Pankration: The Unchained Combat Sport of Ancient Greece
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PANKRATION: The Unchained Combat Sport of Ancient Greece is a fully illustrated guide to what was the cornerstone of the early Olympic Games and Panhellenic festivals. It examines the brutal blood sport based on the author’s more than forty-five years of research and practice. Considered the precursor of today’s mixed martial arts cage competitions, many historians also contend that pankration laid the groundwork for the development of Asian karate and kung-fu, as well as other fighting styles throughout the world. The content traces pankration’s historical origins in mythology and on the battlefield where it was known as pammachon, to its transformation and prominence as an Olympic spectacle. It also explores combat sports of earlier civilizations such as Egypt, Minoa, and Crete as well as the adoption of pankration by the Romans. Greek boxing, wrestling, and hoplomachia (weapons competition) along with the bloody gladiatorial contests of the Imperial Period are also detailed. Tournament rules, an analysis of pankration techniques, and training methods are covered along with a listing of all the Olympic pankration champions from its inception in 648 B.C. until the last documented contest on record. Emphasis is given to the role that pankration played in Hellenic culture and its religious connection to the gods themselves. The book includes numerous works of art depicted on vases, frescoes, sculptures, and coins showing pankratiasts in heated action and other combat scenes. This definitive work adds new information to the author’s previous books, and brings to light the importance of pankration as not only the Original MMA, but as the missing link in martial arts evolution.
his ability to endure punishment, or katereia. Plato in his Laws underscored the importance of these ordeals as competitive games. The city of Sparta organized spectacles in which children and young men demonstrated their virtues and courage. According to Pausanias, the early Spartans had a curious hazing contest in which groups of their young military trainees would be kept half-starved until they engaged in a public
violent aspects of the sport. He believed that to strike another, to harm or be harmed, did not necessarily constitute bravery. Many claimed that Melankomas had succeeded in changing boxing into a genuinely noble contest. His tactic of not striking his rival induced anger and frustration so that the opposing fighter lost control and composure. In the end, despite his determination, the opponent would be exhausted and unable to continue. Melankomas could fight for two
documented by Theocritus in describing the epic battle between the Argonaut Polydeukes and Amykos of the Bebrykes. Polydeukes has ducked under an oncoming haymaker swing and retaliated with a crushing combination of blows. Heliodoros refers to evasive footwork in his Heliodory Aethiopica. One of the combatants has lured the other into delivering a downward hammer strike which he avoids by sidestepping. The move causes the blow to miss its target and the opponent to lose his balance.
wrestling. There can be little doubt that the ancient Greek combat sport had some effect on the techniques of these contemporary grappling styles. Though the striking aspect of pankration was in fact lethal, the grappling component of the event was far more complex and demanded the highest degree of athleticism. Counterholds were developed against offensive locks to defend against and neutralize one’s opponent. Plutarch called wrestling “the most skillful and cunning of sports.”
Greeks in the audience as well. They are jumping up from their seats and shouting, some waving their hands, some leaping from the ground, and others are slapping one another on the back. His astonishing feat has left the spectators beside themselves. Who is so stolid as not to shriek aloud at this athlete? This accomplishment surpasses his already great record of two previous victories at Olympia, for this one has cost him his life, and he departs for