TUG OF WAR INDIA

The origins of tug of war are uncertain, but this sport was practised in ancient Egypt, Greece and China, where it was held in legend that the Sun and Moon played Tug of War over the light and darkness.

According to a Tang dynasty book, The Notes of Feng, tug of war, under the name “hook pulling” was used by the military commander of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period (8th century BC to 5th century BC) to train warriors. During the Tang dynasty, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang promoted large-scale tug of war games, using ropes of up to 167 metres (548 ft) with shorter ropes attached, and more than 500 people on each end of the rope. Each side also had its own team of drummers to encourage the participants.[3]

In ancient Greece the sport was called helkustinda (Greek), efelkustinda and dielkustinda ,[4] which derives from dielkō, meaning amongst others “I pull through”,[5] all deriving from the verb helkō, “I draw, I pull”.[6] Helkustinda and efelkustinda seem to have been ordinary versions of tug of war, while dielkustinda had no rope, according to Julius Pollux. It is possible that the teams held hands when pulling, which would have increased difficulty, since handgrips are more difficult to sustain than a grip of a rope. Tug of war games in ancient Greece were among the most popular games used for strength and would help build strength needed for battle in full armor.

Archeological evidence shows that tug of war was also popular in India in the 12th century:

There is no specific time and place in history to define the origin of the game of Tug of War. The contest of pulling on the rope originates from ancient ceremonies and rituals. Evidence is found in countries like Egypt, India, Myanmar, New Guinea… The origin of the game in India has strong archaeological roots going back at least to the 12th century AD in the area what is today the State of Orissa on the east coast. The famous Sun Temple of Konark has a stone relief on the west wing of the structure clearly showing the game of Tug of War in progress.[9]

Women in a tug of war, at the annual Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, India
Tug of war stories about heroic champions from Scandinavia and Germany circulate Western Europe where Viking warriors pull on animal skins over open pits of fire in tests of strength and endurance, in preparation for battle and plunder.

1500 and 1600 – tug of war is popularised during tournaments in French châteaux gardens and later in Great Britain

1800 – tug of war begins a new tradition among seafaring men who were required to tug on lines to adjust sails while ships were under way and even in battle.

The Mohave people occasionally used tug-of-war matches as means of settling disputes.

As a sport

Tug of war competition in 1904 Summer Olympics
There are tug of war clubs in many countries, and both men and women participate.

The sport was part of the Olympic Games from 1900 until 1920, but has not been included since. The sport is part of the World Games. The Tug of War International Federation (TWIF), organises World Championships for nation teams biannually, for both indoor and outdoor contests, and a similar competition for club teams.

In England the sport is catered for by the Tug of War Association (formed in 1958), and the Tug of War Federation of Great Britain (formed in 1984). In Scotland, the Scottish Tug of War Association was formed in 1980. The sport also features in Highland Games there.

Between 1976 and 1988 Tug of War was a regular event during the television series Battle of the Network Stars. Teams of celebrities representing each major network competed in different sporting events culminating into the final event, the Tug of War. Lou Ferrigno’s epic tug-o’-war performance in May 1979 is considered the greatest feat in ‘Battle’ history.

National organizations

Harvard Tug of War team, 1888
The sport is played almost in every country in the world. However, a small selection of countries have set up a national body to govern the sport. Most of these national bodies are associated then with the International governing body call TWIF which stands for The Tug of War International Federation. As of 2008 there are 53 countries associated with TWIF, among which are Scotland, Ireland, England, India, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and the United States.