Ready for Labor and Defense of the Ussr

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ready for Labor and Defense of the Ussr


an all-Union complex of physical culture, the foundation of the state system of physical training in the USSR.

The purposes of the complex are to ensure better health, comprehensive physical development, and preparation for labor activities and the defense of the motherland. The complex is the basis for all programs of physical training in all educational institutions and sports sections. The complex includes gymnastic exercises, races (sprint and medium distances), the long jump and high jump, throwing (discus, javelin, shot), swimming, skiing (march-sprints or bicycle races in snowless regions), and small-arms fire (for young people only). The complex was introduced on the initiative of the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League in 1931; later it was completed by introducing a second stage in 1932 and a junior stage—Be Ready for Labor and Defense—in 1934.

The first stage of Ready for Labor and Defense is designed for juniors 16–18 years of age; the second stage is for adults (19 years and older). Be Ready for Labor and Defense is for boys and girls 14–15 years old. A special stage of the complex—Ready for Defense of the Motherland—was introduced in 1966. The complex has been altered from time to time in accord with the aims of the Soviet system of physical training.


Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR


(GTO), a state physical fitness program consisting of standards for the physical development and preparedness of people of various age groups. The GTO program, which is the basis of the Soviet system of physical education, is designed to promote all-around physical development, improve and maintain public health, prepare the population for highly productive work and the defense of the motherland, and help mold the intellectual and moral character of the Soviet citizen.

GTO was introduced between 1931 and 1934. Its standards were revised in 1940, 1947, 1955, 1959, 1965, and 1972 as a result of the growth of the state system of physical education and the physical improvement of successive generations. The program was approved by a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Jan. 17, 1972.

The program has five age levels, each with its own physical standards: Bold and Agile (ages 10–11 and 12–13), Sports Relay (ages 14–15), Strength and Courage (ages 16–18), Physical Perfection (for men aged 19–28 and 29–39 and women 19–28 and 29–34), and Good Spirits and Health (for men aged 40–60 and women 35–55). In 1972 the Military Sports Program was put into effect in the armed forces of the USSR. This program corresponds to the fourth level (Physical Perfection) of the GTO program.

The GTO program provides training in running; high jump and long jump; discus, javelin, and shotput throwing; swimming; ski racing; and shooting. It also provides information on physical culture and sports, training for civil defense, and advice on personal and public hygiene. People who meet the standards at each level are awarded a gold or silver GTO badge, depending on their achievements. Those who meet the standards during the course of several years are awarded the honorary GTO badge. Outstanding physical-culture collectives at places of work and various institutions and organizations are awarded the badge For Successful Work on the GTO Program.

In 1973 the Sports Committee of the USSR created the All-Union Council for Work on GTO; the council’s chairman is the cosmonaut A. A. Leonov. In 1974 all-Union championships in GTO combined events were established. In 1975, 37 million people competed, and approximately 500 reached the finals. Prizewinners in the fourth level receive the title Master of Sport of the USSR. From 1972 to 1975, more than 58 million persons met GTO standards.

GTO is closely linked with the Uniform All-Union Sports Classification, which determines the consecutive levels of skills and preparedness of athletes. It sets standards for athletic achievement from amateur sports to the major sports. Sports classifications and titles are awarded to athletes who meet GTO standards.

State standards for physical education have also been introduced in other socialist countries.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.