What is Sumo?

Sumo in the 21st century is first and foremost a sport.

Although its origins are based on mythological encounters between Japanese gods of lore and a once close relationship with the Japanese Shinto cult-cum-religion, whilst much of the pre-bout gestures that have been handed down over the centuries do still remind some of the traditions steeped in antiquity, these gestures today are largely just that - gestures.

In reality, the actual sport of man against man or woman against woman in amateur sumo or man against man (only) in the professional sport, is one of the most simple forms of wrestling still in existence today.

Wearing but a stiffened loincloth, two individuals compete to either push or throw their opponent out of the designated fighting ring (dohyo in Japanese) or to make a part of their opponent's body - other than the soles of their feet, touch the floor inside the same dohyo. To do so is to win. Sumo is that simple at first glance.

However, like all sports, there are numerous rules and techniques employed by those taking part but the incredible simplicity of sumo - one on one, you fall, you lose, truly allows anyone of any age and any physical condition to participate.

The professional sport today is dominated by Mongolians and Eastern Europeans whilst their Japanese counterparts wipe their furrowed brows as they ponder how to beat these invading wrestlers from shores afar.

On the amateur side of things, it is again Europeans that feature strongly but with the professional avenues closing down to them as a result of sumo politics in Japan, the Japanese so retain a much firmer grip on any medals handed out during international amateur events due to strong university teams scattered around the country.

Mark Buckton

Vice President
Olivia Nagioff

General Secretary
Paul Sharp

Overseas Development

Jezz Sterling

West Japan Liaison
Carolyn Todd

Alisdair Davey

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Sumo Association