Logotype of Pancrase
Management of martial arts gyms
|Predecessor(s)||World Pancrase Create Inc.|
|Headquarters||Kameido, Koto, Tokyo, Japan|
|Key people||Yuji Shimada (Executive President)
Masakazu Sakai (Promoter)
Masakatsu Funaki (Co-Founder)
Minoru Suzuki (Co-Founder)
Pancrase is a mixed martial arts promotion company founded in Japan in 1993 by professional wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. Pancrase is taken from Pankration, a sport in the ancient Olympic games. Suzuki and Funaki are particularly skilled in the art of catch wrestling and based the promotion on professional wrestling consisting of shoots rather than works. Per its custom, its champions are named King of Pancrase rather than the title of Champion.
The promotion had a rule-set more similar to that of professional wrestling than those used in contemporary fighting organizations such as Shooto. Just as in Japanese professional wrestling, closed-fisted punches to the head were illegal (however, close fisted punches to the body were allowed). Instead, a fighter had to strike to the head with a palm strike, and submission holds had to be broken when a competitor made it to the ropes. Rope breaks resulted in a lost point and a fighter would only be granted between 3 and 5 rope breaks before being disqualified. However, beginning in 1998, it began adopting a rule set more in line with other mixed martial arts organizations, with most fights transitioning to the new ruleset by 2000.
There have been repeated accusations that many Pancrase matches were "works", or predetermined. Prominent fighters within the organization such as Bas Rutten and Guy Mezger have adamantly denied these accusations. Mezger is quoted as saying: "There were not very many works (in Pancrase); maybe 4 or 5 total and most of them were before I was fighting for them. I hate when people say that there was so many works in Pancrase, they truly do not know what they are talking about."
On November 7, 2007, a weekly television series entitled "Pancrase: Legends of Mixed Martial Arts" premiered on pan Asian cable network ImaginAsian TV. Hosted by King of Pancrase Open Weight Champion Josh Barnett and Rob Wu, the show looks at legendary fights going back to the beginning of the organization.
In 2008, The Fight Network began airing classic Pancrase events in Canada and the U.K.
Establishment and first event 
In 1993, Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki, Ken Shamrock, Takaku Fuke, and others from the shoot-style Fujiwara Gumi wrestling promotion left the company, due to (mentor and promoter) Yoshiaki Fujiwara's decision to cooperate with the likes of Universal Lucha Libre and W*ING and favoring showmanship over in-ring work. As suggested by Karl Gotch, Pancrase was formed by Funaki, Suzuki and Fuke, and the promotion would focus on pure shoot-style wrestling with limited gimmicks and no predetermined outcomes.
On May 16, 1993, they established World Pancrase Create Inc. (WPC) with the capital of 30,000,000 Japanese yen. Masami Ozaki was chosen for its Executive president at that time, and the head office was located in the district of Minamiazabu in Minato ward in Tokyo.
On September 21, 1993, Pancrase promoted their first event at Tokyo Bay NK Hall. All the matches were finished with knockout and submission.
Early era 
The first King Of Pancrase Open Weight champion was Ken Shamrock (later becoming famous for his exploits in the Ultimate Fighting Championship), who had previous experience in the newborn UWF and Fujiwara Gumi. Over the years, Funaki and Suzuki held the title alongside other big names, such as Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock and Guy Mezger.
Pancrase now recognizes King of Pancrase titles in the super heavyweight, heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight and welterweight divisions, and there are plans to award new lightweight and featherweight champions in the future. The open weight title was recently restored and is currently held by Josh Barnett, who formerly competed in PRIDE and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Minoru Suzuki no longer competes for Pancrase, as he returned to regular professional wrestling in 2003 as a freelancer, but he primarily competes in All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Change of management 
In May 2008, "Pancrase Inc." was established as a new management company for Pancrase, and WPC alienated Pancrase Inc. their all of business as on May 27, 2008. When Pancrase Inc. was established, Yasushi Sakamoto, a managing director of WPC, was installed as the Executive president.
On June 1, 2012, Pancrase announced that the promotion had been sold to Masakazu Sakai and his Smash organization, with Sakai taking over as the new president and his partner Yuji Shimada as the event producer of the promotion. As part of the reconstruction of Pancrase, the new owners intend to replace rings with cages, holding events to test the new format in 2013.
Pancrase Korea 
Pancrase Korea is the South Korean subsidiary of the Pancrase Inc. and had held several events from 2007 to 2010. The first Pancrase Korea event was an amateur one held on March 10, 2007 in Busan and the last one was the semi-professional Neo-Blood Tournament 2 & Hybrid Challenge 12 held on September 12, 2010 in Seoul.
Old rules 
Aside from the traditional grappling rules (e.g., no biting, no eye-gouging) the rules were formerly as follows:
- No elbows to the head (neither while standing nor on the ground).
- No closed-fist strikes to the head (neither while standing nor on the ground).
- No knees to the head on the ground.
- No kicks/stomps to the head on the ground.
- If a participant gets too close to the ropes, he is stood back up on the feet. (as opposed to PRIDE's recentering in the middle of the ring)
- Non-title matches consist of one 15 minute round, while title matches consist of one 30 minute round.
- If a participant is caught in a submission and taps out (whether unable to reach the ropes or not), it is a loss.
- Five "escapes" are given to each fighter at the start of every match. An escape can be used when caught in a submission near the ropes, in which case the participant can grab them, be stood back on the feet and have one point deducted. Once a participant has used all of his escapes, it is a loss.
- For knockouts, a ten-count similar to boxing and kickboxing is used. If the participant is unable to answer the ten-count, it is declared a TKO and that fighter has lost the match. However, if the participant is able to answer the ten-count, the fight resumes and one point is deducted.
- If, at the end of regulated time, neither fighter has submitted, been knocked out, or lost all their points, a decision is rendered based on who lost fewer points. If neither fighter lost any points, or both lost the same number of points, the fight is declared a draw.
- In the 1994 King of Pancrase tournament, the rules were slightly different, in that the first round had one 10 minute round and three rope escapes, and the finals had one 20 minute round with three rope escapes.
- For a short period of time when Bas Rutten was the King of Pancrase, heelhooks were banned because of the frequency of injuries.
Present-day rules 
Today, Pancrase uses a ruleset similar to that of Pride FC, but prohibits knees to the head of grounded opponents.
Current Pancrase champions (King and Queen of Pancrase) 
The current weight division system of Pancrase is based upon Nevada State Athletic Commission(NSAC) since December 4, 2007. At this time, Pancrase also announced establishment of Flyweight and Bantamweight, and abolition of Super heavyweight. On March 18, 2011, Pancrase restructured their weight classes, renaming their original flyweight division, super flyweight, and adding several more lower weight classes. In addition, they introduced the Queen Of Pancrase title which will be used for women's fights in the future.
|Men's division||Champion||Title Defenses|
|Super Flyweight||Kiyotaka Shimizu||5|
|Women's Bantamweight||Rin Nakai||0|
Former KOP Title Holders 
Other notable fighters 
- Ikuhisa Minowa
- Evangelista Santos
- Akihiro Gono
- Chael Sonnen
- Jason Delucia
- Ryushi Yanagisawa
- Manabu Yamada
- Yoshiki Takahashi
- Ryo Kawamura
- Riki Fukuda
- Paul Daley
- Gustavo Picone
- Satoru Kitaoka
- Daiki Hata
- Izuru Takeuchi
- Carlos Condit
- Yukio Sakaguchi
- Joe Riggs
- Chris Lytle
- Kazuo Misaki
- Evan Tanner
- Genki Sudo
- Maurice Smith
See also 
- PRIDE Fighting Championships
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Vale Tudo
- M-1 Global
- PANCRASE on iaTV
- (Japanese)株式会社ワールドパンクラスクリエイト World Pancrase Create Co., Ltd. pancrase.co.jp Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- Company Profile pancrase.co.jp Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- 事務所を南麻布から西池袋に移転 Moving office from Minamiazabu to Nishi Ikebukuro boutreview.com Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- パンクラス事務所、中目黒から亀戸に移転 The office of Pancrase moves from Nakameguro to Kameido boutreview.com Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- (Japanese)株式会社パンクラス代表取締役の異動(社長交代)に関するお知らせ Announcement of personnel changes in Executive president of Pancrase Inc.(Change of president) boutreview.com Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- (Japanese)川村亮、株式会社パンクラスの新社長に就任 Ryo Kawamura was installed as the new Executive president of Pancrase Inc. boutreview.com Retrieved on 2011-02-20
- "パンクラスがSmashに経営権譲渡 「世界標準」へケージ導入も". Sports Navi (in Japanese). Yahoo!. June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Sakai, Masakazu (June 1, 2012). "Smashからのお知らせ". Smash (in Japanese). Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- "パンクラスの"世界標準"化計画". Pancrase (in Japanese). June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Pancrase Korea Official Blog
- Pancrase Korea Portal
- Pancrase Website (JP)
- Pancrase Website (US)
- Pancrase event results at sherdog
- Wrestling-Titles.com: Pancrase