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Wednesday, May 9, 2007


From: Niagara This Week

Could pankration become the newest Olympic contact sport? If you ask Stephano Horianopoulos, the head instructor at the Spartan Warrior Fight Club, he’ll tell you he and his students are going all out to try to make that happen.

Derek Maurice and Dylan Clark, two of Horianopoulos’ students, just returned from the North American Pankration Championship competition in Wisconsin where both teens walked away with gold and silver medals.

Pankration is a martial art that combines the techniques of both boxing and wrestling, as well as additional elements, such as the use of strikes with the lower extremities, to create a broad fighting sport very similar to today’s mixed martial arts competitions.

In a competition sanctioned by the Ontario Jiu Jitsu Association, Clark, 17, won a gold and a silver medal, while fellow student Maurice, 18, took home two silver medals, after both were victorious over their U.S. opponents. Horianopoulos said the time has come to have pankration become an Olympic event once again.

There is evidence that, although knockouts were common, most early pankration competitions were probably decided by striking and submission techniques resulting from a variety of takedowns, chokes and punishing joint locks.

Greek mythology has is that pankration was invented by Heracles and Theseus, as methods used by each hero in defeating their most noteworthy opponents -- the Nemean lion and the Minotaur, respectively -- are strikingly similar to the submission techniques of pankration. In ancient Greece, in addition to being an Olympic event, it was also part of the arsenal of Greek soldiers, including the ferocious Spartans and Alexander the Great’s Macedonian phalanx. Pankration continued in popularity throughout the Roman Empire before being abolished by Emperor Theodosius I in 393 A.D., perhaps after one of the leading pankration fighters of the time won a match despite having succumbed to his injuries just as the referee raised his hand to indicate he’d won.

Horianopoulos said ancient pankration was a truly violent practice, a sport in which the only rules were no gouging or biting.

”There were no time limits or weight classes. People were killed,” he said. “It was the most spectacular sport in the Olympics and they usually saved it till the end.”

Over the past four decades, pankration has made a comeback, due largely to the popularity of mixed martial arts competitions featuring legendary fighters such as Jim Arvanitis, who introduced pankration to mainstream martial arts in the early 1970s, exceptional fighters, including Bas Rutten and Ken and Frank Shamrock, and instructors like Aris Makris and Angelo Melaragni, who pass along the tradition.

Horianopoulos said several of his students will compete in the 2009 FILA Pankration World Championships being held February in Lithuania. Better still, his club has been chosen to represent Ontario on the Canadian National Team. In addition to Maurice and Clark, fellow club member, 34-year-old Kevin Clow will also compete. In preparation for the competition, the 20-member club – which is run as a not-for-profit -- is organizing a series of fundraisers to cover the costs of the trip.

Anyone wishing to support the club or take up pankration, can call 289-213-4050 or visit the Lakeside Karate Club at 14 Charlotte St. Horianopoulos said there’s a concerted effort underway among pankration enthusiasts worldwide to have the sport reinstated at the Olympics, hopefully by 2012, perhaps as an exhibition, then ideally as an official event in 2016.

“We’re ready. I think we really have a chance to put together a national team for the Olympics,” he said.

~武德为首, Martial Art Morality comes first

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