post

The Rules of Sumo Wrestling

The sport of sumo has very few rules, which can result in some exciting bouts. Sumo takes place in a ring approximately 15 feet in diameter that is raised about 2 1/2 feet off the ground on a huge block of clay called a dohyo. A light sprinkling of sand is applied inside of the ring. The edge of the ring is made of tightly wound straw bands called tawara and rises up about 3 inches out of the dohyo. A new dohyo is created for each tournament. Five judges, or shinpan dressed in black kimono, sit below the dohyo and around the ring. These judges are former rikishi themselves. A referee, or gyoji, dressed in an elaborate kimono stands at the edge of the ring and officiates the bout.

A Sumo Match

A Sumo Match

At the end of the bout, the gyoji points to the winner. In a particularly close bout, any of the five judges can dispute the call made by the referee. In this case, a conference, called a mono-ii, is held inside the ring with the gyoji and five shinpan to discuss the match. In modern times, television instant replay is used to determine the actual outcome of a match when in dispute. A rikishi loses a match when any part of his body other than the bottoms of his feet touches the dohyo or when he is pushed or thrown outside of the ring. In the middle of the ring are two white lines called shikirisen. These lines are the starting points of each rikishi for each bout. When a judge gives the signal for the rikishi to fight, both rikishi crouch behind their respective shikirisen and face each other. When both rikishi place both hands clenched in fists on or behind the shikirisen, the bout begins. The tachi-ai, or initial charge, is extremely important in gaining the advantage and momentum over your opponent. On the side note, Sumo Wrestling was not that popular as form of entertainment during the World War due to the fact that the world is underneath the wings of chaos and destruction. Most people, especially soldiers, gets sex slaves as their primary source of enjoyment. The US Comfort Women are some of the slaves used by soldiers for entertaining themselves through sexual pleasures.

Sumo Wrestler before a match

Sumo Wrestler before a match

Image by telegraph and kanpai

post

A Sumo Wrestler

Sumo is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a wrestler or a rikishi attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. Sumo originated in Japan and even up until now is a popular sport in the country.

We may enjoy watching sumo wrestlers wrestle, but did we even care to think about the lives of the sumo wrestlers? In this article, a glimpse on the life of rikishis will be presented.

Sumo Wrestler

Sumo Wrestler

Sumo wrestlers belong to a stable. In a stable, the wrestlers are trai ned, nourished, and developed to become good wrestlers someday. Stables are managed by at least one stable master, who is usually a retired wrestler who was good at his prime.

In Japan, there are currently 54 stables. Referees, ushers, and hairdressers also live in the stables. The stable master is referred to as oyakata (boss), and his wife, who is called okamisan, plays an important supporting role behind the scenes.

There are a number of different divisions for the wrestlers, ranging from the makuuchi and juryo divisions at the top (sekitori), to makushita, sandanme, jonidan, and jonokuchi below them. Wrestlers begin receiving a salary when they become a sekitori at the rank of juryo or higher, and they also get to wear a keshomawashi, a lavishly embroidered apron-like cloth that comes down to their ankles, when they are introduced before the beginning of a tournament. More than anything, though, they get to have people around them take care of their everyday needs.

Sekitori also wear their topknot in the shape of the leaf of a ginkgo tree. And the mawashi that a sekitori wears in the tournaments is made of silk and can be one of several colors, while wrestlers in the makushita division or lower can wear only a black cotton mawashi.

Sumo is a world in which results are everything, and there is a great difference between how wrestlers of different ranks are treated and how much money they receive.

Image from Carrelease

post

Puroresu

Puroresu is a genre of professional wrestling in Japan. The term actually comes from “professional wrestling”, which was usually referred to simply as “pro-wrest” in Japan. With the Japanese’s way of speaking in English, pro-wrest sounded something like puroresu.

The most popular puroresu fighter is Sorakichi Matsuda. There were subsequent attempts before and after World War II to popularize the sport in Japan, but these generally failed until the advent of its first big star, Rikidōzan, in 1951, who became known as the “father” of the sport. Rikidōzan brought the sport to tremendous popularity with his Japanese Wrestling Association (JWA).

Amidst the tragedy experienced by Rikidozan, puroresu gained popularity and eventually thrived. Throughout, a variety of personalities, promotions, and styles were created. A number of promotions opened and closed; some stayed in the industry for long while some quickly went out of business. As a whole though, it can be said that puroresu is generally successful. Perhaps the most successful, popular and thriving companies that still exist up to this date is New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Puroresu is a modern sport with traditional history

Puroresu is a modern sport with traditional history

Despite some similarities to the much more popular style of professional wrestling in the United States, Japanese wrestling is known for many differences from the Western style. Puroresu is known for its “fighting spirit” and the wrestlers are known for their full contact strikes. Many Japanese wrestlers have some degree of knowledge in many different martial arts and wrestling styles; because of this, there are usually doctors and trainers at ringside for assisting the wrestlers after a match.

Puroresu has a variety of different rules, which can differ completely from wrestling in other countries. While there is no governing authority for puroresu, there is a general standard which has developed. Each promotion has their own variation, but all are similar enough to avoid confusion.

It should be also noted that the term “Puroresu” in Japan refers to all professional wrestling, regardless of country of origin. For example, American promotions WWE and TNA are referred to as “Puroresu” in Japan.

Image from Google

post

Japanese Baseball and Sumo

The Japanese are known to be very loyal to their country. In video games, they prefer Nintendo, a console that is actually only popular in their country. When it comes to trains, they always make sure that they do their best so that no other country can match its development.

For a country blessed with people who are very nationalistic, many actually find it confusing that their national sport is not the country’s own. Japan is known for creating and popularizing several sports that are still popular up to now. However, their national sport is not even from that list. Japan’s national sport is no other than baseball.

Baseball may not be indigenous to the country but it is very popular there. A student returning home from his studies in America introduced the sport to his friends in 1878, and by the early 1900s, universities across the country had baseball teams.

Baseball

The professional baseball league in Japan was established as early as 1920; a proof that the sport has long been played in the country. The league I am referring to is the Nippon Professional Baseball Association (NPBA). The current 144-game season that is followed by the NPBA culminates in a championship held in the fall.

Baseball

Baseball

Japanese baseball is very different from American baseball. The most glaring difference is the fact that the field in Japan used for baseball is much smaller, hence the strike zone is also closer to the pitcher. Furthermore, games never go longer than 12 innings, meaning tie games are allowed.

Sumo is the second most popular sport in Japan next to baseball. It originated about 300 years ago and was associated with Shinto as a symbolic way to “wrestle” spirits. Sumo as a professional sport became popular during the 16th-century Edo period, and today professional wrestlers live a very proscribed life together in houses called stables, where they adhere to strict customs. Everything from the meals that they eat (a protein-rich stew called chankonabe), to their hairstyle (a samurai-style topknot) and the clothes they wear (kimono and geta) are set by the Japan Sumo Association.

Sumo

Sumo matches can last for a few seconds up to a few minutes.

Image from Wikipedia

 

post

Chiyonofuji

Sumo is an interesting sport, especially when viewed from a non-native Japanese perspective. The sport is historically and culturally one of the cornerstones of Japanese competitive sport, having much history associated with it and its development. Given that it is a one on one contact sport, some fighters naturally stand out among their competitors, for a variety of reasons.

One of the stand-out names in the list of amazing Sumo wrestlers is Chiyonofuji Mitsugu, whose original name had been Mitsugu Akimoto prior to becoming a professional Sumo wrestler. He was born in the midst of 1955 and managed to claim the title of yokozuna during his professional career. The title of yokozuna is not given out lightly, as it indicates that he has managed to reach the very highest rank in the sport, something that many aspiring fighters hope to achieve one day.

In his time as yokozuna, Chiyonofuji managed to accomplish a variety of impressive feats. The easiest to see was that his average weigh-in during official matches amounted to 120kg, which is really rather light for the sport, especially given his title as the best. Additionally, in his time as yokozuna, he also managed to win a total of 31 championships, a feat that has only been beaten by the prolific Taiho Koki, who is hailed as the best Sumo wrestler to ever compete following the end of World War II, with his 32 victories. Another feat that he had only been beaten by Taiho is the fact that he held onto the title of yokozuna for a long time, being the bearer of it for a whole ten years, falling just one year short of Taiho’s time.

One record he did manage to set was that he had won more tournaments in his thirties than any other wrestler before him, even more impressive especially since he retired in his mid thirties. In the 21 years of his professional career, Chiyonofuji also broke the record for most career wins, amounting to 1045, of which 807 were in the highest division. Additionally, he also set the record for most amount of consecutive wins in the Kyushu tournament, one of the six most significant Sumo tournaments held over the year, by winning eight times in a row. Chiyonofuji also set the record for the highest win-streak in Sumo wrestling following the war, going undefeated for 53 matches.

First image by sumodb.sumogames.de

Second image by sumoforum.net

 

post

Taiho Koki

Sumo wrestling is a big deal in Japan. The sport is one of the most iconic ones throughout the nation, especially considering its historical and cultural importance. The lifestyle of a Sumo wrestler isn’t easy, but their profession draws large crowds of spectators – giving birth to a few legends of the competition, fighters that have stood out among the rest. It is, after all, a contact sport.

Some fighters and competitors make a name for themselves through their impact on the development of the sport, some do it by performing well consistently. Some, however, do so by simply crushing their opponents mercilessly, over and over again – and Taiho Koki is one of them.

Taiho Koki was the so-called 48th person to have claimed the yokozuna title, a title representing the highest rank in the Japanese Sumo system. In addition to that, he is often considered to be the best competitor in the post World War II period, having been born when the war was still raging brutally. In 1961, at age 21, he became the youngest ever person to claim the title of yokozuna, and it would be many years after him for someone to replicate the feat. In the span of 11 years, between 1960 and 1971, he managed to win 32 individual tournaments – an incredible figure today and just as impressive as it had been during his time. There had also been two separate instances wherein Koki won six major tournaments consecutively. On top of that comes the impressive fact that he had been the only wrestler to have won at least one championship in every year of his career in the highest division – so impressive in fact, that he is the only person to have done it up until today.

In the actual ring, Koki was known for his techniques involving the opponent’s belt and giving himself enough leverage to win by straight up pushing his opponent out of the ring, something he had actually done enough times to account for one third of all his victories. He would practise his techniques with all the other members of the highest rank, something he was well known for.

Following his retirement, Taiho Koki decided to become the head of a stable and take the reigns of developing the next generation. He became the head coach of the Taiho stable, managing to set the groundwork for the young blood which would eventually bring more championship titles to the stable itself, before he passed away.
First image by chijanofuji.com

Second image by sumoforum.net

post

Japan Sumo Association

Historically, Sumo wrestling is one of the most important and prolific sports of Japanese culture and heritage, and generally considered a sport exclusive to only Japan – not surprising given the sport’s nature and the required lifestyle a professional competitor is forced to live. Sumo is also a sport that embodies several virtues which are highly valued in Japanese culture, such as strength, perseverance and honor. Given the prolific nature of the sport, it also comes as one of the more heavily regulated ones in the Land of the Rising Sun. Sumo Wrestling in Japan is overseen by the Japan Sumo Association, the governing body of the sport in its entirety, acting on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The association is the cornerstone of the sport as the entire livelihood of the sport is dependent on it – whether one is directly involved as a competitor or referee, or indirectly as an assistant, usher, costume and make-up artist – the Sumo Association is responsible for the paying of those people. The organization is headed by elders, many of which are former referees or fighters, with their headquarters being located in one of Tokyo’s districts. There is also much interesting history associated with the organization of the sport. All the way back during the Edo period, Sumo Wrestling was a sport primarily organized for the sake of raising funds to be used in the construction of infrastructure, with historically important Shoguns and warlords such as Tokugawa Ieyasu being of the firm belief that the only purpose of Sumo should be to aid the ruling class economically by attracting large, paying, crowds. The competitors would receive a share of the revenue generated during these charitable events, and this form of organized charity Sumo is referred to as “kanjin sumo.” To become a member of the Sumo Association, one must either purchase or somehow else obtain a share of it. Due to there being only 105 shares outstanding at any time, the value of them is high and thus regulated too – only a former wrestler can purchase one, and in order to do so, he must have achieved a certain rank in Sumo skill categories. An interesting facet is that each of the 105 shares have a name associated with them, and that the person owning the share will be known in the Sumo world by that name. Many exclusive rights come with being a member of the organization, including the right to open or own a training stable, providing a consistent economic backbone for the sport. First image by thejakartapost.com Second image by japan-guide.com

post

Life As A Sumo Wrestler

Sumo is an interesting sport, especially when viewed from a non-native Japanese perspective. The sport is historically and culturally one of the cornerstones of Japanese competitive sport, having much history associated with it and its development. However, Sumo Wrestling is far from being like any other ordinary sport. The sport is heavily regulated by the Japan Sumo Association and while that isn’t detrimental, one might consider the highly prescribed way of living a shocking factor. Sumo isn’t like most other sports wherein one can simply purchase the required equipment, get some friends together, join a team and play –  far from it actually. There are many restrictions placed on professional Sumo competitors by the Japan Sumo Association. First and foremost, the most notable thing for a spectator is the sheer size of a Sumo wrestler. While there are no formal weight and size restrictions in the sport, in order to even consider competing at a level one must accumulated to a certain size – which for one, isn’t healthy, and two, isn’t cheap either to maintain. When one enters the world of pro Sumo wrestling, one is required to let one’s hair grow and have it styled in the way that had been traditional during the Edo period, one of the golden times when it comes to Sumo. In addition to that is the necessity for the wrestlers to wear the traditional outfits when in public, making it extremely easy to identify a Sumo wrestler –  as well as making it a difficulty for many Sumo wrestlers to live a healthy social life involving those outside the Sumo industry. Wrestlers generally live in so-called stables, wherein they’ll spend most of their time training, doing chores, maintaining their diet – all in order of rank and seniority. Only the senior members are normally permitted to leave the stable together with their sponsors while the juniors remain there to either be educated or relax. Once a wrestler reaches a rank high enough, or gets married, they are permitted to stay in their own accommodations, however overall most tend to stay in the dormitories. The main problems with the lifestyle, despite the dedication to the sport and the potential glory one can achieve, become evident when a wrestler retires. Sumo wrestlers have a significantly shorter life expectancy than ordinary people, often due to a very high chance of developing diabetes. In addition to that is the relatively low amount of base salary fighters receive, especially when young and without sponsors. Wrestlers receive bonuses six times a year depending on their accumulated performances in the major tournaments, allowing the best fighters to live comfortably while motivating the less skilled ones to improve.

First image by forlivingstrong.com Second image by openplac.es

post

Pride Fighting Championship

Japan’s Pride Fighting

Japan is popular all over the world with its various martial arts such as Karate, Sumo and Judo. All of these martial arts mentioned above are martial arts intended for hand to hand combat or combat without weapons. In this era wherein human life is more valued, competitions or fighting with weapons is prohibited or strictly regulated. Thus the popularity of mixed martial arts wherein fighters can showcase their talents and prove to the world that they are indeed stronger than the rest. It is promotions like Pride that helped elevate Mixed Martial Arts to what it is today. It is one sport that is rising fast in popularity and will definitely be seen more in the future.

Pride Fighting Championship used to be one of the most well-known mixed martial arts promotion in Japan. It began in 1997 with the name Kakutougi Revolutionary Spirits or KRS. Their first promotion was a fight between famous Japanese wrestler Nobuhiko Takada and Rickson Gracie one of the best Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners of the time.  The event was able to attract 47000 fans which indicated a space in the market for fights that showcased different styles of fighting. Pride is more exciting in the sense that is more violent compared to other promotions such as United Fighting Championship or UFC. Comparing Pride rules with the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial arts we can see that Pride allows strikes that are illegal in different promotions. This makes Pride one of the most brutal promotions which can endanger the well-being of the fighter. Pride allows kicks and knees and stomps to the head of an opponent on the ground. Fighters are also permitted to throw or slam the opponent on the canvas head first. As can be seen Pride allows strikes that can possibly be fatal or extremely damaging to a fighter. The advantage though lay with the audience since because of these different tactics Pride was able to provide exciting fights. Some of the mixed martial arts legends competed in Pride such as Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko, Shogun Rua and Mirko Cro Cop. Though majority of the fighters I mentioned would eventually make their way to UFC.

Dream Stage Entertainment would eventually sell Pride to Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III. The plan was to merge Pride and UFC like what was done to the AFL-NFL merger in American football. The plans would never materialize and that was the end of Pride as we know it. Majority of the employees of Pride would later join a new fighting organization named Dream.

Image by Legend Fighting Championship