Sumo is a full contact sport between two wrestlers and is not for sissies! It is one of Japan’s martial arts and has been around for centuries. The rules are simple: the first wrestler to step out of the ring or touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet, or uses an illegal technique such as choking, kicking above the knees, pulling the hair, poking the eyes, grabbing the groin area, or punching or clapping both ears at once loses. The bout takes place in a circular ring on the floor about fifteen feet in diameter made of hard clay and covered with sand.
With ten ranks to climb to attain the top rank of Yokozuna, it takes a wrestler many years, if ever, to even get into the top five ranks. Only one out of eight hundred reach the top.
Because there is no weight division, most wrestlers try to gain some advantage by becoming massive, sometimes weighing as much as 400 pounds. But size is not everything. A smaller wrestler can use good technique and a strong mind to defeat larger challengers.
Wrestlers live and train in training centers called sumo stables owned by stable masters who are members of the Japan Sumo Association. There are about 40 stables and 650 wrestlers. Training life is very rigid. Junior wrestlers cook, clean, do laundry and serve the higher level men. Wrestlers train for hours every morning, junior wrestlers starting around 5:00 am and the higher ranking men starting at 7:00 am. They weight train, slap their hands on logs, practice footwork, do hundreds of squats and leg lifts, push heavy weights or each other, shuffle-walk in a squat position, stretch until they can virtually do the splits, practice falling, and learn techniques such as throwing an opponent down. Sumo is a violent sport and wrestlers are subjected to physical abuse to toughen them up. Sometimes such abuse has led to death.
Yes, sumo wrestlers are enormous, but underneath the layer of fat is a mass of hard muscles. Don’t try to take one down. That would be like shoving over a tree.