pankration

10 Years of Travel, Part 2

This multipart column was written on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its launch and its assignment to a writer named Antonio Graceffo, the martial artist who has become black belt's roving reporter in Asia. It presents more of the author's conclusions regarding the state of the world's martial arts.

East and West may never meet. At Shanghai University of Sport, Dr. Dai Guo Bing, dean of the Wushu Department, explained to me the differences between the Chinese arts and Western arts like boxing, wrestling and fencing. He said the commonalities between those three Western styles are identical to their differences from the Chinese styles. One, the Western styles' main purpose is to fight/compete. Two, they don't have a performance component. Three, they cannot be practiced alone.

It would be strange in the West to meet someone who claimed to be a boxer, wrestler or fencer but had never competed. In China, however, you can dedicate yourself to practicing wushu, taolu or tai chi for a lifetime without ever fighting. When called on to perform, practitioners of wushu, taolu and tai chi will do a form. About the best a Western martial artist can do is shadowboxing. And finally, men and women in their 60s, 70s and sometimes 80s who have been practicing Chinese martial arts for a lifetime continue to improve or at least stay healthy and relevant by practicing alone every morning. For Western martial arts, if you do not have a training partner, it's very hard to practice on your own.

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Pankration, Boxing and Wrestling: 3 Combat Sports From Ancient Greece

In the Panhellenic games of ancient Greece, wrestling, boxing and pankration were called the “heavy events." The term was chosen to describe combative contests in those arts because they were not only crowd favorites but also the domain of the larger and heavier athlete.

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Black Belt Hall of Famer Jim Arvanitis weighs in on the subject of pankration and the Olympics, while Black Belt contributing editor Mark Hatmaker looks at the evolution of wrestling and the Games.

In Part 1 of this series, Black Belt examined judo and how it's changed because of the Olympics. In Part 2, we looked at taekwondo and the effect the Games have had on the Korean martial art. In Part 3, the subject was the Olympics and karate — which, it was recently confirmed, will debut at the 2020 Games. Here, we discuss how wrestling has been altered and whether pankration has a chance of getting back in.

— Editors

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Internationally known as the "Father of Modern Pankration," Jim Arvanitis, the Black Belt Hall of Fame 2009 Instructor of the Year, contends that "be it a front kick, hammerfist or shoulder throw, the lineage of each can be traced back to the ancient Greeks." He should know, having studied pankration and both its modern-combat and mixed-martial arts applications for decades. When visiting the Black Belt photo studio for a technique shoot, he broke into a brief history of pankration and the Greek Olympic Games and how they tie into what we now know as mixed martial arts.

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