physical education system evolution in russian statehood establishment period


PhD A.L. Yurchenko1
PhD, Associate Professor О.G. Zhigareva1
PhD, Associate Professor V.L. Anurov1
A.S. Sidorov1
1Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow

Keywords: physical education, family-ancestral emphasis, focused training, tutorship, mass education models, systemic process.

Background. Interest in the national physical education system development policies and practices viewed as an integral part of the social progress and modern educational system is in high priority since the education science still comes up with many questions on this physical education system genesis, design and functions.

Objective of the study was to make a historical and theoretical analysis of the physical education experience in the pre-Peter-the-Great Russia.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was intended to analyze and interpret the available historical data on the focused institutional and practical methods to secure high physical fitness for the military personnel; and to formulate and systematize the developmental regularities of the Russian professional physical education system in the period of IX to XVII century.

Study results and discussion. The evolution of the physical education system is interpreted herein as a process of structural changes in the system time controls, content and efficiency factors to arrive at a new social model providing a new quality to the system [8]. The analyzed logic of the physical education system evolution provides a new basis for understanding of the system goals, concepts and models in the process of such evolution.

In the pre-historical tribal period, when the tribes and ethnic groups faced dangers in the areas of modern Russia, the leaders called for assemblages of emergency volunteer corps, with every adult man capable of holding weapons expected to join the corps. Well-developed physical qualities were highly valued as paramount for success in battles.

The princes and patriarchs could apply some sets of selection criteria to nominate the tutors for the training process to cultivate and develop the qualities and skills given in Table 2 hereunder. The tutor’s mission was to educate and train a physically fit and intellectually competent individual highly knowledgeable and skilled in martial arts, with high military valor and spirit [4].

Table 1. Model qualities and skills cultivated by the youth physical education system


Provisional age groups, years

Priority qualities

Key skills and abilities

Training model




Speed, dexterity

Throws, rolls, sprints


Fighting basics and crafts



Strength, speed, agility, flexibility, motor coordination

Equestrian, trekking, bow shooting, fist fighting, javelin throwing, sword fighting skills

Individual, coupled

Hunting, fishing, combat fighting and teamwork skills building



Strength, speed, agility, endurance

Equestrian, trekking, bow shooting, fist fighting, javelin throwing, axe fighting skills  

Individual, group

High moral and volitional qualities, hunting, fishing and combat fighting skills building



Strength, endurance, fine motor coordination

Equestrian, trekking, bow shooting, fist fighting, team management skills


High tactical thinking skills; hunting, fishing, combat fighting and teamwork skills building


The national historians have restored the physical education model applied by the prince’s armed forces in the early days of the ancient Russian statehood prioritizing national wrestling, bow shooting, equestrian and rowing practices; with the key skills additionally cultivated by traditional dances, fist fights etc. [7]. The Vyborg Treaty of Military Alliance and Support (1609) reached by Sweden and Russia provides one of the first reliable historical evidences to confirm the existence of a special combat training system [6] for volunteer corps mobilized for the military actions against the Polish invaders [5]. The Swedish expeditionary troops were too limited to effectively oppose the Polish invaders, and this was the reason for Commander M.V. Skopin-Shuysky to mobilize the local residents for the combat training mission as provided by the Vyborg Treaty, with the Swedish instructors contracted to train the Russian volunteers [1]. The volunteers were trained to shoot canons, swing swords and make fences to effectively fight individually and in groups. It is very likely that it was since then that the mass physical education system started to grow in the country [3]. Later on, in 1647, the first formal combat instruction document was issued entitled “Infantry training and combat arrangement craft”. The document provided basics for the leisure-time trekking and equestrian trainings, “on how to gallop with arms over fences and ditches and other skills” [2]. The national physical education system evolution was influenced by many factors.

Table 2. Classified factors of influence on the national physical education system evolution

External factors

Global political trends

Economic level

Cultural level

Social ethics

Climatic and geographic factors

Foreign policies

Geopolitical interests

Scientific progress

Mid-level factors

Economic policies

Financial system

Fiscal policies

Educational system

Social policies

Legal and regulatory framework


Internal factors

Human resource

Industrial development level

Material and technical  assets

Mineral resources and raw inputs

Human resource training system

Process control documents

Moral and mental fitness

Conclusion. The national physical education system progressed in a spiral-like manner with the increased pace of events, impulses and drivers. It was the tutorship system that was the key for the knowledge, skills and mastery building in the period of IX to XVII century, with the modern supervisory system likely to have its origins in those days. The primary legal and regulatory framework for the military training and physical education of the Russian troops was laid by a variety of historical documents, books and manuscripts – mostly by foreign authors. The training and educational system progress was spearheaded by the enthusiastic national commanders and government officers.


  1. Ablaev Yu.M. Istoriya stanovleniya i razvitiya gosudarstvennoy granitsy na Severo-Zapade Rossiyskoy Federatsii X–XX vv.. Dis. dokt. ist. nauk [History of formation and development of the state border in the North-West of the Russian Federation X-XX centuries. Doct. diss. (Hist.)]. St. Petersburg, 2012, 479 p.
  2. Wallhausen I.Ya. Uchenie i khitrost ratnogo stroeniya pekhotnykh lyudey. 1647 god: 1647 god'  [Teaching and cunning of military structure of infantry. 1647: 1647 year. The study and cunning of military structure of infantry]. Мoscow: Kniga po trebovaniyu publ., 2012, 357 p.
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  7. Samsonov A.V. Russkie druzhiny v boyu [Russian squads in battle]. Available at: (Date of access: 23.11.2017).
  8. Yurchenko A.L. Evolyutsiya fizicheskoy podgotovki v sisteme voennogo obrazovaniya [Evolution of physical training in military education system]. Aktualnye problemy fizicheskoy i spetsialnoy podgotovki silovykh struktur. St. Petersburg, 2010, no. 2(19) 2010, pp. 11-16.

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The study analyzes the philosophical and practical aspects and the most important factors of influence on the youth physical education system from the early days of the Russian statehood to the beginning of the Romanov’s royal family reign in Russia. Using historical, retrospective, comparative, quantitative and statistical data analyses, the authors identified and rated the key factors and historical events of the highest effect on the physical education models and progress in the pre-Peter-the-Great period. The study restored the physical education model applied by the prince’s armed forces in the early days of the Russian statehood. For the historical fairness, we suggest revising the traditional view of the Vyborg Treaty of Military Alliance and Support (1609) reached by Sweden and Russia and its implications. We believe that the Vyborg Treaty provided a basis for the mass physical and combat training of volunteer corps for the military actions against the Polish invaders. The study data and findings may be of interest for physical education and sport specialists, healthy lifestyle proponents and historians.