Browsing the blog archives for December, 2013.

Shadowboxing Movement Number One (or, how to link primordial ritual dance to martial arts)


In the course of teaching Pammachon, I occasionally provide glimpses of the sources I used to reconstruct the art. I will never reveal them in their entirety nor even partially – my reasoning is simple: whatever products result from my creativity are, per the Berne convention, my intellectual property and may not be used by others without my expressed permission. Whatever lies within the archaeological record belongs to humanity and is, as such, common domain, and may be used by everyone. I don’t want “smart” people to capitalize on my efforts.

That having been said, every so often I enjoy being petty and rubbing other people’s faces in it. This is one of those times, driven by something entirely unrelated to this post.

When originally presented to the public, detractors squealed that the first movement in Pammachon (of eight movements) was based on Chen tai chi chuan’s Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane (Ye Ma Fen Zhong), which I had learned from Chen Xiaowang, and evilly re-interpreted from Bujinkan ninjutsu’s sanshin no kata, or maybe I had seen it in a video sent to me by David Eisenberg featuring Master Shi Ming, or somewhere else, but in any case the movement was “oriental, dude, just like your made-up martial art” (insert frothing at the mouth, tween gossip, and increased levels of testosterone here).

Then I intentionally misled (sort of) a bunch of people (mostly for fun) with Fiore Dei Liberi’s posta longa. Actually the reason I chose that particular depiction was that it proved the historical continuity of the movement in medieval Europe, right on schedule.

Recently a senior student of mine stumbled onto a depiction reflecting an original source of pammachon’s first movement. He found this one, and what it shows is ancient Greek sacred dance, used in rituals.  Interestingly enough, it depicts sea nymphs, an important distinction for reasons I will not get into.

In fact the movement derives from this depiction, and shows Metis, primal goddess of the Greeks, wife of Zeus and mother of Athena, using this movement in her dance. Metis is the daughter of two deities of the sea, and represents intuition, a hunter’s guile (allowing prey to fall into traps); she is a primal goddess from primal times. This is the only known depiction of Metis that survives. And, since Metis correlates to level four (the Enteric Nervous System) in Pammachon, it is good that the student begin work towards achieving this state from the very beginning, which is why it is the first thing he or she is taught.

But that movement exists all over the world, you cry. Precisely, that is the whole point. Every step in Pammachon, every movement, every technique, every principle, though founded in  Greek culture, exists in martial arts and spiritual disciplines all over the world. It is truly pan-machon , all combat. Remember, to prove veracity, what is needed are reproducible results. Our premise is that, if something exists in different geographic regions around the world throughout 4000 years of recorded human history, and is used by unrelated cultures again and again, it has been proven through repeated use and “survivability”, i.e. there is something to it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and why would we want to anyway? It took me twenty years to do the work back in the day (no databases on the internet), and I have been offered a PhD for its publication – parts of it went into my book “The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece.”  But the entire thesis will never be made public – I put its material into Pammachon.