Complex "Ready for Labour and Defence" in System of Physical Education of Students: History of Establishment and Development



Yu.F. Kuramshin, professor, Dr.Hab., Honored worker of higher school RF
National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health named after P.F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg
R.M. Gadel'shin, candidate
St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg

Key words: physical education of students, complex “Ready for Labor and Defense” (“RLD”), All-Russian sports complex.

Introduction. In our country physical education was first introduced into the curricula of all institutions of higher education in 1929. Physical education classes became obligatory for students and were conducted in accordance with the curricula. The first standards were established. In addition to the evaluation of theoretical knowledge of students, tests were conducted to identify the level of physical fitness of each student as a measure of efficiency of physical education. With the introduction of the “RLD” complex which existed from 1931 to 1990 students’ physical fitness was assessed in accordance with the physical education curriculum and the “RLD” complex. The “RLD” complex was the program and regulatory basis of the entire system of physical education of the population including young students, and its standards served as a model of all-round physical fitness for many years. It played an important role in the promotion of the mass sports movement in our country.

Over the last twenty years the university curricula were designed without regard to objectives and content of the last “RLD” complex. Improvement of the state educational standards of higher education and programs for the discipline “Physical Education”, searching for new forms and methods of practical work in regard to the “RLD” complex in universities are required to implement the new All-Russian sports complex “RLD” in the practice of institutions of higher education.

The purpose of the study was to analyze the historical emergence and development of requirements and standards of the “RLD” complex for young students and to identify key issues related to the phased implementation of the new complex.

The research methods included: historical and logical analysis and synthesis, comparison and contrasting.

Results and discussion. The first physical education curricula for technical and pedagogical universities introduced in 1931 already contained physical fitness tests for students. Due to the introduction of the “RLD” complex of the I stage in the same year of 1931, exercises, regulations and requirements of the “RLD” were included in its content. Those were the first curricula for the development of physical culture activities on the basis of the “RLD” complex of the I stage [1, 2].

In 1933 the program for technical universities was introduced, that stipulated the introduction of “RLD” of the II stage in the second, third and fourth years. Students had to pass all examinations on the “RLD” standards of the II stage during the fourth year [3].

Since there were no uniform curricula for universities in this period, it caused considerable inconvenience in the work of physical education teachers with students of different universities. Therefore in 1937 the uniform physical education curriculum for all educational institutions was designed [4, 5]. Differentiated standards for the 1st and the 2nd medical groups were established. So, students of the 1st medical group had to pass the “RLD” examinations of the I stage during the first year, and the “RLD” examinations of the II stage and educational standards - during the second and the third years. Students of the 2nd medical group had to pass all exams on all the standards of “RLD” of the I stage and other educational standards over three years of study.

Unfortunately, the content of this curriculum was barely related to the complex “RLD”. It had too much unnecessary material that cluttered academic classes.

In 1939 the comprehensive tests for first-year students were first introduced to identify physical fitness of newly admitted students. Physical fitness tests for newly admitted university students were made according to the following program.

A. Gymnastics. Men: crossbar - hip swing up, cast swing, back dismount; hands climbing - 3 m; 1 m 20 cm high horse vault. Women: rings: 1) half inverted hang taking off with a back flip to standing on the ground; 2) stoop hanging to half inverted hang taking off while slowly lowering the legs to standing on the ground.

B. Track and field athletics. Men and women: 100m sprint, flying high jump, grenade throwing.

According to the results of physical fitness tests and medical monitoring a physical education teacher together with a doctor assign each student to a particular medical group for physical education classes.

In 1940 the new physical education curriculum and programs were approved for higher educational institutions and technical universities [6]. The current assessment of the progress in physical training was differentiated - a student could get “excellent”, “good”, “satisfactory” and “bad” mark. The assessment was made at the end of the first, second, third and fourth semesters. It included test marks in individual sections of the curriculum: theory, gymnastics, hand-to-hand fighting and obstacle course, ski training. In case of bad mark in at least one of the sections of the curriculum the semester mark was also bad.

Physical education classes with students had to be organized and conducted according to the All-Union sports complex “Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR”, approved on September 26, 1939 and put into operation on January 1, 1940.

Test requirements in the first and in the second semesters provided training in accordance with “RLD” of the I stage for students who had an “excellent” mark in the following standards and requirements of “RLD”. Obligatory standards: gymnastics - 8 setting-up exercises; 10 km and 3 km distance skiing. Elective standards: high jumping and grenade throwing. Swimming and small-bore rifle shooting (obligatory standards) of the I and IV groups of elective standards (speed and endurance) were provided at elective physical education classes.

Students who had “good” and “satisfactory” marks in physical fitness tests were engaged in informal student organization of the university where they had to complete the tests in order to pass the standards of the “RLD” complex.

Test requirements in the third and fourth semesters presupposed students’ training according to the following standards and requirements of “RLD” of the II stage (for those who got “excellent” mark): gymnastics - a combination of floor exercises, 50-meter obstacle course, 1000 m and 500 m running, 5 km and 10 km skiing with paramilitary equipment. Elective standards provided the I and II groups of standards (100m sprint and running broad jump), the III group for women (grenade throwing or ball throwing), the VI group (“RLD” of the I stage) for men (cluster grenades throwing) and the VII group for men (task number 1 in NPRB-38[1]). All other “RLD” standards of the II stage were provided by extracurricular sports activity. 

By the end of 60s of the XX century the number of provisions, the level of regulatory requirements and the organization of practical work within the “RLD” complex of 1939 were inconsistent with the objectives in the field of physical culture and sports in this period. It was the reason for the development of the new more sophisticated complex “RLD” and its introduction in 1972. In this version of the complex university students had to pass tests of the standards and requirements of the IV stage “Physical perfection”. The new complex significantly differed from the pre-existing ones and was designed for six age groups of the population starting from seven year olds who were to pass tests on qualifying standards. A broad propaganda of the new complex was started with a motto “From “RLD” badge to Olympic medals”. Summer and winter competitions in the “RLD” combined events were included in the sports schedule. The standards which were completed by 60% of examinees were approved as optimal while developing the “RLD” complex [7].

According to the developers such requirements helped not only to assess the current state of physical fitness, but also to stimulate the process of physical perfection of students. However, the experience of the “RLD” complex in higher educational institutions and research results showed that the regulatory requirements for a number of individual tests were completed by less than 60% of first and second year students. The standard of the IV stage “Physical perfection” of the complex was very difficult for many students in different regions and universities of our country. The common reasons for failures related to the “RLD” complex were the bad organization of physical education at school, the long time interval between physical education classes and strenuous preparation for university entrance exams, the insufficient involvement of students into mass sport events and recreational activities, flaws in the physical education teaching methodology, etc. [8].

Some attempts were made to find measures for the rational planning of physical education activities so that students could successfully implement the regulatory requirements of the IV stage of the “RLD” complex.

But over time the significant shortcomings in the organization of practical work in compliance with the “RLD” complex were identified that negatively affected the development of physical culture and sport in the country. Systematic physical culture and sports activities were replaced by the standards implementation and became some kind of a friendly meeting. The exams on “RLD” standards became formal. The planning of training for the badge holders on higher levels of authority led to numerous facts of false reporting.

The complex existed until 1990 with some modifications and additions. During the restructuring of higher education in Russia the work on organizing and conducting the “RLD” complex wasn't included in the content of physical education curricula for students. Despite this fact, the attempts were made to revive the “RLD” complex from time to time in Russia's modern history.

On March 24, 2014 the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on the All-Russian sports complex “Ready for Labor and Defense” (“RLD”) was issued. It says that in order to further improve the state policy in the field of physical education and sport, to create an effective system of physical education aimed at human potential development and health promotion in the Russian Federation the All-Russian sports complex “Ready for Labor and Defense” (“RLD”) will be implemented on September 1, 2014 - the program and regulatory framework of physical education of the population [9]. It is expected that the results of completion of the “RLD” complex will be considered for admission to higher educational institutions since 2015. According to the draft of the complex the tests and standards on the VI stage “Physical perfection” are provided for students [10].

14 types of tests are provided for men and women aged 18-25 years for the gold, silver and bronze badges. Note that the last “RLD” complex for young students aged 19-29 years included the IV stage “Physical perfection” which included 10 types of exercises with the standards for silver and gold badges. Of all kinds of tests only the following match the previous “RLD” complex: 100 m and 3000 m running, 500 g and 700 g weight throwing, 3 km and 5 km cross country skiing, pull-ups, dip ups, lifting and lowering the torso in the prone lying position with arms fixed, camping trip. Standards for gold and silver badges differ largely in some tests.

Seven tests of physical fitness for students of general and sports departments were suggested in the exemplary university curricula on the discipline “Physical education”. They are all included in the content of the new complex. However, educational standards need to be put in order with the proposed “RLD” regulations in view of the real skill preparedness of bachelors, specialists and masters and the rating system for the assessment of students' progress which currently exists in many universities.

Conclusions. The introduction of the modernized sports complex “RLD” provides further improvement of the curricula (their content, structure and teaching standards) for the discipline “Physical Education” in higher educational institutions. The important issue is of an optimal coordination of educational standards as a basis of the process of teacher's control, intended to enhance physical education and standards of the complex “RLD” of the VI stage “Physical perfection”, which is a program and legal framework of physical education of students.

Taking into account that the existing regulations are far from perfect, a lot of work on their scientific rationale is ahead in view of age and sex features of students, their health status, course of study, two-level system of higher education (Bachelor's, Master's courses), organization of the educational process with the use of the score rating system of progress evaluation.


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[1] A textbook on the principles of hand-to-hand fighting issued in 1938