Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pankration the Ancient Greek Martial Art

The Spartans were never known as being the most friendly nor the most welcoming of people but they were known for being the best fighters among the Greek tribes. Their own existence evolved around wars and warfare in general so training for battle was their main activity. 

Pankration was called the martial art the they created that was later on introduced in the Olympic games. But since Spartans didn't know the meaning of "play" or "sport", their only aim being to kill, they weren't accepted in the Olympian fights. 

Don't think that the Olympian games were in any way soft. Death was part of the routine there also. There have even been a player who won the Olympic games post mortem. His opponent got him into a strangulation that he couldn't get out of, giving up was not an option since pride was a man's best value, so with his last strength he broke his opponents fingers. Pierced by the pain of broken bones the fighter gave up and the winner was declared... post mortem. They realized later on that, because of the suffixation, he died. 

So the Olympic games were a pretty serious thing, still, Spartans were not allowed. They had the general tendency of not playing well with others. 

The things we know today about Pankration are taken from literature sources or from paintings and sculptures. Unfortunately there is no continuance to Pankration to these day. Pankration was forbidden from practice by Emperor Theodosios in 393 along with the Olympic games. Most probably it hadn't been practiced ever since then.

The one who reintroduced Pankration to the world in the 1960' was Demetrios Arvanitis. He studied the techniques and introduced it as the first Mixed Martial Arts.

I found some youtube videos that I think is going to help you make an opinion about Pankration far better when whatever I would say.

This could also be interesting to see.

P.S Don't forget about the on going contest on the blog
Contest - Choose a T-shirt for "It's all Greek to Me"


  1. I do not know if they had a name for their armed combat, but ancient Greek unarmed combat was known as Pankration. It was quite similar to the Mixed Martial Arts that are so popular today, in that it would have included striking and grappling.