Pankration, from the Greek words “Pan” and “Kratos” meaning “the one who controls everything”, is a world heritage martial art with the unique distinction of being the only martial sport in existence today that can legitimately trace its roots to the ancient Olympic Games from 648 BC to 393 AD. Today, pankration is developed by FILA as a mild form of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

When including pankration into its field of activities, FILA had the vision to encourage the perpetuation of this ancient form of total combat from which all forms of modern Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) descend. If in ancient times very few limitations were put upon the discipline, today’s pankration is thoroughly regulated and can be practiced as a mild and safe introduction to MMA. The head not being a target and the additional protection brought by the uniform make pankration an ideal omni-directional martial art for all.

Even though allowing all grappling techniques, such as throws, locks, and chokes, pankration is more focused on the striking arts by awarding points for punches and kicks, both in standing position and on the ground. However, points for dominant control positions are not awarded in order to favor a faster paced style of combat. Inernationally Pankration is practiced with a Gi or endyma (traditional uniform consisting in lose jacket and pants, in North America and Australia the Gi is optional) along with approved protection gear including specially gel-filled gloves and shin pads.

Another interesting aspect of the sport are the choreographic team events that can be showcased with or without weapons. “Palaismata” takes place between two athletes and aims at assessing their level of knowledge, as well as their coach’s work in the gymnasium. “Polydamas” takes place between 1 defendant and 3 attackers and was created in memory of the ancient Olympic winner Polydamas from Skotoussa who, naked and unarmed, annihilated three armed security guards of the Persian King Darious Ochos called the “Immortals”.

In order to unify the rules and participation in Grappling, Pankration, and Combat Grappling competitions, FILA has adopted common weight categories for all three styles. The lighter categories have a smaller increase in weight due to the the bigger effect weight differences have on lighter athletes’ performances. An absolute category open to competitors of all weight classes has also been added to allow heavier athletes to compete and to demonstrate that grappling techniques can sometimes overcome weight and strength, creating an exciting and spectator-friendly addition to the sport.

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