The Sokol movement


By Costas Dervenis president of Pammachon

More and more forgotten history popping up. Another photo, courtesy of George Melissas.

The Sokol movement (from the Slavic word for falcon) is a youth sport movement and gymnastics organization first founded in Prague in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. Primarily a fitness training center, 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 classes, and eventually to women. The Sokol movement consciously traced its roots in physical education to the athletes and warriors of Ancient Greece. The movement also spread across all the regions populated by the Slavic culture (Poland (Sokół)), Slovene Lands, Serbia (SK Soko), Bulgaria, the Russian Empire (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus), and the rest of Austria-Hungary (e.g. Slovenia and Croatia). In many of these nations, the organization also served as an early precursor to the Scouting movement.

The photo below kind of sums everything up. We have staves, use of sabre, shields, an empty hand parry in fifth, weights for training, you name it. When originally founded, I called (still do) Pammachon, the martial art of the West. There was a reason for this. Still is. Primarily, I trace all movement, techniques and principles back to the Byzantine era, whose influence on Slavic culture is well documented.