Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Pankration: The Ancient Art of Combat

Pankration, an ancient sporting event that dates back to the 33rd Greek Olympic Games in 648 B.C., is a fascinating and intense competition that combines elements of boxing and wrestling. The word “Pankration” derives from the adjective “pankrates,” which means “all encompassing” or “all powers.” This exhilarating sport captivated audiences during Greek athletic festivals, including the Olympics.

The Ultimate Battle

Pankration pits fierce and mighty fighters against each other in a winner-takes-all fight. With only a few rules, such as no biting or gouging the opponent’s eyes, mouth, or nose, fighters are free to unleash their arsenal of kicks and punches. The sport was known for its brutal nature, and serious injuries and even deaths were considered occupational hazards.

Training and Preparation

Pankratists, as the fighters were called, underwent rigorous training in the palaestra, a dedicated training room. Inside the korykos, a room packed with punching and kicking equipment, they honed their skills. Some pankratists were so powerful that they could kick through war shields. The training was grueling, preparing them for the physical demands of the sport.

Unleashing the Fury

During an actual match, fighters were randomly paired by drawing names from an urn. Originally fought nude and oiled, later fighters began wearing thongs and sheepskins to wipe away blood and sweat. The fights consisted of fists and open-handed strikes, with devastating blows to the head.

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The Transformation and Legacy

When pankration was introduced in Rome, Italian fighters wore loincloths to protect their genitals. Over time, they started competing armed, wearing studded gloves that could cause severe injuries. The Romans modified pankration for their own games, transforming it into a bloody spectacle.

Skills and Strategies

Pankration fighters employed various techniques to gain the upper hand in battle. From the chancery, where a fighter would grab their opponent’s hair and deliver a powerful blow, to the choke holdi or hadakikime, a technique that involved using the forearm to force submission or unconsciousness, fighters utilized a range of skillsets. Other techniques, such as the “ladder trick,” involved jumping and throttling opponents from behind, leaving them powerless and unprotected.

The Legacy Lives On

Although pankration was initially excluded from the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896, an amateur version was introduced in 1969. Today, enthusiasts can explore the modern version of this ancient sport and experience a taste of the intense battles that took place centuries ago.


Q: What is pankration?
A: Pankration is an ancient sporting event that combines elements of boxing and wrestling, allowing fighters to use various techniques to defeat their opponents.

Q: Is pankration still practiced today?
A: Yes, an amateur version of pankration was introduced in 1969, providing enthusiasts with an opportunity to engage in this ancient combat sport.


Pankration, the ancient art of combat, continues to captivate with its unique blend of boxing and wrestling. From its origins in ancient Greece to its transformation in Rome, this sport has left a lasting impact on the world of athletics. Whether exploring its historical roots or participating in the modern version, pankration offers a glimpse into the intense battles fought by mighty warriors of the past.

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Visit Auralpressure to learn more about the fascinating aspects of ancient sports and combat.