Backgroundthe origins of Sumo

Some background & the Sumo to English Phrase Book


Sumo boot campSumo Experience aims to give you a fun experience free of the need to follow the dedicated lifestyle (and diet) of the professional Sumo wrestler.

This is the anorak section where you can find out more about the real thing, if your curiosity has been aroused...

Common that's "Sumo" to you and me terms:

  • Basho - a sumo tournament (great term, eh?)
  • Rikishi - a sumo wrestler, literally meaning "strong man"
  • Mawashi - the belt worn by the sumo wrestler
  • Kesho-Mawashi - a larger ceremonial belt with an apron that the top wrestlers wear to enter the ring. This has space for advertising!
  • Hachimaki - the japanese bandana (but more famous as an accessory for the Samurai act of harikari!)
  • Yobidashi - the announcer
  • Gyoji - the referee
  • Gunbai - the Gyoji's paddle, a wand to conduct the proceedings
  • Shimpan - five ringside umpires who may issue final rulings on any disputed decision
  • Mono-ii - the discussion held by the Shimpan when the Gyoji's decision for a bout is called into question
  • Torinaoshi - a rematch following a Mono-ii
  • Dohyo - the sumo ring
  • Chikara mizu - water of strength ( a kind of mouthwash)
  • Shio maki - the salt throwing ritual
  • Shikiri - crouching and staring to intimidate the opposition before the bout
  • Shiko - the ritual stamping as the wrestlers position themselves for the bout
  • Matta - this is when the bout is stopped because of a false-start. In the real sport this is accompanied by a fine of 30,000 yen (Now that's the price of honour!)

Rikishi mooning at their audienceThere are two mains styles of sumo:

  • Tsuppari - thrusting.
  • Yotsu-zomo - trying to control the opponent by the grip on his Mawashi. (This could be considered as the equivalent of giving him a wedgie!)

And some skilful manoeuvres:

  • Tachi-ai - the initial charge at the beginning of a bout
  • Uwate nage - a throw where the throwing arm is on the outside of the opponents arm
  • Shitate nage - a throw where the arm passes under the opponents arm to grip the Mawashi
  • Koshi nage - the hip throw
  • Kake nage - the leg drives the opponent's inside leg into the air
  • Tsuri - a lifting manoeuvre
  • Tsuri dashi - lifting and dumping the opponent out of the ring (one worth seeing!)
  • Henka - a sneaky sidestep

It's not a one-size-fits-all affair:

  • Lightweight - under 85 KG (13 stone 5 lbs)
  • Middleweight - under 115 KG (18 stone 1 lb)
  • Heavyweight - over 115 KG (ouch!)

For further or "Sumo" (are you getting the hang of this yet?) facts see the links page

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