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