Artist Alfonso Generalao's bronze "Sumo"
What is Sumo?
Sumo is the traditional national sport of Japan.
Just as baseball and soccer have become popular within Japan, the
ancient traditions of Sumo
are gaining popularity outside of Japan. There are six Grand Sumo
tournaments (basho) held during the year, in each odd numbered
month. Three are held in the capital of Tokyo, and one each are
held in the cities of Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. There are only
seventy salaried professional wrestlers in the two top divisions
of Sumo, with hundreds of men striving to break into these ranks.
How is Sumo Enjoyed?
To enjoy the combat sport of Sumo, there are only
a few things to know. Two men meet in a ring that is 4.55 meters
across. They wear thick silk belts around their waists. The object
is to force your opponent out of this ring (dohyo) or to make any
part of his body (excepting the soles of the feet) touch the playing
surface. There is a referee and several judges watching the action
to call the winner. These bouts are very brief, averaging only
a few seconds, although some exciting matchups can go on for two
or three minutes. The combatants cannot pull hair, gouge eyes,
or strike with a closed fist. Pushing, tripping, slapping and various
body throws are commonly seen in Sumo. Judo was derived from ancient
Sumo throwing techniques.
Why Learn About Sumo?
If you are interested in Japan, Sumo is a fascinating
way to learn about the culture of the country. Men and women alike
are fans of the sport, and it is deeply and traditionally Japanese.
The wrestlers belong to teams, and live communally in a lifestyle
that is completely dedicated to the sport. Sumo is a way of life
as well as a sport, and all involved wear distinctive clothing
and are considered role models all year round. A strict meritocracy,
you gain rank and pay in Sumo only by winning; lose and you drop
in rank. An additional attraction of Sumo are the men from foreign
countries who struggle to achieve fame and fortune in Japan. Recently,
men from Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mongolia, China and the United
States have found success.
of Basic SumoTerms