Thursday, 6 June 2013

F.I.A.S. History of Sambo from 1985

The past year have been a disruptive year for F.I.A.S. (Federation International Amateur Sambo)  a pinnacle point was last March when Senior Members of the F.I.A.S. Council were suspended,. Their suspension and the reason for their suspension has yet to be explained and as such legal proceedings are being taken by the suspended members. I cannot understand why we have reached this point, which only brings International Sambo into disrepute no matter who is right or wrong.

So I have decided to look to the past as sometimes History can help the future. In 1985 Fernando Compte brought together many countries interested in Sambo and on May 16th 1985 in Bilbao Spain F.I.A.S. was formed. 25 countries took part in this momentous event you will see these countries list below. What was important was the Cosmopolitan F.I.A.S. Council and its Council members compared that with todays FIAS Council which is dominated by Ex Eastern Block Countries. F.I.A.S. today is a much larger organisation with highly well organised events but one has to ask the question do the administration of F.I.A.S. have the passion for Sambo of  those original members or is it just another Sport Business.  It seems all the International Sports Organisation are moving down the path of their sports just becoming a vehicle to make money and gain power. They seem to have lost the passion for their Sport  being  involved just for the love of the sport?

You will notice that the British Representative was Burt Jacobs he was the President of the British Wrestling Association. Like many of the new members they originally were associated with their countries National Wrestling Associations. The following year Burt Jacobs and the BWA asked me to form a separate independent Sambo organisation for Great Britain. The reason they asked me was I was Chairman of the Sombo Wrestling Sub Committee of BWA and had organised the very successful British Team at the 1985 World Games. So in 1986 the British Sombo Federation was formed which is now one of he longest serving member of F.I.A.S. I was to become FIAS Treasures in 1989 serving on the FIAS Council and for a while I held the title of European President unlike today it was more of an Honorary position, the BSF went on support FIAS Championships winning many International medals, it also held the 1989 European Championships and 1992 World Championships in Herne Bay Kent and the BSF have held over 20 British Opens

So why the name change? In the English language the name Sambo is a derogatory name for Black people, it originated in the USA and was to do with the slave trade. Many suggested we changed because of the PC brigade this was  not completely true. In the early days of Sambo came under the umbrella of F.I.L.A.  (International Amateur Wrestling Association) so in GB the BWA were in charge and they decided rather then use the word Sambo they would use the word Cambo, in the Cyrillic alphabet the sound of an S is shown as a C. It was Josh Henson from the USA who came up with the idea of the use of the word Sombo for use by the English speaking countries and this was accepted by F.I.A.S. Strangely enough only the USA an GB use the word Sombo, Commonwealth countries use the word Sambo they seem to have forgotten the link to slavery, yet we have been advised that if we changed the name back we would lose our Sports Council (Governing body for Sport in UK) recognition. Although we receive no financial help for UKSport it is still prestigious to be recognised as your Government Recognised body plus many have been brought up with name.

Since those early days  Sambo has changed there has been many changes in the demography of F.I.A.S before the collapse of the Soviet Union many of the Eastern Block Countries were not separate members of FIAS including Russia. Many of the original countries have had several different organisations representing them, looking back to 1986 when the BSF was formed it seems the only Countries with the same original organisations are Great Britain, Japan, Morocco, Bulgaria, Mongolia. The World of Sambo has seen many changes at one time there were three organisation claiming to be the World body and in 1993 with the collapse of communism, the new independent countries tried to take over F.I.A.S. which led to a split with one representing the West and the other the East, this would last for nearly 10 years and was the superb negotiating skills of ex FIAS President David Rudman who united all the different factions and made F.I.A.S. once again a united World Wide Body. Ironically the new F.I.A.S. regime have suspended David from the Council for the rather strange conviction of bringing Sambo into disrepute as of yet no one has told me exactly what that means or what he has done.

So why have I wrote this article it seems there are some in F.I.A.S. who want to change the history of Sambo, there some who want break up organisations of long standing because they no longer conform. This cannot happen to the British Sombo Federation unlike some countries we are a constituted amateur organisation recognised by the British Government and more importantly we conform to all F.I.A.S. membership requirements. The question is how many other F.I.A.S. Countries can claim the same and will F.I.A.S keep the same membership requirement?

On a final point is Sambo originally a Russian Combat System or is it a product of the old USSR? if it is the latter all the old Soviet Republics can claim to be founders? 

Martin Clarke
F.I.A.S. Grand Master
F.I.A.S. Service Gold medal
FIAS Special award for service to International Sambo

For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Martial Arts for two year olds? I don't think so...

I have just had a telephone call from a mother of a 3 year old that is doing some form of Martial Art, which involves kicking and punching. She has complained that the instructor expects to much of the kids and she feels it is unsafe. She asked if her son could come to the Swale Martial Arts Club, I told her that we would not take children until they are 5 years of age and would encourage them to do Judo first.

She asked why 5 as this other clubs takes them at 2 years of age. Yet again I had to explain that children under 5 to not have the mental or emotional facilities’ to perform any Martial Art, never mind what the Instructors says. The idea that anyone should teach kids under 5 to punch and kick another human being is morally wrong and can endanger the physical and mental growth of a child.

A lot of people will say teaching child this young will instil discipline, control their aggression and can be used a self defence? Who are they defending themselves against other 2 year old and is the answer to that to teach them to kick them NO will they be able to defend against an adult NO as for discipline there are many other ways of instilling that in a child and most of that should come from the parent but if you want some form of physical activity for your child why not Street Dance, Gymnastics, Tumble tots these are far better for under 5’s then a violent Martial Art which involves Kicking and Punching either another person or equipment.

In later life Martial Arts can be of great benefit it will teach self-discipline and group discipline but first you will need to understand what discipline is, it will also be way of forging friendships and bonding with same thinking people. It will help you how to eat properly, keep your body in good condition and most importantly it will teach you to respect other people but first you need some idea of what life is a pre school child does not understand this.

I have always recommended Judo or Amateur Wrestling as the first port of call when moving into a Combat Discipline not because I dislike other Martial Arts but purely because it is safer and don’t involve striking and the philosophy of hurting someone. Most grappling Sports do not allow dangerous techniques such as submission techniques for the under 14 and as such it about trying to pin your opponent or throw them in a safe form in fact to intentionally to try and hurt your opponent could lead to a ban. Many top Martial Arts players and Cage Fighter started their career in grappling.

My advice to parents discourage them from behaving like Power Rangers and when they are 5 bring to us our Club has been in Sittingbourne since 1957 and has a proven track record

For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at

Friday, 1 March 2013


I am sorry to have to announce that the All England Championships to be held in Sittingbourne in March has been cancelled. I had just 30 entries for this Multi Style event even though I had spent £600 advertising in Martial Arts Magazines, post and Internet. My hope was to try and look for the rebirth of competitions in the South for juniors and seniors and return to the glory days by offering several styles of Jacket Grappling i.e. Judo, Kurash, Sombo, SportCombatSombo and Submission Wrestling.

It seems that those participating in Martial Arts/Combat Sports no longer have the courage to enter competitions and test their skills; I was very disappointed that many clubs and organisations I have supported in the past did not want to support this event and me especially.

So I will no longer run any competitions myself and leave that to others to organise and fund, a rather disappointing end to career of organising events. The first event I organised was in 1971 which was the Young Judo Club All England Judo Championships, since then I have organised countless International Budo Federation and British Sombo Federation British Championships, IBF Multi Nation tournaments in Karate and Judo, British Wrestling Association British Juniors, European and World Sombo Championships plus many area events and club events in Judo, Sombo, Kurash, SportCombatSombo, Karate, Shiai Jutsu, Free Style Wrestling and Belt Wrestling.

For those who would like to participate in a Sambo/Sombo event my son, John, will be organising a small event at the Swale Martial Arts Club on the date that was proposed Sunday March 10th. You will need to contact him directly as he will no doubt have a closing date for entries.  Tel No is 07825224940 e-mail

Can I wish him the best of luck he will need it

Martin Clarke


For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

British Sombo Federation 2012 Annual Report

The year ended with the sad death of Lyn Costa wife of Secretary Keith Costa, Lyn was often seen in her electric buggy and before her MS got really bad she would be one of our table officials our thoughts go out to Keith and the rest of the family.

The New Year started with an invite to a formation of a Commonwealth Sambo Association, this was the concept of Lord Reading and Andrew Moshanov. The idea in principle is a good one but its formation is totally wrong; I have reported on this on several occasions but just to say at the meeting not one representative from the Commonwealth was an official member of FIAS; 90% were Judoka, Andrew Moshanov is a Russian living in England and Lord Reading has never been seen at a Sombo event. So a very strange meeting especially as they formulated a committee etc.

On contacting FIAS they had no knowledge of this organisation or Andrew Moshanov. It seems Andrew, I believe, is an employee of the FIAS President and a very experienced Judo Coach who used to work for the BJA. As this organisation was formed the BSF decide to organise a Commonwealth Sombo Championships to be held in September in Scotland; this was a complete failure, so much so, we cancelled the event as the only entries we had were from the UK so it does put in doubt the viability of a Commonwealth Sombo organisation without funding from FIAS or Lord Reading.

A couple of good things that came out of this meeting were that I met with Alan Jones, the Welsh National Wrestling Coach and 7th Dan Judo, who will be joining his Welsh Wrestling Association in 2013 and I met up again with Terry Watt from Ulster; he made CSA Secretary but has since resigned. The CSA has had no meetings, competitions etc. since to my knowledge we have not been approached to affiliate. I hope some sort of Commonwealth body is formed but it must be done under the auspices of FIAS

I attended three major Internationals: the European Championships held in Moscow, a marvellous tournament; the World Masters in Casablanca, well organised but dominated by the Eastern European Block, we had just two fighters and finally, in November, the Worlds held in Minsk, again a marvellous event with some excellent matches. My only complaints were: the organisation of the registration, these are always pandemonium and I have written to FIAS and made some suggestions; and the events used to have a degree of socialising but this seems to be neglected.

FIAS and ESF, for the first time, paid for our accommodation, this was much appreciated and allowed us to bring two good teams to the event. The highlight of the these events was Matthew Clempner Junior winning a World Bronze in the O100k class, the first World Championship medal since 1990 a great finish to the year. Reports on all these can be seen on a web site and have been published in various Martial Arts Magazine and Web sites.

The BSF have been successful in running courses and competitions throughout the year but we had a couple of disappointments: the Commonwealth competition had to be cancelled and this date was taken over by Red Star Sambo, even this only attracted 30 people and a tournament organised by Bedford Grappling Academy was also cancelled due to a lack of entries, it seems the recession is taking its toll especially with the cost of fuel.

The last two British Opens were held in Scotland but it was felt that it was time to move back to England but not too Sittingbourne, where it had been for over a decade as this was too far for people to travel, so next year’s British Open will be in Bedford on 2nd Sunday in June, an easier venue for people including flights into Luton.

BSF HQ will no longer be supplying Sombo equipment; this has been handed out to Russell Dodds who has made major inroads in getting different supplies from around the World. I think one of the best things the BSF has done in recent years is to insist on correct kit at our events. The BSF looks forward to 2013 but we cannot exist without the support of our members so we do need the various associations affiliated to push for participation.

Martin Clarke
BSF President
FIAS GrandMaster

For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The origins of Judo

About 25 years ago I wrote an article about how Judo was started I have been asked to reproduce the article, sorry to say I have lost the original so I will start again.

My main concern was the age of  Jigaro Kano when he started this new concept of Judo. According to The Life of Jigoro Kano Kano never started any form of Martial Art till he was 18 years of age; at the age of 22 years he started his new School and style called Judo. Now this is where I have a problem. I have taught young people for over 40 years some of them extremely intelligent but for them to come up with a completely unique idea takes some believing. So am I calling the followers of Kano Judo liars? NO I just question was it a completely new concept?

Once again the above web site states that at the age of 14 years he started to pursue Western Studies. Geoff Gleeson in his pamphlet
“The Life, Times & Ideology of Jigaro Kano, Founder of Judo 1860-1938”
Asked, what is a code of behaviour?

Kano, in his capacity as a professional educationalist was much involved with these questions. He invented Judo in an attempt to answer them.

During the Meiji period which Kano was born into, the whole structure of Government and civil society was based around Western ideals and philosophy; according to Gleeson, Kano would have been very influenced by English Philosophers like John Stuart Mill and Samuel Smiles.

Could a young Kano who was into Morality and codes of behaviour not try to develop a practical system of instilling this into the Japanese people or maybe it was a university project, which directed him this way? Once again by going back to the web site you will see how Kano benefited by studying Martial Arts and other sports also his full time job was in physical education. So he already knew the benefits of sport and as Gleeson suggested he invented Judo because of this.

Up until now I do not have a problem with history or rather the legend of Jigaro Kano; what I do question is how he supposedly invented Judo?
The established belief is that he studied Jiu Jitsu and took all the really dangerous techniques out of the art to invent his Judo. This I cannot accept for we already have seen he was into English philosophy, which was diametrically opposed to that of the more traditional Japanese martial arts like Jiu Jitsu, which was seen more as a self defence or attacking war like system.

I would suggest he wanted to develop a new moral and ethical system on the lines of the philosophers and Western ideas he studied; he must have realised that to get this to be accepted by the Japanese people he had to produce a system which the Japanese could understand, hence a combat form as opposed to a Western form like baseball, football, rugby etc. which, though accepted in modern Japan, may not have been acceptable to a feudal Japanese population; plus did they understand the English idea of “Playing the Game” or “Taking Part being important”, I doubt it.

This is where I suggest that the basic idea of Judo could have come from CORNISH WRESTLING. Japan was in a state of flux during the period when Kano was born, the influence of the Europeans was predominant and there was massive trade with the European Countries. So could a young Jigaro Kano have been watching the foreign ships come into port?
Could he not have seen a British ship coming in from Plymouth and then watched the sailors fighting on the beach? Fighting, yet not fighting? Maybe he was watching two Cornish sailors having a bout of Cornish wrestling, two men with cloth jackets grappling, each trying to defeat the other, yet when the fight finished they shook hands, maybe put their arms around each other and laughed; two combatants who were not injured and remained friends.

Maybe he thought this is something I can work on for my new concepts I want to put to the Japanese people.

So what of Cornish wrestling? It is claimed they have evidence that it was played in the 4th Century, what is certain is that Cornish wrestlers were depicted on banners at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 AD. Watch this video  to get some idea what Cornish Wrestling is, some say it is the oldest form of wrestling in the World.

This type of wrestling is not unusual, throughout the world; there are many countries that have similar styles, for example, Mongolian Bokh,
Georgian Chidoba, Uzbekistani Kurash, Celtic Wrestling, Canaries Lucha plus many others. Nearly all only allow holding above the waist and no ground work when competing; notice the use of the word competing.

When Judo first started ground fighting was not used and legend has it that Kano took his Judo Players to a Jiu Jitsu School where they were all beaten by ground fighting; he then decided to include ground work (Ne Waza) in his Judo; a nice story. Yet it was more probable that it was a natural progression of the way Judo developed; Kano obviously an intelligent man could see that on many occasions when doing a throw they would fall to the floor so why stop the match? Plus remember he still had to convince people that this was a fighting art.

I really love Sambo, a Russian Jacket Sport, very similar to Judo. In fact its founder, Oshchepkov, studied Judo under Kano. The reason I love competition Sambo is that it allows many more techniques then Judo Competition; in fact I would suggest it is more like what Kano expected of his Judo.

Yet Judo is superior to all the other grappling martial arts in that it has kata. This is a predetermined set of movements which are performed by two people with the ultimate goal of gaining perfection of technique, harmonising with another person and respecting them, with the ultimate aim of becoming a form of moving meditation. Some will argue that it has no relationship to competitive Judo; that may be true but does that matter?  What makes Judo so different? It is not just a jacket grappling sport, it is the SUPPLE WAY developed by a great thinker: Jigaro Kano.

It is reported that Kano quoted the following: “Judo in reality is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact, it is a means for personal cultural attainment”

Not a bad way to live your life

Martin Clarke 8th Dan Judo 6th Dan Jiu
Jitsu FIAS Sambo Grand Master

For more information on Sambo visit: Contact Martin Clarke at

Saturday, 17 November 2012

FILA regulations for Grappling

Grappling is a non-striking hybrid sport formed from wrestling, jiu jitsu, sambo, and many other submission fighting styles which consists in applying submission holds and choking techniques in order to make the opponent abandon the fight. Grappling plays an important role in the practice of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and is considered an effective form of self-defence.

When including grappling into its field of activities, FILA had the vision to unite the grappling community under standard international rules and offer a generic discipline that would go beyond the specificities of each submission fighting discipline. Straight forward and easy to understand rules were thus created to facilitate the participation of athletes coming from different fighting backgrounds in international competitions.

The FILA grappling regulations are based on a progressive point system that encourages submissions over technical points. Points are awarded for takedowns and dominant control positions according to the following progression: side mount > full mount > back mount. Once having reached a position and secured it for 3 seconds, additional points can only be scored if a higher position is achieved. The progression is reset if the opponent manages to bring the fight back to neutral (be it standing or on the ground) or to score a dominant control position in his/her turn.

Since submission fighting is traditionally practiced with and without kimono (Gi), FILA have decided to implement both trends in order to cover the full spectrum of techniques associated to each particular style. If some athletes prefer one style over the other, most of them enjoy practicing and competing in both. Therefore, the FILA tournaments generally take place in Gi and No-Gi divisions to enable all submission fighters to compete to their highest ability no matter what their fighting background might be.

In order to unify the rules and participation in Grappling, Pankration and Combat Grappling competitions, FILA has adopted common weight categories for all three styles. The lighter categories have a smaller increase in weight due to the bigger effect weight differences have on lighter athletes' performances. An absolute category open to competitors of all weight classes has also been added to allow heavier athletes to compete and to demonstrate that grappling techniques can sometimes overcome weight and strength, creating an exciting and spectator-friendly addition to the sport.

·       Men: 60-65-70-75-80-90-110kg and Absolute 
·       Women: 50-55-60-65-75kg and Absolute

Licence and insurance: The FILA licence is mandatory for all international grappling competitions with more than two participating countries. Every international competition shall be announced to FILA and added to its official calendar. The FILA insurance will only apply to competitions which appear in its calendar. The FILA licence allows its holder to take part in all wrestling styles ruled by FILA.

For more information on Sambo visit: 
Contact Martin Clarke at

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Shia Jutsu

In the early 1980’s I became very interested in creating the Ultimate Martial Arts Competition system. My reasoning was that if I put together a lot of Martial Arts I would create something unique and the name I came up with for this was Shiai Jutsu meaning the Competitive Art.

Obviously I had to develop a system which would suit Strikers and Grapplers and at that time nobody was doing a system like this. My first attempt was to have Semi Contact Striking; every time a point was scored the match was stopped the point awarded and then the match continued. One point for a strike 3 points for a throw and an outright win for submission. This did not work as Semi Contact fighters would just flick a strike and get a score. So it was back to the drawing board.

Next was to have a grappling competition and then a striking competition and put the points together; this was a failure. The only way forward was to have continual fighting, awarding points as they fought; if there was an outright winner at the end from a submission or knockout points would total up like in a boxing match. Points were allocated for strikes and throws. This was a success and we held several small competitions at my club in Sittingbourne. We also organised the first British competition at the Pier Pavilion Herne Bay.

While I was starting this all up I came across Jiu Jitsu Master Trevor Roberts 8th Dan. He had approached me in 1983 about becoming part of the IBF team for the 1984 World Jiu Jitsu Championships in Canada. Trevor was the ideal candidate for this tournament and since then we have been good friends so he was the obvious candidate to help get this system going. Both of us agreed that we needed a grading syllabus and we based this on the belt system. Once we had done all this and demonstrated all the techniques we presened it to the IBF; in those days my father, John Nobby Clarke, was the President of IBF UK. After seeing Trevor’s performance not only in the demonstration but in competition as well he awarded him his 6th Dan in the style. His grade and style was later ratified by the International Body. I did not receive any grade but took the title of Founder.

Sadly it did not prove the Ultimate Style as I had hoped. What happened at the British competition was carnage: broken limbs and players losing control. Both Trevor and I decided that we would not run any more competitions until we had modified the rules. That did not happened because Trevor become much more involved with his Jiu Jitsu and my obsession with Sombo took over as I tried to put together a practical self defence system. This I achieved with COMBATSOMBO which I registered as a Trade Mark in 1988.

Yet both Trevor and myself regret not taking the system further; if we had we would be millionaires now because Shiai Jutsu was the forerunner of MMA, Cage Fighting and Combat Sambo. At around about the same time the Gracie family were developing their own style in Brazil; many have asked were we not aware of what they were doing and of course the answer is no. They were yet to be recognised by the World of Martial Arts but they have developed a style which is now seen throughout the world; they also proved that grapplers could take on anyone in Mixed Martial Arts matches.

So what of the future? Well, Trevor and I have got together and I am now President of IBF UK and I have given him the authority to regenerate Shiai Jutsu under the auspices of the IBF. So what? I hear you say, yet another Strike and Grapple System; well NO we want it to be more than just that, we want to become a true Martial Art which concentrates on the perfection of techniques. We believe that through Shia Jutsu you become proficient at Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu etc. Notice that I use the word proficient not expert. An expert is someone who spends his or her life in the perfection of one art. Yet many can complement each other, for example, I am a World Master’s Judo Champion and 8th Dan but I am also the only Sambo GrandMaster in GB who has won 3 World Silvers, as the two are both jacket wrestling disciplines. I have grades and experience in many martial arts and combat disciplines but I would be a very vain man if I claimed I was an expert in all them; in many I am proficient, in some just basic.

So SHIA JUTSU is to be reborn. If you want more information why not contact the Bolton Iron Man, Trevor Roberts, at:

For more information on Sambo visit:
Contact Martin Clarke at