Saturday, April 7, 2012
Japan Hammer: Top 5 Things I Learned about Sumo
My recent trip to Osaka to see one of the tournaments there gave me some insight into how sumo works and how it is viewed. This was a very interesting cultural observation for me being the first sumo show I've ever been to. Having a background and love of pro wrestling, I didn't realize how closely the two are related in some facets. I never knew much about sumo until going and I still don't completely understand it, but I think I learned enough to share.
Hope you enjoy!
5. Not all sumo guys are huge:
You don't necessarily have to be a gigantic guy to be sumo, which was a misconception I had. I also assumed that the biggest guy would always win, which wasn't always the case. As you can see in the picture above, not all of the guys are massive.
4. Not all sumo are Japanese:
While I knew this largely, I was surprised how many foreigners are actually involved in sumo. Hakuho, who is the current Yokozuna, is actually Mongolian. And others such as Baruto (Estonian) and Kotooshu (Bulgarian) are from Eastern Europe. I was surprised when Baruto tossed his opponent like a rag doll out of the ring. That guy is extremely powerful. All of the sumo are in fact. They aren't just big guys running into each other.
3. Sumo matches are extremely short:
Probably the longest match was about 20 seconds? I figured they weren't that long anyway, but some of them were literally 2 or 3 seconds. Boom. Fall over.
2. The ceremony before the matches are extremely long:
There is a lot of ceremony and posturing before the sumo actually lock up. That means they face off with each other, throw salt, face off again, throw salt again, increasingly getting more and more aggressive each time. It's kind of cool to see and reminds me of other martial arts where they have to do the right things before starting.
1. Some sumo are superstars
Just the mention of some of the names got quite a buzz from the crowd. Hakuho in particular because he's been quite a dominant yokozuna. Baruto had his fair share of supporters and there are others that have smatterings of cheers and applause. Takamisakari seemed to be one of the most popular in that when he did his preparation he'd really, really get into it. Slapping his face hard and making grunting sounds. The crowd seemed to love that. Lots of people dig that sort of thing in sports. Those are different always have the most reactions. The same in all martial arts, pro wrestling, and MMA.
So, those are some things I've learned about sumo. What do you know about sumo? Did any of my observations surprise you? Comment below!