Thursday, April 19, 2012


Yorikiri, or the "frontal force out," is another one of sumo's common winning techniques. In this move, the wrestlers are in very close contact, using full bodily force to drive the other one out of the ring. The attacker successfully pushes the other out while maintaining a grip on his opponent's mawashi (loincloth) at all times. 

For more information on the various winning sumo techniques, check out the Japanese Sumo Association's list here.


Tsukidashi, or the "frontal thrust out," is one of the more common winning techniques in sumo. The attacker forces his opponent backwards and out of the ring using a continuous arm thrusting motion. It is similar to the previously mentioned oshidashi ("frontal push out") except the attacker doesn't have to keep his hand on his opponent's body at all times.

For more information on the various winning sumo techniques, check out the Japanese Sumo Association's list here.


Oshidashi, or the "frontal push out," is one of the most common winning techniques in sumo. While keeping his hands on his opponent at all times, the attacker pushes him out of the ring without gripping the mawashi (loincloth).

For more information on the various winning sumo techniques, check out the Japanese Sumo Association's list here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I'm currently reading the book, sumo no himitsu (The Secrets of Sumo) by Nitta Ichiro and published by Asahi Press in 2010. You can find details for this book here. It's been a really useful introduction to the world of sumo, giving a concise explanation of the ranking system, history, and basic techniques used by wrestlers. This makes a useful tool for Japanese language learners out there who want to learn a bit about sumo wrestling. I found the illustrations very entertaining and I used them as the basis for some of my own sumo drawings, like the one I posted below.

As my reading ability increases, I'd like to read more books about sumo in Japanese and make them the basis for the information I post in this blog. It would be nice to document all the books I read here, English or Japanese, so that fellow sumo fans could get some idea of what reading material is out there. When I finish this book, I plan on buying the memoir written by the current yokozuna, Hakuho Sho. I read the first three pages of it and found it really interesting. He talked about how he first came to learn about sumo and the memory of his first visit to Japan from his home country of Mongolia. I can't wait to read it!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shiko is the sumo wrestler's ceremonial leg raising and stomping. In the first figure, the rikishi plants his feet on the ground in a squatting position. As in figures two and three, he then proceeds to raise his left leg straight up and keep this position for a few seconds before planting it firmly back in the original position, shown in figure four. Then, as in figures five and six, he raises his right leg in the same way he did his left. Finally, he returns to the original squatting pose shown in both one and four. Shiko is meant to demonstrate a rikishi's balance as well as flexibility and it requires a lot of training. Rikishi who compete in the six championship tournaments in Japan are said to perform shiko 200 to 300 times in a day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

an introduction

Anyone familiar with the term "sumo" can make a pretty concise summary of how it works. It might go something like, "the first fat man to push the other one off the ring wins." And yet, accurate as the statement may be, the explanation hardly does any justice to the reason why sumo and its athletes have found such a special place in the hearts of its fans, both Japanese and non-Japanese alike. It certainly doesn't encapsulate why I became drawn to watching two overweight men wrestle. But are words enough to effectively express what makes sumo so damn cool? If they are, I lack the skill to string the right ones together.

So this blog of note-taking and doodles will have to do. Its primary purpose is to document my neophyte's journey to better understanding sumo. Secondary purposes include trying to improve my steadily increasing proficiency in Japanese and to salvage a rapidly deteriorating English writing ability. It's pretty clear that my reasons for creating this blog are self-serving, but I would probably be a little more than pleased with myself if I also happened to educate, or at least entertain, someone with it. I figure that by sharing the bits and pieces of what I come to learn about sumo's history, culture and traditions, I'll manage to give you a sense of what makes the whole so beautiful.