By Eric D. Hill
As many on this forum know, I recently travelled to Hellas. A major part of this trip was to conduct face to face meetings with core Pammachon team in Athens ( Νίκος Παππάς , Γεώργιος Γεωργάς , and Stamatis Stamatoglou ) and the representative in Thessaloniki ( Paul Karachisaridis ). Continued trips on the part of HPA board members (ie. not just myself) are intended to show continued support for the team in Athens, Thessaloniki (1st and 2nd cities) as well as other areas of the mainland and the islands; all in tight orchestration with the central Athens team.
Interestingly enough, I returned to the US to observe some interesting phenomenon by those that have nothing to do with any Hellenic Diaspora community nor any Hellenic tradition related to native martial art, or anything else of that matter. Hence, I hope to clear this up very quickly. Please read the summary of the link below and pay particular attention to the last paragraph:
The HPA is named such, utilizing the term “Pankration” ( Παγκράτιον in the native script with native pronunciation), that we have a sport form for youth that is conducive to American, Australian and Canadian Hellenic Diaspora youth. Being highly youth-centric, we chose to use the term in the organizational name. HPA Pankration has very specific rules geared to “safety”, proper “tactical awareness” with “tapping contact” only. This sport form is meant to bridge the gap for youth to sport Pammachon when they turn 18. And yes, they do participate in the traditional methods and wear an HPA στολή to train and compete in the sport; which is actually only a part of the comprehensive youth appropriate Pammachon regimen (ie. see the diagram below).
There is a specific set of training methodologies involved. But, I will not address that here other than to mention that they are outlined in the attached diagram (ie. outside of of the Παγκράτιον circle)
The knife has been a traditional weapon of the Hellenes for millenia. This is well documented and still included in the dress of traditional folk dancers. However, in American, Canadian and Australian Diaspora, we simply cannot have youth competing with rubber knives in a dynamic manner. There is too much access in society and, thus, cannot be treated lightly. That being said, the HPA youth sport Pankration rules, in addition to more static defense drilling, and the many aspects of our comprehensive program are meant to address the needs of the youth in self defense scenarios and, in fact, life itself.
In the regards to adults, we simply have no intentention of an adult Pankration platform as we believe that, much like MMA, adults will tend to inject poor tactics in the name of “winning the sport duel”. In short, such tactics will get one killed in societies where there is a “blade around every corner”. This has become a global phenomenon (partiicularly the US). The situation is not that different as to why the “blade”, particularly the μαχαίρι (knife), was and IS a central focus of Hellenic martial art. The μαχαίρι is still a revered ornament of the Kritan and Pontian folk costumes to this day. The Pontian Greeks for their part have even preserved a Pyrrichios through the millenia where μαχαίριμαχία (knife fighting) is the central theme.
And for the “Internet experts”, the link below includes an article by Kostas Pammachon Dervenis that was written for and published by the “NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Journal” that gives a high level overview of training special forces utilizing such traditional Hellenic methods for life and death instances.
I’m including the Pammachon Containment diagram below. One will note the Παγκράτιον circle is highlighted as “children only”.