New Web video series


As we struggle with the problems that life has provided for us here in Greece, there is always time to have some fun!

I’m preparing a new video web series. This is the first one; more to follow.


Note: Three more videos have been uploaded (11 December 2011)


There are parrots in my back yard


This morning I was awoken by the battle cries of my cat. Apparently, two parrots had intruded into her territory and were sitting on the outside rails of my balcony. The cat was trying to get at them, so I shooed them off. I guess I ruined her morning because the cat is no longer speaking to me.

I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to psittacines. I mean, I had a parakeet once when I was a kid, but that’s about as far as I got. I live in Athens, Greece, a highly urbanized setting, but my house is thankfully on the borders of one of the last patches of green in the city. A small mountain stream runs ten miles from the highlands down to the center of town, creating a little valley full of life and green in the process. We residents are fiercely protective of our spot of nature, and so far, no idiot has managed to burn down his plot of land so that he can put up a new shopping mall or something. Those who have tried, have gotten caught and arrested. Beaten up once too (I wasn’t there, honest, just ask my attorney). Go team go.  Oh, except for a former Minister of Environmental Protection – she did manage to build an apartment building all the way down to the banks of the stream, but she assured everyone that building was ecological, and she should know, by golly. 

Anyway, parrots. There are literally hundreds of them living in our little valley.  Our yard, like many of the yards bordering the river valley, contains a few palm trees.  Parrots apparently like palm trees.

So this morning I saw a flock of parrots roosting in our palm trees. I thought I was back in northern Africa for a few seconds. Especially with two parrots sitting on my balcony evaluating me in my underwear.

My question is, are we still denying climate change? Because if we are, I’d like someone to explain the African parrots in my yard. To top it all off, I’m sure they’re immigrating illegally, like the hundreds of thousands of African males that come through Greece annually moving north, trying to find work and food.

Are we still denying climate change? I’m not really sure – I think everyone has accepted it by now, but they’re putting it down to natural causes or something. Hell, our proud and patriotic oil companies are even seizing the opportunity to drill in the Arctic and continue in their noble efforts to provide us with more light and power.

And parrots. The parrots are moving north, too, folks. It’s undeniable. I’ve seen them. Maybe we can use them as a food source.

My cat would be happy for sure. Hell, maybe she’ll even forgive me. She was so looking forward to an exotic meal.



Of Men and Mice




Traditional martial arts should offer a simple method of protection and independence for citizens in an age where society has pushed us to become intimidated components of a great machine, comforted only by mass consumption, instead of self-sufficient individuals full of resilience and will as is our birthright. In this brief  essay, we will examine components of a strategy whereby you can become such an indivivdual, and how martial arts can help you achieve this goal.


The points I wish to make are simple:


 1. There can be no such thing as rights without concomitant responsibility. Such

an institution (rights without responsibility) is artificial and cannot survive entropy.


In my book Pammachon, I referred to the Greek word idiotes, a term which describes a private person, someone who does not involved himself in common affairs; this term has become incorporated into the English language as the word “idiot.” The Greeks believed a true citizen must involve himself politically. There were two types of citizens in ancient Greece: those who involved themselves in the public affairs of the “people,” the demos (from hence democracy), and the private ones, the idiotes, who kept to themselves. I will not hesitate to repeat myself repeatedly to stress that the ancient Greeks thought that those who did not involve themselves in politics were blatantly stupid. Today, both involvement and sacrifice are paramount if we are to reverse the trend of social decline; I will outline the reasons below.


The term Power Elite in political and sociological theory refers to a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, and access to decision-making of global consequence. The term was coined by Charles Wright Mills in his 1956 book of the same name, which describes the relationship between individuals at the pinnacles of political, military, and economic institutions. The unity of this elite rests upon their similar world view, i.e., the belief that they are superior to the common man. Behind this psychological unity, lie those institutional hierarchies over which the political directorates, the corporate rich, and the militarily powerful now preside. How each of these hierarchies is shaped, and what relations it

has with the others, determine in large global politics. It is a mistake to think that the Power Elite have emerged as the realization of some global plot; in fact, their existence can be predicted through the mathematical modeling of industrialized societies. They, like many things in life, are the result of auto-organization. The question is, how does one deal with them?


In the past, I have suggested approaching these people as individuals, looking at them as people, ascertaining what their individual needs are, and moving to establish win-win scenarios. This is most certainly one approach. But at the end of the day, to be truly successful, one must also address the matrix within which the power elite operate.


One cannot understand the international system of the world without understanding the interplay of the three fields of business, politics, and military strength. Imperialism has generally meant the political and military protection of businessmen and their interests in foreign lands. The political protection provided need not be the conquest of colonies; the military protection need not involve the establishment of military bases. Regardless of the manner in which the matrix extends itself, the power elite provide for the interplay of economic, political, and military institutions and men. The current war in Iraq is an example of this strategy (as opposed to Afghanistan, which had an actual strategic and tactical basis).


The democratic system of power is usually interpreted as a moving balance of many competing interests. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this balance occurred among a great scattering of individuals and enterprises, and so functioned at its peak. Today, it occurs among a scattering of great interest blocks. The strategy that prevails at the peak of these blocks is that a conglomerate of technological, financial, and military power is required to dominate the other blocks. I call those elite blocks among the Power Elite, the Enclaves, borrowing from a highly prophetic video game published in 1998. (1) In fact, there are many Enclaves, not one, each at the peak of its particular special interest group and geography. But all Enclaves do work together internationally as much as possible, to further the interests of the global Power Elite, except in those instances where their specific interests collide.


Fate can be viewed as a sociodynamic force shaped by our Unconscious Mind. One can accept that or not; if one understands this principle, one can use it both in the macroverse and microverse. But tapping into our Mass Unconscious notwithstanding, the functional shaping of history in our day is the domain of the various Enclaves that are now organized worldwide. Their facility for violence is absolute; their economic systems are autocratic. Politically, each one of them has become a closed world, and in all these spheres their bureaucracies are global. It is not a pretty picture.


In the past, romantic bards would often assert that men are free to make their own history. It would seem in our day that some men are much freer than others to do so, given that such freedom requires access to the means of decision and power by which such history is made. One could argue that this has always been the case, but never has the condition been so well organized and controlled as in our time (a product of our technology). Power itself is a hierarchy, and the shape of this hierarchy has always been subject to historical change. At any given moment in Time, Fate seems to open to different men different opportunities to exercise their wills in the shaping of history. It appears overwhelming, but only if you accept that you have no power to affect change. What to a powerless man is an awe-inspiring event, to a member of the Power Elite is an opportunity to make his personal mark and step upwards in the hierarchy. In our time, the common man has increasingly become the utensil of the Power Elite. But is that all there is to it?


The antidote to this condition is an understanding of the methods and the techniques of personal empowerment. If you are confident in your own personal power, when you understand our social matrix and see it as just that, you also understand how and where to strike to further your own interests within that matrix.


One riddle to solve is that, in this globalized age, there is no longer any one issue that remains exclusively the subject of domestic politics – everything has become international. It would appear, for example, that labor unions would only be concerned with their slice of the pie, and not be interested in the international goings-on of their particular industry. But this has proven to be a false standard – in fact, many labor unions have become obsolete by the simple relocation of their industry. Since labor unions historically have not been concerned with international politics, the result is that what influence they have had on domestic affairs, has often been used quite irresponsibly to their own detriment.


One must look at the situation as it is, rather than as one would like it to be. Today, contrary to the rhetoric espoused by our fearless leaders, the following factors have come to prevail around the world: (2)


1. To assume that democracy is a balance of powers is to assume that the units in balance have more or less equal power and are independent of each other. These assumptions once rested on the historical importance of a large and independent middle class. In the latter part of the 19th century, such a class of farmers and businessmen did indeed exist; they were able to continue their lives independent of global events. But these men lost their rights by becoming economically dependent on larger economic structures. The farmers came to rely on government subsidies rather than their own hard work, and the small businessmen became white collar workers. Neither subsidized farmers nor white collar workers are independent entities – they must make their daily declarations of dependence and fealty in order to survive. Accordingly, the middle class has already been disrupted.


When George Orwell3 published his novel 1984 in 1949 (3), this situation was already maturing, but few had the capability to see it as manifest reality during the boom-time of the 50s and the anthropocentric decade of the 60s. Today, it has become an apparent truth all around the world.


2. Mass communications, media and especially the Internet included, do not link and feed erudite discussion circles. On the contrary, more often that not they convert them into circuses. They do not truly communicate; they trivialize and distract. In addition, they are wide open to external surveillance and influence.


3. Voluntary associations open to individuals and small groups and connecting them to centers of power, are no longer are dominant features of the social structure of western democracies, as they were at the beginning of the 20th century. They have been replaced by Internet chat sites where language is destroyed and grammar is repeatedly raped.


When one takes the above into consideration, he understands that western democracies are no longer comprised of a political public, but rather a politically indifferent mass society. Demotes have become idiotes, surrendering rule to the Enclaves in the process.


So how does one get his personal power back?


By reversing the trend. By becoming internally stronger personally, and as a consequence assuming responsibility for yourself. Once you are a responsible citizen, you will be able to assume more and more of an active role, involving yourself in your society. Practicing martial arts can help with this; it is no coincidence that Vladimir Putin takes time out to actively promote the sport of judo among Russian schoolchildren. Once you are a true demotes, a true member of the society you live in, you will be able to enhance your power base by becoming a living example for others to emulate. In this case, society itself as a whole will become stronger, and the large group of private persons that comprise our world today, will in truth become citizens.


As once they were.


2. The greatest freedom is to be able to say (without fear of reprisal) that two

plus two equals four. If that is given, all else follows. (4)


There is nothing an Enclave member fears more than having made public the news that he is not superior to the rest of mankind. And it is a sad truth that, specifically, in this generation, many Enclave offspring have become flaccid and spoiled. I am not referring to their physical shape, which may appear to be at a peak, but rather to their spirit inside. Alexander the Great fought on the frontlines with his troops, risking all on a toss of the dice in the heat of battle; men died for him willingly. Many Barons and Kings of Medieval Europe did the same. Today, things are different, and paid mercenaries often handle the daily affairs of the pampered elite, financial as well as physical (sadly, even sexual in some cases). However, deficiency among their own kind is something Power Elite Elders fear and watch for, considering it a weakening

of the gene pool. This is leverage of sorts.


An individual who is powerful enough inside can often stand against a younger member of the Power Elite by playing on this fear. I have done so successfully on more than one occasion. The best way to achieve this is by insisting that two plus two equals four.


“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on acoming” was the motto of Texas Ranger Bill McDonald, who captained a company of Rangers from 1891 to 1907. While this is not exactly true, and many a fellow in the right has been mowed down by those in the wrong, it is a good stance to take if you can prove that two plus two equals four. What I mean by this is simple: at the end of the day, only a small percentage of the population are sociopaths. Most Enclave members and leaders are human beings, and will react to moral stimuli much like everyone else. You will have to work harder to reach the point where negotiations can be made, but, ultimately, two plus two equals four is a good principle to keep dear to your heart.


To reach the point of negotiation, you will have to be strong and have much stamina. Your opposition’s initial strategy will be to wear you down. Once again, martial arts training can provide both the spirit and the stamina required to endure the initial onslaught. But you must persevere. That having been said, always remember that two plus two does equal four. Wishful thinking should be put aside, and one’s own situation reviewed in the clear light of logic. Chances are that you will not be able to stand before superior forces. Accordingly, you must play the game without emotion and without pathos. See things as they are, not as you wish them to be.


3. Develop the heart of a warrior, regardless of your physical condition, age, sex

or social status. A warrior is a common man just like everyone else. To think

otherwise is to believe a delusion that has been developed by Hollywood



Conflict is terrible. Killing any living thing is horrible and should be viewed as such. Killing a human being is an abomination. It is not something to be proud of; on the contrary it is something that should fill you with remorse. And yet, there it is. A true warrior should be a reluctant protector, not a willing executioner. That fine line is what distinguishes the true warrior from the criminal and the sociopath. This statement can be better explained if we review the actual state of affairs regarding modern warfare. Modern war is, in itself, a shadow-play, a reversion. Modern war does not, in fact, exist, and has not existed since 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped. Those who have read Orwell’s 1984 will recognize the following quote:


…war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of

modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labor.


If the energy and man-hours involved in waging war were spent instead increasing the standard of living of the various nations around the globe, then there would be no need for war. But, if this were the case, then the control of the Enclaves over the rest of humanity would cease. War, then, is the economic basis of a hierarchical society. When one understands this, he understands why he must become a reluctant warrior, if for no other reason than to become a true warrior.


4. Educate yourself continuously. Study something new every day. Never stop learning. A jewel shines only when polished, a rough diamond will never be worn on a ring.


My great-grandfather was a peasant who kept the company of kings. I never understood how this could be possible, and scoffed at the historical anecdotes told to me by my own grandparents. But when I stumbled onto the treasure trove of family documents I discovered in 2003, I was also fortunate enough to find a cache of letters that my great-grandfather had written to my great-grandmother from the United States at the turn of the twentieth century.


These letters are in incredibly erudite classical Greek, so profound that few young Greek adults today could understand them, let alone write them. I was astonished to read them myself, astonished to find that a peasant from a remote village in Turkish occupied northern Greece could write in this type of language. But a further search allowed me to discover the school books used by my grandparents and grand-aunts in the village, and everything became clear. At ten years of age, they were studying Xenophon’s Anabasis. (5) What is even more amazing is that the elementary school in Papingo, my village, had procured these books from Germany, given that at the time the Greek Orthodox Church had forbidden the publication of ancient texts as they were considered “pagan” in nature.


So these denizens of a remote mountain village were very aware that education was the key to a better lifestyle, even if they spent that life farming in said village. Today, this need has become even more crucial. And nowhere is the need more pronounced than in the matter of language.


It would appear that young people all over the world are losing the capacity to fully express themselves in their respective native languages. The Internet is a key contributor to this, due to two factors: 1) books are no longer the primary vehicle for imparting information, and 2) the internet has established its own rules for verbal exchange. But this is dangerous on many fronts, and, once again, brings to mind Orwell’s 1984.


One of the major constructs of Orwell’s novel was a fictional language called Newspeak. In the novel, it is described as being “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.” Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. The Newspeak term for the mainstream English language is Oldspeak. The historical seeds of Newspeak can be found in the constructed language Basic English, which Orwell himself promoted from 1942 to 1944 (during World War 2), before emphatically rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language”. In this article he laments the quality of the English of his day, citing examples of dying metaphors, pretentious rhetoric, and meaningless words, all of which contribute to fuzzy ideas and a lack of precise thought. I cannot imagine what Orwell would think of the English vocabulary used by native speakers today. I cannot imagine what he would think if he visited a typical forum on the Internet and read the exchanges posted.


 Reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end to itself. Newspeak was designed to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum. It saddens me to say that this fictional model is taking historical shape in our day and age. While I doubt there is a deliberate plot behind it, one can see it everywhere. In 1982, 56.9 per cent of Americans had read a work of creative literature in the previous twelve months. The proportion fell to fifty-four per cent in 1992, and to 46.7 per cent in 2002. In 1970, according to Editor & Publisher International Year Book, there were 62.1 million weekday newspapers in circulation—about 0.3 papers per person. In 2006 there were just 52.3 million weekday papers—about 0.17 per person. More alarming are indications that Americans are losing not just the will to read but even the ability. According to the Department of Education, between 1992 and 2003 the average adult’s skill in reading prose slipped one point on a five-hundred-point scale, and the proportion who were capable of such tasks (formerly considered commonplace) as “comparing viewpoints in two editorials,” declined from fifteen per cent to thirteen.


Which means that only 13% of Americans can actually digest, understand, and comment on what they are reading. This is frightening. This is staggering. This is un-effing-believable. And this erosion isn’t unique to America. Between 1955 and 1975, the decades when television was being introduced into the Netherlands, reading on weekday evenings and weekends fell from five hours a week to 3.6, while television watching rose from about ten minutes a week to more than ten hours. During the next two decades, reading continued to fall and television watching to rise. By 1995, reading, which had occupied twenty-one per cent of people’s spare time in 1955, accounted for just nine per cent. No wonder Borders went out of business recently.


The most striking results were noticed when comparing generations. By 1995, a Dutch college graduate born after 1969 was likely to spend fewer hours reading each week than an elementary school-level person born before 1950. As far as reading habits were concerned, academic credentials mattered less than whether a person had been raised in the era of television. The patterns are the same in America. Between 1982 and 2002, the percentage of Americans who read literature declined in every age group, even in those moving from youth into middle age, which is often considered the most fertile time of life for reading. We are reading less as we age, and we are reading less than people who were our age ten or twenty years ago.


If television is one culprit, then the Internet is twice so. Both TV and the Web are enjoyable, and I spend hours a day on one or the either. But I read like a maniac as well. This is the way I combat the degradation of thought imposed upon us – I read everything I can get my hands on voraciously, and then take the time to discuss it with my friends, who do the same.


You can do this too. Why is this important? Because the old texts themselves, classic literature that is, contain the breadth of spirit necessary for you to enhance your own mind. This is rarely the case for television series (with some exceptions), or the Internet. You must study the classics in order to understand who you are. How can you understand where you now stand, if you do not read the words of those who have walked before you? The past is your power base. You would be a fool not to use it. You would be even more of a fool to ignore it.


 Keep in mind that the evident degradation of culture prevalent in our time is not unique to the middle classes, but includes the Power Elite themselves. By the middle of the twentieth century, the global oligarchy had become an entirely different breed of men from those who could on any reasonable grounds be considered a cultural elite. By the beginning of the 21st century, they were typified by Paris Hilton and George W. Bush. It occurs to me that what these people fear most, deep in their hearts, is a cultivated man who is unafraid, a man with a powerful heart, a true citizen who sees them not as superior beings, but for what they really are. In the past, there were many such men all around the world. Today, there are few. But this could be a temporary state of affairs. The educated, unafraid man could be making a comeback, if developments in world affairs are an indication. Knowledge and power are not truly united inside the ruling circles, and when men of knowledge or power do come in contact with the circles of powerful men, they come today not as peers but as hired men. It has been my personal experience that these hired men are in the end feared and envied by their very employers for their abilities. This fear and envy is a weak point you can use to your own advantage.


But first you must become cultured, educated, and unafraid.


5. Become independent. Independence is the key to both personal freedom and a

healthy society.


What do we mean by independent? We have stated that an ideal democracy would arise from a balance of powers where the units in balance have more or less equal power and are independent of each other. In the past, a large and independent middle class did indeed exist, and were able to continue their lives unaffected by global events. But the descendents of these men lost the battle by becoming economically dependent on larger economic structures.


When Ghandi set about to liberate India from the British, the first thing he attempted was to foster a spirit of physical independence from the merchandise of the ruling class. The British rulers made very good cloth in their textile mills; rich Indians wanted it, and wore it, to differentiate themselves from the poorer members of their society. Ghandi made homespun cotton cloth a fashion, dealing a powerful monetary blow to textile interests. But what really brought the Indian independence movement home was the boycott on the Salt Tax. For many years, the procurement of salt, a free substance on India’s many coasts, was a monopoly of the British government, heavily taxed. Gandhi chose to disobey the taxation and monopoly laws. He had his reasons for choosing the salt tax. The salt tax was a deeply symbolic choice, since salt was used by nearly everyone in India. It represented 8.2% of the British Raj tax revenue, and most significantly hurt the poorest Indians the most. But what had begun as a Salt Boycott quickly grew into a mass sanction of all British goods. British cloth and goods were increasingly boycotted. Unpopular forest laws were defied. Peasants refused to pay land tax, under threat of losing their crops and land. The British responded with more laws, including censorship of correspondence and declaring the Indian Congress and its associate organizations illegal. None of those measures slowed the civil disobedience movement, which gathered momentum like a locomotive.


The Salt Boycott succeeded in drawing the attention of the world. Millions saw the newsreels showing the march. Time magazine declared Gandhi its 1930 Man of the Year, comparing Gandhi’s march to the sea to defy Britain’s salt tax to the Boston Tea Party. In short, the method worked. Or perhaps those were simply different times.


Today, it is no secret that most of our food is produced and distributed through centralized sources; the small farmer has almost vanished. We most certainly no longer manufacture our own clothing, and carpentry is a lost art. Even manufacturing itself has become all the more centralized, with small factories being bought out and absorbed by large special interest groups, or closing down outright due to the inability to compete financially.  In short, we live in the age of power consolidation, with power being limited to the hands of the very few.


What drives me crazy personally is that this tactic is nothing new, and has failed dismally every time it has been implemented.. In addition, this consolidation is mathematically unstable and cannot exist for long; there are too many factors and forces working in opposition to it. In order for consolidated globalization to work, the people in charge would have to predict every statistical deviation from the system of equations they set in motion for the machine to operate. Anyone who has any experience whatsoever with complex systems understands that this is impossible. As Murphy predicted, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. There is no way around this. We have not evolved, and most likely will never evolve, to the point where such control is possible. The inevitable result is insurrection and global catastrophe followed by centuries of yet another Dark Age.


Globalization is Mankind’s destiny in the long run and an inevitable result of our evolution, but there is one factor that the Power Elite do not understand, or they are studiously attempting to ignore, and that is this: in order for Globalization to exist, it can be neither consolidated nor hereditary. At the end of the day, in a globalized society, the only system that will withstand the onslaught of time and result in stability, is a merit-based system based not on dependencies but rather respect. This is the point where both Confucius and Plato made the same error, not taking into account natural tendencies towards entropy.


In the 19th century, the world was globalized; it was an Age of Empires after all. And what were the results? Two World Wars, competing systems of financial governance, revolution and insurrection, global disease, a whole slue of regional wars, dictatorships, famine, and finally the Cold War itself, which almost resulted in the nuclear devastation of mankind and our End. It is not the first time this has happened. The myth of Atlantis reflects similar circumstances. During the Bronze Age, as archaeology has established today, the

world economy was globalized. Goods flowed from China to Britain and Sweden to the heart of Africa. The world was divided into the fiefdoms of Great Kings, who considered each other Brothers and all people beneath them fodder for their whims. What happened? The little people eventually rose up, circa the 13th century BC, all over the Mediterranean. Empires crumbled and vanished overnight, and the world was cast into a Dark Age for five centuries. We were lucky to recover as quickly as we did.


It doesn’t work, people. It cannot work, it has never worked historically. Get someone to do the math for you (complexity theory required). Get over it, get used to it, swallow this not-so-bitter pill before your own children face the consequences of mass revolution (again). Remember what happened to the Eastern Bloc countries behind the Iron Curtain; the citizens rose up. Look at the Arab Spring movement; watch was is happening in Greece carefully. The same thing can happen anywhere, has happened everywhere. This is a lose-lose scenario.


When I was a younger man, I always used to wonder why the ancient Greeks never got their act together enough to become a united nation. I mean, the Egyptians did, the Persians did, the Romans eventually did, why not the classical Greeks? I believe it was a deliberate decision due to recollections and stories left over from the Bronze Age. Racial memory told them that the experiment could not work, so they opted for independent centers of power tied together by a common language. That experiment worked well enough to result in an Age of Enlightenment that is still the Ideal Model for what has come to be known as “Western Democracy.” Even in our day and age, then, consolidation can be walked away from. You can still capture a modicum of independence and self-respect by delving into basic needs. I will not get into the creation of an independent homestead; there are many publications out there written by people far more qualified than myself to discuss the subject. I encourage the reader to find these books and follow their advice. On my own part, what I would like to inspire people to do is to plant a small garden for themselves. You will be amazed at how such a simple achievement can empower you. I once fed an entire neighborhood all summer long from the simple garden I had planted in my (very small) back yard.


In a civilized and ideal world, or in a Disney movie, the advice I have given you in this essay would have profound effect on your world. But we must remember always that two plus two equals four, and we must apply this principle first to ourselves. If you take the stance to seek empowerment for yourself and your dignity, there is always a chance you will fail; indeed, the status quo around the world is built upon this fear of failure. I have both succeeded and failed many times; I wish I could say it is easy. It is not.


I am reminded, in closing, of an old Eastern Orthodox Christian parable. A monk is, through his prayers, deemed worthy of being shown both Heaven and Hell. An angel takes him to the Afterlife. He chooses to see Hell first. Hell is a vast hall with an endless table. All manner of food and drink is placed in platters on the table: succulent meats, pastries, pastas, ripe fruits and crisp salads, fresh juices and wines, ice water and succulent deserts. The damned are seated at this table, and in front of them are dishes of gold and goblets of crystal. But the dishes and goblets are empty; the damned cannot eat or drink. They have been given forks and spoons six feet in length with which they must eat; these utensils cannot be grasped from anywhere but their very end, so that the damned cannot bring any food to their mouths. Also, they cannot seem to hold the goblets firmly; they can fill them up alright, but when they try to bring them to their lips to drink, the goblets twist and turn like living beings in their hands and all the liquid dribbles away. The damned are angry, hungry, thirsty and tormented, skeletal in appearance, with bloodshot eyes, foaming mouths, and bellies distended round and tight by starvation.


The monk is then brought to Heaven. It is an identical hall with the same endless table. Once again, all manner of food and drink are placed on the table. Once again, the blessed are seated with plates of gold and goblets of crystal in front of them. Once again, they have been given two meter long forks and spoons with which to feed themselves. But, unlike the damned, the blessed are robust in appearance, laughing, sated, happy, telling jokes, eating and drinking their fill. How do they manage it?


Simple. The forks are just long enough so that one person can feed his neighbor, the goblets have no problem when one man holds them for another to drink. And all seated at that table are willing to do so.


Religion aside, at the end of the day, there are only two types of people in the world: those who think only of themselves, and those who take others into consideration. There is no other distinction that matters, and none is required: every other conceivable distinction belongs to the realm of religious dogma, and is not within the scope of this discussion.


This axiom is the secret behind any successful political and economic system. Warren Buffet understood this, as did Bill Gates in the end. In addition, if one styles himself a warrior, this axiom is the cornerstone of the Warrior’s Path. Self-sacrifice is at the heart of being a warrior; a true warrior is a Protector, one who lays himself in the path of a predator to protect his fellow men, not a predator himself. The Spartans did not die at Thermopylae for themselves; they died there for their brothers, their brethren, their countrymen, and all their fellow Greeks. They died there so that the Enemy would know who he was fighting against, and despair of ever conquering, men who were so free inside as to laugh at Death itself. 


(1)   That would be Fallout 2 by Interplay Studios, which eerily and sadly predicts modern events and future trends. That it was developed in the US during a time of Clintonesque abundance says much for its creators.

(2)  As predicted long ago by the late sociologist C. Wright Mills
(3) George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair.
(4) George Orwell first stated this axiom in his book 1984.
(5) The Anabasis (the Ascent) is the most famous work of the Greek writer Xenophon. The journey itnarrates is his best known accomplishment. Xenophon accompanied the Ten Thousand, a large army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger, who intended to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II. Though Cyrus’s army was victorious in battle, Cyrus himself was killed. Stranded deep within enemy territory, the Spartan general Clearchus and the other Greek senior officers were killed by treachery. Xenophon played an instrumental role in encouraging the Greek army of 10,000 to march north to the Black Sea through Kurdistan and Armenia, eventually achieving safety.













Making revisions/ correcting errors, Pammachon book


Making revisions/ correcting errors, Pammachon book

I just caught a major blooper in my new book on Pammachon (I caught it myself so it doesn’t count). If you could help me out with comments and corrections, dear readers, I would appreciate it.

There are some people out there who I really respect who have requested a hard copy – I want to get all such corrections in place before I print their copies.  (Actually, this publish on demand method is pretty cool as far as that is concerned – you can correct mistakes!) So feel free to question and criticize – I will answer most questions on that subject in this blog.


What’s in a word?



There are few references to Pammachon in antiquity. One of them is the papyrus letter SB 3.6222.


In this letter to his sister Sophrone, a man called Dios writes how he competed in athletic games in Alexandria. He may have penned the letter himself, as indications are that Dios received a good education and belonged to the upper class. The letter has been dated to the late third or fourth century through literary means, and we can date it very precisely based on the events it illustrates.  The papyrus describes the emperor attending festivities in the center of the city. We know that Diocletian visited Egypt in the winter of 301 through the spring of 302. He was most certainly in Alexandria on the 31st of March.


Let’s look at some excepts from the text of the letter (as translated and completed by Ms.Sofie Remijsen of Leuven University in her article Pammachon, A New Sport (The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 185-204)):


(Note: Text in parentheses and italics (this format by example) has been added by yours truly for clarification).


To my dear sister Sophrone, greetings (from) Dios.


Above all I pray to [the lord] god that you are doing well and also that

the best things in life may be yours. …..


We are glad to be here. I will tell you everything that has happened to me in Alexandria. So, when we arrived here, we didn’t find the person whom we came looking for (but) we did find our lord the emperor visiting. He ordered that athletes be brought to the Campus and fortunately, I and five (others) were selected, without the other athletes knowing. When I arrived there, I was at first paired up to do pankration and I had bad luck, as I do not know how to do pankration. So I was performing [poorly] for a long time…  then I challenged the five to do pammachon. The emperor wanted to know whether I was [immediately] summoned to do it (fight) one man after the other. (Note: Pammachon contests were also held with one man fighting against multiple opponents.)


The prize for us was a linen tunic and hundred guilders. The [linen tunic] is inexpensive, and I received … and I got a gold coin with the money and the other five the tunic. This happened on the 27th of Choiak. And on the 26th of the same month he held the festival in the Lageion and we performed there. And I got a silver prize, a sleeveless tunic, and the money.


So don’t be sad …. for good fortune has given us other things. Take care of your sister … I greet my dear father and all who love my soul. I pray that you are well, my dear sister, for many years.


To Sophrone from her brother Dios.

 Ms. Remijsen makes an interesting case in her article for Pammachon as the “new sport” of the early 4th century:


SB 3.6222 is the earliest attestation of pammachon as a separate sport. This interpretation is confirmed by ILS 5164, an honorary inscription from AD 375-378 for the athlete Philoumenos, who had obtained victories in four different events: pammachon, wrestling, pankration, and boxing. Also in the fourth century, Eusebius compared a martyr to a victor in the sacred games, victorious in the pammachon. As this passage does not go back to agonistic poetry and was written in a century when pammachon was attested as a separate sport, one may assume that Eusebius also referred to the new sport. The athletes doing pammachon were not called pammachoi, but pammacharii with the Latin ending -arius typical of professions (Note: in Roman times)  Pammacharii figure in six texts from the fourth and fifth centuries.  The anonymous author of the Expositio totius mundi mentioned them in his description of the entertainment sector in Syria.  In a story of the Apophthegmata, an officer helped a group of pammacharii on their way to Constantinople to get a boat from the governor.  In another story, an old hermit compares a Christian fighting evil with a pammacharius fighting two adversaries.  Saint Jerome mentions pammacharii as a type of athlete, besides runners and those who throw the discus.  Firmicus Maternus and Pseudo- Teuchros tell which position of the stars makes pammacharii. The lexicon of Hesychius, mentioning pammachon in the lemma about Cypriotic wrestling, brings the total number of sources on this sport to ten.

 (Note: Hesychius makes a point of calling the Pammachon practiced in Cyprus “barbaric and unskilled.”)


I personally have to question however whether or not Pammachon was something “new” in the fourth century (though it undoubtedly became a new sport at that time).  I have multiple reasons for this, which I will endeavour to explain.


Back in the year 2000, I had selected the designation “Pammachon” because I knew that the ancient Greeks were fully aware of the distinction between the Martial Arts and Combat Sports.  I specifically decided to use the word for my reconstructed martial art because, beyond the historical and documented use of the word from ancient times until the palaeochristian era, it is obvious linguistically that the words “machaira” (μάχαιρα – blade), and “machi” (μάχη – battle) originate from the same root “mach-” (μαχ-). Thus the word “machi” (μάχη), essentially describes a martial confrontation that includes both the use of close quarter combat weaponry (e.g. knife, sword, spear, lance, club etc.), and (the somewhat more important in contemporary times) unarmed combat against the aforementioned lethal weapons. A proper translation of the word “pan-machon” (πάν-μαχον) would be “total combat.” In essence “pammachon” describes what we would call today “close quarter combat,” and so I chose the term carefully to differentiate what I would be teaching from combat sports.


It is also important to distinguish pammachon from pankration, though the words have been poetically used as synonyms. Pankration derives from “all” (pan) and “kratos”. The word Kratos is used in modern Greek to denote a nation and has multiple implications. It means power, yes. But it also means dominance, control, the ability to reduce something else to submission. Pankration translates best as “submission fighting”, that is to say, the intention of the sport being not to kill, but to subdue the opponent and control him.


But the word μάχη in Pammachon refers to other things. Pammachon can translate as “everything in combat.” Does that imply that weapons were taken into account, or that their use was taught in same? It appeared as a sport in Roman times – was it influenced by gladiatorial contests? The reader should recall the following definition of a martial art that I have posted in the past (this definition has not changed for the past ten thousand years):


A true martial art

Must use the same type of movement

And the same tactics,

Whether the practitioner is armed or unarmed,

Armored or unarmored,

Whether battling alone or in a group,

Fighting one opponent or many,

Whether on the battlefield itself,

Or in a civil disturbance.


But it is worth pointing out that the types of people who practiced pammachon as a sport came from very different social groups. Men such as Dios and Philoumenos, who received a statue in Rome, belonged to the upper class and enjoyed a certain degree of prestige. But other sources list  pammacharii among lower class circus entertainers or troupes of professionals for whom pammachon was little more than an ordinary job.


Ms. Remijsen states that the differences in the class of Pammachon practitioners were common to fourth-century Greek athletics in general. In Late Antiquity, Greek athletics were performed as extra entertainment in the circuses. These circus athletes belonged to a completely different social structure than the career athletes of the traditional Greek games. Hence Ms. Remijsen states that the diversity among the pammacharii did not differ from that among their contemporary wrestlers or boxers. I am not so sure I agree with that conclusion, and can perhaps offer an alternative explanation.


I was very intrigued by Dios’s stating that he “did not know how to do pankration,” which clearly differentiates what he was doing (pammachon) from pankration. Why were the two arts  different? How was pammachon different? Therein lies the key to the puzzle.


What if pammachon was a name for the martial arts, a term that evolved to become the name for a combat sport in the 4th century? There is precedent for such a transition in the past millennium, with the same word being used for both martial art and combat sport. I am referring to the German “fechten”, which 500 years ago used to mean “how to rip the other guy to pieces in actual combat,” and now means “how to compete in a combat sport in which padded athletes tap each other with electrically sensitive rods of metal in order to score points.”  Both activities have to do with fencing – it is how the activity of said fencing is expressed that differentiates the two expressions of “fechten”.


That is to say, if pammachon was so very different from pankration, and yet was a sport that suddenly appeared in the 4th century and then just as suddenly vanished, it had to have evolved from something that was “known” earlier to be different from pankration. Well, we know that the word pammachon is ancient and has been used in much older texts than the one referenced above. What if the evolution of pammachon was similar to that of 15th century fechten to 20-21st century fechten? In the case of fechten, 15th century close quarter combat with bladed weapons became sport fencing with electrical implements. What if the same held true for pammachon? What if it were a martial art before it became a combat sport in the 4th century?


Now wouldn’t that truly be something?



Many thanks to Ms. Sofie Remijsen for providing me with a copy of her extraordinary article.


New Pammachon Book is out.


Dear all,
A Happy 2011 to everyone.
I am happy to finally announce that the promised book on Pammachon is out. The title is Pammachon, Martial Art of the West, and it can be downloaded for free in pdf format from Lulu at:
The book contains my conclusions, opinions and beliefs after studying martial arts for 40 years, the majority of which were with the source of the specific art I was studying at the given moment. In addition, the book contains much of my personal and family history, my political and metaphysical beliefs, my cultural opinions and desires, and wishes for a brighter future for humanity. I do not believe any of the above are separate from the study of martial arts and so have included same. If you want to know Kostas Dervenis, read the book. If you want to understand Pammachon, read the book.
The e-book is free and appears to be correctly downloadable from Lulu. If you like the book and want to order a hard copy, I would like to caution you that I have not yet received, or checked, my proof copy. If you want to be sure about the hard copy, wait a month after the date of this correspondence and then order the paperback book. In the meantime, the e-book is available for everyone to read, and since it is free, I would appreciate your passing on the information to other and rating it (favourably of course!).
I still have to execute the promised series of videos on Pammachon and expect to do that over the next few months. Once this is done, I will no longer write about martial arts (though I will maintain this blog), but concentrate on writing fiction, which is something I haven’t had the pleasure of doing for almost fifteen years.


UPDATE: 11 Jan 2011. I have received a print copy of the book. The cover and print quality are surprisingly high – if I had known that, I would have submitted higher quality photographs for publication (my apologies to my readers). Lulu is actually impressive for those who wish to self-publish.


Get it straight, people


I don’t really pay attention to the groupie crowd anymore, given that I would rather be with my friends and family than slam my head against a concrete wall. I have a very hard head, but banging it against concrete inevitably hurts, and, in the end, groupies are uninteresting for many reasons.  

But I was recently told that an interview with Kacem Zoughari had been printed in a martial arts magazine here in Greece, an interview that has an excerpt referring to positions I have supposedly taken in the past. The related excerpts state:

So, …. may I ask you a question concerning Ninjutsu’s historical validity. Mr. Dervenis, who was one of Ninjutsu’s pioneers in our country, claims that after studies he has made he has concluded that Ninja’s never existed and that this whole story is just a manufacturing of both Hatsumi sensei’s and the movies, for merchandising (commercial, business) purposes. As an academic, what is your opinion on this?

The reader can view the whole thing here if they wish: 

but it is kind of a moot point. What I would appreciate, however, is for the author of the interview to get his facts straight regarding my position(s) and re-state what I am saying more accurately.

For the record, except in a metaphorical sense, I have never stated that the ninja did not exist as a historical phenomenon. What I stated was that their historical reality did not reflect their popular image today in almost any context, nor does the image of them portrayed by the Bujinkan reflect historical reality. In addition, and far more importantly since this is what is getting people with vested interests upset, what I have stated repeatedly is that no independent ninjutsu ryuha exists within the Bujinkan syllabus – that is to say, there is no Togakure ryu, no Kumogakure ryu, no Asakusabeerguzzling ryu or any other such ninja school to be found within Japanese history. Toshitsugu Takamatsu made it all up for his own reasons, and Masaaki Hatsumi intentionally perpetuated the myth in order to propagate the teachings of his school.  There never was a Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda; he is not an actual person.  Takamatsu was never taught “ninjutsu” – he made it all up. I have stated this position openly and repeatedly and no one has been able to rebutt it in the slightest with extant historical evidence.  (Bear in mind that I would love to see such evidence; nothing would make me happier. Unfortunately, it does not exist.)

Do the teachings of the Bujinkan have historical context? Most certainly, but only as a classical jujutsu lineage derived from the conjunction of several verified family traditions. In addition, the Kukishin ryu most certainly has esoteric elements in its syllabus that have been passed on by Takamatsu Sensei to Hatsumi Sensei, and the Bujinkan in its original format (pre-1988) most certainly had many esoteric teachings that were simply wonderful, and which they were very serious about.  But human beings are complicated creatures and reality is often mixed with falsehood to promote specific intentions and agendas; this is the rule rather than the exception in life.  

Kacem, sadik, here is my advice to you: In China, they catch monkeys by placing bananas cross-wise in narrow-necked vases. The monkeys grab hold of the bananas and cannot let go of them even to save their own lives; they want the fruit badly , but given the narrow necks of the vases, the bananas can only come out length-wise, and the monkeys lack the intelligence to figure that out. The hunters eventually come along and seize the apes with their arms up to their elbows in the vases, shrieking, unable to open their fists and escape.  That is how fresh chilled monkey brains make it to the markets in China.  The amazing thing is that all the monkeys have to do to escape, is to let go. But they cannot, and do not.

Stop being a monkey, sadik.  

If you have historical evidence as to the existence of a ninjutsu lineage within the Bujinkan, publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, as Karl Friday did for Kashima Shin ryu, and I will be the first to congratulate you. If you do NOT have historical evidence that can withstand peer review (which I am told you do not), then you must understand, your claims and your position have turned you into as much of a fraud as anyone else within the Bujinkan espousing similar claims.

Don’t get me wrong – I have seen what the koryu crowd has to offer, both from an ethical and functional standpoint, and I am not impressed; Hatsumi far outshines them as a martial artist. Hell, I outshine them as a martial artist.

But that does not mean that Hatsumi is not lying.

Hey, have I told you all about how I inherited a 2500-year-old ancient Greek tradition that dates all the way back to Timasitheus the Delphian? It’s a staggering story that I’m very proud of, full of combat, betrayal, intrigue, exotic locations, and willing women with full lips, large breasts and tight butts (think Sasha Grey with a rack). The interesting, and sad, thing is that I have far more documentation in hand to validate such a claim, than the Bujinkan has to corroborate their own history (or than many other eastern martial arts schools have, for that matter).

Be well, Kacem.


A Quick Translation


A number of people have asked me for an English translation of a paragraph in an interview I gave to a Greek martial arts website. Apparently, it has raised some questions.

I don’t have the time to rewrite the section at length, but a quick machine-translation and some editing lets me post the following:

4. The esoteric path. Tell me a bit about your career in the internal arts.

(He doesn’t answer for some time.)  I gather that you are inquiring not only about the internal martial arts, but that you are interested in my experience with the esoteric path in general. However, you are touching on very sensitive issues and I do not think that most people are ready to accept the answers.

The Egyptians boiled the bark of the willow tree and used the resulting broth to combat headaches and rheumatism. The use of white willow bark for medical purposes has a history longer than 3500 years. Hippocrates wrote about willow bark and its ability to soothe aches and reduce fever. Willow bark has been used in China since 500 BC and Native Americans used white willow for headaches, fever, and rheumatism. In 1828, European scientists identified a compound called salicilin, which is the active ingredient in willow bark. And, in 1829, salicilin was stabilized as salicylic acid and was used effectively for pain and fever. Synthetic salicylic acid was developed by the German company Bayer in 1852. Pharmacists later modified salicylic acid to form acetylsalicylic acid, which we all know today by its common tradename aspirin. (Acetylation was introduced to reduce stomach irritation.)

Why mention this example? We all use aspirin, and the source of this drug is a plant that all of humanity has had knowledge of since the Bronze Age. Perhaps esotericism falls into the same category and perhaps we are entering an age where we can create acetylsalycilic acid by discovering the active ingredient in willow bark. Maybe the key ingredients of esotericism are physically reflected in the practices of the internal arts, and we are looking in the wrong places for answers.

The problem with esotericism is that it sometimes becomes as dogmatic as organized religion, and this is an oxymoron. What we call esotericism should be the very opposite of dogmatism, but because many people delve into esotericism only to strengthen their own self-importance, a kind of spiritual consumerism in other words, they become obsessed with doctrine as if they were dogma-junkies. They scuffle with each other over doctrine as if they were hooligans on opposing football teams, and this is just stupid. This was the reason that Ghandi set a strict criterion for anyone wanting to practice an esoteric path: in order to be a renunciant, you must first have something to renounce; he did this to make sure that the trainee did not pursue an internal path just to boost his ego, or had another hidden agenda.

I’ll give an example from the so-called internal martial arts, so that we don’t stray off topic: everyone talks about the dantien, our center. Those of us who have practiced the creation of such a center, have felt it move independent of our conscious volition, feeling, expressing its own views, as if it were a separate entity. The Chinese describe this phenomenon with an entire library of literature discussing the creation of the “mental body” and “the psychic child” in the dantien. Furthermore, it has been scientifically documented since 1981, that training in such practices allows the practitioner to circumvent the existing biophysical model. But to clearly evaluate the theories, we have to look at missing pieces of the puzzle that have now appeared on the horizon.

We didn’t know, for instance, that an enteric nervous system existed. Research into this nervous system was started in 1921 by the British physician JN Langley, but when he died, it was quickly forgotten. The American doctor Michael D. Gershon resumed work on Lagley’s investigations in 1996. When he first announced his theories in 1996, he was mocked, but by 1999, he had managed to publish his book “The Second Brain” and had reversed world opinion on the subject, contributing to the advancement of science in the process.

The enteric nervous system (ENS), therefore, the existence of which was not accepted 15 years ago, has 100 million neurons, one thousandth of those present in the brain, but more than exist in the spine. The ENS has been designated as the “second brain” because it works independently from the central nervous system, with which it is linked through the vagus nerve. In other words, and we have to emphasize this point, clinical science accepts the fact that the enteric nervous system thinks for itself – it is a “second brain” within our belly.

In essence, then, when someone trains towards the creation of a “dantien”, what he is doing is inscribing his conscious personality on the portfolio of his enteric nervous system. The fact that the process is traditionally activated through breathing techniques is particularly anatomically interesting, given the connection of the ENS with the conscious brain through the vagus nerve (The vagus is also called the pneumogastric nerve since it innervates both the lungs and the stomach, as well as connecting the central nervous system to the ENS).

Until now, trainees in the internal arts shared their experiences during the process amongst themselves with comments like “Hey, I felt xyz happening, and it is amazing”, referring to the effects they were feeling in their bellies during and after training. However, given the presence of a biological computer at the very focal point of this training (the existence of which was unknown until now), it is possible thaat the entire “dantien creation” process is completely biological and natural, as opposed to being a mystical experience. In short, there may be no “supernatural” elements involved in the process whatsoever. It may be that nothing more is happening to us other than the fact that we are inscribing part of our conscious mind onto a biological computer, allowing us to extend our natural capabilities in the process. That is to say, throughout history, people have been misinterpreting the process as a mystical experience, not realizing that it was salicin that gave the willow bark its supposedly magical healing properties in the first place. Or, conversely, science may come along to verify and uphold the doctrine of a specific internal tradition; why not? We know now that consciousness (observation) contributes to the creation of matter – it is a cornerstone of physics. Who is to say what the mind can do? Frankly, we do not know – but we’re most certainly at that stage in the process where the bark of willow trees will become acetylsalicylic acid within a few short years, one way or another.

 I hope the message is clear, even though the English of the text is somewhat below par.


The Pammachon Book is coming…


This is an enquiry e-mail via from:

Dear Mr. Dervenis

Firstly, please allow me to thank you for writing “the Magus of Java”, without which I would not have found my way to this website. I found the book a great read and practically inhaled it in one sitting. You clarified a few things and confirmed some interesting points that I’ve speculated on for a while, for which I am grateful.

To get to the reason for why I am contacting you; in your blog post “please stop hitting the snooze button” 21st Jan 2010, you mention that you would be releasing a book and martial artists interested in downloading it for free should stay tuned. I was hoping you could tell me if this offer is still available, or if not, how I could go about getting a copy of this book please?

I ask because I am a Kung Fu student living in China at a Kung Fu academy and I would like to broaden my knowledge o martial arts. I checked the books section of your website, but unfortunately could not see anything recent?

Thanks very much for your help,

Kind regards


Dear Tom and friends,

I wanted to take the opportunity that your letter provided to answer a question posed to me by about thirty people so far.

The book is ready, and has been ready since March. Why has it not been published? Logistics, I’m afraid. Unfortunately, my life is complex, and I have four different roles to fill, four different hats to wear. Sometimes I just get tired and, rather than doing what I should be doing, watch television or surf the Internet – it’s called becoming a vegetable, and sadly, I am as guilty as everyone else of that particular crime. I am currently travelling and in the US, but I promise everyone that I will release the book by end November at the latest. My goal is to have it become a free e-book for download; once I get the ##@@@!!!!! formatting issues as required by the various hosting sites finally out of the way, I will upload the book. And yes, it will be free to whoever wants it electronically.

Is that OK, Tom?

My best to everyone, and thanks for being patient.




The origin of Pammachon


Ladies and Gentlemen!

This is the Age of Discreditation, when things once commonly accepted as fact have been proven to be untrue, or are simply no longer believed. Let’s face it, AAA stocks have been found to have worth only as toilet paper (and rough toilet paper at that), so why should men believe in icons? And why should the martial arts be an exception, when in fact they are not? We have discovered that the samurai did not in fact, back in the day, actually use their swords that much in combat, or even follow the honor system attributed to them by later authors. Filipino kali did not defeat Magellan – there was no such thing as Filipino kali when Magellan landed with his party of deckhands on Filipino shores. The origins of many a Chinese martial arts style are subject to question – did Yim Wing Chun and Ng Mui actually exist, or are they fable? How about Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda? How about Romulus and Remus, or Zhang Sanfeng? (There is actually more evidence for the existence of Robin Hood than there is for Zhang Sanfeng.)

In light of all the above, I feel the obligation to disclose the true origin story of Pammachon, passed down through my family for generations. The following will be posted on the site and become a part of our “official” mythology:

I am the 88th Master of Pammachon, a lineage that began in the 6th century BC with Master Timasitheus, and has lasted for 2500 years. Really. No, it’s a true story, and I will outline it for you here. Of Timasitheus himself, Herodotus has stated in his book Terpsichore (Book E’ 72.4-73.1) that:

….And these men were condemned to death, among them Timasitheus the Delphian, of whose prowess and courage I have great things which I could tell.

The Founder Timasitheus was born in the Greek colony of Croton in Italy. Growing up there as a boy, he was a great admirer of the wrestler Milo, who had won six Olympic crowns for wrestling at Olympia, and was famous for his great strength and stamina. When the mystic Pythagoras of Samos moved to Croton, both Milo and Timasitheus became his students, the former marrying Pythagoras’ daughter.

Pythagoras agreed to become Timasitheus’ teacher more to punish Milo for his immense ego than anything else. He bet the great wrestler that he could train the young student to defeat him in wrestling at the Olympiad, at which Milo laughed in his face.

Pythagoras taught the young Timasitheus the Principle of the Meander, or how the soft may be used to defeat the hard. He taught him about the gods and goddesses of the Earth and Sky, of Fire and Water, Lightning and Wind, Mountain and Sea, and the Primal Chaos from which all had sprung. He taught him of the binary nature of the universe; that, once the layers are peeled away, at the Core all things are simply 1/0.

Timasitheus’s family was originally from Delphi – they were immigrants to Croton who had paid the tax and become citizens. At Pythagoras’s insistence, Timasitheus participated in the 516 BC Olympics competing for his home city of Delphi, and easily defeated all comers in the pankration, winning the laurels. Over the next four years, our Founder trained rigorously to defeat Milo, oftentimes retreating into the wild in seclusion, fighting barehanded against lions and wolves.

During the 512 BC Olympics, Timasitheus competed in both the pankration and in wrestling. Not wanting to insult Milo, he entered the wrestling contest as a citizen of Croton and the pankration contest as a native of Delphi. He easily prevailed in the pankration, for no one could stand before him. Then it came time for the true contest, against a lifelong friend and mentor, a man who used to carry a bull on his shoulders to the slaughter, and then serve it up for his meal and eat it entirely.

Milo was old, already in his forties at the time, but Timasitheus knew that, if he came to grips with the man, Milo would crush him with his incredible strength. So our Founder Timasitheus used the art of akrocheirismos, continuously intercepting Milo’s grasping hands, deflecting them, locking him up and throwing him away. As Timasitheus refused to close with him, even after throwing Milo several times, the battle lasted for most of the day. After six consecutive victories at Olympia, Milo understood that he must lose. He bowed his head in defeat and prepared to withdraw the moment the herald proclaimed: “Timasitheus of Croton, winner of the wrestling”.

But at that very moment the crowd rushed into the arena, lifting Milon up and crowning him with wreaths and flowers and laurels, carrying him round the stadium. Amongst those who were carrying him and were cheering him on was his fellow countryman, Timasitheus the victor. That day Milo’s statue in Olympia was smothered with flowers and Timasitheus bowed at its feet.

But Milo did not die well – his ego was his downfall in the end, as the Sage Pythagoras had predicted. According to Strabo and Pausanias, Milo was walking in a forest when he came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. In what was probably intended as a display of strength, Milo inserted his hands into the cleft to rend the tree apart. The wedges fell from the cleft, and the tree closed on his hands, trapping his fingers. Unable to free himself, the wrestler was devoured by wolves that evening.

Modern day historians will try to convince you that Timasitheus of Croton and Timasitheus of Delphi were two separate athletes, but pay those fools no heed. We of the Pammachon lineage know for a fact that they were one and the same.

As a result of Pythagoras’s bet, all of Milo’s secrets passed on to Timasitheus, who also inherited the teachings of Pythagoras. From the fusion of the two, Pammachon was born. Timasitheus moved back to Delphi, at the command of the god Apollo. He married a young Delphian girl and settled down (something about a sudden pregnancy), serving as a special agent in the service of the Oracle of Delphi. Over the next few years, Timasitheus went on to win several many athletic contests while competing for Delphi, while at the same time his military exploits were astounding. It is safe to say that what normal soldiers experienced over a lifetime, Timasitheus endured and triumphed over during his brief three year service to the Oracle. 

A depiction of Timasitheus survives from a later date. Note that the artist has sculpted a thin and unassuming man of no apparent muscular development, polite and courteous. This then was the terrible warrior Timasitheus:

Timasitheus’s death took the form of a heroic sacrifice. Knowing that within the next few decades the Persians were going to invade Greece, the Oracle of Delphi ordered Timasitheus in 508 BC to become the bodyguard of Isagoras, an Athenian aristocrat and ally of the Spartans. Timasitheus disliked and distrusted the elitist, pudgy, bisexual and ruthless Isagoras, but followed the command of the Oracle of Apollo as a true warrior and knight. There was also a practical reason behind his decision – Timasitheus distrusted Isagoras’s rival Cleisthenes even more than he disliked Isagoras. Cleisthenes is touted today as the founder of democracy, but in fact he was a fraud and a rabble-rouser, a true politician of our modern day; the man had no integrity. Timasitheus knew that the Oracle had foreseen that, should Cleisthenes prevail, the “Persians would invade Greece at the Athenian’s call.”

Sadly, in the civil war that followed, Cleisthenes prevailed, promising the Athenian public full democracy. Isagoras and a small group of Spartans took shelter on the rock of the Acropolis – along with Timasitheus as his bodyguard. For two days, Timasitheus and the Spartans held back the Athenian crowd, fighting thousands of Athenian hoplites at close quarters. On the third day, Isagoras and the Spartans accepted terms of surrender, under which they were allowed to leave – if they delivered Timasitheus and Isagoras’s Athenian allies to their enemies. Timasitheus surrendered willingly, following the commands of the Oracle of Delphi. As we have seen, the father of modern history, Herodotus himself, honored Timasitheus by mentioning him in his works, as did Pausanias at a later date.  And sadly, the prediction of the Oracle of Delphi came true. After the death of our Founder, and following Cleisthenes assuming control of Athens, the Athenians, afraid of the military might of the Spartans, sent emissaries to King Darius of Persia, surrendering onto him earth and water. This act of submission became the causus belli for the Persian invasion of Greece 16 years later.

For two centuries following Timasitheus’s death, Pammachon was passed on from father to son within Delphian families descended from Timasitheus, as commanded by the Oracle. At some point in the 4th century BC, my distant ancestor Pantazis the 1st the Tymfaian married Eleni of Delphi and inherited the lineage of Pammachon. Pantazis was an Epirot warrior, a bodyguard of Queen Olympias, and some say the father of Alexander the Great as well (ahem, we know it wasn’t Zeus, right, and she claimed it wasn’t Phillip?). Pantazis followed Alexander on his conquests at Olympias’s command, saving his life on more than one occasion. When Alexander died on the 11th of June 323 BC, Pantazis moved to Alexandria, where he studied at the famous Library and became a bodyguard for Ptolemy A’ Soter (some day that Ptolemy’s victories over Perdikkas in 321 at Memphis, and against Demetrius the Besieger in 312 BC, were due to Pantazis and his use of Pammachon tactics).

Throughout the millennia, a scroll attributed to Pantazis the Tymfaian has been passed down in my family, dated to 321 BC (he must have written it just before the battle with Perdikkas). Today, only a fragment remains of this papyrus scroll, and it is kept in a sealed environmental chamber so that it may be preserved, in a private museum whose owners are wealthy acolytes of Pammachon:

To tell the story of Pammachon over the next 2200 years would require a whole series of books (and perhaps one day I will write them), but the gist of the matter is that, in 1984 I inherited the system from my grandfather, since my father Pantazis hated Pammachon and didn’t want the hassle.  For those who might be inclined to scoff, bear in mind that the portrayal above has far more traceable historical facts than most of the histories of most of the martial arts schools taught today…..  and who knows what I can and can’t prove? The martial arts world isn’t exactly a pristine academic forum – I’ve seen claims by very accredited scholars become trash over the decades.
[OK, so the people who know me better are now thinking wtf? I liked the story and wanted to copyright it in English, and I saw historical conjecture on something else that was completely ridiculous on the internet about an hour ago, producing the rant. I didn’t have time to sit down and repudiate the aforementioned at the moment, but this text was available from a couple years ago (in Greek) and, with a little tailoring, readily postable. Expect more to come in the future, regarding the Spartans and their Nepalese kukris…]

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