Report by Carl Fisher FHFS, GSMA
FORMA UK President Matthew Clempner hosted a Sambo Seminar at Castle Hill Recreation Centre, Bolton, Lancashire on the 10th of December 2000. Guest instructor was Konstantine Tinovitski, Master of Sport in Judo and Sambo and Honorary Coach of Russia. Konstantine was assisted by one of his top students, Andrei Ivkine, himself a Master of Sport in Sambo and Moscow State Champion and Russian Champion in Sambo.
Konstantine Tinovitski in action on the mats.
The seminar began with a display of Sambo by the two Russians and included many of the classic pick up throws and leg lock attacks that make the Russians feared opponents in NHB matches today. Andrei then took the class through a thorough warm up from top to toe, before introducing break falls, Russian style to the class. Many of the attendees were of a ju jitsu persuasion and there were many bemused faces as they attempted the rolls. In ju jitsu, most practise the break fall as though one is bowling a cricket ball with Russian Martial Arts (RMA), the roll is performed as a turn or roll over the shoulder in a spiral movement, in accordance with RMA movement principles. Once the class were comfortable with this, they moved on to break falling over their partners backs from height, widely practised in an RMA class, as this instils confidence and teaches the person to relax when break falling. Back rolls into handstands followed, along with various floor gymnastic exercises. The warm up consisted of spiral and figure eight movements that are at the heart of RMA, and once completed, the class were instructed in throwing techniques.
The first throw was a classic pick up technique from the state of Georgia and when the partner had hold of the jacket. The right hand came over the arm and secured a grip of the belt on the opponents back. With the left hand picking up the opponents left leg, the thrower stepped out to the left and hoisted the partner into the air. At the same time, the throwers right knee came up to sweep their opponent to the floor. The next throw comprised of the same pick up, but instead of sweeping, one moved in and took them to the floor in a classic ouchi gari attack. Konstantine went on to demonstrate a counter to an opponent defending against the pick up throw. The opponent defends against the throw by placing their left hand on their opponents left knee. The attacker grabs this hand and steps out to the left in a large circular movement, before sitting down and throwing them with what appears to be a tomoenage or suma gaeshi style throw. The class were then shown different takedowns using this style of attack, comprising mainly of foot sweeps, all ending up with a submission technique on the ground. Konstantine went on to demonstrate the classic double leg pick up, and gave many tips to make the throw more effective. He then demonstrated a number of submissions from this attack, including the half Boston crab and a number of leg locks.
After a short break for fluids, Konstantine spent the latter half of the class demonstrating groundwork, with the emphasis on leg locks. An expert on leg locks, Konstantines assistant Andrei went round the class correcting people and giving tips and pointers to all on the mats. The class began with the classic leg under the armpit Achilles crush technique (heel hooks are illegal in Sambo) and once comfortable, the class were shown counters to this attack and soon the students were rolling about the mats intertwined with each other absorbed in their training. Submissions from hip and knee pain were demonstrated and the first technique began with the opponent on all fours. The attacker hooks a leg in places it over the calf muscle. Balancing on the right knee, the attacker grabs hold of both their opponents feet, before sitting back towards the floor. With the attackers own feet in a figure four position, their opponents foot is pulled downwards over their attackers shinbone for the submission. In certain circles, this is known as the scorpion toe hold.
The next technique started from the same position, but instead of grabbing the feet, the shins goes over the bend of the right knee and is secured by the left foot. The right arm goes under his left inner thigh, before grabbing your own right hand with your left hand. Lifting the knee upward, one then sits back forcing the opponent to roll to his right and onto his back. One then pulls his bent left knee with your folded arms to your chest as you arch and spread his legs. This is also known as the banana split. Konstantine continued to walk round the class, offering individual coaching tips to all on the mats, which was warmly received.
Matthew Clempner rounded the seminar with a brief introduction to self-defence, Russian style. From a double collar grab, the arm was grabbed in an ude gurama fashion, and with a few deft moves, the elbow is trapped against the body, leaving ones other arm free to strike or defend against the attackers free hand. A number of takedowns and restraints were shown and practised and the seminar finished off by defending against left and right punches, with deflections akin to sticking hand practise.
Matthew Clempner instructing on the seminar
As ever, the seminar was upon the group faster than they would have liked and both Konstantine and Andrei were given a warm round of applause before the usual photographs were taken. The Russian approach to training and coaching in my opinion is very laid back, with plenty of slow motion replays by both instructors. I found this a refreshing approach, and consequently I absorbed a lot more of the class than I thought I would. With little snippets of advice and subtle changes in my body position, my throws and submissions became easier to understand, with many light switches being activated in my head at the same time (I am sure the other participants felt the same way too). Warm, open and friendly in their approach to coaching, both instructors were very patient with the class and were at pains to help further our understanding of Sambo and to this end I would like to thank Matthew Clempner on behalf of all the students for giving us the opportunity to train with such high calibre coaches in the UK.
Carl (left) with Konstantine Tinovitski (centre) and Andrei Ivkine (right)
ADCC Europe, FORMA UK, SFUK corespondent