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Bloody Elbow Book Review: Reilly Bodycomb's Sambo Wrestling

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T.P. Grant takes a look at the Sambo instructional by one of the top American Sambo competitors and coaches Reilly Bodycomb.

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Michael Bodycomb

The grappling technique book market is mostly dominated by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu books, of which I have my fair share. Books on Sambo, especially those in English, are a bit harder to come by. So, I was excited when I ordered Sambo Wrestling due to the relative rarity of the product I was getting.

Sambo Wrestling is authored by Reilly Bodycomb, a member of the 2008 U.S. Sambo team that traveled to World Championships and a medalist in both international and domestic Sambo competitions. Reilly coaches at NOLA BJJ Uptown currently and is one of the top Sambo coaches in the United States. He published Sambo Wrestling in 2012, and I purchased the book from Amazon a month or so after attending one of Bodycomb's seminars.

What will I learn?

The purpose of this book is to teach the current state of the sport of Sambo, and Bodycomb opens with the summary of the rules of Sport Sambo. As a Sambo novice, the explanation was extremely helpful as visual aides are provided for how throws and pins are scored, and what submissions are legal.

Techniques covered here start with the basic rolls and break falls and then moves into the section labeled as basic takedowns. Bodycomb starts with sacrifice throws and then moves on to trips, fireman carries, and single legs. The book then expands to dynamic takedowns and mat work.

How is the technical explanation?

In short, it is very good. The book limits itself to focusing on a few, basic techniques, which in my opinion is a strong positive. Often the books filled with a large number of advanced techniques are the ones that end up gathering dust on my book shelf.

Every technique taught comes with several variations, accounting for different grips, opponent reaction, and different finishes. The book keeps a focused scope on techniques that work together to give a student an ability to build a foundational game. The book does shy away flasher techniques like hip throws, though Bodycomb does delve into his signature flying scissors takedown.

The photos in the book are excellent, both large and high definition. Those pictures are well paired with the very good instruction provided by Bodycomb.

Who is this book best for?

Clearly, the number one target of this book is a Sambo student. Sambo schools are difficult to come by in the U.S. and this book provides an excellent introduction to the sport. This would be a good companion for a student at a school, or a road-map for those unable to find a school near them.

But this book is also an excellent supplement for Jiu Jitsu players looking to add to their stand up game. Many of the techniques in the book are very applicable to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. Wrestlers looking to apply their technique in gi grappling would be very much advised to look into this book.

Final Thoughts

The book is one of the only Sambo books out there, and it is a quality book. The only complaint I've seen about the book is sometime errors in printing, as it is printed on demand by Amazon, but they are more than willing to replace books with errors.

So if you are all interested in standing gi grappling this book is certainly worth your time and the $20 it will cost you. I'm bringing it to the gym constantly for drilling and it will soon be as worn out as my copies of Andre Galvao's Drill to Win or Saulo Ribiero's Jiu Jitsu University.

So if you are looking to purchase this book head to or Amazon to get a copy.

If this sounds interesting but your not really a stand up guy or you prefer no gi then be sure to look into Bodycomb's Top Rock video, a no gi seminar in which Bodycomb teaches his dynamic and unified approach to top control, leg locks and guard passing.

It is a digital only, pay what you want purchase. I bought it prior to attend his seminar and it it Bodycomb discusses and demonstrates his philosophy towards having a submission oriented top game in no gi grappling.

Here is a quick sample of Top Rock and if you want to buy it click right here.

Reilly Bodycomb's 'Top Rock' - A dynamic top-game and leg-lock download (via Reilly Bodycomb)