A few thoughts about respect for the heritage of Sumo

Japanese Sumo


It has been a while since I have posted, and I wanted to begin with giving a shout out to the wrestlers who competed at the Dallas Sumo Open this past Saturday in Dallas Texas.  Congratulations to two welcome mat wrestlers Andre Coleman and Will Cook, who left there with a total of three Medals.  Andre placed third in the Middle Weight, and Will placed second in Heavyweight, and Third in Open Weight.   There were in this tournament disappointments and victories for every wrestler entered as there always are.  Personally I wrestled very poorly and was unhappy with my performance.  I started to think about where can we find victories even in times we see defeat.  Now, I suppose this is a cultural difference, however I watched a video in which a new Sumo wrestler gave a small extra shove to his opponent at the end of a losing effort.  The video went on to show the offending Rikishi’s coach disciplining him,not for losing, since in Sumo losses will happen to all wrestlers, he instead disciplined him for his tiny display of anger at the outcome of the match.

In pro sumo your conduct, is as important as the ritual, and equally as important as your wins and losses.  You will rarely ever see much more than a slight smile or frown, and there would certainly never be a place for the wrestler to complain to a Gyoji or Shinpan about the outcome of the match.  The rules in amateur sumo are set up to infer the same expectations across the amateur world as well.


This causes me to ask the question, is it compulsory that we follow the same conduct code in amateur sumo as is followed in pro?  Well, maybe not, but if we did not look to this example as the ideal standard all we are doing is complaining for the right to misbehave.  I would love to hear any thoughts on this..


As I conclude I want to share an excerpt from a website called factsanddetails.com which lists information on Japanese Culture, including an impressive amount of info about sumo.


 Sumo is especially admired for its dignity and composure. Arguments over a referee’s ruling or displays of poor sportsmanship are unheard of. While vigorous open-handed slaps to the upper body are permitted, such tactics as striking with fists, kicking, and hairpulling are strictly prohibited. And although the results of some bouts are so close that the referee’s decision must be reviewed (and sometimes overturned) by the judges, neither winner nor loser ever raises a protest, and they seldom display more emotion than an occasional smile or frown.


Here is a link to the page







2 thoughts on “A few thoughts about respect for the heritage of Sumo

  1. I think that totally stoic stuff is useful sometimes as a mental skill. But also total stoicism would probably ban stuff like hugs at the end of matches or other friendly displays of good sportsmanship. So I guess I’m saying we need to figure out whether it’s a lack of emotion or a good amount of sportsmanship that’s important.

    • That is a good point. One of the factors that is interesting in this situation is that good sportsmanship can be universally appreciated, but the “total stoicism” aspect comes from the fact that Sumo was originally a fight to the death. This is to give respect to the loser as well as the winner. The idea of conduct and sportsmanship should be the focus. When I consider that the sport has moved to an international sport, it makes me realize that some of the Japanese cultural pieces should change. It does not mean the same to me or other Americans as it does to Japanese. Nor does it mean the same to any of the Europeans who compete. However, like you said and I think it was well put sportsmanship is important. In amateur sumo in the US no one would have an issue with a hug after a match, but this does not make poor behavior tolerable. IMHO 🙂 thanks for the comment, Corinna!

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