Photo by ethnosport.ru



Ethnosport is a form of preservation of the game heritage; it is a system of recovery of the ethnomotricité skills, inherent in the traditional way of life and lost in the conditions of urbanization.

Why ethnosport, and not just sport?

In modern society, sport is perceived much wider than it is written in the law on sport, or thought in the sport environment. Modern sport is constantly updated with newer and newer kinds. Various styles of physical activity were subjected to sportization. Along with those that owe their birth to the technology of the industrial era, some traditional types of physical activity that existed throughout the history of mankind have also become kinds of sport. However, not all traditional styles of physical activity (primordial play) are amenable to the procedure of sportization, i.e. to transformation into sports. For example, it is impossible to even imagine the names for sports federations that would govern such activities as running with a spoon in one’s mouth, with an egg on it; or running with buckets, filled with water, on a yoke; or round dance games. The carnival nature of such games as well as their being rooted in the festive culture make them unsuitable for sports activities, which are focused on demonstrating the highest achievements (and please note that those are not obvious to everyone, hence the obscurity of most of the champions).

Difficulty of sportization of primordial play also manifests in the fact that most of its kinds are done for pleasure, not for the purpose of identifying a winner. For example, authentic lapta (*a Russian ball game is similar to cricket) and klyushkovanie (*similar to hurling) have nothing to do with kinds of sport, called “lapta” and "ball hockey". Ball game and badminton at leisure, when the ball and shuttercock are served in order for the opponent to receive them, can be an even more vivid illustration to that. We even get upset when the opponent fails to take the serve. And this is the fundamental contradiction of traditional games and sports. In sports, one needs to serve in the way that that the opponent could never receive. This is the essence of Anglo-Saxon sports, based on competition; in other words, on elevation of the self by humiliation of the other. 

Ethnosport represents an alternative form of sport development. It sets the goal of preserving the game heritage and sets in motion the task of promoting and developing traditional styles of physical activity, comprising the basis of traditional games.

Ethnosport festivals

Ethnosport festivals have become a form of preparation for participation in traditional games, and are held as separate events. The latter acquires key importance in the conditions of urbanization. Examples of this are the Moscow festival of traditional wrestling of the peoples of Russia, the Championships on za-vorotok wrestling in Tambov and Moscow, Oblas racing (*a boat made out of a whole tree) in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District – Yugra, and others.

The model of ethnosport festivals is suitable for conducting multi-stage qualifying rounds with the final during the ethno-cultural celebrations of a national level, such as the All-Russian Shrovetide, the federal Sabantuy, and the Buryat-Mongolian Naadan.

At present, traditional games in city parks during the folk calendar holidays can also be considered ethnosport festivals. A special feature of this model is to hold competitions in traditional styles of physical activity, mandatorily accompanied by performances of folk groups, creating a colour of the traditional ethno-cultural holiday environment. This is achieved by the interaction of cultural and sports institutions, when the departmental programs are implemented within their competence and budgets, but terms and places for joint activities are negotiated. This model has been successfully implemented and has proven its effectiveness in Irkutsk, Moscow, Tambov, and Ulan-Ude, Khanty-Mansiysk, Yakutsk and other cities.

Can I do ethnosport?

To participate in traditional games one needs particular skills, possessed only by those who lead the traditional lifestyle. In the conditions of urbanization - urban arrangement of rural areas, many of the traditional skills, such as rowing, throwing a lasso or an axe, require re-mastering. Those who decided to prepare for participation in traditional games, should have the opportunity of gaining the ethnomotricité skills of their ancestors. This desire is enshrined in one of the fundamental rights of peoples to cultural differences and identities.

The scientists of TGEFR developed a program for the further development courses "Theory and methods of ethnosport" together with any Russian Universities.

Development of ethnosport

The Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia is engaged in the development of ethnosport, while the World Ethnosport Society does it on the global scale. Aleksey Kylasov, President of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia, became a member of the Interdepartmental commission on the development of physical culture, mass sport and traditional physical activities in the Council for physical culture and sports under the President of the Russian Federation, which is headed by the Minister of Sport.

UNESCO recognizes the cultural heritage of traditional games and calls for their study, preservation and promotion. In Russia this process began after the establishment of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia in 2012, which has become a partner of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

Author: A.V. Kylasov


1. Kylasov A.V. Methodology and terminology of Ethnosport // Bulletin of Sport Science, 2011.

2. Kylasov A.V. Ethnosport Theory, 2012.

3. Kylasov A.V. Identity of fairs and traditional games, or Emporium Ludorum // Bulletin of the Chuvash State Pedagogical University, 2013.

Relative topics:

Питер Брейгель, «Игры детей»


Lusorica is the game heritage of humanity (Lat. Lusorica, from the root of the word ludus/lusus – ‘game’ and the collective suffix). Lusorica is the name we gave to the Game Encyclopedia, which is being published on the pages of "Ethnosport" – our online journal.

Traditional Games Mepantigan Bali

Traditional Games

Traditional games are kinds of primordial play during the traditional holidays or the national calendar holidays, which are now held as ethno-cultural festivals and competitions.



Ethnosport is a form of preservation of the game heritage; it is a system of recovery of the ethnomotricité skills, inherent in the traditional way of life and lost in the conditions of urbanization.

About siteTerms of Use of the Materials18+ age limit


Copyright © World Ethnosport Society, 2011-2018. Address: Aptiekas iela 6-57, Riga, LV-1005, Latvia. E-mail: to@ethnosport.org
Network magazine "Ethnosport". Certificate of registration of mass media: El № FS77-55037 from 14.08.2013.

Website is made by milkov.ru