Vasily Sergeevich Oschepkov

21 August 2012 Sergei Grishin

b. December 1892 – d. October 12, 1937

Beginning of a Prominent Life Road

Vasily Oschepkov was born in the settlement of Aleksandrovsky Post located in the island of Sakhalin which at that time belonged to Japan. Vasily’s father died before his son’s birth and his mother was gone when Vasily Oschepkov was only 11. Three years after he was sent to study in Kyoto.

At the educational establishment where Vasily studied there were also held, among other things, trainings in judo. Once a year they used to choose the best judo practitioners among seminarians and send them to Kodokan, the very heart of judo! At that time the said Tokyo institute was headed by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. In June 1913 Vasily Oschepkov was a first dan and some time later he became part of Kodokan history as the first Russian sportsman ever awarded a master’s degree. Moreover, Vasily Oschepkov became the fourth stranger who was awarded such degree to by the Japanese.

Years of Maturity and a Major Contribution to Development of SAMBO

Possessing an excellent mastery of two languages, English and Japanese, upon returning to Russia Vasily Oschepkov started to work in the capacity of an army interpreter/translator in Vladivostok. In 1914 he opened the first judo group of his own during the sessions of which he delivered the knowledge he had got in Japan. During the years of Japanese occupation of the Far East he contributed immensely to freeing this territory.

When in Manchuria, Vasily Oschepkov was very particular about Chinese principles of self-defence. At the end of the 20s Vasily Oschepkov was transferred to Moscow where he taught military personnel to self-defend under his own programme. Soon he was tasked to work out the well-known GTO norms (or the Ready-for-Work-and-Defence norms).

Work at the State Central Institute of Physical Culture was also a positive experience for Vasily Oschepkov. His pupils would gain fame not only in the former USSR but far beyond its boundaries. Together with one of his pupils, Valentin Sidorov, Vasily Oschepkov arranged for a photo session of fighting techniques intended for militia men and being an unprecedented endeavor at that time.

The Great Remain Alive as Long as They are Kept in Our Memories

Vasily Oschepkov devoted all his life to his favourite kind of sports. In the prime of his life, when he was 44, he started writing his own book. No one doubts that if his book had been issued, we would have obtained rich experience and very important knowledge. But in September 1937 Vasily Oschepkov was repressed and at the beginning of October that same year he perished.

He was fully exonerated quite a number of years after; his knowledge, however, could not be fully restored. Anyway, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that it was he who prepared sound conditions for the appearance of a new sport – SAMBO. He collected a good deal of materials, information and skills. By his devotion to fighting Vasily Oschepkov inspired other people to follow him. He believed that for a fighter it was equally important to be good at fighting techniques and to be psychologically matured.

Seeing judo as a system of hand-to-hand fighting, he took a great deal of effort to strengthen its advantages and to reduce its weaknesses. Though his life did not last long – he was only 44 when he died – he did a great thing by laying a sound foundation of the future of SAMBO.

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