The world's best pankration fighters descended on Chicago on November 10 for the WPF World Pankration Championships.
Hosted by Master Bob Schirmer at his All American Academy of Martial Arts in Cicero, Illinois, the tournament was the first open world pankration championship in modern times, allowing martial artists and athletes from all systems, styles and countries to compete for the first World Pankration Federation World Championship titles.
WPF president Craig Smith called the tournament a major success, and an important step on the road to returning pankration to the Olympic Games.
"More martial artists and fighters are becoming familiar with pankration, and are recognizing it as truely being the ultimate combat sport", said Smith. "The exceptional breadth of competitors and quality of competition at this championship set a new standard for competitive pankration, both in the United States and the world. And the quality of the WPF referee corps, as demonstrated at this tournament, places pankration at the top of competitive martial competition."
Smith further stated that the location was ideal, and historically important. "Bob Schirmer was one of the first to become involved in the pankration movement which resulted in the establishment of the WPF," said Smith. "His All American Academy is the most amazing martial arts and combat sport training facility I have seen in the United States, his staff is the most dedicated and organized I have ever seen, and his personal and professional integrity is such as to be a standard for everyone in competitive martial sports. Every event Bob hosts is a pleasure to attend and be involved in."
Athletes and officials agree. WPF AA-Interna- tional referees who traveled from Kansas City to officiate the tournament expressed pleasure at the atmosphere of the tournament, the quality of the competition and the hopitality of Schirmer and his staff.
And athletes, such as members of the University of Missouri Pankration Team, who stayed at the academy for two nights during the tournament, said they had a great time. "This was a great event," said Duane Hamacher, team captain. "We will definitely be back next year, and bring a larger team. I hope the WPF schedules it here again next year."
With the first World Pankration Championship completed, the road ahead looks exciting for pankration. As more and more martial artists and athletes discover the competitive challenge of this historic ultimate combat sport, the opportunities offered by pankration training and competition will be made available to an increasing number of competitors throughout the world. And as pankration competition increases, more and more competitors will be able to test their skills in the arena decribed by the motto of the World Pankration Federation;
"Honor - Integrity - Fair Competition."