It’s the national sport of Japan. You really don’t understand how big it is until you see it. It is said that the islands of Japan were formed by a sumo match between two gods.
Here are some matches so you know what I’m talking about. You can hit with an open palm to the head which can knock the opponent down or sometimes out. The amount of impact that is created in the initial tackle can be staggering. You win the match by causing you opponent to touch the ground with something other than his feet or by running him out of the ring.
It’s quite a spectacle and very interesting to watch.
Wrestlers are trained from a young age and become part of stables where they live and train together with other more experienced wrestlers. The training can be brutal at times and it’s meant to build character.
When a wrestler wins a number of matches in a row they become a grand champion or “Yokozuna.” One of Japan’s most recent Yokozuna is Asashoryu.
These men are celebrities in Japan, going everywhere with bodyguards and signing autographs. Their bodies are the epitome of what the Japanese male should be, big, agile and powerful.
Here’s a nice little documentary on Asashoryu and sumo in general from National Geographic. It really highlights the tradition and the ritual that surrounds this great sport.