Fighting club packs punch with MU students

By Patrick Finley, Missourian staff
Commentary by MU Pankration Team Captain Duane Hamacher


March 5, 2002 In a padded room of Rothwell Gymnasium, six MU
students are learning the best way to knock an opponent unconscious.
Their teacher is showing them how.

"I want you to kick the spine out of his back!"
"I want you to kick him in the gut so his spine comes out his back."
I said it was not meant to be taken literally... He must have forgotten to mention that.

"Rip the head off his body!"
(I never said this)

"Bounce their head off the floor like a basketball!"
These quotes were taken out of context.
These comments have been made but also enforced that it is a not
to be taken literally.

During a drill a few minutes later, the coach ducks under a student's
punch. The coach moves into position to strike the back of the student's

"Knock 'em out!''

"We don't want decisions.''

"We want knockouts!"
"I want you to knock them out, chock them out,
or make them forfeit. Don't have them make a decision, show
them who won and make it clear."

The teacher is preparing the students of the Mizzou Pankration Club for
their next match. Pankration  in Greek it means "all strength''  is a
combination of grappling and fighting that is similar to the Ultimate
Fighting Championships.
Why does everyone compare us to the UFC. Oh, the contoversy... I forgot.

The UFC is a series of pay-per-view television events where fighters kick,
punch and put each other in submission holds with little referee

"There's not a whole lot of difference," said Duane Hamacher, a sixth-year
MU senior who coaches the club. "But in Ultimate Fighting, people
are in it for the prestige; they've never been in a fight in their lives."
I said there are millions of "black belts" who have never been in a fight.
"My" comment about UFC fighters never
being in a real fight was a lie on their behalf. I never said that.

"We're in it for the integrity of the sport."

Pankration debuted in the ancient Olympiad in 648 B.C. and was
considered combat training for Greek warriors.

The World Pankration Federation, run by Craig Smith of Overland Park,
Kan., is lobbying the International Olympic Committee in an effort to
get the sport admitted into the modern Olympics.
Craig doesn't "run" anything. He is the President of the WPF.

Hamacher said the Mizzou Pankration Club, composed of 13 fighters and
an offshoot of the Mizzou Martial Arts Club, is the only university-
affiliated team in the country. The WPF consists of clubs in Illinois,
Kansas and Tennessee. Other leagues have clubs in Seattle and
I said that to my knowledge, we are the only university affiliated Pankration team. So far...

Pankration is not "Fight Club." There are rules  no hitting the spine,
crotch, throat or a downed opponent. WPF fights last one five-minute
round and are separated into weight classes.
You can hit a downed opponent, just can't kick
or knee them if you are standing.

Fighters also have a respect for the ethics of Pankration, and seem to
approach the sport with a mindset similar to karate, judo and
taekwando fighters.
Without the puffy egos of karate, judo and
"taekwondo fighters".

For instance, when one student calls his buddy "Stupid,'' Hamacher
made them do 10 pushups. In practice last Thursday, students had to
hold a pushup position for 10 seconds until every teammate had
done it correctly.
After doing 80 pushups and 35 minutes of intense PT.

Students must also learn the anatomy of the human body, how to attack
others, and to defend themselves.
In Pankration, a sport. "How to attack others" is misleading.

Hamacher's personality shows the duplicity of the sport. He teaches
students the best way to attack an opponent's head, but also studies
anatomy and takes a ballroom dance class on Mondays.
I study physics. Anatomy is an integral part of Sli Beatha. I suppose my personality can be totally judged in a 5 minute question/answer.

Hamacher might try to explain the complexity of the sport when he applies
for funding from the Student Organizations Allocations Committee
later this semester. SOAC distributes more than $400,000 a year  or
about $18 per student  to campus clubs each year.
What's to explain?

The club wants money to pay for tournament fees, travel costs and

It will be a hard sell. Students have to sign a waiver to fight that says both
they and their heirs recognize MU and the club as being "harmless
and forever blameless for any injury or other mishap."
A hard sell, huh? We aren't selling jack.

The sound of fists hitting flesh, similar to a watermelon being dropped
from second-story window onto the cold concrete, won't do anything
to garner support from SOAC. Neither will stories of broken
wrists, bloody noses and, as Hamacher said, opponents "in
the back puking their guts out."
Since when does a fist hitting flesh sound like that?
More journalist crap making us sound like Gladiator and trying to raise a controversy.
We don't need SOAC, I simply said I may try to get funds.
"An occasional, non-serious bloody nose or sprained wrist and the JuJitsu
puking their guts out after attempting to show why they need to learn to hit and get in shape."

Hamacher might be wise to use Lee Whitaker, a sixth-year MU senior, as
an example of the positives of the sport when he talks to SOAC.
Whitaker won the WPF world championship last November, but
sometimes struggles through the conditioning drills during practice.
Guess I better wise up.

Whitaker, at 5-foot-2 and 150 pounds, is the only woman on the team and
one of a handful of female Pankration fighters in the world.

She joined the club after taking a Celtic and Gaelic martial arts class with
Hamacher. That class, known as Sli Beatha, did not offer
enough practical experience, Whitaker said.
Correction, Sli Beatha encourages students to fight in Pankration and
most all of their skills come from Sli Beatha.
Misrepresentation and clouding the facts.

She then joined Pankration for the competition, both male and female.
This means she has fought males and
females. Unclear.

What sets the sport apart from other martial arts is that it is practical,
Whitaker said. Karate matches are judged on a point system, and
referees step in after every touch.

"We don't do that in Pankration," Whitaker said. "In karate, you can touch
somebody on the nose and be a champion.

"In Pankration, we go for the knockout. You want everyone in the room to
know who won the match.

"It's as close as you can get to reality, within the rules."
The WPF enforces a strict set of rules to allow the competitors a fair competition without causing serious injury to each other. Safety first!

Maybe too real. The violence that comes with a referee who does not
break the fighters after each touch makes the sport more dangerous.
Obviously, this guy knows nothing about martial arts. How can he judge what is dangerous if he has never experienced it himself.
Accidents are very rare, as are any serious injury.
Just making us look like savages and overusing the word "violence".

Hamacher said he thinks the club will get SOAC funding without any

"People don't have to come in and compete  that's fine," he said. "We're
a student organization, same as football or wrestling or boxing or
anything else."

Whitaker said the sport would not survive if there was too much violence.

"Then, we'd have no one to compete against," she said.

Patrick Finley writes a Tuesday column for the Missourian.