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Pankration

Around 2000 B.C., boxing and wrestling were popular combative sports in Crete. Plato mentions a type of shadowboxing called skiamachi that, when combined with the early Greek style of wrestling palaestra, gave birth to the deadly art of pankration.

Greek boxing blossomed between 700-400 B.C. Homer describes pankration in his literary masterpiece The Illiad as Achilles’ unarmed combat system. Pankration, which means “all powers,” became a hit during the 648 B.C. Olympics. Greek mythologists contend that Hercules and Theseus (founding king of Athens who used pankration to slay the Minotaur) created pankration.

Other noteworthy pankration fighters include Milo, Pythagoras (the man who created the first uppercut and the famous theorem), Theagenes and Alexander the Great, who some historians believe helped bring pankration to China and India in 326 B.C.

It has even been postulated that pankration and the Greek Pyrrhic war dance influenced the Indian fighting arts. The Greeks eventually deemed pankration’s violence too cruel, so the art died until its rebirth in the 1990s.

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  1. Jim Arvanitis on the Greek Olympic Games, MMA and Pankration

    Jim Arvanitis on the Greek Olympic Games, MMA and Pankration

    Internationally known as the “Father of Modern Pankration,” Jim Arvanitis, the Black Belt Hall of Fame 2009 Instructor of the Year, contends that “be it a front kick, hammerfist or shoulder throw, the lineage of each can be traced back to the ancient Greeks.” He should know, having studied pankration
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  2. Using Pankration Techniques Against Modern Weapons

    Using Pankration Techniques Against Modern Weapons

    If you’re a student of self-defense, learning how to wield ancient weapons and defend against them is impractical. Why? Because it’s unlikely you’ll face a Greek spear or a Japanese katana outside the dojo. It’s much more practical to acquire a working knowledge of edged weapons and firearms and concentrate
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  3. Jim Arvanitis Resurrects Pankration: The First Mixed Martial Art

    Jim Arvanitis Resurrects Pankration: The First Mixed Martial Art

    There’s no denying that Jim Arvanitis is a skilled martial artist. He moves like a 30-year-old both on his feet and on the ground, where he flows from technique to technique with an ease you seldom see outside a high-end grappling school. And there’s no denying that he’s a martial
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  4. Pankration, Boxing and Wrestling: 3 Combat Sports From Ancient Greece

    Pankration, Boxing and Wrestling: 3 Combat Sports From Ancient Greece

    In the Panhellenic games of ancient Greece, wrestling, boxing and pankration were called the “heavy events.” The term was chosen to describe combative contests in those arts because they were not only crowd favorites but also the domain of the larger and heavier athlete.
    Greek Martial Art #1: Wrestling
    Wrestling is Greece’s
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  5. Jim Arvanitis on “The First Mixed Martial Art”

    Jim Arvanitis on “The First Mixed Martial Art”

    Jim Arvanitis, internationally known as the “Father of Modern Pankration,” presents the re-release of his book, The First Mixed Martial Art: Pankration From Myths to Modern Times, available now from Black Belt Books for $24.95. In the full-color edition, Arvanitis explores pankration’s ancient Greek roots, as well as its modern
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  6. Savate: From The Back Alleys Of France To The Martial Arts World

    Savate: From The Back Alleys Of France To The Martial Arts World

    Most martial artists know that savate is the official fighting art of France, but beyond that, they would probably be hard-pressed to recite any details about the style. That’s unfortunate because it possesses a long and distinguished history that makes it a valuable addition to the world of martial arts.
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