I got up at 6:00 am yesterday to watch a sumo practise. Since I am a “Gaijin”, I was unable to enter the sumo stable, but I was allowed to watch from outside through a window. I am enamoured by great athletes, especially big powerful athletes. There is just something about seeing strong guys throw their weight around. Also, I have a deep respect for martial arts. There is always a way of doing things that is grounded in tradition and respect which I feel is an area that many western sports and fitness in general are lacking.
What I learned is that sumo-practise is everyday from 6:00-10:00pm, and they decide on the day of whether or not to take a day off if the boys are beaten up. I found this out the day before as I arrived at 6:30 to see the sumo’s leaving, and a couple told me “no training.” This was disappointing but that at-least made the chances of them training the next day almost certain.
I have to admit I am not well-versed in the world of sumo, and don’t think I have ever watched a match on tv or the internet. But, when I stumbled up the chance to watch their training I was really intrigued to see what allowed these big dudes do to be so massive, powerful and athletic at the same time. Most people in the world know the term, “Sumo-Squat”, so I was pleased to see that for most of the practise the big guys would go in and out of sumo-squats. What I also found interesting was to see the difference sizes present. There were obviously the big massive sumo’s we see most often in western media. These guys are well over 300#. I was surprised to see that the most dominant wrestler of the morning practise was a small guy, who maybe weighed around 200#. He was explosive, fast, aggressive, and powerful. His speed and explosiveness made him too much to handle for the big guys who were big and strong but not as fast. There are no weight divisions in sumo, so there might be 150# differences between two of the wrestlers.
The practise and sport was a lot more violent than I expected. While fighting for position you could often hear smacks of palm on face or neck from outside. A few of the dudes were sporting black eyes or swollen cheeks. The practise was “king of the hill” style. Winner stays in the circle. After each bout, the other wrestlers would rush in to try and get to fight next. The winner chose his opponent. The other wrestlers stood around the side stretching (mostly sumo-squats), lifting some light dumbbells, and a few of the guys were doing weighted sumo-squats. The weight was having a full-size sumo on their back in a piggy back position. This was impressive considering some of these dues easily had 300#+ on their backs.
As I said before the most dominant wrestler was a little guy, which as a little guy, I appreciated. He stayed in the ring for at-least 10 bouts at one point, and by the end was clearly exhausted. The athleticism of these wrestlers was seriously impressive. Even the big guys who carried a lot of fat were explosive, agile, and clearly powerful. Here are some videos and pictures of the experience. Also the local girls at my hostel all mentioned how even though these sumos are "fat and ugly" that they all have pretty wives. I happened to think some of them were quite handsome....
Here are some videos of the practise matches
Actual Sumo Squats
Point of Impact!
This Was the Dominant Sumo of the Morning
Grit Human Performance