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Sambo (also called Sombo) is a modern martial art, combat sport and self defense system developed in the Soviet Union during the Communist era.

The word Sambo is an abbrevation of "SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya" meaning "self defense without weapons".

Although Sambo has its roots in traditional folk wrestling and other foreign martial arts like Judo (the founder of Sambo studied under the founder of Judo and acquired a 2nd degree black belt in this sport), this martial art is new: on November 16, 1938, the sport was recognized by USSR National Committee of Physical Culture.

There are three versions of Sambo:

In summary, one could say that Sambo is an art combining strikes and grappling, with a slight emphasis on the latter. Military sambo is more concerned with disabling an opponent quickly, not worrying about finesse or permanent harm, also, name notwithstanding, military sambo does include weapons practice and disarming techniques.

Dress: A Sambo practitioner normally wears a kurtka, a belt, and shoes.

Sambo was also an offensive and derogatory term for "black person" in post-Civil War America, largely due to the stereotype created by the children's book The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman in 1898. It was a cute story of an Indian (not African) boy outwitting a group of hungry tigers; eventually, they spun around and around a tree so fast that they turned into butter.

The story was later rewritten as The Story of Little Babaji to avoid the racial stereotyping. The once-popular "Sambo's" restaurant chain also suffered from its association with the story.

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