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Behind the sport of sumo is the religion of Shinto. Shinto is a japanese traditional religion Shinto “the way of the gods” is the indigenous religion of Japan which has existed long before Buddhism was introduced approx. 550 ad promoted by the use of the chinese writing system. Shinto gods called Kami take the forms and are believed to control the elements such as wind rain snow and nature as well as health and fertility. The way many worship the Kami the Shinto gods is to visit the Shrines of the Shinto these shrines are visited during traditional events such as New Year, Setsubun as for birthdays weddings and baby blessings. Sumo itself is a ritual performance to entertain the Kami the Shinto gods. Sumo itself is not held at shrines it is held however in Sumo stadiums. Professional Sumo wrestling is an accent sport dating back about 1600 years. A legend says when the kami Take Minazuchi the god won a sumo match in one of the Japanese islands with a rival tribal leader. Sumo matches became a rituals a dedication to the kami with sacred dancing and prayer as sumo wrestling was originally a form of fighting, boxing combined with kickboxing and wrestling with little rules fighting only of the rule of the Imperial Courts from about 710 – 1185. Public matches ceased when westling was banned in public under the Shogun’s rule as instead the way of the samurai as well as other martial arts and millitary combat styles were encouraged under shogun rule. The original sumo wrestling was a brutal sport which would attract many spectators. Sumo wrestling nowdays is full of ceremonies and has become Japans national sport. The first man to awarded as the Yokozuna was Akashi Shiganosuke in 1632.
Shinto: A Japanese religion
Kami: Shinto Gods
Take Minazuchi A Japanese god
Akashi Shiganosuke: The first grand champion.
Wrestling worldwide began as hand to hand combat subsituting death or knockout to display strength and physical ability. Wrestling itself has been documented back around 2500 BC thru Egyption and Babylon drawings. Indian wrestling documents back to 1500 BC and Chinese to 700 BC. Japan wrestling dates back to the 1st century BC
In Acient Greece times wrestling was the most popular sport with young men being trained at an early age in wrestling schools or palestras wrestling became part of the olympic games from 776 BC. Pancratium was one of the wrestling events which combined boxing and wrestling and was one of the two olympic wrestling events. Upright wrestling was also part of the pentathlon. The second was a toppling event best of 3 fall. The most famous olympic acient Greek wrestler was Milon of Croton who won six times during the games.
Irans national sport is wrestling and was introduced around the 13th century when modern techniques were influenced by turks and mongolian styles wrestling from the 13th century. Turkish wrestlers of around 800 AD were hired by Islamic rulers practising loose wrestling called Kornesh.
India and Pakistan have practised a loose style wrestling indroduced in 1526 after the Mogals Demise. Indias loose style wrestling is still practised in the 20th century.
European wrestling accured thoughout the middle ages the first match recorded in London was in the 13th century. Jacket wrestling was created called devon and cornwall and has started in the 5th century wrestling was taught to the knights of the Roman empire. Documents of intructions how to wrestle appeared in handwritten manuscript as before printing was invented.
The 19th century saw 2 forms of wrestling dominate the field of wrestling freestyle wrestling and Greco Roman wrestling which was made popular by the French trying to copy the styles of the acient greeks. The french style Greco wrestling forbits leg grapples and only allows holds above the belt line in 1896 Greco wrestling was introduced to the olympic games. The other main style of wrestling freestyle was introduced in 1888 popularised by Britian and Americas a professional sport when it was reconised as an amateur sport by the Amateur Sports Association.
A belt wrestling style was developed by the Japanese known as Sumo wrestling the topling wrestling involved by forcing the opponant out of the ring. The 17th century saw the sport of Sumo wrestling as a professional sport in Japan. Other japanese wrestling styles include Samurai martials arts as Jujitsu and Judo which were practised world wide from the 20th century.
Topling wrestling: Practised by Greeks
Upright wrestling: Practised by Greeks
Loose wrestling: Practised by Turks Indians
Belt wrestling: Practised by Japanese
Jacket wrestling: Practised by Roman Knights
There are many long and important rituals which takes up much of the time as a sumo bout will usually only last a matter of seconds. Sumo hair styles represent divisions and formality O-icho The more formal hair style is worn by rikishi in the top two divisions. Mage is the top knot worn by rikishi it is made into two different hair styles. The chonmage which is worn by all rikishi and the O-icho. The sumo wrestlers wear a cloth garment worn by all rikishi when they train and compete. The sumo wear a Kesho-mawashi a ceremonial apron worn by rikishi in the top two divisions during their dohyo-iri. The ceremony starts with the Dohyo-iri the official ring entering ceremony performed by members of the top two divisions in ozumo. The top position of sumo the :”yokozuna” is given a sword by the sword bearers Tachimochi.they are also escorted by the usher the Tsuyuharai. Before every wrestling bout the wrestlers will make Shikiri the dance step they perform this to intimidate their opponent into submission. Other ceremonies include Danpatsu-shiki as a Rikishi retires his top notch is removed and the Yumitori-shiki The bow twirling ceremony performed daily at the end of every tournament.
Tsuyuharai: The Usher:
Chonmage: Hair which is worn by all rikishi.
O-icho: Hair The Top 2 divisions hair style.
Kesho-mawashi: Ceromonial Apron.
Dohyo-iri: Ring entering ceremony.
Shikiri: The dance step.
Danpatsu-shiki top notch belt removed.
Yumitori-shiki The bow twirling ceremony
The top division of sumo wrestling is the Makunouchi The second highest division is. Juryo the first division in which rikishi may receive all the privileges and honors that come with being a member of ozumo’s elite, “sekitori” class. The rookie or amateur wrestling classes make up the majority of the competetion here the newcomers climb the ranks of sumo. Makunouchi is a division competing below the top four ranks. The fourth division from the bottom on the banzuke is the Makushita. The third division from the bottom Sandanme. Jonidan The second division from the bottom and the lowest division on the banzuke Jonokuchi. The divisions of Sumo wrestling are not to be confused with the rankings of sumo as the top division of Sumo the Makunouchi has the real Yokozuno the grand champion.
Division One: Makunouchi
Division Two : Juryo
Main Division Three: Sekori
Fouth last Makunouchi
Third Last Division: Sananme
Second Last Division: Jonidan
Last Division: Jonokuchi
To be eligible for any award, the rikishi must have won at least eight of his fifteen matches. Yokozuna is the prize the title of the grand champions the runner up the second rank in the banzuke is known as the ozeki the champion. Shukun-sho The most outstanding performance award is given to a rikishi in the top division ranked below ozeki who defeats the most first and second rankings yokozuna or ozeki over the course of a basho or tournament. The overall winner of a tournament is awarded the Emperors Cup. The 2nd and 3rd runner up receive the Gino-sho award the technique prize awarded to a rikishi in the top division ranked below ozeki who demonstrates outstanding technique over the basho. The Kanto-sho the Fighting Spirit Prize is awarded to a rikishi in the top division ranked below ozeki who demonstrates the most fighting spirit over the course of a given basho.
First Place: Yokozuna wins emperors cup
Second Place: Ozeki wins Gino-sho
Most outstanding performance Great Shukun-sho
The fighting spirit prize Kanto-sho
Positions the Banzuke
The top posion of the Sumo ranking is the Yakozuna the grand champion.
The sumo rankings are rather complex. The positions or rankings of sumo wrestling are known as the Banzuke. The referees are known as Gyoji and their are eight ranks in the referee profession. Gyoji will take one of two names as his Surname Shikimori Inosuke or Kimura Shonosuke Tate-gyoji are the highest ranked referees in ozumo. At the top of the sumo wrestlers’ ranking is the yokozuna once a wrestler reaches rank of yokozuna, he cannot lose it anymore. However a rikishi ranked as a yokozuna is expected to retire as soon as his results decline. There are presently two yokozuna: Musashimaru and Asashoryu. The highest position on the banzuke the yokozuna are the living legends of sumo and are in japan as popular if not more than pop stars and are respected by a nation. The Ozeki is the second highest rank in sumo wrestling the third is Sekiwake the fourth is Komusubi. The name Sanyaku is usually used in reference to the komusubi and sekiwake only. A Maegashira Indicates a rikishi in the top 4. The retired rikishi who remain in ozumo as employees of the Nihon Sumo Kyoka the official sumo league are known as Toshiyori and Oyakata.
Referee – Gyoji
Top Referee Tate-gyoji
First Postion: Yakozuna
Second Postion Ozeki
Third Position Sekiwake
Fouth Postion Komusubi