Wrestling with Japan’s national sport?
Sep 11, 2013
You’ve probably seen the spectacle on television. The gigantic competitors. The unique hairstyling. The traditional loin cloths. The stomping ritual.
But how well do you actually know sumo wrestling?
It has a long history and some elaborate traditions. The sport dates back 2,000 years–when its purpose was to entertain the gods during festivals. It became a spectator sport in the 1600s. In fact, it’s heavily influenced by shintoism, a religion native to Japan that is based on rituals and ceremonies rather than on a belief system.
A sumo match typically lasts seconds. The goal is to make the opponent either exit the ring or touch the floor with a part of the body other than the soles of the feet. Only men can practice the sport. Women aren’t even allowed on the dohyo (elevated ring).
Some other interesting facts:
• Sumo wrestlers live in stables, where they spend the day practicing, eating and taking naps.
• The dohyo is sprinkled with sand.
• The loin cloth is an essential part of the wrestler’s strategy. Measuring 7 to 9 meters (about 30 feet), it provides a way to get a grip on an opponent, so the way it’s wrapped is crucial.
• There are no weight categories—so some matches have opponents of very different sizes.