During their 5,000-year history, the Turkmen people created seventy states, including the largest empires, which left a notable mark in the history of the world civilization. Despite the peacefulness and tolerance, inherent in the national character, our ancestors had to fight a lot, defending their native land and the independence of the Fatherland.
In earlier historical periods, the ancestors of Turkmens, whose life proceeded in difficult natural climatic conditions, also had to defend their right to exist, finding the harmony with the surrounding nature, flora and fauna.
Agriculture in the extremely limited water resources of the arid zone, hunting, during which the not only predators, but also unbearable heat posed the danger, as well as constant fighting against those who tried to encroach on their native land, dictated the need for a strong physical conditioning and high psychological stability.
Therefore, since early childhood, Turkmens trained their children for adulthood, using for this purpose a system of games and sports exercises that were included into the practice of folk pedagogy. Later, the elements and individual types of these games became a part of ritual actions and dances that were performed before hunting or fighting, as if preparing a person psychologically and physically for the upcoming event. It was a pre-start warm-up (if to draw a parallel with sports and apply modern terminology).
Therefore, children's games served not only and not so much as an entertainment, but represented the peculiar lessons of life, the school, the purpose of which was to prepare the younger generation for adulthood. Such lessons began from early childhood.
At the same time, the games, as expected, were interesting and exciting. The folk pedagogy was based on these principles – entertaining and educating children through games, and boys and girls - in ritual events, helping to acquire the techniques and skills necessary in everyday life, during hunting and fighting.
Our ancestors created numerous games for children with the aim to comprehensively develop an individual. In addition to the applied value - the sense of direction, the speed of reaction, the development of physical strength and dexterity, the games were aimed at brain building and developing spiritual and moral traits among children - willpower, perseverance in achieving the goal, ingenuity, the ability to find a common language and interact together in a group, etc. etc.
The folk games witness to the birth of our nation, whose history is estimated by a colossal period of five thousand years.
At the same time, children, having grown up, participated already in youth games, the elements of which could be observed during the so-called ‘royal hunting’, resembling military and tactical exercises, when the interaction of various units of armed riders was practiced.
From time to time such a hunting campaign was arranged by the ruler, personally participating in them in order to check the efficiency of his troops. Such events were conducted not because of a lack of food, but with the purpose so that the lieges (in peacetime - ordinary cattlemen, farmers and artisans, and during the war - well-trained soldiers) did not lose their fighting skills.
With regard to teenage games, it should be noted that many of them are very similar to modern sports. For example, ‘chilik-hekgal’ is very similar to the popular in the world in our days - golf, ‘chilik’ - hockey on the grass and others. In ancient times, they taught children to master the stick in perfection, which, in able hands, turned into a weapon.
For example, the ancient equestrian game ‘chovgan’ (resembling the modern ‘horse polo’) taught a rider to hold hard on a horse and, at the same time, skillfully operate with a stick, in order to beat the rivals with the wooden ball between the two pillars.
As an example, well-known Turkmen scientists - Academician A. Dzhikiev and Professor O. Gundogdyev dexcribed the game ‘chilik-hekgal’.
In winter, when the population was free from agricultural work, young men under the age of 20 gathered in the field. Players brought with them sticks of about seventy centimeters and a small 25-cm stick - specially made, sharpened from both ends – ‘chilik’. The sticks were made by the players themselves from solid and hard wood or shrub species, usually from the tamarisk.
A circle 10 meters in diameter was drawn on earth. Stones that served as a mark to be hit by chilik were inside the circle. Sometimes, instead of stones, a dug hole served as the mark, that makes this game even closer to modern golf.
The catching-up team was located behind the circle. The leader of the team took the chilik and, throwing it upwards, hit it with a stick. In case of a miss, he had the right to a second attempt. And if it was unsuccessful, then he passed the stick to another player from his team.
If a player of the opposite team was able to catch the chillik, his whole team won the match; teams changed places. After a strong blow, the chilik could fly to a distance of 100 meters. One of the players of the catching-up team picked up the chilik and from that place threw the tags aside.
If he hit the mark, then the team won. If the chilik reached only a circle, then it was thrown back, and where there were no players; a player of the leading team in this case had no right to take the chilik in his hands, but gently tossed it up with his stick and beat.
The catching-up team again threw the chilik into the mark. Not hitting the mark four times in a row and not catching the chilik on the fly, the catching-up players received penalty points and lost one full point.
... Despite the fact that the folk games of Turkmens, including ‘chilik-hekgal’are more than one thousand years old, the official date of the birth of golf is considered to be the first written mention of it. Western historians believe that this is Scotland, where the parliament in the 15th century by its act ... banned this game, in view of the fact that the people of this state were more attracted to running around with a stick than by studying military affairs.
Historical paradox: the official birth of the new sport takes has been counted from the day it was banned.
Although, for the sake of justice, it should be noted that there are those who dispute this date. For example, the Dutch, who claim to have data according to which golf was originated in their country in 1297.
Chinese historians are sure that 500 years before the ban on golf in Scotland, Chinese people played in ‘chuiwan’, the rules of which are very similar to golf.
In any case, one must admit: the prototype of this sport in ancient times existed in many countries, including Turkmen ones.
Some types of folk games and sports fun these days have acquired the status of official sports disciplines, which are included into national tournaments and international championships. This is, first of all, the goresh national wrestling, horse racing. By the way, the equestrian competitions of our ancestors resemble modern show-jumping.
It's good that our ancestors, from generation to generation, carefully handing over these games, have kept them to this day as part of our great cultural heritage that has enriched the treasury of the world civilization.