Physical Culture Shock: Persia (Iran & Other Countries)

Physical Culture

Today we are going to take a look at the physical culture of a country many may not even realize has one. I know that sound ignorant but many people in the west are ignorant to the fact that other countries have added to the way we train.

Many of today’s training come from cultures that spawn these forms of exercise out so a necessity. Out of the need for warriors to be healthy and ready for war. It became abundantly clear that an army filled with well trained and physically fit warriors was the key to winning a war.

You could see this in the ancient Greeks, the Hindu warriors, and for the sake of this article the Persian army that once ruled a significant portion of this world at one point.

Persia has not excited for some time now but what remains in Iran which has passed down some of the training secrets of the past to its sons and daughters.

History Of Iranian Physical Culture

Thousands of years ago Iran was part of Persia. A massive and strong country. Physical culture has always been a significant aspect of these ancient civilizations because you needed to be strong to get through day to day life. Not to mention soldiers needed to be ready to take on some of histories greatest warriors like the Spartans of Greece.

Those that still hold on to the lessons of the past do so with great pride. You can tell the dedication to be strong, active, and healthy is for those in the country of Iran. They have one of the best Olympic weightlifting programs and produced a number of gold medals and world records.

This country has a rich history under a different name as I have stated before. Persia is now broken into a bunch of different countries but they daily training, dancing, yoga, and other acts of physical training are executed on a daily basis almost like clockwork.

This helps these people with their day to day lives. They are a very hardworking people who have no problem getting their hands dirty.

Pahlevan Wrestling

Wrestling is a big part of Iranian culture. You can see this in their constant appearances in the Olympic games. The surrounding countries also exhibit the same prowess in the sport. The Pahlevani wrestling championships are a yearly occurrence, the winner is then known as the Pahlevan. Much like the Sumo Wrestling culture has the Yokozuna.

These wrestlers training extremely hard and they utilize tools much like an Indian club or Jori called a Meel. These meels come in a wide variety of weights and sizes but the facts are they are great for building shoulder strength and stability. The also increase tricep tendon strength.

There are a wide array of tools that these athletes use. Meels are one, but using the Shena for push-ups and other movements is also important for upper body strength development.


The Zurkhaneh is the “house of strength” This is the place where athletes meet up and train. There are 2 levels, the bottom level where the athlete’s train which is generally an octagon or a circle and then the upper level where an audience watches and most of the equipment is stored.

There is also a section where the “master” or morshed sits and sets the pace by banging on a drum. The pishkesvat or “leader” Who decides what movements are being completed and the order in which they occur. There is a whole lot of really interesting tradition inside the walls of a Zurkhaneh.

This place is sacred for those who attend and the traditions upheld are important for the overall physical culture of this country.

What We Can Learn

I always say that there is no reason to walk away from any experience with at learn to learn something.

The people of Persia, and now Iran produce some superior athletes. They do this with a number of different things, one, of course, being their dedication to physical fitness. it is deeply ingrained in the culture. Having special houses or gyms that are surrounded and connected to their faith.

They also use a variety of tools that are simply not seen on a regular basis. They are effective and work. The ancient warriors of the past recognized a fundamental fact that rotational strength is the primary movement pattern.

One executed to kill enemies and throw a wrestling opponent. We will get in to further depth on this fact when we get to the Indian physical culture.


The Persian armies of the past may have been made up of farmer, and blacksmiths. But one thing remains they were a formidable force. The athletes that still come from these countries carry on that tradition. They train differently than we do in the west and they also have a very different mindset.

The use tools that were developed to increase a warriors ability to kill enemies. They are not being used to produce athletes that can metaphorically kill in competition. They worked back in ancient Persia and they still work to this day!


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