Post-war years of journal «Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury» (1945-1951)


S.A. Pronin, Ph.D.                        
P.F. Lesgaft National State University

The Soviet people emerged victorious in World War II

The scientists who had already proven their standing (V.V. Vasil’eva, D.D. Donskoy, N.N. Yakovlev) returned home. Many would-be coryphaei of sports science survived on the battlefields (I.V. Wrzesnewskyj, N.D. Graevskaya, L.P. Matveev, N.I. Ponomarev, V.I. Shaposhnikova ...).

Unfortunately, too many people were not so fortunate.

Despite the post-war difficulties, starting from June 1946, in the Soviet Union they began to publish virtually all specialized editions. The circulation of the journal “Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury” slightly decreased as compared to the pre-war period (10 000 copies) but it became one printed sheet bigger. It lived on in this format (5.0 printed sheets) until 1978.

The editorial board set the goal to cover the following aspects of sports activity: Theory of Physical Education; History of Physical Education; Methodology of Physical Education; School Physical education; Gymnastics; Games; Sport; Medical and Pedagogical Control; Therapeutic Physical Training; Organizational Matters; Staff Training; Sports Facilities and Equipment [1].

The journal was headed by one of the founders of sports psychology, professor P.A. Rudik (1893-1983). In the academic style, he managed to combine vast, nearly 60 sections of the prewar journal into compact ten. This greatly simplified the content navigation and facilitated its integrated perception.

The main difficulty for the journal at that time was not only the lack of the number of manuscripts in the editor’s hand (this problem was eliminated quickly enough), but almost complete absence of experimental works, due to the fact that the whole country had been tackling the front line problems during four previous years. Nevertheless, a number of serious generalizing works appeared which brought into a system accumulated prewar and post-war experience or the results of previous studies. The first to be mentioned are articles by N.A. Bernstein [2], V.S. Farfel [3], N.N. Yakovlev [4].

On February 21, 1947 at the general meeting of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR, P.A. Rudik was elected its corresponding member in the department of pedagogics. Naturally, it benefited the scientific reputation of the journal “Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury”. But no later than in May 1947, I.A. Kryachko was again appointed Editor-in-Chief; at the time he was the Director of the Central Research Institute of Physical Culture [5].

During this period, the Soviet Union was actively engaged in an anti-cosmopolitanism campaign alongside another one directed against weismannism-morganism (as classical genetics was labelled then), the former being grounded in anti-Semitism.

Almost all research papers published in those years had a lengthy paragraph stating that they are expressly “based on Pavlov’s theory of higher nervous activity.” But such reverence was expressed in other ways, too. There were numerous papers published which began with: “The teaching of Pavlov is the basis of natural sciences…”, followed by certain aspects of science.

The worst thing was that verbal profusion was not the only weapon against cosmopolitanism. Some prominent scientists risked their careers (at best).

In 1947, Nikolai Bernstein published the monograph “On the construction of movements” [6]. This work, which was the culmination of his long-term research, explicitly showed that Soviet biomechanics in the late 40s of the twentieth century occupied a leading position in the world. For this work in 1948, he was awarded the Stalin Prize for Biology of the second degree (the first degree was not given to anyone). That same year he was elected corresponding member of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR. But none of these achievements could shield Bernstein from repression on the part of cosmopolitanism opponents [7, 8].

In 1950, during a joint session of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medical Sciences (known as Pavlov’s session) Bernstein’s works were criticized for their “anti-Pavlov" perspective [9]. He was soon dismissed from his job and did not have any laboratory facilities for research for the rest of his life.

Even more serious criticism and repression was experienced by one of the founders of the physiological school at Lesgaft National State University of Physical Culture, academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences Leon Orbelli.

All of these events largely affected the course of the entire scientific life in the country as was evidenced in publications of the journal “Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury”.

In the vast majority of articles published in 1948-1951, one can discern the authors’ fear of writing something wrong, something not in line with the approved “viewpoint”. Naturally, under such circumstances any scientific discussion, which is one of main driving forces of progress, was out of the question. Science (in the strict sense of the word, as activities aimed at developing and systematization of objective knowledge about reality) became a dangerous thing. That is probably why in this period the share of scientific articles in the journal fell as low as 20%.

Nevertheless, despite all the challenges of that time, there were some dedicated professionals in the Soviet sport science who formed its driving force. This can refer to, primarily, the publications of founder of the Leningrad school of sport psychology Avksentiy Puni [10, 11] which pre-predetermined the subject of his doctoral thesis “Sport Psychology” [12].


  1. Bernstein, N.A. O postroenii dvizheniy (On motion construction). – Moscow: State publ. h-se of medical literature, 1947. – 254 P.
  2. Bernstein, N.A. Biodinamika startovykh dvizheniy (Biodynamics of starting movements) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1947. – P. X. – Iss. 8. – P. 357–372.
  3.  Krestovnikov, A.N. Na porochnykh pozitsiyakh: po povodu knigi prof. N.A. Bernshteina "O postroenii dvizheniy" (On the perverse positions: on the book of prof. N. Bernstein "Motion construction") // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1949. – P. XII. – Iss. 5. – P. 334–343
  4. Krestovnikov, A.N. Itogi Obiedinennoy sessii Akademii nauk SSSR i Akademii meditsinskikh nauk SSSR, posvyaschennoy problemam fiziologicheskogo ucheniya I.P. Pavlova, i zadachi nauchnoy raboty v oblasti fizicheskogo vospitaniya i sporta (Results of the Joint Session of the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR on the problems of physiological teachings of I.P. Pavlov and the problems of research in the field of physical education and sport) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1951. – P. XIV. – Iss. 1. – P. 8–22.
  5. O Rabote redaktsii zhurnala "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury" (On work of the editorial board of the journal "Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury") // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1947. – P. X. – Iss. 7. – P. 333–334.
  6. Ot redaktsii (Editorial note) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1945. – P. VIII. – Iss. 3. – P. 1.
  7. Puni, A.Ts. Ob aktivnoy roli predstavleniy v protsesse ovladeniya dvigatel'nymi navykami (On active role of ideas whilst mastering motor skills) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1947. – P. X. – P. 417–423.
  8. Puni, A.Ts. K psikhologicheskoy kharakteristike predstartovogo sostoyaniya sportsmena (On psychological characteristic of prestart state of an athlete) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1949. – P. XII. – Iss. 7. – P. 519–526.
  9. Puni, A.Ts. Psikhologiya sporta: avtoref. dis. dokt. ped. nauk (po psikhologii) (Sport psychology: abstract of doctoral thesis (Hab.) (psychology) / FDOIFK im. P.F. Lesgafta (Lesgaft STOIPC). – Leningrad, 1952. – 46 P.
  10. Farfel, V.S. Trenirovannost' i ee fiziologicheskie pokazateli (Fitness and physiological indicators) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1945. – P. VIII. – Iss. 4/5. – P. 28–38.
  11. Frolov, Yu.N. I.P. Pavlov i teoriya sovetskogo fizicheskogo vospitaniya (k 100-letiyu so dny rozhdeniya velikogo uchenogo i patriota) (I.P. Pavlov and the theory of Soviet physical education (for the 100th anniversary of the great scientist and patriot) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1949. – P. XII. – Iss. 9. – P. 644–651.
  12. Yakovlev, N.N. Vloyanie trenirovki na nekotorye protsessy obmena veschestv (Effect of exercise on some metabolic processes) // Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kul'tury. – 1947. – P. X. – Iss. 2. – P. 81–91.