The ways of SAMBO: from Tokyo to Kazan

Competitions
1 August 2012 Sergei Grishin
Japan is a country of strong sports traditions. The Land of the Rising Sun has made great contribution to the development of martial arts that were born in Japan and grew popular all over the world. The oldest of them is sumo (now recognized as a national sport); younger ones are kendo (fencing using bamboo swards), judo and karate. “A land with such strong wrestling traditions must have strong SAMBO”, - decided the representatives of the International Sambo Federation and appealed for support to Mr. Yasuhiro YAMASHITO, an old friend of FIAS President Vasily Shestakov. Now, this Olympic Champion and three-time Judo World Champion is famous for his social activities based on the promotion of sports ideals in the world. The famous judoka understood the needs of SAMBO as judo related sport, and soon the first steps for its development in Japan were taken. At the World Championship in Lithuania (Vilnius) in November 2011, Japan SAMBO team consisted of only 5 athletes, and they did not get any medals, but they gained the precious experience of participation in an important SAMBO tournament. At FIAS Congress held at the same World Championship in Vilnius, Mr. Nobuyuki ASAI, Mr. YAMASHITO,’s Assistant in the organization named “The Solidarity of International Judo Education”, was admitted to membership in the Executive Committee of the Federation. The next step was taken on January 15, 2012 when Mr. Masaaki KONDO was elected as the new President of Japan SAMBO Federation in a democratic procedure. The new President has an ideal team: Fukuda TOMIAKI, Vice President of Japan Olympic Committee, President of Japan Wrestling Federation, and Nobuyuki Sato, two-time World Champion in judo, the winner of the first Open Europe Championship in SAMBO, the coach of the great Yasuhiro YAMASHITO. Those experienced sports professionals were elected as the advisors of the President of Japan SAMBO Federation Mr. KONDO. Students have always been the driving force of sports in Japan. Japanese universities were the first to get acquainted with the European sports, to study their rules and introduce the students’ competitions into the daily practice. Since the very beginning of the 20th century, competitions in various sports between the universities of Japan have become a tradition. It can be said without exaggeration that all the best athletes of the country have participated in those competitions, and that is where their extraordinary achievements are rooted. The great Japanese judoists famous for their victories at Olympic and world cup tatamis (Yasuhiro YAMASHITO, Masato UTISHIBA and Keiji SUZUKI) also were the winners of students’ Universiades in different years. The role of students’ sport in Japan is evidenced by the fact that most (about 90%) of all the sports facilities are owned by schools and universities. The attention to the students’ sports also determined the direction of development of Japan SAMBO Federation whose strategic goal is to train the Japanese team for Universiade 2013 in Kazan (Russia). To form the core of the national team and adapt the athletes to the specific SAMBO technique, N. SATO and N. ASAI organized the first SAMBO seminar that was held on May 5-6 in the National Training Center, Tokio. 140 judoka and wrestlers were studying the skills of the new martial art. The focus was on the techniques which makes SAMBO different from wrestling or judo (mainly the painful leg holds and some specific movements in the standing position). It was the first seminar, but they are planning serious and regular work with the participation of experienced FIAS specialists, as well as the strongest Japanese wrestlers who have already studied SAMBO. One thing is clear: the preparations in Japan for Universiade 2013 are under way. Considering the diligence and zeal of the Japanese who saturate themselves in the work and know how to enjoy it, we suppose that the sambists of the Land of the Rising Sun will surely get onto the Universiade podium in Kazan. Natalia Yukhareva press-service of FIAS