ANCIENT ARYAN MARTIAL ARTS ))))))))))) by Ron McVan
“There is no greater glory for man....than what he can achieve by hand or foot.”
……….(Quote from the ancient Greeks)
……….(Quote from the ancient Greeks)
By today's media perception, the martial arts have gained popular acclaim through the Eastern Oriental cultures almost exclusively. Many might find it surprising to know that the practice and development of martial arts extend as far back into Aryan history as the earliest origins to be found in the East. As long as man has existed, fighting styles have been evolving. The first notable development began to show its evolution in the Neolithic age about 4,000 years ago. It was in these early times that another major, southerly migration was taking place among the northern European tribes. Aryan Phrygians and Celts settled into Asia minor developing great cities such as Troy; their close relatives, the Nordic Hellenes and Celts as well, went on to found Greece and settle throughout Italy mingling with other distant Aryan cousins such as the Etruscans. Aryan Iberians had settled in many areas along their Western European coastal shipping routes as they established their homeland empire in Minoan Crete remaining frequent traders along their ancient sea route north through Portugal and Spain to the Land of Eire. To all these lands the Aryan Tribes brought the Indo-European languages (for Latin and Greek are Indo- European tongues), creative arts and science, establishing themselves as a ruling class. In addition to these many proficiencies was also included a highly developed spiritual pagan belief system, paralleled by an equally essential method of combative skills. Through the early stages the fighting arts consisted primarily of a varied mixture of wrestling and grappling with the most basic of weapons use.
By the time of the ancient Olympic Games held in Greece in 776 B.C.E. the art of boxing had already developed significantly. Greek boxing was the forerunner of one of the most popular Aryan martial art styles known as "Pankration" (meaning game of all powers), primarily a form of wrestling, boxing and kicking. This combative style soon spread throughout India and China, involving an exchange of fighting expertise that would later benefit both systems.
Pankration in the first 200 years of public competition provided almost no protective equipment, only soft-hand thongs made of ox hide. Open-hand blocks were used and eye-gouging and head butts permitted. By the 5th century B.C.E. new developments were introduced. Combatants then used protective leather head coverings; eye gouging and head butts were prohibited and block-punch kick combinations became a favored and accepted fighting technique. In addition the art of boxing itself was entered into the Olympic Games in 688 B.C.E.
Pankration was always a favorite event among the ancient Greeks, especially the spectators; for them it was the supreme test of strength and skill in combination. Into the 4th century B.C.E. sharp-hand thongs known as 'Sphaira' were introduced into the games. Grappling and joint-locking developed. Weighted gloves were used sometimes, along with metal studded leather helmets. Leg-sweeps and low-kicks were common. The use of metal spikes on gloves was finally prohibited. With the Roman Empire at its peak the greater demands of the spectators challenged the imaginations of the combatants. By 311 C.E. spiked weighted gloves were again customary. Metal helmets and spikes on boots were common. It was recorded that back-spin kicks were often used and wrestling techniques had reached their zenith.
At the 'palaestra' or wrestling school there was a separate training room for the Pankration, called the 'Korykeion'. Inside were punching and kicking balls, called 'Korykos', suspended from the ceiling. The kickball hung about two feet from the ground. After becoming adept at punching and kicking exercises a student progressed to sparring.
It is interesting to note that in these high times of Aryan fighting arts a dramatic form of war-dancing developed, known then as the 'Pyrrhic War Dance' akin to eastern martial arts "Kata". "Phrrhic" is a name derived from 'pyrrhichius', meaning "how to cope with an enemy". It was a means of stylistic fighting display or solo training, performed armed or unarmed. The dance of war was a significant part of young Greek warrior training and intrinsic to the romance and passion of combat. It was customary practice for both Greek and later Roman combatants to be versed in charioteering, archery, fencing and pyrrhic dance.
All of martial arts, both west and east, recognize wrestling as the root source from which all other forms evolved. To the Aryan Greeks, wrestling became a metaphor for the struggle of good over evil. Graceful, skillfully timed movements performed by a well conditioned athlete were considered a living work of art. The favored form of wrestling to develop through the Olympic Games in 708 B.C.E. was known as "Kulisis"; this form consisted of upright grappling. The object was to cause any part of the opponents body (besides the soles of the feet) to touch the ground.
Another form to develop was known as "Horthay Palay". Horthay Palay was never accepted as a legitimate Olympic event, because the Greeks believed it to be too crude and lacking in grace and beauty. It was a down-and-dirty ground-fighting, performed in pits of soft earth. The wrestlers would compete until one was unable to continue due to exhaustion, injury or death.
Over the centuries Pankration produced a wide variety of Aryan warrior heroes, the likes of which myths are made. Polydamas of Scotussa in Thessaly had won only once at Olympia in the Pankration in 408 B.C.E., but his fame out stripped that of many men with far more victories. Perhaps his impressive size added to his notoriety, as he was the tallest man on record of the Olympic Games. Invited by the King of Persia to give an exhibition of his skill at Susa, Polydamas repaid the kindness of his host rather oddly by killing in unarmed combat, three of the royal body guards, the "Immortals". Also, it was widely acclaimed that he killed a lion with his bare hands. The manner of death of Polydamas was as famous as that of Milo. One hot summer's day he went into a cave with some friends to seek shade. The ceiling of the cave started to collapse and the old Pankratist held it up long enough for his companions to escape and then was crushed to death.
The great historical Hercules gained his fame, not only as a man of extraordinary strength, but, also, with his prowess as a wrestler. It was told that Hercules had on one occasion grappled the nefarious King Ergerius, defeating him and thus ending the monarch's tyrannical reign.
The Aryan martial arts continued to perfect and develop in the Olympic Games, unchallenged for over a thousand years. It was at the end of the 4th century C.E. that a Christian Roman emperor abolished these great athletic festivals on grounds that they were pagan. The Olympic Games competition was not to re-establish again officially until 1896. giving birth to the modern Olympics.
"Life is harsh. It leaves only one choice, that between war and peace."
In Northern Europe the martial arts thrived equally among the Aryan Teutonic and Celtic tribes. Their own specialized fighting arts of body and mind was a style known as "Idrottir", as described in the Norse sagas. The education of the northern Aryan tribes was thoroughly Spartan in its character. In those days of incessant warfare, physical training was considered of the highest importance. Old and young continually practiced games of strength and dexterity; they knew that only by constant combative exercise could they become effective warriors. Through the competitive games the Northern Europeans always prepared for battle, and this was key to the character of the hearty Vikings. Like the Aryan Greeks of the South, wrestling and grappling was a very popular pastime, building suppleness, strength and firmness; It was a great favorite at the yearly Althings and various festivals. Grappling was a more ambitious form of wrestling; sometimes attackers were fastened together by a belt at the waist. These combats for the championship sometimes ended fatally.
Through Idrottir, Glima and other northern martial arts styles of those times, the already formidable Celts and Teutons were a force to be reckoned with in battle. Some men could change weapons from one hand to the other during the hottest fight, use both hands with equal facility, shoot two spears at the same time, or catch a spear in its flight. It was not uncommon for youth to be fully developed warriors at age 15. Much more was expected of the tribal chieftains, to talk of what their forefathers had done was not sufficient; they had to show themselves worthy of them, and if incapable of ruling, they were deposed by the people at the Althing. There seems to have been no mention of prizes given to champions at the northern games. All that was desired was the fame, which fell to the victor. Every great Aryan warrior always excelled in the use of weapons and athletic exercises.
"You never win a victory without a battle. If you would know victory, you must have conflict.” ...............A.A.M.
To be considered the foremost champion or "Kappi" was the greatest ambition of many northern warriors; and to attain this proud position was no easy task among so many men who were equally brave and perfectly reckless of their lives, and thoroughly skilled in the handling of weapons. As with the gun slingers of the early American West, these fighters of renown were constantly being challenged to duels of strength and skill in combat generally fought before a large assembly. The aim of every Kappi among the Teutonic tribes was to become a "Berserk Warrior" who were regarded as the bravest of men. It was believed that neither fire nor weapons could harm them. The brutal rage of the Berserk was greatly feared in battle and much like the early Spartans they fought as if they were immortal and with the fury of a wild beast.
In the "Njala", chapter 19, there is mention of a great hero warrior of legend called Gunnar Hamundsson who lived in Fljotshlid. He was of large size and strength, and more skilled in fight than any other man. He could shoot and strike with both hands equally when he wanted; he moved his sword so swiftly that it seemed as if three swords were in the air. He shot better with a bow than anyone else, and never missed his aim. He could leap as well backwards as forwards, more than his height, in full war-dress. He could swim like a seal, and there was no game at which any man was able to cope with him, in his day, it was known that no man was his equal.
One of the greatest if not 'the greatest' men of renown in Idrotter in Norway was King Olaf. Considered the strongest and most skilled of all and many accounts of this have been written. Like Gunnar Hamundsson he also could fight equally well with both hands, and shoot two spears at once. In addition he was highly skilled in the use of the bow, an excellent swimmer, expert and of good judgment in all handicrafts, whether his own or others.
The martial arts of both East and West are an ever-evolving, vital expression of creative fighting ability, a tradition which skillfully refines the will to self-preservation. The more that each ethnic nation of today can augment the physical, mental and spiritual constituents of their individual and collective being, the better they will be prepared to meet the quest of survival and fulfillment as a species in the future.
“ GALLANTRY in the battle of life wins all men's praise; one should fight so as to conquer, not alone by force but by the way it is used. A mean victory brings no glory, but rather disgrace. Honor always has the upper hand. " .................... Gracian