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as an academic subject and scientific branch

at the

Charles University

Prague, Czech Republic

A general tendency toward formal constituting a scientific and academic discipline which would study study human motor and physical activity in wide context had its beginning in sixties. The Faculty of Physical Education and Sports of the Charles University joined the general development by organizing The International Conference on Science in Physical Education in 1967. Invited lectures of the conference were reprinted in the faculty series of the journal Acta Universitatis Carolinae in 1968. In the same time the information about that event has been published in the Belgian journal "Kinanthropology".

Former scientific degrees in physical education

In those times the formal classification of sciences had been organized by the Academy of Sciences which subsumed the corresponding dissertations under the category of general education. Up to now, in that category there were more than 250 scientific degrees of so-called "Candidate of Science" - the former national equivalent to PhD - awarded to researchers in the scientific field of motor and physical activities. Nevertheless, the actual topic as well as applied research methods typically have overlapped haevily the area of a purely educational research.

Kinanthropology at universities abroad

During seventies and eighties several departments and other academic units started to bear the name of kinanthroplogy at European as well as North American universities. For instance at

University of Quebec

University of Sherbrooke

University of Zagreb

University of Leuven.

At the last listed university, besides the general kinanthropology one can even find the separate Department of Clinical Kinanthropology in Leuven.

Other names

In Europe there is also possible to find other names for this scientific field. While the so-called Sportwissenschaft or Sport Science seems to be too narrow perhaps the "Bewegungslehre", as used by some German universities, or "Antropomotoryka" in Poland may be found as more appropriate.

In eighties the Academy of Physical Education in the USA recommended so that the term "Kinesiology" was used by academic units to distinguish the scientific discipline from a teaching subject. The main areas of its study were energetic aspects and performance, movement control, motor coordination and skills, methods of developing the above mentioned, social aspects and realization of the activities.

But, the name "kinesiology" already bears other connotations. Therefore it has been criticised by some Canadian and US universities because of possible confusion and missubstitution for the traditional scientific discipline which is very close to functional anatomy, rehabilitation and links to medicine. This conception of kinesiology is traditional in Europe, especially in German speaking countries, and among medical personnel in general.

Therefore we can rather find the names such as

Human Movement Science

Physical Activity Science

Human Kinetics

The development and present in the Czech Republic

Under the condition after the 1968 year two narrower subdisciplines of the scientific field were formally recognized and accepted as parts of official classification system of sciences. At first, still in the frame of general education, the Anthropomotorics as a subdiscpline dealing with human motricity without broader, say social and psychological context, and later on, also Biomechanics have been formally accepted.

More recently Kinanthropology has been established as an academic branch of university study:

The Department of Kinanthropology at Charles University

was established in 1989. One year later a further kinanthropology department in another Czech city was founded at Palacky University in Olomouc, located in Northern Moravia.

Doctoral study in kinanthropology

The Accreditation Commission of the Government of Czech Republic accredited kinanthropology as an university discipline of postgraduate study at Charles University and for awarding PhD as an academic and scientific degree in 1991.

Characteristic of kinanthropology as a science

In general, the subject of study of kinanthropology is human motor activity, especially that which is intentionally focused on the development of human being with respect to its biological, psychological and social relationships as well as on the cultivation of the activities.

Research in this rather general field mostly concentrates on the motor activities belonging to the areas of physical exercise, physical education at schools, recreation as well as sport activities, including sport of the handicapped, rehabilitation and physiotherapeutic techniques, some border areas related to ergonomy and/or to further topics. It deals also with creativity aspects of motor skills, performance in motor learning, structure of motor abilities and their development, biomechanic conditions of human movement but also with such problems as the communicative role of the movement etc.

From the point of view of broader social context a very important field of kinanthropology consists of the research in possibilities of improving physical fitness and promotion of health and wellness as the main means of prevention of civilization diseases, many of them being found to be caused by hypokinesis - i.e. by the lack of motor activity.

Methodology of kinanthropology is focused on identification of lawfulnesses both of quantitative nature (e.g. dealing with biomechanic variables, motor test scores or so) as well as of qualitative nature (say in taxonomy of motor abilities, aesthetic attributes of movement etc.). These lawfulnesses are to be used not only for scientific explanation but also to evoke positive effects in practice.

Interdisciplinary relationships

On the basis of the above mentioned characteristic kinanthropology should be considered as a scientific branch which, in its complexity, neither can be substituted by any other science nor it may be reduced to a simple sum of other scientific disciplines. On the other hand kinanthropology, as well as any other science, necessarily has significant interdisciplinary mutual relationships. That fact especially influences the classification of kinanthropology into subdisciplines.

Subdisciplines of kinanthropology

The main groups of scientific branches that can be distinguished in the frame of kinanthropology are as follows

- anthropomotorics - motor behavior and fitness

- sport and exercise pedagogy and instruction study in sports

- sport and exercise psychology and sociology

- exercise physiology

- clinical kinesiology

- biomechanics

- philosophy and history of sport

While the real life certainly will ask for a more complicated classification the the groups listed above represent the present specializations in doctoral study at Charles University.

The Scientific Society for Kinanthropology

On the occasion of 40-th anniversary of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport the Scientific Society for Kinanthropology was established in September 1993. It has been officially accepted by the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic and approved as one of the scientific societies associated with the Academy of Sciences.

Charles University scientific journal of kinanthropology

The Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, as any of the faculties of Charles University, publishes its own series of Acta Universitatis Carolinae - this one called Kinanthropologica. This journal is published in English and distributed to main European sport libraries since 1993.

Links of kinanthropology to other faculties inside Charles University

Kinanthropology as an academic subject is also included in curricula of other departments and faculties. Informal cooperation is carried out with the Faculty of Philosophy in the frame of social and philosophical anthropology. Several professors of the (physical) Anthropology Department, Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as of Department of Kinanthropology, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, are colleague members of the International Society for Advance in Kinanthropometry.

Kinanthropology is formally included in the curriculum of the interdisciplinary undergraduate program in Integral Study of Man, which has been organized by the Institute of Basic Education of the Charles University.

Also in the inter-faculty postgraduate program, which is organized by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Charles University, kinanthropology has been included by its several subdisciplines into the doctoral program of the Postgraduate Study in Biomedicine.

Prague, December 5, 1993
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