A Glimpse at MMA's Origins

All Hail Arrichion! All Hail Dioxxipus! All Hail Polydamos!
Have you ever heard of these mixed martial arts champions?  The history of mixed martial arts
fighting began as part of Greek, rather than Asian history.  Although I would never strip the
Shaolin masters of their contributions to developing many systems of martial
arts, the Greeks are overlooked as a primary player in the development of mixed
martial competition and reality based fighting.  


Arrichion, competed for his third Olympic crown in 564 BC, he found himself in a deadly choke applied from behind. He died from this choke hold, after dislocating his un-named opponent’s ankle.

It was about 2000 years ago that the ancient Greeks developed an all-out combat sport called Pankration, which translates into “all powers or all-encompassing.”  Its introduction into the Olympic games in 648 B.C. marks the inception of mixed martial arts competition.  The no-holds-barred competition integrated all aspects of physical and mental strength and strategy.  

 post-13-1113285658.jpgThe techniques employed by those Greek Adonis’ were very similar to today’s no-holds-barred battles.  Champions like Arrichion, Dioxxipus and Polydamos used hooks, uppercuts, full-powered kicks, elbows, knees, joint locks, takedowns and chokeholds.  Like today’s MMA bouts, eye gouging and biting were prohibited, but groin kicks and hitting to the back of the head were allowed.  Its creators longed to see a demonstration of super-human strength and placed its warriors in close quarters, a 14 foot square arena, which eliminated running as an option, forcing the fighters to be in each others presence at all time.

Today’s UFC, Strikeforce, Afflication and even Pride have offered a comprehensive unarmed fighting platform that rivals its Greek ancestors.  With rules that reflect more civility than the days of Alexander the Great.  Although different arenas and variances in rules define the essence of various organizations particularly those originating in the United States verse Japan; the fighters play the role of hero and nemesis that the fans adore and appreciate.  Sir Winston Churchill said, ” History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”  The fighters that emerge from UFC’s cage or the once Pride champions write the pages of mixed martial arts history the moment their fight ends.  Their battles to avoid a knockout or escape a submission contribute to the evolution of the sport and its growing popularity. 

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  • I had no idea! Thanks for the info, Katalin. Very cool. I love knowing about this kind of stuff.

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