Perhaps the oldest form of martial arts, pankration was introduced to the Olympic games of Greece in 648 B.C. Pankration is derived from the Greek word pankration, which means "all powers" — a name that reflects the no-holds-barred nature of the style. In fact, the Greek philosopher Xenophanes referred to pankration as "that new and terrible contest of all holds.
Combatants squared off against each other wearing no clothing or protective garments. Victory was attained by submission, knock out, or in extreme cases, death. The only attacks outlawed in competitive pankration were biting and gouging the eyes, nose, or mouth. Throws, strangulation, and kicks to the midsection were all part for the course. Bouts were generally decided on the ground.
Pankration was eventually abandoned by the Greeks, mainly due to its ferocity. The style had a revival in Rome, but faded with the fall of the Roman Empire. In modern times, principles of pankration can be seen in styles such as pancrease and shootfighting.
- Pankration at Wikipedia.