Over the years, numerous different types of martial arts have risen and fallen. Pankration is one of the world’s oldest martial arts, and it has a unique history and distinction. It is the only martial art sport in existence that has roots in the ancient Olympic games. It has a long recorded history, spanning over three thousand years, and is a mixed martial arts Alexander the Great himself practiced. The incredibly rich history that the sport has is what makes it such an honor to practice in modern times, and there are numerous schools dedicated to helping perfect one’s Pankration style.
In the Souidas, one of the oldest dictionaries to exist, the sport of Pankration is defined as an unarmed combat art, identified by both feet and hands combat. The name is derived from the Greek desire to win, and its roots, pan and kratos, literally translate to all and power. Its name symbolizes the martial arts’ teachings, creating a total movement that relies on every strength that the practitioner has. It is not only enough to be strong and practice, as individuals need to be wise and cunning as well.
According to Plutarch’s notes, the martial art of Pankration was originally created by Theseus, who is an ancient mythical warrior. He used Pankration techniques to help him defeat the Minotaur. However, according to another source, the original creator of Pankration was the the demigod Hercules. It was said that he had won a Pankration contest in Olympia, and had won a wrestling competition that same day. No matter what myth is used to represent the sport’s creation, it was a well known and popular style of martial arts that was practiced throughout all of Hellenic civilization. It was used not only as an effective way to train, but also as an implemented aspect of warfare at the time.
As Pankration was practiced, it spread rapidly across all of the Greek cities. From there, it spread onto the shores of the Mediterranean, and was called a variety of different names. No matter what the sport was called, however, it was practiced with many of the same techniques and principles. However, despite the fact that the sport has such a powerful heritage, it was not reinstated as an official Olympic sport. While many were outraged by this, there are many others who are interested only in the pursuit of perfection through this martial art.