Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sumo Shinto Tradition and Sumo Technique

Next we went inside of sumo hall to check out the Dohyo (sumo ring)...

Ring Traditions:

* the dohyo is covered in sand which is a symbol of purity in Shinto
* the yakata (canopy)above the ring is made to resemble the roof of a shrine
* the tassels on the yakata corners represent the seasons: white is autumn, black is winter, green is spring and red is summer
* the purple bunting on the roof symbolizes the clouds in the rotation of seasons
* the gyoji (referee) wears a robe like a Shinto priest
* salt is tossed before each bout for purification

Sumo Ritual Traditions:

* first the sumo clap their hands to awaken the g-ds
* then they raise their hands to show they are unarmed (dates to samurai days)
* next they stomp their feet to scare away any demons
* then they face each other and prepare to battle

We learned very quickly that pretty much anything goes when it comes to technique... the only things not allowed is the pulling of hair, closed fist hits (their is a lot of slapping going on though), boxing of the ears, choking the throat (pushing the throat is allowed), or grabbing each others mawashi in the crotch.

The thing they wear is called a mawashi - it has decorative braids that can detach during the bout that represent the ropes at Shinto shrines (Yokozuna - grand champions get to wear decorative zigzags on their mawashi that resemble the fronts of shrines - higher ranking rikishi are also the only ones allowed to wear colorful mawashi)...

It appeared that the best technique and advantage came when one could get hold of the others mawashi and force them out of the ring or onto the ground...

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