photo credits: Wikimedia Commons
all-age gymnastics organization first founded in Prague
The Sokol movement (Czech: [ˈsokol], falcon) is an all-age gymnastics organization first founded in Prague in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. It was based upon the principle of "a strong mind in a sound body". The Sokol, through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what Tyrš viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation. This training extended to men of all ages and classes, and eventually to women.
The movement also spread across all the regions populated by Slavic cultures, most of them part of either Austria-Hungary or the Russian Empire: present-day Slovakia, the Slovene Lands, Croatia, Serbia (SK Soko), Bulgaria, Poland (Sokół), Ukraine, Belarus. In many of these nations, the organization also served as an early precursor to the Scouting movements. Though officially an institution "above politics", the Sokol played an important part in the development of Czech nationalism and patriotism, which found expression in articles published in the Sokol journal, lectures held in the Sokol libraries, and theatrical performances at the gymnastic mass festivals called slets.
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