Rules of Sumo Wrestling | How it is Played?

It looks a funny game but mind you, this is the national sport of Japan where Sumo wrestlers train themselves for years to gain weight and compete in Sumo wrestling.

It is one of the distinctive forms of wrestling as it’s not a game of agility but sheer power. Normally wrestlers are supposed to keep themselves less weighted but no in Sumo wrestling, where the heavier you are the more chances you have of winning.

Rules of Sumo Wrestling

The game originated in Japan and dates back to the Edo period of Japan’s history (crica 1603) when it was a popular source of entertainment. This may sound amusing to you but Sumo wrestling is considered a type of martial art in Japan.

A Tokyo based Sumo federation is eager to get Sumo wrestling in Olympic games but so far it is not accepted as an Olympic sport, possibly because of the unorthodox fashion in which it is played.

Object of Playing Sumo Wrestling

Sumo fights take place in a small area where Sumo wrestlers try to throw out or push out their opponent from the fight area. This is why Sumo wrestlers gain weight throughout the year so that their opponents find it hard to push their body. It looks simple but there are a plethora of techniques that these wrestlers practice to win against their opponent.

How to Play?

Sumo Wrestling involves heavy and bulky size wrestlers competing against each other in a small ring. Players try to push back each other by using their hands, they can also pin each other ( which is nearly impossible if you look at their size). It is a ritualistic game which involves players drinking salt water before the match and it is also sprayed on the ring to purify it.

Below, I have discussed all the rules in detail including some legal and illegal moves to let you know what moves you can perform if you fancy becoming a Sumo Wrestler in future.

General Rules of Sumo Fight

  • Both wrestlers couch fists on the floor until the referee blows the whistle to signal the start of the match.
  • You can push your opponent.
  • You can trip your opponent in order to make him fall out of the ring.
  • Powerful Sumo wrestlers also grab and lift their opponent, though it is very difficult but legal.
  • Slapping on the face is legal, however you can’t poke your opponent in any sensitive part of the body.

Time Duration of the Game

There is no time limit, a Sumo game ends when one of the opponents has been sent out of the ring/fight area. The duration of a Sumo game can be between 30 seconds to 60, in rare cases.

It entirely depends on the weight of the two sumo and how quickly they are to tackle each other. More often than not, a sumo game ends in less than 60 seconds.

Sumo Wrestling Field

Sumo fights take place in a ring called Dohyo. This ring is 4.5 meter in diameter and marked by white line. If the wrestler leaves this field during the fight, he loses the game. And the same is true when he is pushed out of the ring.

Sumo Wrestling Equipment

The only thing you require for a Sumo fight is a mawashi. Mawashi is the loincloth that all sumo wrestlers wear and it is made from tough and heavyweight fabric. This mawashi is the belt that must not be undone during the game otherwise the wrestler will lose the fight.

Winning a Sumo Match

There are multiple ways a wrestler can win a sumo match. These ways are:

  • Winning the match by pushing your opponent out of the ring.
  • Grab the opponent by belt and force him out of the ring.
  • Forcing the opponent on the floor.

Illegal Techniques in Sumo

Though it looks like a casual game, there are some rules to follow. You can’t:

  • pull hair of your opponent
  • punch your opponent
  • Strike his ears
  • Strike the groin area

Referee & Judges in Sumo wrestling

5 judges sit around the ring while a referee stands in between the fighting Sumos. Referee’s job is to maintain order in the ring while judges pass their verdict on clean send outs and other such things.

Starting of the Sumo Wrestling Fight

Every Sumo wrestling match begins with a religious ceremony in which both wrestlers drink some kind of traditional liquid and salt water is sprayed over the ring for purification.

Also, both the Sumo fighters extend their arms and legs in such a way that they are telling each other they don’t have any weapons hidden. Showing your opponent that you don’t have any weapons is also a kind of a ritual in Sumo fighting.

Famous Sumo Tournaments

Sumo wrestling is greatly famous in Japan and a great number of sumo wrestling tournaments take place throughout the year. Up till now, Sumo wrestling isn’t popular enough to be held as an international event.

Governing Body

The ISF (International Sumo Federation) is the largest governing body of the sport with 80+ member countries. The organization was formed in 1992 and is still taking necessary steps to promote the game of Sumo wrestling.