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 Sumo

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Sakura
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PostSubject: Sumo   Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:29 pm


* Sumo / 相撲 is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyō) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. It is generally considered to be a gendai budō (a modern Japanese martial art), though this definition is incorrect as the sport has a history spanning many centuries. Many ancient traditions have been preserved in sumo, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt purification, from the days when sumo was used in the Shinto religion. Life as a wrestler is highly regimented, with rules laid down by the Sumo Association. Most sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal "sumo training stables" known in Japanese as heya where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition.

* In addition to its use as a trial of strength in combat, sumo has also been associated with Shinto ritual, and even certain shrines carry out forms of ritual dance where a human is said to wrestle with a kami (a Shinto divine spirit); see Shinto origins of sumo. It was an important ritual at the imperial court. Representatives of each province were ordered to attend the contest at the court and fight. They were required to pay for their travels themselves. The contest was known as sumai no sechie, or "sumai party."
Cross-influence from other nations adjacent to Japan, sharing many cultural traditions, cannot be ruled out, as they also feature styles of traditional wrestling that bear resemblance to sumo. Notable examples include Mongolian wrestling, Chinese Shuai jiao (摔角), and Korean Ssireum.
Over the rest of Japanese recorded history, sumo's popularity has changed according to the whims of its rulers and the need for its use as a training tool in periods of civil strife. The form of wrestling combat probably changed gradually into one where the main aim in victory was to throw one's opponent. The concept of pushing one's opponent out of a defined area came some time later.
Also, it is believed that a ring, defined as something other than simply the area given to the wrestlers by spectators, came into being in the 16th century as a result of a tournament organized by the then principal warlord in Japan, Oda Nobunaga. At this point wrestlers would wear loose loincloths, rather than the much stiffer mawashi wrestling belts of today. During the Edo period, wrestlers would wear a fringed decorative apron called a kesho-mawashi during the bout, whereas today these are worn only during pre-tournament rituals. Most of the rest of the current forms within the sport developed in the early Edo period.
Professional sumo / 大相撲 can trace its roots back to the Edo period in Japan as a form of sporting entertainment. The original wrestlers were probably samurai, often rōnin, who needed to find an alternative form of income. Current professional sumo tournaments began in the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in 1684, and then were held in the Ekō-in in the Edo period. Western Japan also had its own sumo venues and tournaments in this period with by far the most prominent center being in Osaka. Osaka sumo continued to the end of the Taishō period in 1926, when it merged with Tokyo sumo to form one organization. For a short period after this four tournaments were held a year, two tournaments in locations in western Japan such as Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka, and two in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. From 1933 onward tournaments were held almost exclusively in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan until the American occupation forces appropriated it and the tournaments were moved to Meiji Shrine until the 1950. Then an alternate location, the Kuramae Kokugikan which was near Ryōgoku, was built for sumo. Also in this period, the Sumo Association began expanding to venues in western Japan again, reaching a total of six tournaments a year by 1958 with half of them in Kuramae. In 1984, the Ryōgoku Kokugikan was rebuilt and sumo tournaments in Tokyo have been held there ever since.

* Sumo matches take place in a dohyō (土俵) - a ring, 4.55 metres (14.9 ft) in diameter and 16.26 square metres (175.0 sq ft) in area, of rice-straw bales on top of a platform made of clay mixed with sand. A new dohyō is built for each tournament by the bout callers (or yobidashi). At the center are two white lines, the shikiri-sen, behind which the wrestlers position themselves at the start of the bout. A roof resembling that of a Shinto shrine may be suspended over the dohyō.

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PostSubject: Re: Sumo   Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:33 pm

* The winner of a sumo bout is either:
- The first wrestler to force his opponent to step out of the ring.
- The first wrestler to force his opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his feet.
There are also a number of other less common rules that can be used to determine the winner. For example a wrestler using an illegal technique (or kinjite) automatically loses, as does one whose mawashi (or belt) becomes completely undone. A wrestler failing to turn up for his bout (including through a prior injury) also automatically loses (fusenpai).
On rare occasions the referee or judges may award the win to the wrestler who touched the ground first; this happens if both wrestlers touch the ground at very nearly the same time and it is decided that the wrestler who touched the ground second had no chance of winning as, due to the superior sumo of his opponent, he was already in an irrecoverable position. The losing wrestler is referred to as being shini-tai (“dead body”) in this case.
Matches consist solely of a single round and often last only a few seconds, as usually one wrestler is quickly ousted from the circle or thrown to the ground. However, they can occasionally last for several minutes. Each match is preceded by an elaborate ceremonial ritual. Traditionally, sumo wrestlers are renowned for their great girth and body mass is often a winning factor in sumo. There are no weight divisions in professional sumo, and considering the range of body weights in sumo, an individual wrestler can sometimes face an opponent twice his own weight. However, with superior technique, smaller wrestlers can control and defeat much larger opponents.
After the winner is declared, an off-stage gyōji (or referee) determines the kimarite (or winning technique) used in the bout, which is then announced to the audience.

* Professional sumo is organized by the Japan Sumo Association. The members of the association, called oyakata, are all former wrestlers, and are the only people entitled to train new wrestlers. All practicing wrestlers are members of a training stable (heya) run by one of the oyakata, who is the stablemaster for the wrestlers under him. Currently there are 47 training stables for about 660 wrestlers.
All sumo wrestlers take wrestling names called shikona (しこ名), which may or may not be related to their real names. Often wrestlers have little choice in their name, which is given to them by their trainer (or stablemaster), or by a supporter or family member who encouraged them into the sport. This is particularly true of foreign-born wrestlers. A wrestler may change his wrestling name several times during his sumo career. In rare instances, some sumo wrestlers have kept their real family names as their shikona, prominent examples being Wajima, Hasegawa and Shimotori.
Sumo wrestling is a strict hierarchy based on sporting merit. The wrestlers are ranked according to a system that dates back to the Edo period. Wrestlers are promoted or demoted according to their performance in six official tournaments held throughout the year. A carefully prepared banzuke listing the full hierarchy is published two weeks prior to each sumo tournament.
In addition to the professional tournaments, exhibition competitions are held at regular intervals every year in Japan, and approximately once every two years the top ranked wrestlers visit a foreign country for such exhibitions. None of these displays is taken into account in determining a wrestler's future rank. Rank is determined only by performance in Grand Sumo Tournaments (or honbasho), which are described in more detail below.

* Sumo is also an amateur sport, with participants in college, high school and grade school in Japan. In addition to college and school tournaments, there are also open amateur tournaments. The sport at this level is stripped of most of the ceremony. The most successful amateur wrestlers in Japan (usually college champions) can be allowed to enter professional sumo at makushita (third division) rather than from the very bottom of the ladder. This rank is called makushita tsukedashi, and is currently makushita 10 or 15 depending on the level of amateur success achieved. Many of the current top division wrestlers entered professional sumo by this route. All entry by amateur athletes into the professional ranks is subject to them being young enough (under 23) to satisfy the entry requirements, barring qualification as a makushita tsukedashi (under 25).
There is also an International Sumo Federation, which encourages the sport's development worldwide, including holding international championships. A key aim of the federation is to have Sumo recognized as an Olympic sport. Accordingly, amateur tournaments are divided into weight classes (men: Lightweight up to 85 kg (190 lb), Middleweight up to 115 kg (250 lb), Heavyweight over 115 kg (250 lb), and Open Weight [unrestricted entry]), and include competitions for female wrestlers (Lightweight up to 65 kg (140 lb), Middleweight up to 80 kg (180 lb), Heavyweight over 80 kg (180 lb), and Open Weight).
Amateur sumo clubs are gaining in popularity in the United States, with competitions regularly being held in major cities across the country. The US Sumo Open, for example, was held in the Los Angeles Convention Centre in front of 3000. The sport has long been popular on the West Coast and in Hawai'i, where it has played a part in the festivals of the Japanese ethnic communities. Now, however, the sport has grown beyond the sphere of Japanese diaspora and athletes come from a variety of ethnic, cultural and sporting backgrounds.
Amateur sumo is particularly strong in Europe. Many athletes come to the sport from a background in judo, freestyle wrestling, or other grappling sports such as Sambo. Some Eastern European athletes have been successful enough to be scouted into professional sumo in Japan, much like their Japanese amateur counterparts. The most notable of these to date is the Bulgarian Kotoōshū, who is the highest ranking foreign wrestler who was formerly an amateur sumo athlete.

_________________
Moshimo negai ga kanau no nara
Donna negai wo kanae masu ka?
Boku wa mayowazu kotaeru darou
Mouichido. . . anata ni aitai
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