History of MMA

 

Part 1: In the beginning…

Records indicate the Ancient Greek Olympic Games began in 776 BC on Mount Olympus in Greece. In 648 BC Pankration (meaning ‘all powers’) was introduced to the ancient games. The sport was hand to hand combat with only two rules: no biting and no eye gouging. Held in a ‘square ring’ up to 14 feet across, the combatants (Pankratiasts) used techniques of boxing, wrestling, submissions and kicking, and yes kicks to your most precious area was certainly allowed and commonly used. Who’d have thought you could win a medal (or crown) at the Olympics by kicking your opponent in the balls? The sport was an instant hit, seen as the purest form of competition, Where the winners were seen as as some of the most desirable men in the world, elevating their status to that of a ‘hero’. One of them heroes was Theagenes of Thasos. One problem looking back at the Ancient Olympic Games is that, the games themselves were built around Greek Mythology. The Games were held in honour of the Greek god Zeus ‘King of the Gods’ and the god of sky and thunder. Heracles (Hercules to you and me), Son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene, was known as the greatest of all the Greek heroes. Theagenes of Thasos was believed to be the son of Heracles. Not restricted to just Pankration, Theagenes of Thasos competed in a variety of athletic contests winning an estimated 1300 crowns in the Pythain, Nemean and Isthmian Games. In 480 BC Theagenes of Thasos gained a victory in Pankration at the 75th Olympiad. Pankratiasts were known as the toughest men in the world, when it came to un-armed combat, so it was to no surprise that when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, he had many Pankratiasts in his army. While many believe Asian Martial Arts trace their history to India around this time, the Mahabharata (an epic poem written long before Alexander the Great’s invasion) speaks of two fighters in unarmed combat using punches, open hand strikes, kicks, knees, and headbutts. The origin of Asian Martial Arts will be left to debate, but it’s no doubt that Pankratiasts were the first true Mixed Martial Artists. Asian Martial Arts continued to grow rapidly at this time which was probably due to spread of Buddhism. Pankration meanwhile, was pushed aside in favour of other combat sports such as Wrestling and Boxing thanks to the rise of the Roman Empire.

Part 2: The Gracies, and the birth of Brazillian MMA coming next week …

 

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