Gymnastics has a long and colourful heritage. The first gymnastics were circus-like acrobatics performed in ancient Egypt. The art of bull leaping was developed in the 2nd century B.C. The performer runs towards a charging bull, grabs its horns and while being tossed into the air(by the bull), he displays different mid air stunts before landing on the bull's back.
The ancient Greeks developed 3 distinct programs of gymnastics exercise: one for the maintainance of good physical condition, one for military training and the third as a conditioning regimen for athletes. The Greeks developed gymnastics in the 8th century B.C. for they believed unity off the mind and body could be realised through participation in physical exercises. They also realised that gymnastics could change the shape and strength of the human body. The Greeks and Romans in particular set high store by physical culture but when their empires passed away, so did gymnastics in the form in which it was practised. It was up to acrobats and dancers for many successive centuries to perform movements similar to some parts of the sport as it is known today. Tumbling, for instance, has passed down the ages as an entertainment.
In the nineteenth century, when educator Friedrich Ludwig Jahn opened an outdoor gymnasium near Berlin in 1811, interest stirred in the Germans. Jahn was the 1st person to use the parallel bars and the horizontal bar. Jahn also developed the horse and the rings.(see Exercises in Gymnastics for more details).His exercises were planned to develop self-discipline and physical strength. The Swedish father of gymnastics, Henrich Ling, concentrated on freedom of movement and free expression. Today, both branches of gymnastics are incorporated in today's sport.
Today's gymnastics can be branched into artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, and sports acrobatics.
to move on to the artistic history of gymnastics.