Secrets of Pankration with Jim Arvanitis

I’ve been familiar with Jim Arvanitis for years. It’s been easy to recognize him with his wild hair style over the years when I’d see him in various martial art magazines. However, even with this familiarity, I did not know much about what he taught in his art of Modern Pankration. Now that I have watched the Paladin Press DVD set Secrets of Pankration I know what Arvanitis teaches and can say that it is a formidable mixed martial art.

This three volume set encompasses four dvds and has an approximate run time of 350 minutes. That’s a lot of instruction, and Arvanitis instructs very well. I enjoyed watching the DVDs and learned a lot about his system, and learned some interesting variations of things I was already familiar with, and some new fighting techniques as well.

The production quality of Paladin Press DVDs since they build their new studio with the overhead camera has been getting better and better as the years go by. The picture is clear, is it easy to hear Arvanitis, and the camera angles make it easy to see what Arvanitis is teaching so one can actually learn from the DVDs.

Volume One of the set takes up two discs and focuses on pankration’s “ano” or upright techniques including an arsenal of punches, kicks, elbow strikes, shoots and takedowns, clinching techniques and a series of throws and sweeps. Paladin’s easy navigation menus include titles to these section on the first disc: Positioning and Mobility which includes Stance, Hand Positions, and Footwork; Basic Striking Tools to include punching (lead jab, rear cross, lead hook, uppercut, overhand strike), various elbow blows, and kicking (front kick, side kicks, round kick, knee kick); and Striking Defenses such as parries, blocks and covers, and evasions.

Volume One part two picks up on the second disc and includes Equipment Training with focus gloves and impact pads; Transitioning (the shoot, and some takedowns,); Fighting From the Standing Clinch (basic grips, basic clinches, strikes from the clinch, submissions from the clinch, throws and sweeps, and breaking out of a clinch).

Volume Two on the third disc introduces you to the “kato,” or ground-fighting skills of Modern Pankration, including pins, holds, chokes, submission locks and defenses against a mounted striker. This volume starts out with Strategic Ground Positions of Top Control and Bottom Position; and then moves to Ground and Pound From Top Control (Chest pin, Side pin, and Back Pin positions). Arvanitis then teaches how to defend against a mounted striker making sure you don’t fall for the common mistake of rolling over onto your stomach and then teaching leg blocks; submission holds from the chest pin, the back pin, and the side pin; and attacks from the bottom position where you learn how to do various techniques from the bottom position including strikes, chokes and cranks, joint locks and sweeps (basically tossing your opponent off of you from the bottom position).

The fourth disc contains the third and final volume of this set. On this DVD Arvanitis puts it all together, teaching you how to counter throws and holds, gain top position from the bottom, maintain top control and execute compound attacks that will have your opponent submitting in no time. This DVD includes things such as reversals and escaping to immediately put on a submission hold. It also includes skills such as ankle locks and using legs to trap blocking arms.

As you can see, this set of DVDs has a tremendous wealth of material. It is well organized and Arvantis does an excellent job of teaching. For a mixed martial art fighter, there is a lot here to help you in the ring. For practical self-defense, there is also a lot of skills that would enable someone to defend themselves. I have no doubt that Arvanitis can handle himself. However, there was a lot of ground fighting emphasis, and on the street one would not want to be on the ground where friends can put the boots to you as you submit their buddy. I’d stick to the material in volume one of this set as the principle self-defense moves and the techniques in volume two for the ring. Volume three was a combination of the standing and ground, but again, I rather stay off the ground in real fights if at all possible. (That does not mean you shouldn’t know how to fight on the ground or practice ground fighting, you need it all)

Paladin Press and Arvanitis did an excellent job of putting together a video set that teaches the principles and techniques of Modern Pankration. It is a formidable mixed martial art that will enhance anyone’s fighting skills.