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.
Lucian, and Philostratos also saw the connection between combat sport and hand-to-hand fighting. Spartan athletes originally competed in Olympic wrestling and pankration, and won many titles in both sports. They later discontinued due to a couple of reasons: they felt that the rules of the Olympic version, albeit two in number, were restrictive, and the fact that it was unacceptable for a Spartan to be defeated in physical combat at the hands of other
athleticism was in fact a second religion. One vital and unique element in Greek art is nudity. Although not a reflection of everyday life, it depicts the athlete in the moment of his youthful prime and peak physical development. In fact, the words gymnasium and gymnastics, which are associated with those who compete in sports, are derived from the Greek word gymnos, meaning “naked.” Some historians believe, however, that the athletic nudity in Greek art is merely an artistic
gladiators who survived for years and consistently performed efficiently for the crowd were often rewarded with grants of land, livestock, and even large villas upon their retirement. Gladiatorial games began with an elaborate procession that included the combatants and was led by the sponsor of the games; the editor in Rome during the imperial period, usually the emperor, and in the provinces it was a high-ranking magistrate. The parade and
The kreitis, or judge, was actually an appointed hellanodikes who awarded the victory prize to the victors of the pankration events [ Figure 6.2]. There were normally three judges who rendered the final verdict of a contest that did not favor a clear cut winner by either knockout or submission. Their decision was final and respected. If, however, in the small chance that an athlete felt that he was a victim of an unjust ruling, he had recourse to the Elean Council who had the power to
boulders [Figure 10.5] and heavy iron. In addition, rope-climbing and hanging by one’s arms were implemented by most, if not all, trainers. A test of strength (and endurance) called pyx atremizein was another means of developing one’s strength, where the athlete stood motionless with his arms stretched out either in front or above. The use of a rope was an integral part of one’s strength development routine. A competitive and intense form of rope-pulling, skaperda, was mentioned by Voulodemos.