The Surprising Link Between Tug-Of-War and Malcolm’s Defeat of Macbeth
True story, Malcolm III Canmore, was the originator of the Highland Games. What most people do not know is that these gatherings were not just for fun, they were designed as a recruitment and training tool for building armies that were not only strong and disciplined but smart.
Each competitive event was deliberately chosen by Malcolm for its ability to identify the best individuals to hold key roles in his army.
The Heavy Sports, Dance, and Pipes and Drums competitions would pull out of the crowd individuals with exceptional strength, endurance, and discipline.
It was through the Tug O War competition, however, that Malcolm found his great Leaders.
In a winning Tug O War team, in addition to a strong pulling force, there are the critical positions of the Anchor, the Driver, and the Captain.
Counterintuitively, the biggest and strongest is the Anchor. Positioned at the very back, he or she holds the rope level to optimize the pulling power of the team.
A great Driver is the mastermind of team strategy. Moving alongside the team, the Driver calls out commands to counter and perry the movements of the opposing team in real time.
With the stress of all eyes upon him or her, the Captain is die for the cause loyal and perfectly poker faced so as not to give away any secrets to the opposing team until the moment of the strike.
So what on earth does Tug O War have to do with Malcolm’s defeat of Macbeth?
If you were paying attention during grade eight Language Arts class, you know that Macbeth stole the crown from Malcolm through treacherous means. He wrongfully framed Malcolm and his brother Donalbain for their father’s death.
Malcolm fled to England to regroup, seek out loyal supporters, and assemble an exceptional fighting force to ultimately defeat the usurper by turning his own arrogance against him.
Malcolm knew he could be the Driver, his Anchor was his new English Allies and he found in Macduff the perfect Captain.
Even though Macbeth had been warned about Macduff he was overconfident having been told by Witches that he could not be harmed by anyone “of woman born.”
At the last minute, while facing off in battle, Macduff reveals the shocking plot twist that he was born by cesarean section and this was the loophole in the prophecy that was Macbeth’s complete undoing.
While Shakespeare does not mention anything about Macduff being discovered during a Tug O War match, historically, it is likely that some men alongside him were.
Allow that to sink in as you imagine them all marching to Dunsinane while dressed in camouflage cut from Birnan Wood.
And there you have it. Tug O War as both a recruitment tool and a strategy played a role in how Malcolm built an army to defeat one of history’s most notorious villains.
By: Christine Davidson