Pankration is an martial art which mixes wrestling and boxing. The sport can be traced as far bachồng as the second millennium BCE in the territory of Greece. Its name derives from the Greek words pan (all) & kratos (strength, might, power) and literally means “all of the might.” In 648 BCE, the Pankration was introduced as a sporting event in the 33rd Olympic Games where it joined boxing & wrestling in a category called “heavy events.” That special group of sports was reserved for the best athletes with the greatest strength và stamina.

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The Pankration sự kiện was the crowd"s favorite sport. It was believed that a military training based on this formerly unarmed combat system helped the Spartans lớn excel in hand-to-hand fighting. Soldiers trained in Pankration were highly appreciated in the famous Macedonian Phalanxes as Alexander the Great was said lớn have given them priority in the recruitment of his army. 

The Pankration in Mythology Greek mythology appoints illustrious mythological figures as the first pankratiasts. Theseus, the founder-king of Athens, allegedly used techniques from that martial art to lớn defeat the Minotaur (the half-human half-bull creature locked in the Labyrinth of Minos). Hercules is said khổng lồ have sầu won in Pankration conkiểm tra in Olympia, as well as in another event organized by the Argonauts (the heroes that went on a quest for the Golden Fleece in Colchis). He reputedly used Pankration skills in one of his twelve labors too. Many Greek vases depict images of the hero defeating the Nemean lion with a specific strong lochồng believed lớn be part of the Pankration fighting methods.

The rules of Pankration 

The sources represent the Pankration as a full-liên hệ combat sport that allows the use of various techniques such as striking, grappling, and wrestling. In fact, Pankration was a combination of boxing, wrestling, and other fighting arts with the only difference that there were virtually no rules. To bite and to gouge an opponent"s eyes, nose, or mouth with fingers were the only off-limits once in the ring. Anything else - such as kicking in the belly và the genitals - was permitted and even expected.

Pankration was a combination of boxing, wrestling, và other fighting arts with the only difference that there were virtually no rules. 

The athletic sự kiện started after pulling lots và forming fighting pairs. At the kết thúc of every match, the lot drawing was repeated among mỏi the winners of the previous fights, & so on until one final winner has left. A sparring ended either by submission (the opponent would raise his index finger as a sign of being defeated) or by death. According to one story, the fighter Arrhichion of Phigalia won a Pankration competition at the Olympic Games literally dying in the ring. He was locked in a tight chokehold & had to break the ankle of his opponent in order to lớn loosen the deadly clutch. At the same moment, though, when his competitor raised a finger for submission, Arrichion fell dead. Nevertheless, he was honored as a winner.

The sport had two main phases. During the first, called Ano Pankration (Upper Pankration), contestants had to lớn fight upright. As the main goal was khổng lồ knochồng down the opponent, punches, kicks and all kind of lethal blows were usually performed. The second phase, known as Kato lớn Pankration (Lower Pankration) started with the first falling on the ground of some of the competitors. Here grappling, joint locking, and even strangulation were used as more effective sầu methods of fighting on the floor.

Pankratiasts had the liberty to lớn build their own fighting style. At the beginning of a sparring, some preferred to use short hooking blows called krocheirismos. A technique known as klimakismos (ladder trick) was often used lớn climb on an opponent"s bachồng, to loông xã legs tightly around his body toàn thân và lớn strangle hlặng from behind. That was probably the one that turned lethal for Arrhichion of Phigalia. 

Very often the Pankration fighters got nicknames according khổng lồ their preferred technique of defeating opponents. One pankratiast from the thành phố of Sikyon was called “Fingertips” because of his habit to break his adversary"s fingers at the start of a bout. Special local features also existed. The Spartans, for example, were famous for their heavy foot sweeps used to lớn knochồng down their rivals. The Eleans, on the other hand, were quiông chồng on strangleholds.

Initially, the pankratiasts fought nude, with oiled bodies and bare hands. Later, they wore thong wrappings around their hands & forearms. When Pankration was adopted in Rome, fighters covered their genitals with loincloths và were even equipped with battle gloves (caesti) made with leather strips & filled with iron plates, blades, or spikes. 

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Agias, Son of Aknonios
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a training for the Spartans & army of Alexander

Developed out of an existing combat system, Pankration was part of the army training of many Greek city-states. It was the core of the military instruction of the hoplites (the famous Greek infantry). The Spartans were particularly well-trained & excelled in that art. In their last stand at Thermopylae, they allegedly used Pankration skills as their final weapon. Once the 300 lost their armaments, they fought with bare hands, feet, và teeth, relying on their abilities khổng lồ use unarmed fighting techniques.

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Alexander the Great also highly appreciated such military proficiency. He often sought lớn attract pankratiasts in his famous Macedonian Phalanxes as he regarded soldiers trained in Pankration as a valuable army asphối. One Athenian Pankration champion from the Olympic Games in 336 BCE was quite popular among mỏi the Macedonian army where he was on a service. His name was Dioxippus, và the historian Curtius Rufus in his “Histories of Alexander the Great” informs us that one day he was challenged lớn a one-to-one combat. His adversary was one of Alexander"s best soldiers, known as Coragus. The Macedonian ruler appointed a match between them in one of his banquets organized in Persia. In the bout, Dioxippus showed up naked và armed only with a club. Coragus presented himself in full armor. After а short fight, the Athenian champion defeated his armed & skilled opponent using only Pankration techniques. He could have killed hlặng if it had not been for Alexander"s intercession.

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The Macedonian Phalanxes reportedly contributed lớn the spreading of Pankration to lớn the East. It is suggested that following Alexander"s conquests over Europe and Persia, the Greek unarmed fighting system eventually reached the Indus Valley. Some researchers even speculate that by practising their military art along their route, Macedonian soldiers influenced the Indian combative art “Vajra Musti” and, ultimately, had an impact on the martial arts in Đài Loan Trung Quốc. According to Eastern tradition, the Chinese fighting systems evolved from Indian Buddhist doctrines that taught early Indian combative arts.

Editorial ReviewThis article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence lớn academic standards prior lớn publication.


Arvanitis, J. Pankration: The Traditional Greek Combat Thể Thao & Modern Mixed Martial Art. Paladin Press, 2003Georgiou, A.V. Pankration: An Olympic Combat Sport, Vol. I. Xlibris Corporation, 2005Liddell, H.G. và Scott, R. A Greek-English Lexibé. Oxford. Clarendon Press, 1940Quintus Curtius Rufus. Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great. Thủ đô New York, London, D. Appleton & company, 1860Smith, William, D.C.L., LL.D. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, “Pancratium”. John Murray, London,, 1875, pp. 857 - 858.
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I have sầu a degree in Classics and Ph.D. in History. I have sầu taught Latin và Greek at university for five years. Every subject of the Greek và Roman civilizations passionates me, & I write a blog about that on www.mni-alive.comworldalive sầ

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