want to start training in the first place.
Your motivations can be self-defense, physical condition, competition, fondness of the sport, etc. Depending on what motivates you, your ideal choice will change as well.
The Advantages of Sambo
Sambo, as we mentioned, is a lot more liberal in terms of the techniques used, the moral code, and behavior inside the gym.
You should always be respectful, of course, but you don’t have to change your entire life philosophy to be successful in sambo.
However, in judo, you’ll need to be more flexible to adhere to the strict rules and change your mindset.
As for the techniques used, you will learn how to strike, which almost instantly makes sambo the “more dangerous” martial art.
As you learn takedowns and other judo grappling techniques, you’ll also learn a lot of wrestling, including chokes, elbow shots, and other methods that judokas can’t even think about.
If you are planning on competing in sport sambo, you won’t be able to use many of those techniques, but you’ll still learn them in practice, and you will be prepared to use them if you ever needed to.
That is also one of the main advantages sambo has over judo. It can be utilized a lot more effectively for self-defense.
Judo only allows takedowns with no striking. It doesn’t even allow you to grab your opponent by the leg. Only sweeps and upper-body techniques are permitted.
But, when somebody attacks you on the street, punching, kicking, and wrestling against you, you’ll be inferior on the feet, and even if you manage to get them to the ground, you’ll still be inferior down there, as there is no ground combat in judo.
In sambo, you might not use all the techniques you learn in the gym in a sports competition, but you’ll be much better prepared to defend yourself against any kind of attack.
There is also a big misconception that sambo is what you get when you sacrifice technique for strength, and judo is the opposite.
In reality, you need a healthy amount of both if you want to compete at any level in these sports or be able to defend yourself on the streets.
The Advantages of Judo
You’ve seen the disadvantages of judo by now, mainly regarding your self-defense in street fights. However, judo isn’t designed to be used in street fights.
On the contrary, a judoka should avoid using the techniques they know against ordinary people.
The biggest advantage judo can give you is its philosophy. Many people think it starts and ends in the gym, but the things you learn and the moral code that judo emphasizes easily translate to your everyday life.
You will get in an incredible physical shape (same as with sambo), but your main strength will be your mental toughness.
You will remain calm in the most stressful situations and react quickly by implementing the most rational solution. You will be relieved of stress and learn how to have peace of mind, which can be crucial for your personal life or a career in any job.
As for the defensive part of judo, it’s wrong to say that it’s useless in a street fight. Knowing any martial art is always better than knowing none.
You’ll learn how to quickly incapacitate your opponent without taking any damage, giving you more options.
You can run away or continue the fight using techniques outside of judo, but a real judoka always aims to avoid conflict.
Now that you know the differences, it will be much easier to choose which one you like more.
Personally, I enjoy judo more because of the psychological aspect of the art, but if self-defense or striking is something you would prefer to have in your arsenal, opt for sambo.