Pankration Timeline

Pankration Timeline

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  • 776 BCE

    First athletic games in honour of Zeus are held at Olympia with one event, the stadion foot race.

  • 648 BCE

    The Pankration (a mix of wrestling and boxing) is added to the schedule of the Olympic Games.

  • 261 CE

    The list of victors running back to 776 BCE ends for the Olympic Games.

A Timeline of UFC Rules: From No-Holds-Barred to Highly Regulated

The Ultimate Fighting Championship exploded into people's homes via pay-per-view on Nov. 12, 1993. The first event took place in Denver and was designed as an eight-man tournament pitting fighters of all sizes and different disciplines against one another in no-holds-barred matches.

The fights took place in an eight-sided cage (now known as the Octagon), but promoters had also toyed with the idea of either electrifying the fence or surrounding the ring with alligators (via

And though the fights were advertised as having no rules, that wasn't entirely true. At the inaugural UFC event, there were three rules: no biting, eye gouging or groin strikes.

Ironically, these were the same rules employed for the ancient Greek sport of Pankration, a precursor to modern mixed martial arts.

However, even with the limited rules, these early fights appear downright barbaric in comparison to the polished UFC events of today. There were no judges, time limits or rounds. All fights had to be finished via knockout, submission or the opponent's corner throwing in the towel.

The brutality was on display in the first-ever UFC match, which saw Dutch savateur Gerard Gordeau kick a downed Telia Tuli so hard in the face that it sent one of his teeth flying past the announcer's table.

Obviously, controversy arose, but it was actually the negative press that initially helped propel pay-per-view and VHS sales, turning what was supposed to be a one-time event into an on-going series.

The rules fluctuated with each new event often changing arbitrarily or in order to accommodate local authorities. This happened at UFC 9, when political pressures forced the promoters to ban fighters from punching their opponents in the head with closed-fist strikes.

Ultimate Fighting took a huge hit in 1996 when Sen. John McCain, a supposed boxing fan, saw a UFC tape and famously characterized it as "human cock-fighting." McCain went on a crusade against MMA and was almost successful in getting the UFC banned in all 50 states.

In response to the backlash, the UFC began implementing more rules in order to legitimize it as a real sport. This included instituting judges, time limits, rounds, weight classes, and a 10-point must scoring system.

Most importantly, the UFC also made changes to the ways in which a fighter can strike his opponent. Combatants now wore fingerless gloves and were not allowed to headbutt, throw elbow strikes to the back of the head/neck or kick a downed fighter to the face.

This was not enough though as SEG, the company that produced the UFC, teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Few states were sanctioning events and the money from pay-per-view had all but dried up.

However, in 2000, Station Casino executives Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and business associate Dana White entered into a deal with SEG to purchase the UFC for $2 million. They finalized the deal in January 2001 and created Zuffa, LLC.

Another major event happened in 2001 that would shape the future of MMA in the United States. In April of that year, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board adopted a set of standards that would become known as the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

These rules were also officially recognized by the Association of Boxing Commissions in July 2009.

This was a huge step forward because for the first time in MMA's history there were an agreed upon set of comprehensive rules that state regulatory bodies could use to sanction the sport. The Unified Rules were very specific and covered all aspects of an MMA event including scoring, round length, fighter attire and fouls.

These new rule changes even earned the seal of approval from John McCain who stated that, "The sport has grown up. The rules have been adopted to give its athletes better protections and to ensure fairer competition." (via

The list of fouls ballooned from the original three to 30. Most of the fouls are rarely ever violated in the course of a bout, but there are five that still remain problematic.

1. Eye-poking has been a foul since the first UFC, but it is still a big problem due to the fingerless gloves the fighters wear. It's a double-edged sword because on one hand a finger to the eye could cause serious injury, but on the other fighters need to have open hands to effectively grapple.

2. The use of 12-6 (straight up-and-down) elbows to the head and face are strictly prohibited. However, elbow strikes are legal, so it is up to the referee to decide if the shots are within bounds.

3. Groin strikes are illegal and all fighters are required to wear athletic cups however, most opt to wear the comfortable soft plastic cup as opposed to the steel thai cup which gives more protection. The foul usually occurs accidentally when inside leg kicks and knees to the thighs miss their mark. After the foul, the fighter is allowed a five-minute period to compose himself.

4. Knees to a grounded opponent's head are illegal. A grounded opponent is one who has three points of contact with the canvas, so routinely fighters will be in a standing clinch and put one hand on the mat in order to not to be kneed in the head. This is a flaw with this rule and should be slightly tweaked.

5. Strikes (punches or elbows) are illegal to the back and top of the head/neck. This is not a new foul, but it still poses quite the quandary. Fighters are allowed to strike the front and side of the head leaving a slim margin between a legal and illegal shot.

These rules are far from perfect, but their enforcement (and the business savvy of Zuffa) are what helped the UFC to not only climb back from the brink of collapse, but also to make MMA one of the fastest growing sports of the new millennium.

The UFC swallowed up most other competing MMA organizations and built a brand that, in 2011, the FOX family of networks decided to get behind to the tune $700 million over seven years.

MMA is now sanctioned in almost every state with only a few exceptions, most notably New York, but there is a good likelihood that fight fans could see a UFC card at Madison Square Garden sooner rather than later.

It's amazing to think that in only 20 years, the UFC has gone from fights with "no rules" to become a sport as mainstream as the NFL, MLB or NBA. And just like all of those sports, the UFC will assuredly continue to evolve, which will inevitably mean more rule changes in the future.

Ancient Greek Martial Art #1: Wrestling

Wrestling is Greece's oldest combat sport, and it had immense appeal in Hellenistic society. Philostratos claimed that Palaistra, the daughter of Hermes, invented wrestling and that the entire world rejoiced at the discovery because the “iron weapons of war would be cast aside and the stadia would gain sweeter glory than the military camps." He also emphasized the practical effectiveness of wrestling in warfare by claiming that the military achievement at Marathon was almost a wrestling contest and that the Spartans at Thermopylae employed their bare hands after losing their spears and swords.

Ancient Greek wrestling was believed to have been refined by Theseus, who wrestled and killed Kerkyon. Pausanias wrote, “Only size and might mattered until Theseus introduced the qualities needed by a good wrestler: strength and a great build."

The rules of Greek wrestling were said to have been established by Orikadmos, an early Sicilian wrestler. Striking, grabbing the groin, and biting were prohibited. If the wrestlers went out of bounds, the referee halted the contest and returned them to the center of the pit, where they resumed with the same hold.

There were two forms of the sport: orthia pale (upright wrestling) and kato pale (ground wrestling). In the first, the objective was to throw one's opponent to the ground in the second, a throw wasn't enough and the contest continued until a competitor admitted defeat and was compelled to withdraw. Holds, including submissions, were freely used, and the event was similar to pankration except that there was no striking. An athlete withdrew only when he was so exhausted that he could resist no longer.

For competitions in the stadium, five to eight pairs of wrestlers were chosen. For one to gain victory in upright wrestling, he had to throw his opponent three times. It wasn't necessary to pin an adversary or make him submit. The rules required that a wrestler cleanly throw his foe and either remain standing or fall on top of him. If any part of the body, other than the feet, came in contact with the ground, it was counted as a fall.

Jim Arvanitis, father of modern pankration

Upright wrestling was conducted in the sand, while ground wrestling usually took place on wet soil. The mud stuck to the competitors' bodies, making them slippery and holds difficult to apply. In upright wrestling, the upper part of the body—the neck, shoulders, arms, chest and waist—received extra attention in training sessions. In ground wrestling, the arms, waist, thighs and knees were developed most.

A wrestling contest would generally start with a participant grabbing his opponent's neck or attempting to control his wrists. Frequently, their heads would press against each other in what might be dubbed the “ram position." Balance and leverage were the key variables in stand-up wrestling because each athlete looked for offensive opportunities while fending off the opposing fighter's attacks. Another ancient Greek wrestling technique, the underhook, is mentioned in the Iliad. From that position, the wrestlers were proficient at a variety of preliminary grips or setup maneuvers. Foot sweeps were a means of unbalancing the opponent in preparation for a strong throw.

Greek art illustrates numerous finishing moves, such as the shoulder throw and the “heave." The latter was often used as a counter to a leg-tackle takedown. The top fighter would sprawl his weight on top of his opponent, grab him around the waist, hoist him feet first into the air, and throw him to the ground on his head. A front choke was another possible counter to the takedown, but it was seen more often in pankration matches.

Pankration Timeline - History

From boxing contests with no weight classifications or point scoring to chariot racing where danger lurked on every corner, it is easy to see why the Ancient Games enthralled the Greeks for so long. Here, we give you the essential lowdown, highlight our favourite facts.

Full of blood, passion and extraordinary feats of athletic endeavour, the Olympic Games were the sporting, social and cultural highlight of the Ancient Greek calendar for almost 12 centuries.

&ldquoIt is hard for us to exaggerate how important the Olympics were for the Greeks,&rdquo Paul Christesen, Professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, said.

&ldquoThe classic example is that when the Persians invaded Greece in the summer of 480 (BC) a lot of the Greek city states agreed that they would put together an allied army but they had a very hard time getting one together because so many people wanted to go to the Olympics. So, they actually had to delay putting the army together to defend the country against the Persians.&rdquo

The threat of invasion or not, the Games took place every four years from 776BC to at least 393AD. All free Greek males were allowed to take part, from farmhands to royal heirs, although the majority of Olympians were soldiers. Women could not compete or even attend. There was, however, a loophole to this misogynistic rule &ndash chariot owners, not riders, were declared Olympic champions and anyone could own a chariot. Kyniska, daughter of a Spartan king, took advantage of this, claiming victory wreaths in 396BC and 392BC.

At their heart, the Games were a religious festival and a good excuse for Greeks from all over the Mediterranean basin to gather for a riotous barbeque. On the middle day of the festival a vast number of cows were slaughtered in honour of Zeus, King of the Greek Gods &ndash once he had been given a small taste, the rest was for the people.

For the first 250-plus years all the action took place in the sanctuary of Olympia, situated in the north-western Peloponnese. Pock-marked by olive trees, from which the victory wreaths were cut, and featuring an altar to Zeus, it was a hugely scared spot.

The Games lasted a full five days by the fifth century BC and saw running, jumping and throwing events plus boxing, wrestling, pankration and chariot racing. At least 40,000 spectators would have packed the stadium each day at the height of the Games&rsquo popularity, in the second century AD, with many more selling their wares outside.


There are many different ways players can customize their monsters. By trading a Soul Reflector to one of the Soul Reflector Managers you can access the menu to monster customization.

Leveling up [ edit | edit source ]

Monsters gain EXP for their performance in battles, and after obtaining a certain amount of EXP, their levels will rise.

  • The current level cap for Pankration monsters is 50.
  • 200 EXP is required for each level.
  • Improvable feral skills level up once per fight, whether won or lost.

Learning magic and abilities [ edit | edit source ]

All monsters possess magic and/or abilities corresponding to their family. However, certain skills often remain dormant until monsters attain a certain level.

Feral skills [ edit | edit source ]

The aforementioned inherent characteristics such as abilities, battle techniques, and magic spells are known as "Feral Skills". Some of these skills have levels and will improve as a result of participating in Pankration matches.

Adding feral skills [ edit | edit source ]

Trade an official (or unofficial) soul reflector and a soul plate to a reflector forger, and for a small jetton fee, the attendant will add the plate’s skill to the reflector’s monster.

Due to job restrictions, some monsters cannot equip certain feral skills.

Once the skill has been added to the reflector, the soul plate cannot be used again and will not be returned.

Feral foints (FP) [ edit | edit source ]

Equipping feral skills requires feral points, and all monsters have what is called a "feral point capacity". Monsters will not be able to equip skills if they do not possess enough FP.

The FP requirements for feral skills can be confirmed by trading a soul plate to a manager, while a monster’s FP capacity can be confirmed by trading a soul reflector.

Discipline and temperament [ edit | edit source ]

The following traits will change depending on the type of orders a player gives their monster, as well as the frequency with which s/he gives them:

  • The more disciplined the monster is, the more likely it is to correctly respond to orders given during a match.
  • Monster temperament is measured in two ways: wild vs. tame, aggressive vs. defensive.
  • A monster's temperament directly affects how it acts during battle. For example, a tame and defensive monster may choose to use stunning techniques on an opponent attempting to cast a powerful spell or use a weapon skill.

Far East

Though Asia plays a less central role in the history of combat sports, it has hosted many isolated forms of throughout its history. As early as the 3rd millennium BC, Chinese marital artists engaged in a sport called jiao di (lit. horn butting) to some degree, though records of it are scant. In one of several possible variations of the sport, the two opponents would don horned headgear and attempt to butt the other off a raised platform called the lei tai.

Throughout the ages the sport adopted throwing techniques, bringing it closer in line with what we would call wrestling or grappling. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC it had given way to a new sport called jiao li, which historical records seem to indicate was a form of wrestling with some marital-arts-flavored striking and blocking. This was quite a popular spectator sport during the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC). Competitors would wrestle on the lei tai, on which the winner of each round would remain to face the next challenger until there were no more left, king-of-the-ring style. When no more fighters were left, the final man standing would be named champion. The sport was practiced among soldiers in China throughout the centuries, and even today several styles are still practiced under the name shuaijiao (or shuai jiao, translated “to throw to the ground through wrestling with legs”).

Martial Arts

The martial arts, being systems and traditions of combat, are not exclusive to Asian countries in their history. In fact, though Asian countries had a significant impact on martial arts, it was not until much later from its origins that martial arts took hold and spread through Asian countries. The first record related to martial arts is in Africa. This essay will discuss the timeline of martial arts in the following paragraphs in detail.

An exact timeline is difficult to compose, though with ample evidence, we can say how the general trend went. The earliest known instances and usage of martial arts comes from art, literature, and artifacts. The oldest living artifact connected to martial arts is dated as far as 3400 BC, which was an ancient Egyptian painting that displays a struggle (Czerwińska-Pawluk Iwona, and Żukow Walery). This fresco showed military training at Beni Hassan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery site. The type of martial arts practiced in this area was primarily wrestling and dueling with sticks. However, evidence has been found that the soldiers sparred with spears, shields, clubs, axes, poleaxes, flails, bows, slings, and various swords.

However, the spear has been in use since the Lower Paleolithic (dating back to 3.3 million years) and is still an important piece of weaponry. The bow came about in the Upper Paleolithic (dating back to 50,000 years ago), and gradually was substituted by the crossbow. Bladed weapons began to appear in the Neolithic, such as the stone axe (starting 12,000 years ago), and were refined and diversified in the Bronze Age (around 3,300 BC) with various kinds swords, daggers, and other blades (“History of the Spear”).

But getting back on the general timeline, after Egyptians were sparring with wrestling and a variety of weapons, it can be seen that the ancient Babylonians were creating reliefs and literature based on martial struggle around 3000 BC. Also, around the same time in Vietnam, drawings and sketches were made about 2879 about fighting with spears, swords, sticks, and bows (Czerwińska-Pawluk Iwona, and Żukow Walery). However, hardly any background detail is known about these pieces of art.

The next significant artifact that points to the development of martial arts is from China. At 2698 BC, the Yellow Emperor was recorded to be a general who wrote a great deal about martial arts before becoming the leader of China. As states, “According to tradition, the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, traditional date of ascension to the throne 2698 BCE) introduced the earliest forms of martial arts to China. He allegedly developed the practice of jiao di or horn-butting and utilized it in war” (“History of Chinese Martial Arts”). However, despite his lengthy treatises, the historicity of the events and practices cannot be fully validated.

The following marker in the history of martial arts was the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is a poem from ancient Mesopotamia, written around 2100 BC. It is sometimes regarded as the earliest surviving work of literature. According to History on the Net, “The Epic of Gilgamesh” conveys many themes important to our understanding of Mesopotamia and its kings. Themes of friendship, the role of the king, enmity, immortality, death, male-female relationships, city versus rural life, civilization versus the wild and relationships of humans and gods resound throughout the poem. Gilgamesh’s many challenges throughout the poem serve to mature the hero and make him a good king to his people” (“The Epic of Gilgamesh”). In this long poem, many fights and duels among the characters were described and have a place in actual history.

In terms of epicness, the Olympic Games of Greece are hard to find a comparison. The Olympic Games began in 776 BC, and early events included wrestling, boxing, and pankration (“The Penn Museum”). A similar philosophy with the modern Olympics was held in its ancient form, with warring regions putting aside their conflicts while engaging in the Games.

There is much more detail and history that could added to this account, but this is the most basic timeline of martial arts. The earliest records and/or signs of martial arts is from ancient Egypt, around 3400 BC with figurative art and painting displaying military training. However, remains of spears, blades, and other weapons were dated before this time. From Africa, martial arts travelled to Babylonia, and eventually sprung up in Asia, starting from Vietnam, and finally ended up in Europe in Greece with the Olympic Games.

Boxing in the Ancient Roman World

The first Roman Emperor Augustus (ruled 27 BC-14 AD) loved boxing whether it was an official match with a referee or simply a street brawl:

“His chief delight was to watch boxing, particularly when the fighters were Italians — and not merely professional bouts, in which he often used to pit Italians against Greeks, but slogging matches between untrained roughs in narrow City alleys….Augustus expelled Pylades not only from Rome, but from Italy too, because when a spectator (at a boxing match) started to hiss, he called the attention of the whole audience to himself with an obscene movement of his middle finger.” Suetonius Lives: Augustus

That middle finger goes way back in history. As does “thumbs up.”

One notices the Roman statue seems to depict wrestling rather than boxing. In ancient Greek and Roman times wrestling was often combined with boxing into a sport call Pankration, meaning “with all might/force.” In ancient times there were no rounds, no boxing gloves and no time limit to the contest between the two naked men. The contest was over when one man raised his index finger or it became obvious that one could not win and the other was proclaimed the winner. There were only three rules: you could not gouge out the eyes of your opponent nor could you bite him or attack the genitals. All else was fair game. There was a referee with a switch to make sure no one violated the rules or died and a judge to oversee the fight and declare a winner.

Sculpture of Roman Boxers (Pankrationers)

Boxing had been around long before the Greeks and Romans popularized it. Here are two Minoan boxers from a painted relief in Knossus from c. 1400 BC.

In a terra cotta relief from Iraq in c. 1200 BC, we see two men boxing to the accompaniment of music. Roman gladiators who fought to the death of one of them, also, had musical accompaniments! With our marching bands accompanying football games we retain that sports/music combination.

There are many ancient Greek terra cotta vases that illustrate better than words how the ancient boxing contests were fought. The participants in this sport appear to have been very hefty men. (c. 490 BC). The referee with his switch to hit the “hefty” person should he foul and the judge on the left declaring the winner. (c. 490 BC) The knobs on the “gloves” were rounded pieces of leather destined to do more damage. The switch of the referee below is being used to call a foul.

Two Pankration athletes—Greek amphora c. 332-331 BC

The boxer on the right (below) is Varazdat, King of Armenia, who won so many times at the Olympics in the late 300’s AD that he was finally declared The Olympic Champion In Boxing. Boxing was known in Rome as pugilatus from which we derive pugilism from the Greek word for “fist” pugnus. Here leather protection on their hands and forearms have evolved. Notice the switch of the referee to the right of Varazdat.

Varazdat, King of Armenia (on the right)— The Olympic Champion In Boxing

On the Greek terra cotta jar to the left, it seems the referee with his switch is stepping in. Maybe it was a foul that one had been knocked down? On the jar to the right (c. 776 BC), one man was definitely “going for the eyes,” violating one of the three rules in the Pakration — you could not gouge out the eyes of your opponent nor bite him or attack his genitals. It was apparently not a violation to kick your opponent in the stomach. The referee below does not have his stick up. Here there seems to be a “heavy weight” against a “light weight.”

It was apparently not a violation to kick your opponent in the stomach

A couple more terra cotta vase depictions of “moves” in the ancient world of the boxing/wrestling sport of Pankration are shown below.

Below is an interesting Mosaic from the early 300”s AD from Tunisia. It illustrates many scenes from the Olympics. Boxing (Pankration) is on the right, 3rd row down. The referee is handing the winner his laurel branch. Obviously his opponent was defeated, held down for a long time. Notice in the last row down, a town or kingdom has won 8 laurels at that Olympics.

Early 4th century AD Tunicia mosaic with scenes from Greek game

Sculpture Of An Ancient Boxer, clearly exhausted and bloody, with boxing gloves and wrist/arm protection.

Theodisius 1—Sole Reign 392 – 395 AD

The games were so violent that some participants were left permanently maimed or dead. One boxing match ended with all the fingers in both hands of a participant broken. One Olympian Damoxenes once pierced through his opponent’s rib cage and ripped out his intestines. Each Olympic year, even though Christianity was becoming the dominant religion in Europe, the festivities began with sacrifices of pigs and sheep dedicated to Zeus and prayers to the Olympian gods.

In 393 AD the Christian Emperor Theodosius I outlawed the Olympics because of its violence and paganism.

1,503 years after the Olympics were banned, the Olympic Summer Games were resumed in 1896 in Athens, Greece and the Winter Olympics resumed in Chamonix, France in 1924. No gouging out of eyes, ripping out of intestines or permanent injuries inflicted by another are allowed.

Opening ceremony in 1896 of the Summer Olympics. in Athens. Circus Maximus-like arena. Roman/Greek pillars. 80,000 packed the stadium. Looks like an ancient Greco-Roman event!

In today’s modern world, boxing is a popular sport. The 1867 rules of the Marquess of Queensbury have been followed somewhat since 1867: 9-12 rounds of 3 minutes each with a 1 minute rest between rounds. There were no number of rounds or periods of rest in the ancient world of boxing. There were, however, a referee and a judge as there are today.

Longest boxing match in history between Jack Burke and Andy Bowen. It was 110 rounds long!

The longest recorded boxing match in history was between Jack Burke and Andy Bowen in New Orleans. It was 110 rounds long and they both wore boxing gloves. The match started c. 9 at night on April 6, 1893 and ended the next day after 4 in the afternoon when Andy and Jack were too exhausted to continue. They fought a total of 7 hours and 19 minutes. It was finally declared “a draw.”—Sandra Sweeny Silver

7 Oldest Martial Arts in The World

When people think of martial arts, they most likely picture the most popular forms such as Kung-fu, Karate, Judo, and Jiu-jitsu. While the popularity of these martial arts is widespread throughout the world, thanks in large part to movies and television, they are fairly recent in the history of martial arts.

There are several lesser known martial arts, that are still practiced today, with histories stretching all the way back to the earliest human civilizations. In many cases, it is hard to provide an accurate date of origin for a particular martial art as human records don’t exist from the early human history.

7. Taekkyon

Year Originated: c.50 BCE
Country of Origin: Korea
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: No

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Taekkyon is believed to be one of the earliest forms of Korean martial arts. The earliest records of Taekkyon dates back to around 50 BCE to paintings found in the ancient tombs of Muyongchong and Samsilchong of the Goguryeo Dynasty. There is additional evidence that shows that Taekkyon was used by a large number of military men during the Goguryeo era. During the 15th century, Taekkyon’s popularity was widely spread and even the king practiced the sport.

However, by the end of the 13th century Taekkyon was no longer an actively practiced martial art. Taekkyon’s survival is attributed to Song Duk-ki (1893-1987), who preserved the art and passed it down to modern Koreans, who re-popularized Taekkyon by the mid 1980s.

6. Kalaripayattu

Year Originated: c.1000 BCE
Country of Origin: India
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: No

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although Kalaripayattu is not as old as other forms of martial arts on this list, it is often cited as being the oldest martial art discipline. Its history can be traced back over 3000 years to the Vedas, which are a large body of knowledge texts from the ancient Indian subcontinent.

According to legend, Kalaripayattu was created by Parasurama, who was the sixth avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu. Many people believe that Kalaripayattu influenced the well-known Shaolin Kung Fu because Bodhi Dharma, a Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master, is often credited with teaching the first Shaolin monks techniques derived from Kalaripayattu.

5. Pankration

Year Originated: c.2000 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Greece
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: No – was introduced to the ancient Olympics in 648 BCE

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Pankration is an ancient martial art form from Greece that combined boxing with wrestling, but also allowed kicking. According to Greek mythology, Pankration was first used by Heracles (Hercules) to fight the Nemean Lion and Theseus, who used it to fight the Minotaur.

Historians now believe that Pankration dates back further than 648 BCE, when it was introduced to the Olympics and that it actually stretches back to around 2000 BCE as a war technique used by the Spartan hoplites and Alexander the Great’s Macedonian phalanx. Although Pankration was not reinstated as an event during when the Olympic Games were revived in 1896, there are modern Pankration tournaments and it is considered a form of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

4. Shuai Jiao

Year Originated: c.2697 BCE
Country of Origin: China
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: No

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Jiao Ti eventually evolved into a combat wrestling system called Jiao Li that was systematized for the military during the Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 256 BCE). Jiao Li eventually became a popular sport during the Qin Dynasty (221 – 207 BCE) and the best Jiao Li fighters were chosen to become the Emperor’s bodyguards. In the modern era, Shuai Jiao is taught in Chinese police and military academies.

3. Malla-yudda

Year Originated: c.3000 BCE
Country of Origin: Several South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: No

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Malla-yuddha is an ancient form of wrestling that originated in South Asia and dates back to at least 3000 BCE through the folktale of a legendary Malay hero who practiced malla-yudda. The earliest written records of malla-yuddha is in the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic from the 5th century BCE.

Malla-yuddha is divided into four styles each named after a Hindu god: Hanumanti which concentrates on technical superiority Jambuvanti, which uses locks and holds to force the opponent into submission Jarasandhi, that focuses on breaking the limbs and joints and Bhimaseni, which demonstrates sheer strength. Although malla-yuddha faded in popularity by the end of the 16th century, it is still practiced by small communities in South Asia.

2. Boxing

Year Originated: unknown – earliest depiction dates back to 3000 BCE
Country of Origin: unknown – earliest depiction from ancient Sumeria (modern-day southern Iraq)
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: Yes

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Along with wrestling, boxing was most likely one of the first martial arts developed by early humans. Although boxing’s exact origins are unknown, the earliest depictions of the sport come from a Sumerian (one of the very first civilizations) relief from 3000 BCE – several other ancient civilizations also depicted boxing in their art.

By the time boxing was introduced to the Olympics in 688 BCE, it was a well developed and consistently popular sport in Ancient Greece. Today, boxing still remains as a popular spectator sport and is an essential part of modern Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

1. Wrestling/Grappling

Year Originated: unknown – earliest depiction dates back to 2000 BCE, but there are statues that date further back
Country of Origin: uunknown – earliest depiction is from Egypt
Still Practiced: Yes
Current Olympic Sport: Yes

photo source:

Depending on your definition of martial arts, wrestling is probably the oldest combat technique in history with the earliest depictions of wrestling dating back to Egypt circa 2000 BCE – however, wrestling probably dates back to the early days of humanity as statues older than the Egyptian images show what can be interpreted as two men grappling or wrestling.

Different forms of wrestling have been mentioned in the ancient histories of several cultures, so its origins are hard to trace. In ancient Greece, wrestling was a popular martial art and was featured as an Olympic sport since at least the 18th Olympiad in 704 BCE. A Greek papyrus manuscript from around the 2nd century BCE contains instructions for wrestling, making it the earliest known European martial arts manual.


The Babylonian healhcare system seems to have been fairly well standardized, subject to some level of legal code. The Hammurabi Code (c. 2000 BC), inscribed on an 8-foot tall block of black diorite, covers doctor payment and malpractice. Lines 218 to 221, listed below, detail punishment for malpractice as well as proper payment for physicians:

  • If the doctor has treated a man for a severe wound with lances of bronze and has caused the man to die, or has opened an abscess of the eye for a man and has caused the loss of the man’s eye, one shall cut off his hands.
  • If a doctor has treated the severe wound of a slave of a poor man with a bronze lances and has caused his death, he shall render slave for slave.
  • If he has opened his abscess with a bronze lances and has made him lose his eye, he shall pay money, half his price.
  • If a doctor has cured the shattered limb of a gentleman, or has cured the diseased bowel, the patient shall give five shekels of silver to the doctor.

These lines and others inscribed on the block indicate a widespread, fairly standardized system of healthcare throughout ancient Babylonia.

Harper, R. F. (2013). The code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon about 2250 B.C. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Oppenheim, A. L., & Reiner, E. (1977). Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a dead civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Biggs, R. D. (2005). Medicine, surgery, and public health in ancient Mesopotamia. Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, 19.

Horstmanshoff, H. F. L., Stol, M., & Tilburg, C. R. (2004). Magic and rationality in ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman medicine. Leiden: Brill.

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