More About the Author
Jim Arvanitis stands out in the martial arts community as a trailblazer and an innovator, one who has dedicated his life to advancing the arts. World renowned as Greek pankration's "Renaissance Man", he has used his creativity and talents as an athlete, competitor, teacher, fitness devotee, published author, world record holder, and historian to resurrect the ancient art of his ancestors from its ashes. Long before the three words "mixed martial arts" were used in that sequence, Jim had created an advanced MMA form with the most effective grappling and striking, combined in a seamless flow that could work proactively or reactively.
Among the elite pioneers of total combat, Arvanitis cross-trained in a number of different styles before it was an accepted practice. Opposing the theory that martial arts originated in Asia, Arvanitis began an odyssey to discover the combat roots of his ancestors before he was even twenty years old. From the ancient pankration, he carefully analyzed the descriptions of Greece's early writers, and the paintings and sculptures of its most influential artists. He assimilated the best techniques from both Western and Eastern methods that he had studied including boxing, wrestling, muay-Thai, and hardcore judo. These sources became his "blueprint" in resurrecting pankration into a contemporary form.
It was Arvanitis alone who would introduce pankration to mainstream martial arts as early as 1970 and popularize it throughout the world in the years that followed. In 1973 history would be made when he was featured in a cover story in Black Belt magazine. This was the first exposure of pankration to the martial arts community. Noted journalist Massad Ayoob, who penned the article, called Jim Arvanitis the "consummate fighter and one of the best martial artists he had ever seen."
In the early days Arvanitis was considered a renegade as he boldly challenged the accepted Asian traditions. Today he is praised as a pioneer by his peers receiving countless awards and honored by numerous organizations. In 2001 Jim was nominated by his former home state of New Hampshire as its "Athlete of the Century", and in 2006 was given "Living Legend" status by his fellow grandmasters in the World Head of Family Sokeship Council.
FIGHT! Magazine stated that "Jim Arvanitis' endeavors were far ahead of the curve in that he included many aspects of combat that no one else did. His art was an ingenious amalgam of standup and ground skills with strikes, clinches, takedowns and throws, joint locks and chokes, and anything else he deemed worthy to resolve a conflict. He sewed together a quilt of realistic and effective moves to address every conceivable situation - much like today's MMA, but this was more than two decades before."
When Jim was named Black Belt magazine's Instructor of the Year in 2009, Robert Young, the executive editor, paid tribute to him ... "There's no denying that Jim Arvanitis is an extraordinary martial artist, and a martial arts historian par excellence." One year later he was inducted into the prestigious Martial Arts History Museum. In addition to his contributions to the martial arts world, he is also a former boxing and wrestling champion, and a multiple world record holder for thumb pushups. In 1977 he completed 45 in 51 seconds, and in 1980 on national television ne bested his previous mark with 61 in 47 seconds.
Highly respected for his athleticism and Spartan-like discipine, Arvanitis trains constantly, running several miles each day, lifting weights, and developing his skill-set using various equipment and sparring. Jim also regularly competes in numerous endurance events including marathons, duathlons, and triathons. His extraordinary strength is shown in the following feats:
* two-finger pushups using one arm
* pushups on but his thumbs with his arms extended in front of him
* thumb pushups with his feet elevated on a chair
* one-arm thumb pushups
* holding a starting pushup position with all his weight balanced on but his thumbs for 5 minutes
*pullups using one arm
Jim's speed, power, and flexibility are equally impressive. He has snapped heavy-duty chains that hold heavy bags with his kicks, and few have been able to pull a glove away to avoid the resounding impact of his lightning-fast hand strikes. At a seminar in Canada in the early-1980s, Arvanitis' punch broke the sternum of a student holding a thick pad to his chest, and one of his kicks propelled another equipped with an air-filled shield through a wall.
Arvanitis opened the first pankration palaistra (school) in 1972 and has also conducted seminars in many parts of the world. His students include boxers, wrestlers, martial artists from various styles, professional bodyguards and stuntmen, law enforcement personnel, and military special forces. In 1991 Jim was sought out by the military to train the Army special forces for Operation Desert Storm. Jim continues to teach small classes and privately, and has new book and video projects in the works.
Today, Jim Arvanitis is legendary for his inspiring list of achievements and by beating the odds in restoring a legacy from antiquity. Through his unrelenting efforts as a researcher, his athletic feats, books and videos, hundreds of magazine articles, television appearances, and radio interviews, Arvanitis has truly earned the title of "Father of Modern Pankration" and is among the most prolific martial artists of our time.
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