Sun. July 13th, 2008 - Sun. July 27th, 2008
Sumo (相撲, sumō?) is a competitive contact sport where two wrestlers (rikishi) attempt to force one another out of a circular ring (dohyo) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. The Japanese consider sumo a gendai budō (a modern Japanese martial art), though the sport has a history spanning many centuries.
The sumo tradition is very ancient, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt for purification, from the days sumo was used in the Shinto religion. Life as a rikishi is highly regimented, with rules laid down by the Sumo Association. Professional sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal "sumo training stables" known in Japanese as heya where all aspects of their daily lives - from meals to their manner of dress - are dictated by strict tradition.
Origens of Sumo:
In addition to its use as a trial of strength in combat, it has also been associated with Shinto ritual, and even today certain shrines carry out forms of ritual dance where a human is said to wrestle with a kami (a Shinto divine spirit). It was an important ritual at the imperial court. Representatives of each province were ordered to attend the contest at the court and fight. They were required to pay for their travels themselves. The contest was known as sumai no sechie, or "sumai party."
Winning a Sumo bout:
The winner of a sumo bout is either:
The first wrestler to force his opponent to step out of the ring.
The first wrestler to force his opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his feet.
On rare occasions the referee or judges may award the win to the wrestler who touched the ground first; this happens if both wrestlers touch the ground at nearly the same time and it is decided that the wrestler who touched the ground second had no chance of winning as, due to the superior sumo of his opponent, he was already in an irrecoverable position. The losing wrestler is referred to as being shini-tai (“dead body”) in this case.
There are also a number of other rarely used rules that can be used to determine the winner. For example a wrestler using an illegal technique (or kinjite) automatically loses, as does one whose mawashi (or belt) becomes completely undone. A wrestler failing to turn up for his bout (including through a prior injury) also automatically loses (fusenpai). After the winner is declared, an off-stage gyoji (or referee) determines the kimarite (or winning technique) used in the bout, which is then announced to the audience.
Matches often last only a few seconds, as usually one wrestler is quickly ousted from the circle or thrown to the ground. However, they can occasionally last for several minutes. Each match is preceded by an elaborate ceremonial ritual. The wrestlers themselves are renowned for their great girth, as body mass is often a winning factor in sumo, though with skill, smaller wrestlers can topple far larger opponents.
Sumo matches take place in a dohyō (土俵): a ring, 4.55 metres in diameter, of rice-straw bales on top of a platform made of clay mixed with sand. A new dohyō is built for each tournament by the yobidashi. At the center are two white lines, the shikiri-sen, behind which the wrestlers position themselves at the start of the bout. A roof resembling that of a Shinto shrine may be suspended over the dohyō.(info from wikepedia)
My dream one day, is to see a live Sumo match. This is one of the reasons that I have always wanted to visit Japan. For those of you headed that way, here is the upcoming schedule:
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium - Nagoya
tickets now on sale
Advanced ticket purchases can now be made through the Telephone Reservation Service, the July Tournament Official Homepage (see The Chunichi Shimbun Homepage), the various sumo "tea houses" and Play Guides.
* Advanced ticket purchases can be made at the venue from June 12th.(10:00 AM - 5:00 PM / closed Saturdays, Sundays & holidays)
2008 July Tournament Advanced Ticket Information