Sumo tournaments - sports or show?

Sumo is traditional Japanese sport that is as long as Japanese history itself. Sumo fighters are extremely popular in the country; they have even their privileged rights. The names of most popular sumo fighters are Akashi Shiganosuke, Ayakawa Gorozi, Maruyama Gondazaemon, Onokawa Kisaburo and others. Today there are 55 sumo schools. The best one is considered to be Musashigawa school.

Ancient legend connects sumo with existence of modern Japanese nation itself on the beautiful island archipelago. According to popular beliefs Takamikazuchi-god started the war against the barbarians where he used his special fight techniques. Thanks to his victor Japanese people got chance and right to live in Honshu area.

First trustworthy historical facts connected with sumo lead to the 7th century, when emperor organized the first tournament (642) special for Korean ambassador. Since then the line of annual fight tournaments under the aegis of emperor started. First competitions had no sports but religious meaning. They were combined with ritual dancing, beads and theatrical performances. The sumo technique was not refined and gracious, it had more practical side.

The main rules and system of judgment was formed in Heyan era (794-1185). Hair catching, leg pushing and head punches were strictly forbidden. Fighter's clothes transformed into femoral bandage. With classes? power growth and emperor's rights weakening sumo tradition lost their religious meaning and got new ones.

Modern sumo cradle is Edo era (after 1603). At the beginning of the 17th century Japan exhausted with endless war battles gained the peace finally. The most favorite way of spending time in new lifestyle is sumo. Just at that time 70 (throwing, backheel, undercut, clench) sumo canonical positions were completely accepted. That was a kind of sumo championships anticipation. Sumo tournaments rules endured the line of changes in rules that anyway came to us almost in primeval variant.

During Edo era the new tradition of fighters? hierarchy begins, the title of grand champion - yokozun starts to work. The first canonized fighter was Akashi Shiganosuke. In the middle of the 18th century new tradition entered the force. It is a tradition of annual two sumo tournaments in Osaka and Edo (Tokyo at the present).

There are no weight restrictions or rates in sumo tournaments. That is explanation for possibility to see two fighters who are contending for the victory having almost double difference in weight. And it is not stated fact that the heavier one will win. The winner will be the wrestler who will be enough strong or lucky to push his competitor out the special scene (dohyo) or make him touch the land by any part of the body except sole. Sumo tournament winners are national heroes and have even more popularity than singers and movie stars.

It is not a problem today to visit sumo competitions as they take place very often, six times per year (during 15 days amateurs fill 10-thousand halls). Usually sumo tournaments are open on the first Sunday of the month before afternoon. Sumo tournaments scene is often made of clay and covered with sand grits. It is clear that sumo tournaments are started with fights of less experienced fighters. Sumo tournament winners show finishes at 6 p.m. One sumo tournaments day contains more than 200 duels.

There are also not official demonstrative performances. Recently grand sumo tournaments became astonishing show fascinated by everyone in Japan.

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