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The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece: Modern Fighting Techniques from the Age of Alexander Paperback – October 22, 2007
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“Straightforward and insightful, a refreshingly commonsense approach to the truths hidden within both history and mythology. This is an in-depth piece of research revealing a timeless wisdom and the universality of personal experience. A must-read for all those interested in the roots of our martial and spiritual traditions.” (William Gleason, 6th dan, director of Shobu Aikido in Boston, and author of The Spiritual Foundation)
" . . . [The authors'] purpose for this volume . . . is an exploration of ancient combat systems for the sake of helping solve modern global problems. . . . an extremely enlightening book" (Daniele Bolelli, M.A., Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 17, No. 2)
"Any in-depth collection strong in martial arts history needs The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece: a survey of early hand-to-hand combat and a comparison to how they are practiced today." (The Bookwatch, The Midwest Book Review, Jan 08)
"Only a couple of decades ago, if one spoke about martial arts, it went without saying that they were referring to Asian combat systems. . . . While it is true that most martial systems in existence today are of Eastern origins, increasingly more information is emerging about the martial traditions of the west. . . . an extremely enlightening book. (Daniele Bolelli, M.A., Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2008)
"[Dervenis and Lykiardopoulos] do a creditable job of linking the Olympic sport that many warriors know and love now with the hand-to-hand combat training and applications depicted by works of ancient Greek art." (Tim Thompson, Journal of Martial Arts and Healing, Summer 2008)
"Using archeological finds, architectural friezes and decorative motifs of ancient Greece, the authors have demonstrated the actual methods of grappling and close combat they demonstrate and how they are practiced today. Photos illustrate each step as well as the history and theory being presented." (Institute of Hermetic Studies, May 2008)
"The conclusions reached by the authors about the evolution and similarities of ancient combat are balanced and well sourced." (Michael Rosenbaum, author of Kata and the Transmission of Knowledge in the Traditional Martial Arts,)
From the Back Cover
“Straightforward and insightful, a refreshingly commonsense approach to the truths hidden within both history and mythology. This is an in-depth piece of research revealing a timeless wisdom and the universality of personal experience. A must-read for all those interested in the roots of our martial and spiritual traditions.”
--William Gleason, 6th dan, director of Shobu Aikido in Boston, and author of The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido
The architectural friezes and decorative motifs of ancient Greece contain abundant scenes of combat, one-on-one and hand-to-hand. In The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece, the authors offer close inspection of these depictions to reveal that they correlate closely to the grappling and combat arts as they are practiced today. They also show that these artifacts document the historical course of the development of both the weaponry of the warrior classes and the martial responses those weapons required with hand-to-hand fighting.
The depiction of each ancient technique is accompanied by sequenced step-by-step photos of modern practitioners performing the various stances of one-on-one combat. In addition, the authors explain how the development of Hellenic combat arts was tied at its heart to a spiritual practice. The centeredness, clear mind, and consequent courage that develop from a spiritual practice were considered martial strengths for a warrior, enabling him to be at his best, unobstructed inwardly by conflict or inertia. The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece provides a practical and comprehensive approach to the techniques and philosophy of the martial arts of the ancient Mediterranean that will be welcomed by modern fighters.
KOSTAS DERVENIS is a martial arts instructor in jujutsu, pammachon, and t’ai chi chuan. He has written four books on the martial arts and martial traditions, including Nei Kung and The Magus of Java under the pen name Kosta Danaos. NEKTARIOS LYKIARDOPOULOS has a degree in physical therapy and is certified as an instructor in a number of martial arts practices. He began studying martial arts and combat sports in 1983 and has been a member of the Technical Committee of the Hellenic Pankration Federation since 1999. Both authors live in Athens, Greece.
Top customer reviews
I think if anyone reads this book, they will get a lot out of it.
P.S: It even provides exercises so you can perform some of the wrestling skills.
Best book ever!,
Das Buch ist jedenfalls durchaus informativ, und auch als Lehrbuch besitzt es einigen Wert.
This is experimental archaeology at its best. The last part of the book deals with contact between China and the Mediterranean that one might not agree with. I will take pleasure in exploring the techniques in this book for years to come.
Although my entire review can be summed up in the first sentence, below are the detailed strengths and weaknesses that I have found in this publication:
1. Literary Style: The book is written in an easy to understand writing style that is accessible to both amateurs and professional martial artists regardless of their age (teens and above), which makes it a great introductory book for younger adults that should get a well-rounded understanding of the combat arts before committing themselves to any one style or skill type.
2. Illustrations: The photos and illustrations are clear and easy to follow. In addition, the photos of historical images are also very clear and the tying in of historical images (i.e. - ancient paintings/sculptures of Greek warriors engaged in martial techniques) with photos depicting the technique's modern equivalent are one of the books greatest strengths.
3. Historical Detail: Tying into the above comment, the historical facts, figures and examples that the book brings forth are excellent. They give a real understanding of the background of ancient Greek martial sports and martial arts and how this is linked to the martial arts of the present day.
4. Technical Relevance: The publication contains numerous martial techniques that are clearly depicted, easily reproducible by any reader with a base level of skill and are relevant for both those interested in martial sports and/or actual personal combat, of which the book makes a clear and explained distinction. This is yet another one of its strengths, the fact that it easily shows the reader that those techniques that are effective in martial sports (i.e. - MMA) are not necessarily applicable to actual combat and can be quite dangerous if applied to a life-and-death situation, thus helping to weaken the modern illusion that current Mixed Martial Art competitions are somehow the equivalent of actual combat.
5. Factual: Quite simply, the book uses various footnotes and academic backing to support its claims. This provides more credibility to the authors' statements and deductions.
6. Unique: Although not the only book in existence that pertains to the martial arts of Ancient Greece and its surrounding Mediterranean neighbours, the way this book synthesizes historical facts with modern techniques provides it with a unique flavour that is a welcome change to the many martial art books that are focused on only one specific aspect of their art.
1. Length: I found the book to be slightly too short and certain sections could have used further detail, but there are two factors that mitigate this as a weakness. The first is that for individuals that are only interested in certain areas of knowledge, be it martial techniques or martial history or religious-martial links, the condensed aspect of each section helps to ensure that the entire book does not get bogged down by any specific section. The second mitigating factor is that the authors already stated that a second book is in the works, so anyone craving more should keep their eyes out for that volume and will be able to get more details from there.
Covering historical facts, spiritual ideas and ethical theories that link to the martial arts, while also being filled with highly effective and applicable techniques, this is a book that sets a standard for other modern martial arts publications to follow. I highly recommend it for anyone from the amateur martial artist to the professional to those simply interested in the historical and non-technical aspects of personal combat.
If you have any questions before purchasing it that have not been answered above, please let me know and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Rados D. Miksa
Unfortunately, how it really worked a few thousand years ago is anyone's guess. The author tries to do just that, taking one static image, and showing how it works a lot like modern mixed-martial arts. Well--maybe, since there are only so many ways to bend the human body. There is less to go on here than in the surviving medieval fight books, which at least show multiple frames and have a text.
He tries to tie it together with some new age metaphysics; the yin/yang, the double helix and the caduceus, Alexander the great and Buddhism etc. Did the ancient athletes spend their time in their 'dojo' meditating on the nature of the cosmos? Seems a stretch. Worth a read for the history; if you want to become a mixed martial artist, a modern system would be an easier place to get started.