September 5, 2022

Sambo vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ): Which One’s Better?

The Russian Sambo and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are equally menacing as self-defense art forms, through their key attributes. 

Both the approaches blend in ground-control techniques, with the brutal take-downs and joint locks. Of course, The Russian Sambo was curated as a combat sport through the USSR All-Union Sports Committee for the secret police and military training. 

Its aggressive approach with powerful strikes, yet methodical take-downs deem it worthy of being a superiorly defensive Soviet mixed martial art.

Going back, the roots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Russian Sambo hail from soldiers and military training. At present, the world sees and trains on the much-refined versions that have taken the martial arts scene by storm. 

The Beginning

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came into being through Jigoro Kano’s discipline, Mitsuyo Maeda. While Kano himself had his expertise in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, he aimed at refining the aggressive combat art for its exclusivity to trainees of all sizes. 

Maeda carried the teachings to Brazil, where the art of Kano’s Judo went through further improvement into what the world knows to be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The uniqueness of a Russian martial art had drawn the attention of the public when Sambo gained its much-needed recognition through the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.

Jujitsu fighters fighting in the gym

The founding fathers, Vasili Oshchepov and Viktor Spiridonov blended in an array of fighting techniques to create the brutally defensive Sambo approach. 

Both of these men had strong martial arts backgrounds, utilizing extensive knowledge for the creation of a military-grade combat technique. 

Oshchepov and Spiridonov blended in their shared experiences for the exclusive weapon-less combat tactic. Oshchepov held his identity on being one of the first foreigners to gain expertise in Judo under Jigoro Kano, the founding father of Judo. He received his second-degree black belt and pursued training the elite-red army forces. 

Viktor Spiridonov, on the other hand, helped out Oshchepov by merging his training background in Greco Roman wrestling with his interest in Japanese-Jiu Jitsu. 

The founding fathers synchronized their origins to develop the unrelenting Russian combat sport, Sambo. 

Techniques & Training (Differences)

The Russian Sambo delivers devastating strikes as compared to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s powerful takedowns. 

While both imbibe the intricacies of dominating an opponent, there are stark distinctions in the approaches in terms of technicalities and training-methods. 

Survival of the Fittest

The concept of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu revolves around providing the weaker opponent enough physical ammunition to take down a burlier enemy. 

BJJ focuses on groundwork and prioritizes it over standing strikes. Here, the enemy’s vulnerability sustains the BJJ fighter to take over control without utilizing brutal offensive moves. 

As most fights end up on the ground, BJJ has leverage in pinning an opponent to the ground, obtaining physical advantage to render them immobilized. 

Russian Sambo, on the other hand, aims to overthrow an opponent while standing on the feet. Here, brutal force and timely strikes are of the essence. 

Sambo Grapple

A Sambo fighter trains through offensive move-sets that tailor to stun the enemy enough to lose balance and the power to fight back. 

Russian Sambo being a battlefield combat system works wonders for militants as well as someone stuck in a street fight. 

Restricted Moves

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specializes in grappling and grounding techniques, well-suited for ring-fights. 

Hence, the issue restrictions include various combat styles, starting from leg holds to strikes. There is no requirement for striking an enemy or kicking them. 

Moreover, groundwork is important as the movements limit to seizing an enemy’s mobility through wraps, mounting, and joint-locks. 

A victorious end is possible when the fighter can take the fight to the ground, where an enemy will have the disadvantage of limited attack-tactics as compared to a BJJ fighter. 

However, Russian Sambo does not rely on groundwork as much as it’s the ability to throw down an enemy with menacing moves. Ground control only comes into effect when necessary. 

Sambo depends on limb-locks, strikes, brutal finishes to win a match within a moment’s notice. Combat Sambo allows for headbutts, which is effective against distracted enemies. 

Which One is Better for a Street-Fight?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu approaches turn out competitive, to the point that the self-defense tactics take a back seat. 

During a street fight, a perfect blend of offensive and defensive moves stand superior over purely grappling maneuvers. 

Hence, Russian Sambo takes the higher ground during a street fight. Street fights are aggressive with multiple opponents and hidden armaments. 

Here, Sambo provides leverage in dominating the ground with unrelenting force. 

duel of the soldiers

Grounds for Fighting

BJJ is a competitive martial art sport, where the self-defense approach design is suitable against unarmed attackers. The timely grappling and takeovers fare well in ring-fights but find limitations in real-life situations. 

Due to restricted fighting approaches as well as a fighter’s limited experience, a street fight for a BJJ trainee can become challenging. If the opponent utilizes sharp knives or guns during a brawl, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tactics might fall short in defending the fighter from jabs or deadly attacks. 

Sambo, however, comprises attack forms specifically for real-life opponents. The militant self-defensive approach reinforces the aggressiveness of wrestling and Judo, to take down an enemy with ease. 

Being a grappling-based martial art, the Russian Sambo discipline ensures swift positional dominance over grounded enemies, guaranteeing their vulnerability. 

Enemy Count

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighting tactics can effectively take down one enemy through sequential grappling. There is no doubt in BJJ’s ability to dominate an enemy by utilizing their weaknesses. 

The problems arise if there are multiple enemies against one fighter. Being a methodical approach, a fighter can take on enemies one at a time, which is unsafe during a real brawl. 

The Russian Sambo approach, in a similar situation, can apply grips and body-slams to take on multiple enemies within a short period. The discipline does not limit offensive techniques to standing but also while the fighter is on the ground. 

Which one is more effective?

In terms of effectiveness, the Russian Sambo and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu disciplines share mutual connections to various techniques. 

While BJJ combines the martial art forms of its predecessors, Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Russian Sambo blends them all alongside wrestling and street-fighting tactics. 

Therefore, Russian Sambo retains a higher ground when it comes to effectiveness. 

Various other key-points can reinforce this logic:

The Essence of Old Tactics

While both martial art approaches carry the continuations of their ancestral forms, there are some stark distinctions. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu follows a mono-path of East Asian JapaneseJiu-Jitsu that gave rise to Judo. Although the form has at one point gone through vigorous molding, it is limited in the present times real world. 

Here, Russian Sambo provides in-depth training on real-life fighting tactics that have proportionate amounts of wrestling takedowns, Judo Strikes, and BJJ grapples. 

The blend adds in the traditional approaches with modern-era tactics, resulting in Sambo being a lethal force against any opponent around the world. 

Brawling Effectiveness

BJJ’s force can render an opponent senseless on the ground. Here, groundwork value is of priority and provides the fighter, an upper hand if closer to the floor. 

But during an actual brawl, the scene can reverse where the ground turns to be of disadvantage. Street brawls include gangs with weapons. If a fighter falls on the ground, there can be multiple attacks from different angles. 

But for a Russian Sambo expert, the tables turn due to complete access to leg-locks and strikes. The perfect blend of aggressive offense with impactful defense can take on multiple enemies. 

As a mixed martial art or MMA, Sambo means business on the streets due to its practical self-defense approach. While BJJ is a competitive discipline inside the rings, Russian Sambo can take on opponents in all situations. 

Which One is Better for Self-Defense?

Russian Sambo has greater potential as a practical self-defense approach. With its aggressive takedowns and strikes, alongside grapples and leg-locks for self-defense, it is a formidable discipline. 

The explosiveness of the Military-combat style Sambo can throw off an enemy, stunning them before facing their ultimate defeat. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a self-defense martial art is well-suited for smaller or weaker fighters who can take the fight to the ground. 

Through methodical movements, a BJJ fighter can attain positional dominance by keeping an eye out for the opponent’s weakness. However, it is well-suited for opponents in the ring, than that of the real-world. 

 woman victim of a thief aggression self defense

Tactical Design

The Russian Sambo creators had a specific group of combat-personnel in mind during formation, the militants. 

Militants need aggressiveness and brutality in their offensive moves when not handling a weapon. This is a practical application of self-defense that is of utility even for street-fights. 

Sambo training also provides a softer version “Samoz”, effective for wounded soldiers. Meaning, a grounded fighter at a bar can take on an opponent through this tactical approach. 

Here, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in itself is a martial art for weaker fighters, providing them an ability to take on larger opponents. I’s effectiveness against armed attackers, even in multiples, prove null and void in real fights. 

Steps to Victory

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu plays out as set sequential movements that lead to the opponent’s ultimate downfall. Its methodical approach is powerful, however, lacking in agility. 

While BJJ is undefeated in the rings if the fighter utilizes their learning, a real-life brawl can be of disadvantage. 

Here, the Russian Sambo will require a maximum of 5 minutes to throw an opponent off their balance, harmed and prone to further damage. 

The aggressiveness in Russian Sambo leaves no space for the enemy to fight back, helping the expert take control of the brawl through a brutal assault. 

As Sambo needs a shorter time to win, a fighter can take on more than one enemy during a brawl. 

Cost Comparison

A proper course of Russian Sambo will take approximately 3-4 years of intensive training and practice. 

Training will include combat training against weaponry, multiple enemies, and drastic situations for wounded fighters. 

Sambo Club memberships fees can range within $125 per year, totaling to $400 for the intermediary training. 

hand holding money

If you, however, wish to invest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, you will need to train for 4-5 years (similar to Sambo), to gain a proper understanding of the discipline. 

From being proficient in the language to blending sequential movements, mastering the BJJ discipline requires multiple years of hard work. 

Weekly training can take place 3 times per month with fees starting at $170. Therefore, the total cost of dojo mastery would take around $10.2k to the intermediary stage. 

Which one Should I Learn?

If you want to defend yourself by immobilizing the enemy but retain the aggressive moves without any restrictions, Russian Sambo is the most suitable choice. 

As MMA training adheres to brutal strikes, the incorporation of BJJ’s bone-crushing joint-locks and Judo’s powerful throws, make Russian Sambo the perfect blend of methodical and hostility. 

And with steady exposure, Sambo is slowly growing into a much-appreciated MMA discipline among global enthusiasts. 

More Comparisions

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

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