4 posts / 0 new
Last post
nielmag's picture
Kicking in Ancient Pankration

Came across this article that i thought was quite intersting.  My understanding is that kicking started to become more prominent in karate with "sport" karate and such.  However this article explains that kicking had a somewhat prominent place in the ancient art of pankration, which ws used in the original Olympic games.  Itd be interesting to see what kind of kicks were used, im guessing mainly front kicks.


sampsi's picture

If memory serves the kicks were mainly sweeps and front kicks to the abdomen. They fought at a close range since they usually began by grabbing eachothers hands and effectively playing a game of mercy in a hope to break the opponents fingers, as the article says, though this was normaly mentioned as being to stop the opponent surrendering, which was done by raising the index finger or thumb into the air.

Though the allusion in the article to pankration becoming the gladiator fights under the Romans is inaccurate, the Romans most likely got that from the Campanians or even the Etruscans around the same time pankration was in the Olympics.

Interstingly enough their stance was similar to a traditional muay thai stance with most of the weight on the back foot or nekoashi dachi, though the hands were further extended since they didn't have hand protection.

rshively's picture

Always felt that kicking was something for the young: i.e. the loose, limber, "flexible" or acrobatic. Had the opportunity to talk to a Capt in the Greek Army that was training at the Infantry School Ft. Benning, GA. Asked him about Pankration. For him (his name was Pietros or Peter, not sure of spelling) Pankration was similar to street fighting. In his opinion, it has been absorbed into Greco-Roman wrestling and other close quarter fighting methods. I asked him what the Greek Armed Forces used and his speciality was judo.

As for kicking in asian fighting arts, I know that kicking above the knee at the waist or groin was average. Asked Tony Sandoval about kicking in modern karate. Was told that a lot of kicks were "implied." Meaning if the opportunity to kick provided itself, you took it. Older kata didn't kick, but the intention to kick always existed whenever you stepped, moved or tried to evade with footwork. If a person liked kicking, than you'd tend to see more foot attacks-kicks.

There is a style of tai chi known as the tao style that focuses heavily on kicking. It's a variation of yang style. Tai Chi generally only has 4-6 kicks in the long form. The creator of Tao style liked kicking so much, he added a kick with almost every foot movement. Step forward, backwards, sideways, shift your weight to one side, etc. was where a tao tai chi stylist would execue a kick. So the number of kicks in the tao style is on average about 40 to 60 kicks!

karate10's picture

I've seen a Pankration demostration several years back at a local Greek Festival and from what I see, straight forward kick is used a lot, shoulder locks from the rear and with their free hand jabbing to the side rib section, plus front face/chin lock similar to the Greco-Roman Wrestling, but love to get to know more of its history of this Art.