Written by Black Belt's Japan correspondent, this article was one of the first to introduce the Russian grappling art to Americans. Learn about its origins—and find out what happened when a team of Russian sambo stylists battled a bunch of Japanese judoka!
In Russia, the name of the game is wrestling. It ranks as the national sport. Soccer, as in the rest of Europe, is also a favorite with the locals, but it’s confined to the big cities. For sheer numbers of participants, no physical pursuit in Russia comes close to wrestling. From European Russia on the west through Oriental Russia on the south, then eastward across thousands of Siberian miles, in small villages and big towns, wrestling is the true king of sports. With this emphasis on the grappling art, it’s easy to understand why the Soviet Union is the greatest wrestling country in the world. Some nations specialize in certain forms of wrestling in which they excel, like Japan with judo, but no one country has mastered all the various major styles of wrestling and produced champions in them as the Russians have.
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