Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. I haven't time to read your whole web site. Can you just tell me the basics?
A. OK, these are the essentials:
- Service: for the distinctive of what we offer - see Welcome.
- Space: for how much room is needed - see FAQ.
- Conditions: for who can and can't Sumo - see Safety.
- Costs: for fees and our normal travel range - see the pages for Kids or Adult.(Phone for a quote for Corporate or Fairs).
- Booking: for our email, phone, etc. - see Contact
Q. What happens if it rains on the day of my outdoor party?
A. You have a choice:
You can go ahead with the event and try to dodge the showers. Although the suits won't be damaged by a little rain, the mat quickly becomes slippery and unusable. Therefore we cannot continue through rain and so the event may become disjointed by stop-starting.
- You can cancel. You will either loose your deposit, or you can reuse your deposit to re-book.
- A real belt-and-braces approach is to reserve an appropriate indoors venue as a fall back. There is always the chance that you can negotiate a 'sale or return' with the hall hirer (it has been done!) in which case it will cost you nothing if the weather holds. But depending on the nature of your event may not always be not always possible.
Some of our customers have suggested running Sumo under a marquee and although there will be marquees out there big enough (to cover the 22ft x 22ft combat area), they need to be free of supporting poles in the centre. This specification will be difficult to source and (we suspect) frighteningly expensive.
Q. Are you insured and what is covered?
A. We have Public Liability Insurance to the tune of £5,000,000.
This is standard Public Liability Insurance for the 'inflatables industry' to cover you against injury (see our safety page). But the gray men at the insurance company have included a mix of sensible and killjoy conditions that grows annually. The current highlights are:
- The Equipment can be used at a licensed venue but no one can partisipate who is "visibly intoxicated through alcohol or drugs"
- Children (under 17) can only compete against others of a similar age and size.
Q. If you work with children, have you been DBS checked?
Q. How much space do you need for a Sumo Experience event?
A. The crash mat is 12 feet by 12 feet and an additional boarder is required for spills, spectators and waiting contestants. This means that a clear flat area of at least 22 feet by 22 feet (6.7 meters by 6.7 meters) is required. This is an important safety requirement as, despite the thick padding of the suits, a fall against a wall or pillar would be dangerous. So unfortunately, unless you live in a mansion and have your own ballroom you probably won't have a room big enough for sumo inside your house!
Q. How many people can a Sumo Experience event cater for?
A. This will depend on the people involved. Sumo Experience runs a single "dohyo" (Sumo arena) so only two people can wrestle at any given time. For adults especially, watching can be as entertaining as joining in. There is no particular limit to the number of reserved onlookers, and the headcount of "I'll-just-give-it-one-go" people can also be quite high. For children's parties and for adult parties where full participation is the aim, the ideal target number is 12. So anything from 10 to 14 works well (up to 18 for adults). Younger children tend to find the spectating/supporting part less enjoyable. Also, evenly matched combatants make for the most fun, This is especially a consideration for children's parties if there is a significant range of ages. Don't worry if you don't have even numbers on the day of your party. We will arrange for someone to get double goes - usually the star of the party. If you really can't get the number of guests down then, if you can find an alternate way of entertaining your guests, then we can work on rotation with two groups of children. Here are some of our suggestions for complementing games.
Q. How long does a Sumo Experience event run for?
A. For adult's and kid's parties we have found that 90 minutes is the ideal length for the Sumo bit. Any more is probably too much, any less and some might be left wanting another go. This can trim down as low as 75 minutes for 7 and 8 year olds who have a less developed attention span. The Sumo-Station always proves very popular at Fun days and Fairs and for this very reason we cannot serve for any more than two hours at these events. Your event may well be a four hour stretch but picking up combatants from the crash mat for that length of time would just be too much for the back of your "Gyoji" (Sumo referee)!
Q. Can I have a Sumo party in my local park?
A. The answer is a qualified, 'Yes'. However, if you contract Sumo Experience for your party in the park, the event would be regarded as 'commercial', so you will need to get permission from the park authorities. We are often asked to do parties in the London Royal parks and have previously been refused permission. If you check out the London Royal Parks Picnic Guidelines and their detailed Regulations you will find that Sumo wresting isn't mentioned. You may have more success with parks under local authorities. We recently got permission and free of charge use of Wormholt Park in Shepherds Bush (full marks to Hammersmith and Fullham Council). So you never know you might get through to a friendly park keeper.
Q. How long does it take to get the suits on?
A. Putting on a sumo fat-suit is just like pulling on a big heavy vest, then all that is needed is the neck brace and helmet (both Velcro fastened) Take a look at the clip in our movie page and you'll see that it takes as little as 15 seconds to get a suit off one combatant and another 15 to get it onto the next. So to swap out one pair for the next is about a minute; leaving more time for posing and fighting!
Q. What are the secrets for a smooth children's Sumo party?
A. We have found over time that there are some things that can help or hinder a children's sumo party and there are some things you can do to make sure yours runs smoothly:
- Getting the guests there on time - We can easily fit in late comers but it inevitably slows things down. So why not try putting the time on your invitations as five minutes earlier than you intend to start? (It's usually those that live the closest that are late!)
- Minimise distractions - The best parties are when everyone is focused on the fighting; it creates a human amphitheatre. Children can be distracted by the smallest things when they are waiting for their turn so you will do well to keep things like balls and balloons out of sight. If the venue is your garden toys should be stored away where possible. A less obvious distraction is snacks and refreshments. In most instances these are unnecessary, but if you do want to have refreshments part way through it's better coordinate a break with you `Gyoji` than to offer drinks as a background activity. Fortunately, having the party table laid up ready doesn't ever seem to act a distraction.
- Chairs aren't needed - It is an important for safe Sumo that the area around the mat is clear of chairs. The children will be seated on the floor at the side of the mat supporting their team.
- Don't encourage the birthday girl or boy to pick teams. Your `Gyoji` will sort out the teams by height so that everyone has the best chance of a good fight.
- Sitting down - Your `Gyoji` is skilled at 'crowd control' but he is only one man in the midst of a dozen exited children. He will make a big deal about getting the children to sit down at the side of the mat whilst a fight is in progress. When the children keep this discipline he can spend more time on running the fights than on herding kids, resulting in more goes all round. Towards the end of the 90 minute session the attention of the children will start to wonder and the rule will be relaxed in response. Younger children will start to run around at this stage which is quite natural. Even for 7 and 8 year olds we would normally expect to keep them all engaged for at least the first 75 minutes.
Q. How early should I book?
A. We could say 'as early as possible' but that's not the answer you're looking for. Two months ahead would be a good policy. But never assume that you've left it too late. We have taken a booking at 20 hours notice before now and are looking to better that.
Q. Can you help me with invitations?
A. Funny you should ask. We have designed a image that you can use as a template to add your own invitation details to. How easy is that? All the details are on the invitations page.
Q. Can you help me out with party bags?
A. We don't supply all the bits and pieces for conventional party bags, but we can suggest our high quality Sumo Experience Souvenir T-Shirts or the book 'The Animal Parables' that your host has written as alternatives. All the details are on our Party Bags page.
Q. Can I drink and Sumo?
A. No. Or at least not at the same time. The Sumo must come first as there are safety and public liability issues.We suggest that if you have both planned you position Sumo as an ice-breaker at the start of your evening. Please read the safety page carefully for further details.
Q. Which suits are right for me?
A. We have both adult and junior suits that cover all ages from approximately 7 upwards, but dependant primarily on the height of the combatants. See the 'suits' page for further details. We have observed that (...how should we say this...) those who have started to develop the attributes of a real Rikishi (Sumo wrestler) may find the suits too tight a fit.
Q. I could hire the suits myself, so what are the extras you offer?
A. Good question. You can hire similar equipment from other companies who will drop it on your lawn like they would a bouncy castle. Sumo Experience is so much more than a hire company. With us you get:
- the `Gyoji' - the host and master of ceremonies, referee and purveyor of fun
- the ceremony - the `Gyoji` comes in full regalia, kimono and hat.
- participation - with the traditions of salt throwing, parading and stomping as well as wearing your souvenir team bandana
- keeping the score - on a large whiteboard
- sound effects - from a gong, japanese mood music and a megaphone (if needed!)
- mood - with a few blasts from the smoke machine (venue permitting)
- safety - the supervision for safe fun and self-service first aid (if by chance you do get battle scared!)
Q. What is not covered in a Sumo Experience event?
A. This clearly can't be an exhaustive list, but the obvious ones to state are:
Q. I'm really competitive. Can you give me some winning tips?
A. Indeed we can. After watching literally thousands of fat-suit fight we can let you know some of the insider secrets. (Consider it a reward for having read so far into our website!)
- Be Big - The person with the bigger body mass has an immediate advantage just like in real Sumo wrestling.
- Be a Rugby Player - Rugby players are trained to get their legs pumping and push through their opponent. This is very effective for Sumo too.
- Hitch your skirts up - Lifting the bottom of the suit up onto your thighs means that you can spread your feet wider aiding balance and making you more agile. The skirt of the sumo suit will otherwise restrict your movement and give a similar effect to having your shoelaces tied together.
- Dodge - Simply step to one side when your opponent initially runs at you and he will crash straight out of the 'Dohyo' (ring). (This usually only works once!) But be careful not to step out of the ring yourself.
- Be Slippery - Don't let your opponent get a straight push at you. Keep your legs moving from side to side or even spin. There will be a good chance that you opponent with loose balance and fall, or step, out of the 'Dohyo' (ring). A good grip on your opponent and wrestling him from side to side can have the same effect. This is a good strategy if your opponent is bigger and/or stronger than you.
- Push down - One of the rules is that if any part of the body except for the feet touch the ground you are out. So lock with your opponent and then push his shoulder down. This means that you gain a quick win without having to test your strength too much. (This is my own technique when I have been challenged by younger bucks. It's not pretty - but it's effective!)
Things to avoid:
- Don't Jump - When you are in the air you have nothing to push against.
- Don't Kick - It may have a place in most marshal arts but not in sumo, you will find yourself off balance and easily pushed out.
- Don't Wait - There is no advantage in giving your opponent time to make the first move.
- Don't Look Down - This is where Rugby players can come undone. If you don't keep your opponent in your sights he may dodge you.
- Don't Step Out - This may sound obvious but what some people do is stick a leg out behind them to angle themselves for the push, often outside of the boundary of the 'Dohyo' (ring).
- Don't Touch the Floor - Steady yourself with a hand on the floor and you'll be out before you fall.
- Don't Laugh - You can't push and laugh at the same time. (Ask any woman whose been through labour).
Q. Can you tell me something more about the Japanese tradition of Sumo?
A. We're glad you asked. We happen to have a page dedicated to the background of Sumo.
Q. What are the future plans for Sumo Experience?
A. There are constant improvements and lots of plans. Since inception we have introduced a Japanese-style bandana for every guest to wear and take away as a Sumo Experience memento, a large gong to accent the ceremonials, a sound track for mood and a smoke machine for where the venue allows. There are also now reviews and feedback pages where hosts of recent events can let us know how we scored against their expectations. Also a safety assessment document has been compiled and will be reviewed at least biannually (copies available via the safety page). Our latest offering is an option to have T-shirts or books in place of traditional party-bags. We eventually plan to produce a fun DVD that can be used as introduction to a Sumo Experience event but will also instruct on safety issues. Much of the footage that we are likely to use is already available on the videos page. We have already trialed projection of real sumo footage onto venue walls. Beyond that we have plans to add lighting as the scale of our operations enable. Watch this space!