Sumo Tradition

Sumo Tradition

Sumo has its roots deep in Japan’s feudal past. In its oldest form, sumo wrestling was intended as entertainment for the gods of Japan’s Shinto Buddhist religion. Japanese books of myths and legends, written in the eighth century, say that sumo matches were performed during the rice-planting season to ensure a good crop for the year. During Japan’s Nara and Heian periods (710 – 1192AD), sumo bouts were held at Japan’s imperial court in front of emperors and noblemen.
The sport’s original rules and etiquette were shaped by the influence of traveling samurai mercenaries known as ronin. When not busy with their day jobs, these warriors needed a source of income. Wrestling for money in front of Japan’s elite was a good way to pay the bills.

Sumo Diet

Sumos rise at 5am but then skip breakfast and begin intense training!
Sumo wrestlers eat their own special type of food. It's called chankonabe, essentially a stew served in a giant pot (nabe means pot) and is a staple of the sumo wrestler diet.
They take a pre-meal bath (which is run for them by a junior wrestler), and then eat their fill at 11am.
Right after eating the first meal, sumo wrestlers go back to their own bedrooms and take a long nap in the afternoon. It helps them to gain weight as all the food is being stored as fat. Then the giants come back again to the dining table around 6 or 7pm.
They do however have a large side salads, many bowls of rice and pots of beer, totalling up to 20,000 calories per day.

Sumo Tournaments

Training in sumo stables increases in intensity as the year’s big tournaments draw near.
These tournaments are known as hon-basho; there are six held per year in Japan (in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka) and each tournament lasts 15 days.
Top-ranked wrestlers are required to face one other top-ranked wrestler per day. Those in the lower ranks wrestle seven times per day.
The aim for each rikishi is to reach the end of the 15 days with more wins than losses. Sumo from the top ranks sometimes leave undefeated, with 15-0 records. These perfect scores are known as zensho-yusho.
One of sumo’s greatest wrestlers, Hakuho, has achieved eleven perfect yusho scores during his tournament career.
"You can’t move quickly with full stomach. Sumo training is more intense than you ever imagine," Matsuda says (manager of the Takasago Sumo stable).
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