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Slí Beatha (shlee-baha) is a hybrid martial art and life development system created in the United States. Its founder claims that it is based on an alleged "philosophy of Celtic individuality" and integrates physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the individual. The style claims close relation to military combatives and places a focus on striking techniques, but includes grappling techniques for self-defense situations that are not typically used in competitive sport. Despite its name and claimed philosophy, it has no connection to any Irish martial arts traditions or styles. The style also claims that "slí beatha" means "Way of Life", but in modern Irish, the phrase simply means "occupation" or "job".
Sli Beatha was founded in 1996 by former Special Operations police officer Craig Smith and was first taught in Warrensburg, Missouri that Fall. Classes were later taught at the local Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) as part of the Central Martial Arts Club.
One of the original students, Duane Hamacher, began teaching the system at the University of Missouri in Columbia after transferring in 2000 and founded the Mizzou Martial Arts Club (2000-2005) to provide classes in Sli Beatha. The application of Sli Beatha to Mixed Martial Arts allowed the club to sponsor tournaments and events in Pankration which attracted a wide range of students. The Mizzou Pankration Team was formed in 2001 as part of the club to compete in and host Pankration/MMA tournaments, seminars, and events.
In 2001, a Sli Beatha student, Lee Whitaker, won the women's division of the World Pankration Championships in Chicago  In 2002, the Mizzou Pankration Team was designated as a Champion Team by the World Pankration Federation after placing first or second in overall team winnings at all tournaments in which they competed.
Sli Beatha founder
Sli Beatha founder and Ard Taoiseach (Chief Instructor, literally translates as "high chief") Craig Smith was a police and special operations officer, publisher and editor-in-chief of Grandmaster Magazine (1996-2002), Director of SAFELIFE, and president of the World Pankration Federation.
Sli Beatha also credits training, support, and guidance from Jim 'Ronin' Harrison, a Triple Crown martial arts champion (Karate, Judo, and Kickboxing) during the 1960s.