Typical sports in Russia

Every country has its own sports, like how Brazil has football or Austria has skiing. And Russia is no different. This blog is all about the wealth of sport that you can watch as a spectator or even take part in whilst in Russia.

Sombo (Самбо)

Sombo is a very popular material art which actually has its roots in Japanese Judo. It is also influenced by Jiu-Jitsu and shares some classic moves with wrestling. It was first recorded in 1923 in the Russian Army as a method of hand-to-hand combat fighting. The pioneers of this martial art were Viktor Spiridonow and Wassili Oschtschepkow. Unfortunately, Oschtschepkow was executed by Stalin, accused of being a Japanese spy. The word SAMBO is created out of 3 Russian words: Samozaschtschita bez oruzhija or Самозащита без оружия – translated this means ‘self-defence without weapons’. Traditionally, Sombo fighters wear a jacket (куртка), a belt, shorts and of course a head guard.

Hockey (Хоккей)

This sport is as popular as Sombo in Russia and has gained in popularity over the years. Since 1911 The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia (Федерация хоккея России) has been responsible for the word-renowned national team. Russia are also part of the ‘Big Six’, who are the most successful hockey countries in the world. The others include: Finland, Canada, and Sweden. The Continental Hockey League (Континентальная хоккейная лига), houses over 25 teams split up into two main conferences – east and west. The east conference is dived into the ‘Tschernyschow’ division and the ‘Charlamow’ division, and the west conference is divided into ‘Tarassow’ division and the ‘Bobrow’ division, which CKA Saint Petersburg plays in.

Gorodki (Городки)

Actually, Gorodki can be described as a Russian version of croquet. The aim of the game is to knock down small wooden figures or wooden constructions (like you see in the picture) with a wooden bat. The famous Russian writer Tolstoy wrote in his novel ‘Prince Serebrenni’ that Russian boyars enjoyed playing Gorodki in the time of Ivan the Terrible.

Lapta (Лапта)

Compared to Hockey and Sambo, this sport isn’t very popular or known around the world. It is a bit like a Russian version of baseball or British cricket. Lapta is played by two teams of about 10 people, on a big field around 40m in size. In one team there are the “batsmen” and in the other; the “taggers”. After a successful strike of the ball a player of the batting team has to run to reach the field margin and then return back to his starting position. For each successful run, the team gains points. If he is “tagged” with the ball, the team of batsmen shifts to tagging. The history of this sport is similar to Gorodki, also invented before the USSR.

Ballet (Балет)

Last but by no means least, we have in my opinion one the most prestigious activities in Russian history – Ballet. I wrote ‘activities’, because the opinions differ whether if it is a sport or an art form. The ‘Московский государственный областной театр «Русский балет»’, which is the Russian National Ballet, is world famous. It was founded by Irina Tichomirnowa in March 1981 and since then has travelled to countries like Mexico, USA, France, Australia, Germany and even Austria. Their musical repertoire includes acts created by Peter Tschaikowsky, who is known for Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.

You see, Russian sporting history may have even been involved in the creation of modern sports like baseball or golf. Of course, you can try all these sports in Russia because there are many opportunities to do so in cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Just give it a try and you’ll see it is great fun.

Have you already tried some these sporting activities? Let me know and leave your comment below!

Philip Forstinger

Posted by Philip Forstinger

Hello! I'm Philip, the new Austrian intern of Liden & Denz. The next few weeks I'll provide you some cool facts about Saint Petersburg and Russia itself. I hope you'll enjoy my blogs.

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