There is an inevitable part of Japanese history which some feel has been lost over the ages. They feel that sumo is connected to these lost segments of history, and this is fuelling the love affair which the nation has with the sport. It is the core ingredient in the mystic appeal it has to offer.
It is quite an engaging scene to witness, two sumo wrestlers crouching down in the ring, balancing on their knuckles pressed into the ground beneath them, then launching forward, clashing against each other sending shockwaves of brute force rippling through their flesh. It is more than that too. It is not only savage and brutal but can also be a courteous display of pomp and ritualism as the two men bow before one another before preparing once more for the next impact.
Unlike Any Other Mainstream Sport
Sumo wrestling has never left its roots behind. It is still holding on to the same rites and rules as those which were valid when wrestling was done in the Imperial courts of historic Japan. This can be due to sumo not being practised as much as a sport but is much more connected to being a lifestyle, a choice of being. It can be all-consuming as those who choose a life committed to sumo choose between staying in shared stables, run by a stablemaster until their day of retirement. This is not the place where transfers occur; massive funds are generated through sponsorships, nor do players become globally recognized famous figures. They aren’t connected into the world of materialism as driving licenses, mobile devices and even girlfriends are often considered to be off-limits.
Life through the perspective of a sumo wrestler is giving a fascinating peek into the days of living in Japan long gone. The lifestyle they choose is different, yet it isn’t necessarily ideal. The stables which they commit themselves to the day when they decide to commit to the sport, are often places where bullying can occur, where assaults do take place. This reminds us once again of an unfortunate incident during 2007 when a youngster in the stable succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted with a beer bottle by three other contenders as per the instruction of the stable master. Events like these remind us that when something connects modern-day circumstances to the roots of ages gone by, it is related to both the good and the dark sides of history. The case exposed a sinister and dark side of the sport, of the culture which has previously been in hiding.
Violence Being Part of Society
Can the violence portrayed in sumo be a result of the violence in society is one question when the force admired in the performance steps out of the boundaries of the ring and into modern-day society. Alternatively, being connected to the roots of ancient Japanese history, it might be the reflection of the violence that has always been part of the hierarchy within Japan.