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Sambo is a modern martial art, originally developed in the Soviet Union during the Communist era. The word Sambo is an abbrevation of "SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya" meaning "Self defence without weapons".

Although Sambo has its roots in traditional folk wrestling, this martial art is new: The 16 November 1938, the sport was recognized by USSR National Committee of Physical Culture.

There are basically two versions of Sambo: A sport variant (civilian), and one military (utilized and developed by the army). Sambo can be likened with judo, jujtsu and wrestling, and in the sport variant, points are allocated much like in Judo. In summary, one could say that Sambo is an art combining strikes, kicks 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 withstanding, military sambo does include some weapons practice and disarming techniques.

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. 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.