Sumo is a traditional Japanese wrestling sport where two wrestlers (rikishi) face off in a circular ring (dohyo). The objective is to force the opponent out of the ring or make any part of their body, other than the soles of their feet, touch the ground. Matches are typically brief but intense, requiring a blend of strategy, strength, balance, and agility. Key skills include powerful pushing and thrusting techniques, as well as various grappling methods. There is no point scoring; a match is won by the rikishi who successfully ejects their opponent or causes them to fall.
Sumo is predominantly practiced in Japan, governed by the Japan Sumo Association, and organized into six major tournaments (honbasho) annually, attracting both national and international audiences.
Sumo, rooted in ancient Japanese traditions, began over a thousand years ago, initially intertwined with Shinto rituals. Originally a form of entertainment for imperial courts, it evolved into a public sport during the Edo period. As it gained popularity, formal rules and a ranking system were established. The sport's essence has remained largely unchanged, focusing on strength, technique, and ceremonial aspects.
Over centuries, it transformed from a religious ceremony to a professional sport, with stables for training rikishi (wrestlers) and organized tournaments. While modernization has brought changes in training and diet, the core principles and rituals of sumo have been steadfastly preserved, making it a unique blend of sport and tradition.
Sumo is adapting to modern times while retaining its traditional essence. With increasing global interest, it's likely to attract more international wrestlers and audiences. Advances in training and nutrition are enhancing rikishi performance and health. The Japan Sumo Association is gradually embracing digital platforms, offering wider accessibility through online streaming and social media, making sumo more accessible to a global fan base.
The sport is also seeing a rise in amateur participation worldwide, indicating a growing interest beyond professional levels. These trends suggest Sumo will maintain its cultural significance in Japan while expanding its reach and appeal internationally, blending ancient traditions with contemporary global sporting culture.
Sumo wrestlers eat high-calorie meals throughout the day that combine vegetables and protein to maximize weight and strength. An example of a typical Japanese meal for a sumo wrestler is nabe (stew or broth) filled with fish, vegetables, and a type of meat.
Sumo wrestlers can weigh up to 150 kilograms (330 pounds). In other to achieve this weight, sumo wrestlers need to consume around 20,000 calories a day which is 10 times an average adult calorie intake. Sumo wrestlers also need to maintain a healthy diet when eating so much so they can be quick on their feet.
Two simple rules: if anybody other than your feet touches the ground, you lose and if you step outside the ring, you lose. Other than the two rules, there are rules sumo wrestlers must know before they enter the ring: no hairpulling or eye-gouging.