Content list                     The Origin and History of Sumo                      中文版

Ever since the birth of the human race, hand-to-hand fighting techniques which perhaps could be called  the original form of sumo were performed in various parts of the world. When tracing the origins of sumo in Japan, it has been found that some of the shapes of haniwa (molded burial figures) and clay dolls of the days around the 5th & 6th centuries are suggestive of sumo. We can infer from this that contests of a similar type were held throughout the country in those days.

The roots of present day sumo date back 1,200 years to about the 8th century. Its form changed with the passing years, sometimes an imperial court ritual sometimes a method of training warriors. During the Edo era in the 16th century it reached the height of popularity. Rikishi (professional wrestlers) were strongly supported by the Shogun and powerful landowners and sumo contests were established as public entertainment.

During the following centuries the dohyo (stage) sprinkling or throwing salt, dohyo-iri (display of rikishi in the ring) and gyoji (sumo umpire or referee) together with the system of awarding prizes all gradually developed, leading finally to the grand tournament as we know it today. In 1991, the Hong Kong Sumo Association was developed by Samson Y.C. Mak in Hong Kong.


    What is Sumo?

Sumo is the national sport of Japan. Its roots as recorded lie in the stories dating back some 1,200 years telling of how the strongest man in the country was selected by wrestling in front of the Emperor. Subsequently it gained the support of the nobles, the Daimyo and others in power at the time, and the history of sumo as the representative fighting sport of Japan continues up to the present day. The main attraction of sumo its manifestation of tremendous strength as a fighting sport, but another point worthy of attention is its beauty of form. These forms nurtured and polished through the years of long history are presented spectacularly in a style or action similar to a religious ritual.

In the sumo match, sumo wrestlers wear only a Mawashi (a sumo belt). In the Shin-sumo match (sumo for women), women sumo wrestlers wear black leotard, black underpants and a Mawashi.

The competitive arena is called a "dohyo". The dirt used as a foundation is equivalent to four 10-ton truckloads, while the surface is equivalent to one 10-ton truckload. The diameter of the dohyo is currently 455cm. In the center of the dohyo, partition lines are drawn 70cm apart. Water, paper, and salt are placed around the dohyo.

The two opposing wrestlers come to the ring - dohyo, assume the ritual squat before the match, and then do the  chiri-chozu gesture (a ritual where after squatting down facing each other in front of the partition lines, they bring their hands in front, clap them, and then extend them to the right and left, palms up).