Wrestlers that compete in the sport of sumo are the biggest and heaviest of all sportsmen. And when they begin the fight by sprinkling salt on each other, stamping their feet, and exchanging menacing stances, spectators are treated to one of the most exciting scenes in the history of sporting competition. This is one of the aspects that has made sumo wrestling so exciting to Japanese spectators for years, and it is now bringing that excitement to Western audiences as well. The most compelling evidence of this may be seen in Akebono’s recent triumph as Grand Champion, which he achieved despite being born in the United States.
Because there have been so few written records kept, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly when sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport, first came into existence. Sumo is often considered to be the oldest of the martial arts, with Jujitsu being considered to be its direct descendent. A significant number of people claim that it dates back 1,500 years, while some maintain that ancient drawings have shown that the sport was practised in 23 BC.
Sumo wrestling’s roots may be traced back to many religious practises, that much is certain. The legendary triumph of a god named Take-Mikazuchi over his opponent and fellow god, Take-Minakata, in a match of sumo wrestling is credited with marking the beginning of the Japanese race. Take-Mikazuchi is where the Emperor of Japan may be traced back to in his family tree. The rituals and prayers devoted to the Gods for a good harvest include the fights, along with the plays and dances that are performed throughout the rites.
These events were first conducted mostly in shrines, but over time they migrated to the forecourts of warlords, who saw the occasion as another another opportunity to display their authority. In the eighth century, sumo was included into the rituals that took place at the Imperial Court, and the majority of the rules and tactics that were formed at that time served as the basis for the sumo that is practised today. The professional sumo organisations that were first organised in the early 17th century are considered to be the direct ancestors of the modern Japanese Sumo Association.
The enormous size of the wrestler, which is founded on a scientific concept that states that the heavier the fighter, the lower his centre of gravity, and the more difficult it will be for an opponent to drive him out of the ring, is the most exciting feature about the wrestler. This is achieved by the wrestler’s intricate diet, which focuses mostly on rice. Chanko, a fatty stew with pork, eggs, cabbage, and bean sprouts, is what he eats for breakfast. It is provided to him in the morning. Then, after the training, lunch and a sleep are on the agenda. They will soon be prepared to have supper. This method is also founded on the idea that consuming a lot of food and then sleeping for long periods of time both contribute to weight gain. It should come as no surprise that winners often weigh several hundred pounds. Although they have the appearance of being fat, they put in a lot of work in the gym.
Earlier on in the competition, the competitor had exquisitely embroidered aprons that identified the feudal household to which he belonged. From the 17th century forward, the fighter’s hair was pulled back into a topknot to act as a cushion for his head in the event of a fall. This practise has carried on right up to the present day. Wrestlers now days have brightly coloured aprons that display information about their birthplace, rating, and the particular professional organisation to which they belong.
Before the start of the game, there is a ritual to cleanse the playing field and the ring. After the priest has blessed the ring, salt and sake (rice wine) are put in the middle, and then the ring is worn. The use of salt is intended to cleanse the ring of any impure energies and ward off any malevolent spirits. Just before to the match, the wrestler gives his mouth a last rinse with water to physically and metaphorically prepare himself for the competition. The wrestler has a larger responsibility to fulfil ceremonial responsibilities the further up in the rankings they are. As an example, the Grand Champion is required to carry out a dance before to the fight. His stretching exercises are just being expanded upon in these subsequent levels.
It is thought that the majority of sumo is a game of the mind, which is why there are times when competitors gaze at each other for a considerable amount of time rather than engaged in the actual physical contest itself. There is a lot of slapping and shoving that goes on in the ring that is 4.55 metres wide. The objective here is to disrupt the focus of the opposing player. Any manoeuvre that is meant to cause injury to the competitor, like kicking them in the groyne or chest, is not permitted.
The mewashi, often known as the loincloth, serves as the wrestler’s attire. It is interesting to note that they are never cleaned since there is a common notion that doing so would result in the wrestlers’ whole experience being lost in the process. When it comes to the fight’s physical aspects, the competitors aim to secure a vice-like grip on the mewashi so that the winner may make the other competitor’s body, other than their soles, make contact with the mat. After then, everything is straightforward: the victor receives a promotion, while the loser falls in rank. And regardless of what was going on, the wrestler would show absolutely no emotion.