It was near the beginning of recorded, Western history that combat sports were institutionalized in the Olympiad. This ancient Greek celebration of fraternal competition and athletic prowess is a symbol of contemporary athletic achievement, and though the games have evolved with the times, their mission of excellence in sport and the exaltation of competition as virtue might be more essential today then it was at the inception of The Games.
Wrestling was featured in a series of events called the Pentathlon, which aimed to test the width and breadth of human ability through contests in endurance, strength, timing and agility. An ancient form of Boxing was added to the canon, to be followed shortly thereafter by Pankration, a precursor to modern Mixed Martial Arts. This hand to hand contest was a hybrid competition with few rules, combining elements of both wrestling and boxing. It was romanticized then, in 648 B.C. for being a measure of martial supremacy much as it is today.
Ancient Greek leads to modern, athletic Geek!”
In that vein, this Pentathelite blog has as its mission the goal of exploring the mechanical and philosophical underpinnings of the independent disciplines that constitute modern Mixed Martial Arts. More than that it will converse in the common language that unites Boxing, Kickboxing, Thaiboxing, Wrestling and Submission Wrestling. Perhaps through this airing of ideas we will come upon a “Unified Field Theory” of Mixed Martial Arts that a brawny, Einsteinian, athletic empiricist would appreciate? Perhaps we will elucidate some essential, technical or conceptual truths that are shared by the boxer and open-guard grappler alike even as gravity acts upon each practitioner in opposing directions? Are there certain unassailable positions enjoyed in a boxing exchange that are as valuable in a submission scramble? Surely there must be, but where does the utility for the boxer end and the wrestler begin? Ancient Greek leads to modern, athletic Geek! Lifestyle considerations, philosophical rabbit holing, humor and both refined and irreverent aesthetics will be found herein! I’ll do my level best to reflect the beauty of this sport that we love in the way that I write about its nuances, peculiarities, and integral truths.
The Symbolism of the “Rings”
There is probably no better known logo than that of the Olympic Rings. The symmetry, simplicity and use of interlocking primary colors is unassailable in visual heft and elegance. The rings of the Pentathelite logo borrow unabashedly from that image, and in turn, the culture and tradition that is embodied in the ancient Olympiad. Yet the Pentathelite logo clearly diverges in geometry and scope in gazing upon only combat sports in general, and MMA in particular. Poetic license was taken with the geometry where we have rings for wrestling and submission wrestling, the square for the Boxing disciplines, the hexagon and octagon are a nod to progress and development from amateur beginnings to professional internalizations-not just as literal prize fighters, but in each student’s own development arc, whether paid or not, and whether within the proverbial squared circle or the urban city block, or the countrysides fertile farm quarters.
The regimen and the philosophy that inform our martial arts development cross-pollinate with our extracurricular lives. Indeed, isn’t MMA about preparing a strategy for implementation with a certain skill set, and yet humbling oneself before the infinite possibility and uncertainty of what is to come in a brief flash of nine, fifteen, or twenty five minutes with someone who has done essentially the same? And as a result of the camaraderie, sparring, and rolling, are we not more encouraged in our mundane lives of illness, work-hardship, and relationship tumult precisely because we prepare for “everything” within the boundary of those rainbow rings with such rigor, mental fortitude, dedication, and…fallibility? Do we not come to holster ourselves in rush hour traffic, brandish ourselves reservedly when an anonymous person’s eyes flash and cut? Not just for 15 minutes, but for our mortal and possibly immortal lives? Don’t we carry on with a sense of pride outside as inside the ring, or circle or square, or sphere precisely because of the symmetry and interlocking nature of our mundane and martial arts realities?
All this to say the beauty, the rigor and the problems of MMA have enchanted me-raised skin, deformed ears, clicking knees and all. Hopefully this blog will exalt our sacred, mundane sport atop the podium in the winner’s circle, hexagon, octagon, and square.