Sumo (相撲) Wrestling
rikishi – wrestler
dohoyō – ring
Japanese martial art
相撲 – means: striking one another (sumo)
Japan is the only country in the world where Sumo Wrestling is practised professionally. The sport maintains many ancient traditions such as the use of salt purification which originates from the Shinto religion. Sumo wrestling is used as a trial of strength in combat and the practice is taken from certain shrines in which a ritual dance takes place where the participants wrestle with a Shinto divine spirit known as a kami.
Sumo wrestling has also gained influence from other forms of traditional wrestling that originated in Mongolia, China and Korea. It has also been used for military training purposes under certain rulers.
The Japan Sumo Association are responsible for monitoring, setting and enforcing the rules of the sport. It is very well respected and the wrestlers live in extremely strict conditions known as ‘sumo training stables’. In these communal living areas, strict traditions are upheld – from food to sleeping arrangements to dress codes and more.
Professional Sumo tournaments started in 1684 during the Edo period and were held in Ekō-in. At the time, the most established centre was in Osaka.
A hierarchy is formed between competitors and is established through their sporting successes. These are accumulated over six official tournaments held throughout the year. A full hierarchy is published two weeks prior to each tournament and is known as a ‘Banzuke listing’. The wrestlers’ rank is determined only by their performances in Grand Sumo Tournaments known as ‘honbasho’.
Every two years, the top ranked wrestlers visit foreign countries to partake in exhibition competitions. These exhibition competitions are held throughout the year within Japan.
If you fancy yourself a Sumo Wrestler, here is how to win:
1) force the opponent to step out of the ring.
2) force the opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his feet.0