As I am certain most of you already know, I LOVE SUMO! In my opinion, sumo is the greatest combat sport on the planet. Personally, I find most combat sports to be too violent and dangerous. To me, boxing is just a long, drawn out punch fest, WWF style wrestling is scripted drama, Olympic wrestling is great but only really available once every 4 years, kickboxing, K-1, mixed martial arts, and other such sports are just too violent.
Sumo is a true form of martial arts, with a history going back over a thousand years to the Nara period in 8th century Japan. Originally it was a religious ceremony, but over the years it changed to a form of entertainment at festivals and at the imperial and eventually into an international sport, although it is only officially fought within Japan. In recent years, the number of foreign rikishi (wrestlers) has increased dramatically. The current yokozunas (grand champions) are both from Mongolia (朝書龍 and 白穂), and of the 5 current Ozeki (junior grand champions), 2 are foreigners (Kotooshu is from Bulgaria and Harumafuji is from Mongolia).
Currently we are midway through the 15 day November bassho (tournament) in Fukuoka. As of day 10, boht yokozuna are undefeated and seem to be unstoppable. At any time, check out the results at the official sumo site. During the tournament, the best time to watch is between 5 and 6 pm, when the big names come on to fight. At my English school in Otsu, I set my lunch break between 5 and 6 pm, so that i can watch the best part of the day! My 6pm students know thsat if they come to their English class 15 minutes early, they can watch the yokozunas, Asashoryu (朝書龍) and Hakuho. The students at my English school have come to know my passion for umo, and they love bugging me about it!
So this week, or anytime during any of the 6 annual tournaments, if you are by a TV between 5 and 6 pm, check out the Grand Sumo Tournaments and enjoy Japanese traditional wrestling culture. FYI- NHK on Ch. 2 has the Japanese broadcast, BS-2 has the English broadcast!
Edward ‘朝書龍’ Iwaskow, SSE Ohtsu Owner/ Teacher