Sumo wrestler in Japan

This martial art form is known to have originated in Japan hundreds of years ago. It holds, to this day a great religious importance for the Japanese. Certain rituals like using salt to purify are still followed by Sumo Wrestlers. These rituals are part of the Shinto religion.

This type of wrestling is known to have influenced other martial art forms in the neighboring countries like Chinese Shuai Jiao, Korean Ssireum and Mongoliam wrestling.

Back in the 8th century when Sumo, or Sumai as it was known then was practiced, there were less number of rules involved. The men would fight till death. Hence a wrestler losing in a Sumo match is called a Shini-tai meaning a dead body.

In the present day too, some shrines perform ritual dance when a man wrestles with a Shinto God or Kami. This is known as Sumai party or Sechie. In olden times this was held in the imperial court. It was mandatory for every province to send their representative to attend the ceremony. In those times, Sumo formed a part of training for warriors, who were known as Samurai. When Sumo wrestling first began, the Rikishi or wrestler had to throw the opponent to win.

Rule Changes for Modern Sumo

Later the rules were improvised to pushing the contestant out of the ring. The concept of Dohyo or ring was introduced in the 16th century. The Dohyo is filled with sand and clay and after every tournament, the sand is distributed to fans as souvenirs.

It is the Yobidashi’s responsibility to ready the ring for matches and training stables. If both wrestlers touch ground at same time, the contestant in upper position becomes the winner. If a wrestler uses illegal methods or Kinjite or his belt gives way, he is declared a loser.

Rikishis of olden times wore loin clothes as against the Mawashi, a kind of firm clothing worn by contemporary wrestlers. The rules and regulations for Sumo wrestling as a game were developed during Edo period and are pretty much followed till date.

The matches last for few minutes only as it is easy for the stronger contestant to throw or push the opponent outside the ring. A huge body mass over good wrestling skills is a great advantage. Wrestlers grow long hair and tie them up in a topknot, similar to the Edo Period Samurais.

Sumo Wrestling Attire

Rikishis dress according to their ranks and wear geta, wooden sandals as footwear. Trainees help with the responsibilities in the Sekitori and have to wake up early. Rikishis do not have breakfast but splurge on a Chakonabe, a large lunch consisting of different kinds of fish, meat, vegetables and rice. They consume excessive amounts of food and beer to gain high weights. This practice is known to have ill-effects on health, especially after the Sumo stops training, as discovered recently. The lifespan of a sumo is cut short by 10 years shorter when compared to ordinary Japanese. They often suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Keeping this in mind, weight standards of a Sumo Wrestler have been decreased enormously in recent times.

Retired sumo wrestlers called Oyakata have developed the Japan Sumo Association which holds tournaments and trains wrestlers. Wrestlers are ranked, promoted or demoted depending on their performance in the Grand Tournaments. The 6 divisions in decreasing order are Makuuchi, Juryo, Makushita, Sandanme, Jonidan and Jonokuchi. Each year 6 Honbasho (Grand Sumo tournaments) are held, 3 at Ryogoku Kokugikan – The Sumo Hall, 1 each in Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya. Foreigners too have participated in these tournaments, with the first one being Takamiyama from Hawaii.


First of all, it should be noted that wrestling is not like the fake (and dangerous) world of professional televised wrestling matches that most people think of when they think of wrestling.

It is still possible to get hurt in wrestling but put aside any notion of your child being head butted or pile-driven into the mat. That will not happen in real wrestling matches.

Wrestling Teaches Self-Defense Techniques

You may be looking into how to keep your child safe after seeing the recent news coverage of child murders. It seems every week there is another innocent child being victimized and murdered. If we can’t trust our church Sunday school teachers, who can we trust around our kids?

Don’t expect wrestling to teach your child how to tackle an adult female or male, they won’t be able to do that due to the size and weight difference. What they will be able to do is hopefully to get away quickly before the kidnapper has a chance to harm them. So basically while your child will not be able to do a half nelson or take-down on an adult individual out to harm her, she could learn to defend herself by using a duck-under maneuver and other moves to escape.

Girls will learn how to get out of an adult’s grasp by taking wrestling. Wrestling moves don’t just include offensive moves, but also defensive. It will teach stamina in the face of an opponent who is relentless at trying to take them down. Girls will learn how to move their bodies to escape many wrestling holds or moves. Learn how to get out from under an opponent on the ground as well as escape from a bear hug grasp standing up. This will give them tools to utilize in the case of kidnapping or psychotic kidnappers bent on harming them.

Think of a wrestling match. Watch a wrestling match and see how each opponent repeatedly has to grapple his way out of holds to keep from losing points and ultimately being pinned down on the mat. It may not look like the wrestlers are doing much but they are. Each wrestling hold has a defensive move to get out of it. Children learn to do these offensive and defensive moves which can enable them to get away in case of trouble in real life, not just in a wrestling match.

Many wrestling programs in schools do allow girls and boys as well to compete and learn wrestling. You might see more resistance from parents than coaches who probably have seen girls wrestling in other school districts. Girls and boys wrestling each other? Yes, wrestling is a great choice of sport for a mix of boys and girls as opponents are chosen due to size and weight. So girls won’t be put up against a boy much bigger than she is. It will be an even match.

Isn’t it an unsafe and potentially dangerous sport? If you consider softball “safe”, then wrestling is a piece of cake! Parents may scoff at having girls straddling boys and boys laying atop girls but there is nothing sexual in nature about it. Each opponent is focused on one thing, pinning the other person. It might take a minute to get over that but if you think of it, boys on boys in wrestling looks exactly the same!

Wrestling Builds Strength and Endurance

This is a physical activity which will build up your daughter’s muscles and make her strong. Take advantage of your child’s young age to enroll her into many physical activities before she gets to the don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed-itis that seems to hit during adolescence. Teach her that keeping active is good for mental and physical health. She will be stronger to fend off attacks of illness and predators.

Consider wrestling the next time you are looking into self-defense courses for your daughter to protect her from kidnappers, rapists, and murderers. What she learns from wrestling today, could save her life in the future.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Try talking to people about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and you will find that most of them suffer from one or the other of the following misconceptions: the first is that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is Capoeira; the second, more common mistake, is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the wrestling style employed by mixed martial artists in the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

BJJ is Not Capoeira

Perhaps you went down to Rio for Carnival recently, where you saw sweaty men spinning in circles, apparently trying to kick each other, to the rhythm of bongos.

This is not Brazilian Jiu-jitso. What you saw was Capoeira, a form of African-Brazilian dance developed a few centuries ago by slaves as an artistic form of subversion. True, it looks like fighting; but it is more fine art than martial art.

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

Whereas Capoeira is expressed as an intricate Brazilian dance, BJJ looks more like the Spanish inquisition. The arm bar, the flying triangle and the guillotine are just a few of the techniques that BJJ stylists implement to extract confessions of defeat from opponents. It’s tap or snap: admit that you’re beaten, or face the logical extreme of the technique.

But is the fighting style employed in the UFC really Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?

Under a strict definition of style, no.

BJJ vs. Submission Wrestling

The ground-fighting style employed in the UFC is actually a hybrid style of BJJ and freestyle wrestling known variously as Submission Wrestling, Sub-Wrestling, Grappling, or Submission Grappling.

Although the two sports are very similar, there is a noteable difference in the way they are practiced.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference is the gi.

BJJ stylists wear a uniform, called either a gi or a kimono, consisting of pants, a thick jacket, and a colored belt. Submission wrestlers wear only shorts and an optional rash guard.

What difference does it make? Surprisingly, quite a lot. In fact, the opponent’s clothing is a key factor influencing a fighter’s strategic decisions.

For example, consider the difference that clothing makes in a simple choke. The rules of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu allow participants to use the gi – both their opponent’s and their own – as a weapon in the fight. In this scenario, the gi can function much like a section of rope, which a fighter can use to restrain or choke the opponent, or as a handle, which makes grappling with heavy objects much easier.

In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, a choke can be accomplished in several ways – by wrapping one’s arms around the opponent’s neck and squeezing; by using the collar of the opponent’s jacket as a garote; or by applying a combination of one’s own arms, sleeves, and the opponent’s gi as a sort of guillotine mechanism. In submission wrestling, there is no gi, so the choice is reduced to only the first method: wrap your arms and squeeze.

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the fight almost always begins with the opponents standing straight up. Judo-style throws are enabled by using the gi as a handle to gain leverage and grip on your opponent. Takedowns and throws are almost always preceded by vying for control of the opponent’s upper body. In sub-wrestling, there is no gi to grab hold of, so competitors are forced to take a different strategy. Most sub-wrestling matches begin much like freestyle wrestling matches, with single- and double-leg takedowns.

At every stage of a match — the takedown, the guard pass, sweeps, and submissions — the gi influences which moves the fighter can choose.

Which Is Better?

Which style to apply depends entirely on the situation.

Submission wrestlers argue that sub-wrestling is better for application in the UFC. In the Octagon, fighters wear as little clothing as possible, so that their opponents have nothing to grab onto, and nothing with which to choke them.

But BJJ fighters are quick to point out that training with a gi is better preparation for real-life street fighting. A gi is a closer approximation to common street clothing than shorts and a rash guard, unless you plan on doing all your fighting at the beach.

In the early days of the UFC, when only BJJ practitioners knew the moves, the gi was a common sight in the ring, worn proudly by black belts as a symbol of their art. However, as more mixed martial artists mastered BJJ, wearing a gi became a big disadvantage, and sub-wrestling took hold as the dominant mode of ground fighting.

Today, most of the UFC’s mixed martial artists cross-train, wearing a gi one night, and shorts the next. By training in both styles, MMA fighters maintain fluency in both lexicons.