When most people think of martial arts, the first region that comes to mind is Asia. This is totally understandable; that continent is after all where many of the world’s most popular fighting arts originated.
Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Taekwondo…the list of fighting styles and hand-to-hand combat disciplines that originated from Asia is seemingly endless.
Did you know however that possibly one of the oldest martial arts in the world comes from Greece and not from Asia?
It’s called Pankration and in addition to having influenced many fighting styles all over the world, the art is still being practiced by many aficionados to this very day.
Greek fighting techniques are similar to–and can in fact even rival–many of the world’s best fighting and hand-to-hand combat styles.
Pankration uses a combination of many different techniques that are also commonly used in other fighting styles, such as boxing, wrestling, striking and kicking.
It is also here where techniques such as joint locking and the use of pressure points first came into widespread use.
There are many martial arts that draw focus away from–and in some cases even completely disregard–the use of strength as an effective fighting component.
Many Greek fighting techniques however rely on a considerable degree of strength. Grappling and striking techniques are good examples of these.
Even the name Pankration is a reference to this being made up of the two Greek words “pan” and “kratos”, which means “all”, and “strength” or “force” respectively.
Pankration today exists in a greatly modified form, which in some cases is closer to a hybrid style of kickboxing, than the form that was practiced in ancient Greece.
There is also some degree of blurring with the highly popular competitive sporting event that is known as mixed martial arts. Many mixed martial arts techniques actually stem from the Greek fighting techniques of the earliest days of Pankration.
In any case, the Greek martial art still exists at least partly through the techniques used in these newer martial arts, and efforts are being made to get it accepted into the Olympic games once again in the future.