What is SUMO? Basic Guide to Japanese Sumo Wrestling




Traditional Sport ‘SUMO’


Do you know what is Japanese national sport?


We do not have official national sport that declared by government.


However, Japanese believe that Budo (武道) or martial arts is Japanese national sport.

Budo includes Kendou (剣道), Jyuudou (柔道), Kyuudou (弓道) and Sumo (相撲).

Today I’m going to talk about Sumo (相撲) or Sumo wrestling.


Sumo Wrestlers’ Uniform

Male players put on Mawashi or Sumo belt and have no clothes on their upper bodies.

Sumo wrestlers are called Rikishi (力士).

History of Sumo is very old. According to record, people started to play Sumo between 300 and 700.

In 726, its rule changed and players were not allowed to kick or punch their opponent.

There are female Sumo wrestlers (Rikishi 力士) but they cannot participate in Oozumou (大相撲) as a professional Rikishi.

Moreover, female wrestlers usually wear T-shirts and short pants instead of Sumo belt.


Basic Rules of Sumo




  1. No Weapons

Wrestlers fight without any weapons or equipment.

The game is taken place inside the Dohyo, which is a circle space Sumo wrestlers fight.



When they are on the Dohyo (土俵), they open arms and palms to show that they have nothing with them.


  1. Get Ready (Shikiri)

Inside the Dohyo, wrestlers bend their knees, put their fists on Shikiri line and look at their opponent. They concentrate and get ready to fight.


  1. Start Fight (Tachiai)

After looking at the opponent’s face, the wrestlers would attack the opponent. They push opponent’s chest, grab their Sumo belt and push them away, or use other methods.

  1. Win or Lose

The wrestlers will lose if they step outside the circle or if they fall down and any body parts, except soles, touch the ground.

There is no weight class in Sumo.

Lighter wrestlers might move quickly, while heavier wrestlers might be powerful.



Watch the game on TV if you have a chance.

If you like it, you might want to go see games.

It is very exciting to see Sumo wrestlers right in front of you!



 - Culture

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