Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A sound body keeps a sound mind

If you want to be like me, just train!
V. Koretskiy, 1951

“Be ready for work and defense” (BGTO) – this was the basic physical training system in the Soviet Union. As it was declared, the system’s aim was to “strengthen people’s health, to allow them to develop fully and to make them ready for work to the benefit of the Motherland”. The training system was introduced in 1931 by Leninist Young Communist League of the Soviet Union (Komsomol). All sport clubs and training facilities had to have BGTO as the basic training. It included various sport disciplines: gymnastics, sprint and long distance racing, broad and high jumps, discus and javelin throwing, swimming, cross-country skiing (with cross-country running in the snowless regions) and sharp shooting. It had several stages according to the age – first stage for boys and girls below 16-18 years old and the second stage for adults age 19+. After you achieve certain standard results at a special competition event you receive a badge – here is a photo (100kb).

The poster above shows a soviet athlete and a boy. The athlete has a Coat of arms of the Soviet Union on his sport shirt, which indicates that he takes part in international competitions. The boy has a book with BGTO standards. Also he has a red tie, which is a symbol of the Pioneer organization. Actually it is a red kerchief with a special neck-tie. Its three endings symbolized unbreakable connection between three generations: the communists, the komsomol members and the pioneers.

The style of the poster is the same pre-war socialist realism. In 1953 Stalin was alive (he died only two years after the poster was published) and his personal cultural preferences still rulled the country.