Thursday, July 25, 2013

The “ Gymnastics”, apparatus gymnastics, and the “ destiny” phenomenon…… PAMMAHON- ancient 3-day Hellenic (Greek) martial arts T.A.G.M.A.

The “ Gymnastics”, apparatus gymnastics, and the “ destiny” phenomenon……
PAMMAHON- ancient 3-day Hellenic (Greek) martial arts T.A.G.M.A.
“ Straight from the beginning  of my rectorship there was turmoil amongst students on account of the academic gymnasium.  One group of students , because the academic gymnasium director was mistreating them , caused an uproar in the gymnasium , destroyed its books, interrupted the lessons taking place , and following  a string of protests outside the university demanded that the gymnasium director is dismissed , and that apparatus gymnastics  is replaced by military drills “ ( Katsaras, 1909, pgs 21-22).
By summarizing in this way , the University of Athens rector, during the 1907-1908 academic year , namely Michael Katsaras, medical school professor, describes on his speech all that took place in November of 1907, otherwise known as “ the Gymnastics”.
What we are about to analyse in this text , is apparatus gymnastics, military drills and the framework in which they appeared in 18 century Greece. There had been created a university tradition, purely military in nature, from 1862, through the introduction of  “ arms drill” and the constitution of a university student phalanx, an armed student body commanded by a tactical army officer. At the time it was clearly mentioned that:  “ The ultimate goal of gymnastics is to develop physical as well as to preserve mental powers, and  furthermore to fully prepare youths to lead a proper military life”.
The same happened at school as from a young age children would practice martial arts and arms drill and there are even photographs witnessing that. Apparatus gymnastics replaced through legislation of the time , military gymnastics , not only in schools/gymnasiums, but also in universities. Following the gymnasium instructor’s terrible misconduct in 1907, the students revolted and demanded his dismissal and the replacement  of apparatus gymnastics with military gymnastics. Training in military education not only in universities but also in the military had some French inspiration which lasted until before the outbreak of WWII . Later it was replaced by the British mentality ( this is verified by those who served before WW II and also after, much like the writer’s father namely Dionysios Likiardopoulos, who enlisted voluntarily in 1939 while in 1945 he did his proper military service in the artillery).
Thus we can see in schools at the time young men practicing during physical education in military drills with or without weapons. The French had invented a timetable of military education in which , either armed without or with a long stick (baton militaire),  the trainees would in very short time have benefits such as:
1.       Unarmed fighting ability
2.       Armed fighting ability using a stick, sword, or any bayonet-bearing weapons.

This very training that took place throughout Greece for a good number of years was what helped the Greeks survive and made history again in WWI and WWII. This training was based on the principles of the sword (western fencing) but for military reasons and not for fencing, which was quite widespread at the time. Thus , we can see pupils and students  training in this French method , with a phalanx-like array!.
Ever since modern-day Olympic games , the apparatus gymnastics ( Swedish) mentality spread across the whole of Europe reaching its climax in the Stockholm Olympic games (1912)  and after ,when it was officially presented  and replaced almost everywhere military gymnastics with that of Swedish (apparatus gymnastics).  Swedish (apparatus) gymnastics was invented by Per Henrik Ling , who was also a duelist. The exercises and programme  he introduced  was mainly about treatment through exercising and corrections of bad posture, joints, by toning the muscles etc.  Naturally all those exercises were also to be found in military training, thus what really happened was the removal of arms drill but also the removal of spirit that must be an indispensable part of military training. Along the way, Swedish (apparatus ) gymnastics became known as that of athletes , both in team and individual games.  All this through the spirit of contemporary Olympic games , resulted in distancing man in the long run from his military training that guaranteed his survival as a Nation and an individual , and getting him to adopt today’s mentality of “ we work out for fun and to have a nice body”…….
And so someone may ask ,so what?? Is this a bad thing??. No of course it’s not a bad thing but this isn’t  what contemporary man needs, it never was!. Besides, this beautiful physique comes naturally as a result of military training which however doesn’t stop there, just like contemporary gymnastics. Military training from a school age forms a person’s character  and creates proper “ habits” for later student-citizen socialization , who , bound by these principles and virtues acquired during military training , end up becoming more responsible ,more ethical, with a sound ability to  judge people and determined citizens. Above all, they learn how to steer their thoughts toward common interest within the nation, family and state framework rather than  individual interest which is formed by the “ I exercise for fun and to have a nice body” mentality.  This is also reflected in duell training  ( for personal survival and dominance over others) compared to military mentality ( collective survival so that we submit to no one). This is the point at issue regarding  PAMMAHON, as put together by Kostas Dervenis. “  We do not seek power, we do not seek speed…we await the opening” explains characteristically. And  he brings up the example of the cave bear , which was admittedly the most violent , powerful and fastest animal of the time , which sought to share the same places with humans ( caves).  Primitive man ,however, prevailed because of his tactics and strategics, since objectively he was far weaker and slower than the bear. This is in total harmony and coincidence with Aristoteles’ saying: “ It is good to study the art of war , not to enslave but  rather not to be enslaved”.  “ Do not seek power over others” says Dervenis abut PAMMAHON. “  You must strive so that no one will have any power over you. He who seeks power, will eventually become a slave of that power. Find happiness in freedom”.
And so it is, there will always be someone stronger than us, the issue however isn’t strength and violence in martial arts because then you will find yourself a slave of someone else’s power. Thus, what everyone should seek in the practice of martial arts should be tactics and strategy mainly followed by power and speed, so that we allow no one to exert any power or authority over us. This is how free citizens-fighters are made.
Today almost all martial arts practices are focused on power and violence with the intention of keeping others under control  as well as causing the greatest damage possible. It is mainly up to the instructor to train the student to be able to discern danger promptly so as to avoid it, to be in a position to correctly evaluate the dangerous situation , and to await the right moment for action, so as not to be caught off guard and also not to allow any room for his adversary to take action against him , not with power but with tactics.
To be in a position to check on his opponent rather than striking him , to be able to strike his opponent rather than injuring him….and to be able to injure him rather than killing him!. Taking someone else’s life means he has been acknowledged as enemy of your nation or family , and that he is deliberately trying to harm you, enslave you or take your life, this is where you must give your survival battle and it is mandatory that he is put to death.
Thus, fighting falls under 3 categories:
1.       Disengagement fighting:  when there is no threat to our personal life ,then we seek to disengage as soon as possible.
2.       Submission fighting: when we are attacked and we can’t know the extent of the damage the opponent wants to cause to us ,in which case we must try to keep him under control and subjugate him.
3.       Survival fighting: When we already know that our opponent  definitely wants to take our lives or to cause tremendous harm.
We can show that these 3 categories are directly related to the 3 functions of the brain , taking into account the 3-part brain model suggested by neurology professor PaulD. Maclean:
1.       Neocortex, where this part of the brain is the most conscious part of our personality and is every day in control under standard social circumstances. This part of the brain is is reflected in disengagement fighting and based on logic , we want to consciously avoid fighting. In 3-day ancient Greek martial arts  this is reflected in the conscious level.
2.       Limbic system,old mammalian, where this part of the brain is connected with emotional functions ( emotional level) and reflects rage, passion, social status, selfishness and sex. It is connected with submission fighting, to keep the opponent under control.
3.       R-complex ,reptilian,  where this part of the brain is explicitly concerned with survival of the most basic instincts ( physical level) and is connected with survival fighting.
All parts of the brain , just like all levels of human existence, must work in harmony and collaborate. Contemporary man has lost his ability to consciously go from one situation to the next  depending on what he is faced with. For example, he isn’t able to do what a gorilla can do, which if during eating is attacked by another animal he can fight for his survival and when he is done he can go on with his meal. Typically if a man finds himself in a situation like that  he will freeze to death and die…..
Thus, training in PAMMAHON comprises 3 distinct phases, reflecting our 3 brain parts mentioned earlier.
Let’s now analyse 3 words which constitute  slogans in PAMMAHON:
Civilisation=build, create a city
Politics= maintain this city
War=destroy the city.
Fortunately or unfortunately( as chosen by nature itself),  that’s how everything  functions in life and so does Man. He creates, maintains and destroys.
There cannot only be constant creation
There cannot only be constant maintenance
There cannot only be constant destruction.
Everything is a cycle where one thing succeeds another .  Therefore one cannot exist without the other two. So man cannot function by aiming only at one of them , he needs the other two so he can continue to evolve. The ancient Greeks fully applied all three of these phases, that’s why they were able ,even in periods of peace and “ democratic” prosperity , to give a survival battle against the Persians and beat them. The Persian army were at the time the respective cave bear, but the Greeks were trained and had tactics.  For all of this to become a little more clear  we must discuss another issue , before we begin to summarise.  This other issue is violence.
Violence is the deliberate  use of physical power or authority, threatened or actual, against a person , or against a group or community, which can  result in, or is highly likely to lead to, injury or death, psychological violence, growth disorders, or deprivation.  Krug et al. “ global review on violence and health” , World health organization, 2002.
How to classify people , according to violence classifications.
Good-natured people:  People who do not want and aren’t able to cause harm to others on any level.
Frauds: those who work deviously and using tactics so as by harming others they can benefit themselves . Quite capable of manipulating others  and often can lead people’s hatred in the wrong direction. Such are politicians , especially in Greece.
Determined:  Those who can make the right decisions even under pressure and psychological violence.
Verbal violence, Physical violence, Murderers.
Deceit is a form of violence, indeed it is the method of using violence that allowed the the human species to beat far more powerful animals. Socially however, it has been written off that deceit is equal to violence.  Determination is the antidote to deceit. Our current state is mostly the result of deceit, which is why we need determined people and that is where martial arts training should be focused on so it can produce determined individuals who will benefit the general public. Much like it happened in the 19th century.
Thus, we must take great care to know well what put into our hearts, our knowledge, our intellect, our bodies, as that would have corresponding results. And just like the Great Heracletus says:  “ Everything is cleansed by fate”….. But really how many would understand that? What is Fate?
Prudence is the leading and first born power. As it is, and not having covered the needs of its fate, it must take something to bind together the powerful energy of its fates. The existing available areas that it might attract is magnetism and physical parts of matter. If it attracts those, as it is in its state of independence, then the upcoming  out of all measure , unthinking, violent unnatural areas will take positions that are not suited to the size of the logos of prudence, which may end up in its complete demonization. That’s why prudence needs  a mechanism that will recognize the needs of its fates and the outer logos and when the physical and magnetic powers invade it should be able to stop them outside the psychic cycle and from then to selectively capture the necessary speech of those that suit its fates and its natural functions.
Thus, prudence created fate, to be in its service and without violating its thought to be able to take or turn away that which is needful.  Fate, powerful and dominating, can distinguish everything in all souls of the universe, and is expressed rightfully as it functions in view of the natural universal laws. There is nothing in the cosmos that will disobey and escape her.
Fate is the imaginary mechanism that automatically reads the needs of prudence. Fate selects  form the outside world of the cycle, what prudence is in need of, this is what it seeks , this is what it finds and only these does it introduce. It acts as a shield of the soul against values unsuitable for its spaces.
The final goal of martial arts is to help each student to find his fate. And this is the 4th  level according to my good friend and teacher Kostas Dervenis  it is the spiritual that inhabits the autonomous intestine neurosystem, which has been described as the second intellect because it is autonomous of the central neurosystem, to which it is connected through the neurogastric nerve. It thinks by itself.
I’m not certain whether we will indeed find fate through cultivation in “ esoteric” martial arts or practices as it doesn’t exist there probably, and proof of this is the fact that many people performed internal exercise without having the necessary filtres  and various things entered them and as a result they suffer from mental, physical and spiritual illnesses.
Furthermore, I don’t believe that through religion we will achieve the 4th level as even there the absence of fate is quite evident since there are ideas and sentiments invading it that are false and not proven correct that alter and distort  man so he cannot function on only the 3 levels of his brain as he leaves his fate in the hands of God.
Fate ,therefore, inhabits the intestines and must be the primitive ancient survival and protection instinct of man. It is connected to the goddess Mitis, eaten by Zeus as she carried his child and then from the head of Zeus was born Athena. She expresses fate, goddess of war and virtue and wisdom ( 3-day ancient Greek martial arts). Aris reflects the cave bear , violence , rage, and power. Athena however, rendered him unconscious with just one knock on the neck. We’ve said that fate is connected with instinct, which through cultivation has taken on its final form, which filtres everything and opens the door for those that must be and those that must be are what nature demands along with the universal laws.
The key must be in this phrase that was discovered by Kostas Dervenis, in the monastery of Gouverneto in Chania that says:
“ NOYS ESTIN O DIAKOSMON TE KAI PANTON AGIOS”  meaning fate , as Heraletus says. Because it is true that whatever the mind captures and takes action it will have the respective result on society ,man, everywhere. Whether negatively, positively or conservatively ( culture, politics, war).
The mind= prudence in this very state , with fate created and having harmony , logic and everything else I said without adding anything else. When all this creation of the soul starts its evolutionary production , then we’ll say that the mind got  the ideas and not prudence or fate. Because the mind has now all the conceivable and not the perceptible. ( That which is understood and real functions according to natural law and not against it as much of the perceptible, which approaches us when we become more receptive and open to anything we may be attracting from the universe, see esoteric training for opening the chakras where the whole method is aimed at the absence or dismissal of fate. Thus man becomes a receiver  where literally anything could invade him).
Thus fate is the 4th level according to my teacher Kostas Dervenis where the way to find fate isn’t through martial art , or no other method for that matter, but the teacher himself, the leader. Only he can help you find it , with correct guidance, true knowledge stemming from Heracletus, and on condition that he has already found it himself.
Really have you ever thought how many can actually teach martial arts? Think about all these modern martial arts styles and what real benefit they can have for the trainees and what kind of citizens they can prepare . The point is then not  to practice martial arts with our spirit defined by Aris, but to practice them with virtue and the spirit defined by Athen Prommahos.
How many martial arts practices are still remaining that still carry this ancient true knowledge?.  The answer is a simple one , as long as one makes the right connections. As long as one takes into account the history of a nation that promotes its own fighting methods  and see how many face-to face battle experiences they have. Surely a good number of peoples did, before various Israeli and Philippino martial arts cought on etc.
Besides , we Greeks can definitely deserve first place among others. Not because of our ancestors’ glorious feats but for the 19th century feats that are near us. Thus PAMMAHON  and 3-day ancient Greek martial arts were created  ( TAGMA)  that combine yesterday with today  and having as primary goal the continuation of this frozen but not forgotten and lost knowledge , and the creation of determined people – fighters rather than cave bears.
Dedicated to those that helped me , in their own ways , to find my fate, Kostas Dervenis and Giannis Karageorgiou.

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