Rules, Rituals & The Ring

Sumo wrestling rules for Dummies


Followers turn-up in hordes to look at the top sumo wrestlers clashing. Photos by Lucy CorneBy Lucy Corne

Once I travel i appear to get a hold of myself in the incorrect location at the incorrect time. If the regional museum is closed on Mondays, that’s when I roll into city. If summertime is the top wildlife watching period, it is possible to guarantee I’m seeing in cold temperatures.

It consequently arrived as a fabulous shock to learn that my brief day at Japan coincided with certainly one of Tokyo’s sumo wrestling tournaments, that you will find only three annually (plus three even more various other Japanese towns and cities).

On arrival in money we started initially to be concerned that although we were there during the correct time the passes, like countless things in Japan, could be prohibitively high priced – and therefore’s if there have been any at all.
Last-Minute Tickets
Fortunately, we found an easy method for those with an excess of time but too little cash to have last-minute seats, though it did mean vying with a few hundred other likeminded people initial thing in the morning.

Relishing the thought of slightly morning wrestling ourselves, we set out to get in on the throngs on Kokugikan Hall in Ryogoku, western of Sumida River. Rounding the part at just a little after 7:30 we had been amazed and somewhat vexed to observe that a sizeable queue had currently began to form.

Having spent the required time in Asia we were anticipated a heaving size of figures pressing one another straightened out, but discovered a peaceful, organized waiting line of respectable Japanese sumo lovers, peppered because of the strange group of foreign visitors.

Daily for the competition at 8 am, a final group of seats goes on sale, supplying right back row views for affordable rates. If you arrive early adequate you’ll be allotted a ticket for that day’s battles, while not a reserved seat – it is your decision to head to the arena early and mark your territory with coats, bags and newsprints.

looking forward to discount seats to a sumo wrestling matchAlthough, as a non-morning person, I happened to ben’t overjoyed at getting up early, waiting in the crisp winter air had been really rather enjoyable. We passed the time taking care of junior wrestlers clad inside traditional kimono and wooden shoes, a sight which commonplace for Tokyo residents but rather interesting for a couple of tourists.

At 8.30, right after we’d gleefully got hold of a couple of tickets, a drummer atop the stadium’s turret started to defeat on a track, heralding the beginning of that day’s competition.

Until lunchtime just junior wrestlers compete and even though they've been similarly photogenic into traveller’s attention, they neglect to pull in a lot of a group.

We made a decision to mooch around a number of Tokyo’s temples until we got hungry, after that headed to the stadium for a sumo-sized lunch.
Genuine Adulation
Our arrival coincided with this for the top wrestlers, including among yokozuna (grand champions). These guys are the top their particular industry – the David Beckham of sumo wrestling, in the event that you will – and generally are revered among Japanese men and women.

We had been astonished to see all of them walk up towards the stadium through the throngs of admiring fans and obtain nothing of the mobbing that a western recreations star might experience. However, i assume guys this huge don’t need bodyguards and no-one in their right head would be in their way.

Nonetheless it ended up beingn’t through worry that people didn’t approach all of them; it absolutely was through value, or maybe more than that – real adulation.

We watched the wrestlers stop when it comes to periodic picture or autograph, after that moved into the arena looking for the restaurant, where we bought chanko, a hearty stew. The mixture of beef, tofu and veggies served with rice in addition to common natural egg, ended up being definately not the tastiest dish we sampled in Japan, but our guidebook insisted this is exactly what the champions ate so we were determined to get the full sumo experience.

Junior sumo wrestlers arrive for morning fights.The large point of meal was when three senior wrestlers arrived to the canteen, taking a seat together by the screen. The low point arrived soon after, as they shunned the stew in support of some somewhat more appetizing pork cutlets with salad.
Some Burning Questions
Before meal we had shrewdly left our coats reserving some reasonable seating inside upper circle and were pleased with our spot as makuuchi (senior wrestlers) recorded in to do their particular opening ceremony.

The low priced seats tend to be a substantial distance from the band, but we could quickly see just what was going on. Now understanding what was taking place – that was an entire various story.

It then happened to me that whilst having had the nice fortune becoming going to Tokyo while an event had been occurring and scoring some deal seats, I had over looked a significantly crucial reality. I really had close to no idea what the guidelines for this bizarre sport had been.

How come the wrestlers stamp their foot and smack their stomachs so much? How come they all have the same hairdo? What’s with those oversized g-strings? And exactly how do you realy win a bout anyhow?

I experienced look over somewhere that an important an element of the sport is daunting your opponent, which went a considerable ways to explaining why a few mins had been devoted to stamping, glaring and belly slapping and just a matter of seconds had been generally speaking useful for the fight it self.

After watching half a dozen baffling bouts, we decided to extend our legs and explore all of those other stadium, including a tiny museum and an array of souvenir and junk food really stands. In the same way we were going back once again to our seats we spotted an English booklet on the recreation – or when I would soon discover, the art – of sumo.
Getting Clued Up

Witnessing something like sumo is definitely likely to be a-thrill. It’s weird and special, you’ve seen it on TV and it generally seems to epitomize the culture of a nation.

But in truth if you don’t actually comprehend what’s happening, sumo wrestling can soon be pretty dull. The pomp and service occupies around 90 percent regarding the day, with associated with the bouts becoming so short it is simple to miss all of them in the event the mind wanders for a second.

After the novelty of actually staying at an actual sumo competition wore down, I thought the need to get just a little clued up to ensure that I could enjoy the previous couple of bouts of day – the important people featuring the yokozuna.

Having look over up just a little, we thought a fresh value for a hobby that I'd formerly considered somewhat absurd. For those that hold the same opinion, or are simply bewildered because of the entire skin baring, thigh slapping event, here’s a total beginner’s guide to the art-cum-sport that is so revered within the Land of this increasing sunlight:

it is not an innovative new recreation is it?
It isn’t. Sumo goes back around 1500 years and much of it comes from religious techniques. Legend even has it the source of the Japanese battle in fact depended on the upshot of a sumo match, though that is up for debate!

They’re very flexible for these types of big guys aren’t they? But how come they raise their legs up-and stamp their particular legs before they fight?
Well, the program the wrestlers (rikishi) go through before they have down to company illustrates sumo’s powerful religious roots. First, they clap their hands together to attract the attention of the gods, just as the devout do when they visit a Shinto shrine.

Chanko - the traditional sumo lunch The gyoji (referee) makes for the beginning of another sumo wrestling bout. Spectators start to arrive due to the fact middle-ranked sumo wrestlers satisfy in Japan. Junior sumo wrestlers start a bout.


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