Sumo is a Japanese sport in the fight. The battle sumo is characterized by the template of wrestlers, as well as the many traditional rites surrounding the fighting. This sport is very popular in Japan, even though the baseball and football the détrone, particularly among young people.

Sumo was mentioned for the first time in 712 in the Kojiki (Story of Time Past), the first book of Japanese writing. The Kojiki relate Takemikazuchi victory against Takeminakata, two ancient gods in a battle of Sumo. Thus, the people led by Takemikazuchi won possession of the Japanese islands and founded the imperial family which resulted in the current Emperor.

Apart from this legend, it seems that the fighting appeared sumo there are nearly 1500 years, in the form of Shinto religious rituals: Fighting sumo, as well as dance and theatre were dedicated to the gods along with prayers for good harvests.

Nara Period
In the eighth century, fighting sumo were introduced in the ceremonies of the Imperial Court. Tournaments are held yearly, accompanied by music and dances involving combatants victorious. The fighting at the time, that mix boxing and fight, and allowing almost all coups, are still very distant from the fighting sumo today. However, under the influence of the Imperial Court, the rules were made gradually, techniques were developed and the fight sumo became close to what it is now.

From the Kamakura Period
The establishment of a military dictatorship in Kamakura in 1192 was followed by a long period of wars and instability. The battle sumo is naturally seen by the heads from the angle military and is used to increase the combat effectiveness of the soldiers.

The unification of Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate, in 1603, was followed by a period of peace and prosperity, marked by the development of a wealthy merchant. Groups of sumo professionals are created to entertain the bourgeois class and the struggle sumo took its current form, as the national sport of Japan.

The rikishi
The professional sumo is a sport only for men. Sumo wrestlers are called rikishi (力士) or sumotori (appellation used for beginners). During the fighting, they are dressed as the mawashi, a fabric band tightly around the waist and the inseam, which is the only firm grip allowed during the fight. It is statutorily between 9 and 14 meters after the body of rikishi. They are topped depending on the style chon mage: hair, smoothed with oil, are maintained by a chignon. A rikishi keeps her long hair throughout his career; his retirement was marked by a ceremony (danpatsu-shiki) during which it is cut chon mage. The rikishis of the higher divisions are capped in oicho-mage (a chignon form a sheet of gingko) when they are in tournament or representation.

There is no weight class for rikishi and it can happen that one of the combatants was more than double the weight of the other (sumo weights ranging from 70 to 280 kg!). However, the Sumos of the best divisions weigh on average about 150 kg weight seemed best able to ensure both stability and flexibility.

The daily life of the rikishi is highly regulated: wake up at 5 am, training, lunch based chanko nabe, nap and dinner based chanko nabe. The training follows a number of ancient rituals and ranked wrestlers are used by the trainees.

The battle
Before the confrontation, the wrestlers hunt minds by hitting the ground with our feet, after surveying high: it's Shiko. As a sign of purification, they took a handful of salt and launched on the dohyo, the combat zone bounded by a circle of 4.55 meters in diameter. There is also the ritual of "water of strength" that the rikishi drinks and then spits. These are the three ritual gestures of the most important before the start of the battle itself.

The battle begins at signal gyoji (the referee), which then presents the other side of its range. After a period of observation, the wrestlers must touch the ground with both hands to accept the fight. The physical confrontation begins (the beginning of the battle in which both wrestlers flow literally depend on each other is called taichiai), the two protagonists off at each other, in order to eject the opponent outside the circle of combat or him touch the ground by another part of the body that the soles of his feet. Combatants can use the catch among the 82 allowed. These "taken winners" are called Kimarite.

There are six tournaments a year: "Hatsu Basho" (Tokyo, second Sunday of January; hatsu means new, new year here), "Haru Basho (Osaka, the second Sunday in March, haru means spring)," Natsu Basho "( Tokyo, the second Sunday of May means natsu summer), "Nagoya Basho (Nagoya, the second Sunday in July)," Aki Basho (Tokyo, the second Sunday of September, aki means autumn) and Kyushu Basho (Fukuoka, second Sunday in November, Kyushu is one of the four main islands). There are in addition to the regional tournaments that do not count in the ranking of wrestlers: jungyo. The jungyo may take place abroad. France has been fortunate to host one in 1995 at Bercy.

The ranking
During the tournament, the goal of rikishi is to get more victories than defeats on a maximum of 15 fights:

If he manages to 8 wins, it is designated kachi-koshi and can win ranks in the classification of wrestlers.

If he loses more than 8 times in a tournament, it is stated make-koshi and can be downgraded.

The league table is called banzuke. The banzuke resumed ranking wrestlers, but also gyoji and even yobidashi, those who declaim the names of rikishi before each bout.

When a wrestler excels at the forefront, the federation may designate Yokozuna (Supreme Champion). It is usually necessary for it to win two tournaments in succession and to be judged morally worthy of such a ranking (Yokozunas are considered the rikishis closest to the gods, and sometimes as demigods). The Yokozuna - which opens the days of struggle by a special ceremony - retains his title for life and will not fall in the standings. However, if the results become unworthy of a Yokozuna, use him impose to withdraw from the world of sumo. Currently, there are two Yokozuna, both of Mongolian origin, appointed Asashôryû and Hakuhô.

The professional sumo includes several hundred fighters. The rikishi ranked (top 70) are called sekitori and are paid by the Japanese Sumo Association (NSK). They are the only ones who are fighting 15 by bashô, others do so only 7. Each rikishi fight against wrestlers in his class level. The trophy that wins the winner of each division called yûshô. In addition to other prices can be attributed to the outcome of a basho in the most prestigious named the Maku-uchi (the 42 best wrestlers). These are the kin-boshi (Gold Star) than among the less well ordered 34 of this division (maegaeshira) to be able to win a fight against (or) yokozuna title and sanshô. The sanshô are three awards to recognize a wrestler who stood out from other either by the technical quality with which he won his fights (gino-sho), or by a remarkable performance throughout the basho (shukun-sho) or by his courage (kanto-sho). All these prices yusho including, in addition to the premium caused, granting an increase in the treatment of rikishi until his retirement.

The tournaments are broadcast throughout Japan fièvreusement and are followed by a large segment of the population that the discipline is a victim of the disaffection from the public in recent years.

The ranks of the first division (Makuuchi) are, from highest to lowest:

* Yokozuna (currently two: Asashoryu, Hakuho)
* Ôzeki (currently four: Chiyotaikai, Kaio, Kotooshu, and Kotomitsuki)
* Sekiwake (usually two)
* Komusubi (usually two)
* Maegashira (more than thirty).

Suit the second division, called Jûryô. The wrestlers in Makuuchi and Jûryô are sekitori. The divisions below, in descending order, are: Makushita, Sandanme, Jonidan and Jonokuchi. In recent divisions include more than a hundred fighters each, and only the best are able to retrieve them.


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