Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - Elements of martial arts in the programme of Gymnastic Association „Sokol” (1867–1914)

"Sokół" members and the contemporary historians as well agree as to the reasons of creating the Polish "Sokół". Under the cover of gymnastic exercises, numbers of young Poles were prepared for the future battle for their homeland‘s freedom. Apart from gymnastic exercises, which were the basis of the Association‘s programme, there occurred elements of martial arts and exercises of defensive, military and utilitarian character. There were practised, among others, hand fighting and with the use of such facilities as: cold steel, shaft weapon, wrestling, free fencing (prime version of kick boxing), combination of free fencing and wrestling (contemporary ultimate fighting), wrestling exercises (direct, or with the use of facilities), elements of military training: military drilling, throwing a knife, a javelin etc. at a target. Some of the mentioned competitions were (e.g. fencing and wrestling) were permanent points in the Association‘s activity programme. Activities of military character started to appear in "Sokół" since 1889. With The First World War approaching, their popularity and significance started to grow. The reason for such changes in the sports activity of Sokół" was the political atmosphere prevailing at the beginning of the 20th century. That time was turbulent as the states of the trilateral agreement and the trilateral alliance rapidly increased the size of their armies what heralded an outbreak of a military conflict soon. The Polish nation had then a real opportunity to recover their independence. In such a context military and utilitarian skills were most useful what obviously was reflected in the evolution of the competitiveness programmes of the Polish "Sokół".