What is Sumo?
In sumo, two people, who are wearing nothing but a mawashi (loincloth), face each other in a dohyo (circular ring) and push, hold on and try to unbalance. Whoever forces his opponent to the ground or pushes him out of the ring is the winner. There are perhaps a lot of things that seem difficult to access with sumo, and despite its particular aspects (pre-match rites, outfits, etc.), it is a martial art in the same way as kendo, karate or n ‘any one Japanese martial arts.
Sumo was created centuries ago and took its present form during the Edo period (1603-1868). Rikishi (wrestlers) wear their hair in topknot, which was a normal hairstyle in the Edo period. The referee, meanwhile, wears the same type of clothing as a samurai from 600 years ago. Many aspects of traditional Japanese culture can be seen in sumo. For example, wrestlers throw salt in the ring to purify it before starting their fight, the dohyo being considered a sacred place. Sumo has a long history, and it is considered the national sport of japan. Although many sports are played there in Japan, such as baseball and football, sumo is the oldest professional sport in the country.
As of January 2007, Japan had 702 professional sumo wrestlers. There are six basho (tournaments) per year, each of which takes place over 15 days. The rank of wrestlers, called a banzuke, can change based on their performance in each tournament, and their new rank is announced before the next tournament. The highest rank is yokozuna, followed by ozeki, sekiwake, komusubi, and maegashira. These are the ranks of the top division of wrestlers, which is called makuuchi. Below the makuuchi division is the juryo division, and these two levels, called together sekitori, include all ranked wrestlers. There are four lower divisions, but each wrestler’s goal is to reach the level of sekitori.
The death of a wrestler in the ring in April 2021 cruelly highlighted the shortcomings of this so traditional sport and created a real shock in Japan.
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