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History Sli Beatha a term in the Irish language meaning "Way of Life" is a hybrid martial art and life development system based on the philosophy of Celtic individuality and integrated physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the individual. The foundation is most closely related 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.
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.
From 1996-2003, Smith published Grandmaster Magazine, a magazine dedicated to realistic martial arts, fitness, and combat sports, based in Kansas City.

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