History[ edit ] Boxers the hands are bound fighting under the eyes of a trainer. Side A of an Attic black-figure skyphos , c. In Greek mythology, it was said that the heroes Heracles and Theseus invented pankration as a result of using both wrestling and boxing in their confrontations with opponents. Theseus was said to have utilized his extraordinary pankration skills to defeat the dreaded Minotaur in the Labyrinth.

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History[ edit ] Boxers the hands are bound fighting under the eyes of a trainer. Side A of an Attic black-figure skyphos , c. In Greek mythology, it was said that the heroes Heracles and Theseus invented pankration as a result of using both wrestling and boxing in their confrontations with opponents. Theseus was said to have utilized his extraordinary pankration skills to defeat the dreaded Minotaur in the Labyrinth. Heracles was said to have subdued the Nemean lion using pankration, and was often depicted in ancient artwork doing that.

The mainstream academic view has been that pankration developed in the archaic Greek society of the 7th century BC, whereby, as the need for expression in violent sport increased, pankration filled a niche of "total contest" that neither boxing nor wrestling could. There is evidence that, although knockouts were common, most pankration competitions were decided on the basis of submission giving up. Pankratiasts were highly skilled grapplers and were extremely effective in applying a variety of takedowns , chokes and joint locks.

In extreme cases a pankration competition could even result in the death of one of the opponents, which was considered a win. It is said that the Spartans at their immortal stand at Thermopylae fought with their bare hands and teeth once their swords and spears broke. Stories abound of past champions who were considered invincible beings.

Arrhichion , Dioxippus , Polydamas of Skotoussa and Theogenes often referred to as Theagenes of Thasos after the first century AD are among the most highly recognized names. Their accomplishments defying the odds were some of the most inspiring of ancient Greek athletics and they served as inspiration to the Hellenic world for centuries, as Pausanias , [9] the ancient traveller and writer indicates when he re-tells these stories in his narrative of his travels around Greece.

As an admired champion, he naturally became part of the circle of Alexander the Great. While Coragus fought with weapons and full armour, Dioxippus showed up armed only with a club and defeated Coragus without killing him, making use of his pankration skills.

Later, however, Dioxippus was framed for theft, which led him to commit suicide. The opponent nearly passed out from pain and submitted. His body was crowned with the olive wreath and returned to Phigaleia as a hero. By the Imperial Period , the Romans had adopted the Greek combat sport spelled in Latin as pancratium into their Games.

Pankration itself was an event in the Olympic Games for some 1, years. He wrote that his technique of wrestling was similar to the pankration of Sostratus the Sicyonian , because Leontiscus did not know how to throw his opponents, but won by bending their fingers. However, there were two or three age groups in the competitions of antiquity. In the Olympic Games specifically there were only two such age groups:. The pankration event for boys was established at the Olympic Games in B.

In pankration competitions, referees were armed with stout rods or switches to enforce the rules. In fact, there were only two rules regarding combat: no eye gouging or biting.

The judges appear, however, to have had the right to stop a contest under certain conditions and award the victory to one of the two athletes; they could also declare the contest a tie. Each tournament began with a ritual which would decide how the tournament would take place.. Grecophone satirist Lucian describes the process in detail: A sacred silver urn is brought, in which they have put bean-size lots. On two lots an alpha is inscribed, on two a beta, and on another two a gamma, and so on.

If there are more athletes, two lots always have the same letter. Each athlete comes forth, prays to Zeus, puts his hand into the urn and draws out a lot. Following him, the other athletes do the same.

Whip bearers are standing next to the athletes, holding their hands and not allowing them to read the letter they have drawn. When everyone has drawn a lot, the alytarch, [n 1] or one of the Hellanodikai walks around and looks at the lots of the athletes as they stand in a circle. He then joins the athlete holding the alpha to the other who has drawn the alpha for wrestling or pankration, the one who has the beta to the other with the beta, and the other matching inscribed lots in the same manner.

The same athlete could be an ephedros more than once, and this could of course be of great advantage to him as the ephedros would be spared the wear and tear of the rounds imposed on his opponent s.

There is evidence that the major Games in Greek antiquity easily had four tournament rounds, that is, a field of sixteen athletes. Xanthos mentions the largest number—nine tournament rounds. If these tournament rounds were held in one competition, up to contestants would participate in the tournament, which is difficult to believe for a single contest. Therefore, one can hypothesize that the nine rounds included those in which the athlete participated during regional qualification competitions that were held before the major games.

Such preliminary contests were held prior to the major games to determine who would participate in the main event. This makes sense, as the 15—20 athletes competing in the major games could not have been the only available contestants. There is clear evidence of this in Plato , who refers to competitors in the Panhellenic Games , with opponents numbering in the thousands.

Moreover, in the first century A. Please improve this by adding secondary or tertiary sources. August Learn how and when to remove this template message Pankratiast in fighting stance, Ancient Greek red-figure amphora, BC.

Pankratiasts fighting under the eyes of a judge. Side B of a Panathenaic prize amphora , c. British Museum , London. The athletes engaged in a pankration competition—i.

There were also strategies documented in ancient literature that were meant to be used to obtain an advantage over the competitor. For illustration purposes, below are examples of striking and grappling techniques including examples of counters , as well as strategies and tactics, that have been identified from the ancient sources visual arts or literature.

Fighting stance[ edit ] The pankratiast faces his opponent with a nearly frontal stance—only slightly turned sideways. Thus, the left side of the body is slightly forward of the right side of the body and the left hand is more forward than the right one. Both hands are held high so that the tips of the fingers are at the level of the hairline or just below the top of the head. The hands are partially open, the fingers are relaxed, and the palms are facing naturally forward, down, and slightly towards each other.

The body is only slightly leaning forward. The weight is virtually all on the back right foot with the front left foot touching the ground with the ball of the foot. The back leg is bent for stability and power and is facing slightly to the side, to go with the slightly sideways body position. The head and torso are behind the protecting two upper limbs and front leg. Kicking well was a great advantage to the pankratiast.

Moreover, in an accolade to the fighting prowess of the pankratiast Glykon from Pergamo, the athlete is described as "wide foot". The characterization comes actually before the reference to his "unbeatable hands", implying at least as crucial a role for strikes with the feet as with the hands in pankration. That proficiency in kicking could carry the pankratiast to victory is indicated in a sarcastic passage of Galen, where he awards the winning prize in pankration to a donkey because of its excellence in kicking.

This type of kick is mentioned by Lucian. The athlete executing the counter has to lean forward to avoid hand strikes by the opponent. This counter is shown on a Panathenaic amphora now in Leiden. In another counter, the athlete sidesteps, but now to the outside of the oncoming kick and grasps the inside of the kicking leg from behind the knee with his front hand overhand grip and pulls up, which tends to unbalance the opponent so that he falls backward as the athlete advances.

The back hand can be used for striking the opponent while he is preoccupied maintaining his balance. A Roman statue portraying the pancratium, which was an event showcased at the Colosseum. Even as late as the Early Middle Ages , statues were put up in Rome and other cities to honour remarkable pankratiasts.

This statue is a Roman copy of a lost Greek original, circa 3rd Century B. Arm locks can be performed in many different situations using many different techniques.

Single shoulder lock overextension [ edit ] The athlete is behind the opponent and has him leaning down, with the right knee of the opponent on the ground.

The right hand of the athlete is pressing down at the side of the head of the opponent, thus not permitting him to rotate to his right to relieve the pressure on his shoulder. As the opponent could escape by lowering himself closer to the ground and rolling, the athlete steps with his left leg over the left leg of the opponent and wraps his foot around the ankle of the opponent stepping on his instep, while pushing his body weight on the back of the opponent. Single arm bar elbow lock [ edit ] In this technique, the position of the bodies is very similar to the one described just above.

The left leg of the athlete is straddling the left thigh of the opponent—the left knee of the opponent is not on the floor—and is trapping the left foot of the opponent by stepping on it.

This creates an arm bar on the right arm with the pressure now being mostly on the elbow. The fallen opponent cannot relieve it, because his head is being shoved the opposite way by the left hand of the athlete executing the technique.

Pankratiasts fighting. Greek bronze, 2nd century BC. Staatliche Antikensammlungen in Munich. Arm bar — shoulder lock combination[ edit ] In this technique, the athlete is again behind his opponent, has the left arm of his opponent trapped, and is pulling back on his right arm. The trapped left arm is bent, with the fingers and palm trapped inside the armpit of the athlete. To trap the left arm, the athlete has pushed from outside his own left arm underneath the left elbow of the opponent.

The athlete is in full contact on top of the opponent, with his right leg in front of the right leg of the opponent to block him from escaping by rolling forward. This type of choke can be applied with the athlete being in front or behind his opponent. It is unclear if such a grip would have been considered gouging and thus illegal in the Panhellenic Games. Tracheal dig using the thumb[ edit ] The athlete grabs the throat of the opponent with the four fingers on the outside of the throat and the tip of the thumb pressing in and down the hollow of the throat, putting pressure on the trachea.

Depending on the context, the term may refer to one of two variations of the technique, either arm can be used to apply the choke in both cases. The term rear naked choke likely originated from the technique in Jujutsu and Judo known as the "Hadaka Jime", or "Naked Strangle.

These are deadly moves. Counter: A counter to the choke from behind involves the twisting of one of the fingers of the choking arm. This counter is mentioned by Philostratus.

In case the choke was set together with a grapevine body lock, another counter was the one applied against that lock; by causing enough pain to the ankle of the opponent, the latter could give up his choke. Depending on the torque the athlete imparts, the opponent becomes more or less vertically inverted, facing the body of the athlete. If however the reverse waist lock is set from the back of the opponent, then the latter would face away from the athlete in the inverted position.


Pankration: A Deadly Martial Art Form from Ancient Greece

Characteristics Edit As its name suggests, Pankration is a hybrid martial art, combining techniques from ancient boxing and wrestling, but also using kicks, arm locks, and chokeholds. Ancient Pankration only banned the use of eye-gouging and biting. Contests had no time limits, and usually were stopped when one Pankratiast submitted, signalling his defeat by raising his index finger. Because this was seen as the ultimate humiliation, it was not uncommon for fighters to refuse to submit, even at the expense of their lives.



Combate de pancracio bajo los ojos de un entrenador y de un espectador. Cara A de un esquifo de figuras negras. Aplastamientos con los pies y manotazos, entre otras cosas. Ni siquiera se respetaban los genitales. Ataques como pegar una patada baja al oponente estaban perfectamente permitidos. Las reglas solo penalizaban el morder y meter los dedos en los ojos , la nariz o la boca del oponente.

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