Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts (abbreviated MMA) is a competition between two combatants that has evolved from deep-rooted histories throughout different cultures and continents, and it continues to evolve through competition today. Since the beginning of humanity, unarmed combat has been a part of our existence. Just as MMA has existed (in one form or another) for thousands of years, so have the detractors of Mixed Martial Arts. Often criticized for its barbarism and the risk involved in competition, MMA has faced opposition from the likes of Alexander the Great to United States Senator John McCain. Mixed Martial Arts has adapted due to this criticism, evolving into a sport whose legitimacy is acknowledged throughout the world. The earliest instances of mixed forms of combat being implemented as a sport occurred in ancient Greece with pankration. Pankration may indeed be among the oldest [martial art], having been well documented before the coming of Christ (Arvanitis 1). The ancient Olympic games of Greece were geared mostly towards running events. In 708 B.C., wrestling, or pale, was introduced. Pale consisted of two styles Kato pale and orthia pale. Kato pale consisted of ground wrestling, with the loser signaling his submission by raising the index finger of his right hand. Orthia pale consisted of only standup grappling techniques, where the victor was the first to throw his opponent to the ground three times. The majority of Greek soldiers and other athletes felt that orthia pale was more practical, as a soldier only needed to throw his opponent to the ground to deliver a fatal blow with a weapon engaging with an opponent on the ground was a dangerous endeavor. Wrestling was very popular, as the wrestlers who trained sought not only victory, but victory with grace and style (Arvanitis5). Rather than teaching only wrestling maneuvers, training facilities instilled balance, grace, and finesse (Arvanitis 5) to all who trained. Twenty years later, boxing (then known as pyxmackia) was established in the Olympic Games (Gentry 7). Pugilists competed until knockout or verbal submission, with no rounds, time limits, or ring. Instead of gloves, they wore straps of leather called himantes to protect their hands (Gentry 7). Greek boxers were the pinnacle of athleticism, having to compete for hours, and who needed the stamina, defense and offense to defeat their opponent. Unlike wrestlers, there was little sportsmanship between boxers; many pugilists sought to injure their opponent rather than defeat them. Technical skill was abandoned for brute force, which appeased the crowds that were by now influenced by their blood-thirsty Roman neighbors. A popular debate among the enthusiasts of both sports was whether a boxer could defeat a wrestler, and vice versa. 648 B.C. brought both the thirty-third installment of the ancient Olympic Games and the first Pankration competition. The mix of wrestling, boxing, kicking, and brutal submission holds would quickly make pankration the most spectacular and most demanding of all athletic events (Arvanitis11). Pankratiasts had almost any technique imaginable at their disposal (with the exception of biting and eye-gouging). Author and pankration historian Jim Arvanitis describes some of these techniques, and their significance to Mixed Martial Arts: Some of the more popular pankration techniques included straight power punches, low kicks, elbowing and kneeing, arm locks and arm bars, takedowns and throws, as well as numerous chokeholds. To many martial arts historians, pankration was in essence the mixed martial arts of classical Greece. Kicking was an essential part of pankration. Due to this unique tactic alone, many combative experts credit pankration as the first comprehensive unarmed fighting system on record. (12) Pankration took the Greek by storm, quickly becoming the most popular event. Pankration fighters received the same status as heroes some...
Cited: Arvanitis,Jim. Pankration � The TraditionalGreek Combat Sport and Modern Mixed Martial Art. Boulder: Paladin Press, 2003.
Gentry III,Clyde. No Holds Barred: Evolution. Richardson: Archon, 2001.
Gracie, Renzo,and John Danaher. Mastering Jujitsu. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 2003.
Peligro,Kid. The Gracie Way � An IllustratedHistory of the World�s Greatest Martial Arts Family. Montpelier: Invisible Cities, 2003.
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