What is Sumo Wrestling?

Sumo is a genuinely competitive contact wrestling sport that requires your entire body to be used. During a match, a wrestler will attempt to force their opponent to the ground or push their opponent out the circular ring, known as a dohyo. Sumo wrestling originates from Japan and is the only place where Sumo is practised professionally.

Sumo wrestling has been practised in the country for several centuries, and many traditions of the sport are still used to this very day, including salt purification. The Sumo wrestlers that practise the game live in heya, a shared training stable, where dressing and eating are dictated by Sumo tradition.

Origins of Sumo Wrestling

Sumo is associated with the rituals that form part of the Shinto religion. Some of the shrines perform a dance that is very similar to a sumo wrestling match where a human primarily wrestles with a divine spirit. The popularity of sumo wrestling changed quite a bit and was greatly influenced by the rulers over the ages. During civil conflicts, Japan used sumo wrestling as a practice tool. After centuries, the Japanese decided to adopt the concept of winning a Sumo wrestling match by pushing an opponent out the ring as opposed to throwing an opponent.

The idea of a circular ring, as opposed to space, was first introduced during the 16th century when Oda Nobunaga organised the tournament. At that time, sumo wrestlers used to wear loose loincloths, while the Edo period saw them wear fringed aprons. Professional sumo wrestling started in the Edo era as a form of entertainment and samurai’s were the first professional wrestlers. In 1684, modern tournaments began in Tomioka Hachiman Shrine. There were also tournaments held in Osaka. However, sumo wrestling ended in Osaka during 1926 when it formed part of Tokyo.

Rules of Sumo Wrestling

To become a winner in a sumo match, you need to force your opponent out the circular ring or push him to the ground. A sumo wrestler can also lose a game whenever they use an illegal technique, when they fail to show up for the match, or when their belt is undone. Sumo matches usually only feature a single round that lasts for literally a few seconds. However, there are rare occasions where a game can last for minutes. You will not find any weight divisions when it comes to Sumo wrestling.

You will also notice that a ritual is performed before the start of any sumo wrestling match. Once the game is over, a referee will determine the technique followed by the announcement of the winner. In rare instances, a wrestler that touches the ground first can be the winner of the match. This will only occur when both wrestlers fall to the ground at the same time. The referee, in this scenario, will argue that the second wrestler that touched the matt couldn’t have won as they were irrecoverable. Therefore, the losing wrestler is usually referred to as the dead body or shini-tai.