The Art of Sumo

Korean sumo match- Seoul South Korea. Off the beaten path.

I had read about sumo wrestling. I had heard it was an ancient Asian art form. But to be honest, it all sounded kind of boring, until I actually saw it.

The wrestlers being introduced

The position the fighters have to be in is precarious, to say the least. They have to hold each other in specific places, and then try to push or flip their opponent. Of course, because they are stuck holding each other, they have no leverage, and so it is based almost entirely on strength. It’s really impressive to watch.

The Starting Position

I looked up Sumo wrestling on Wikipedia, and I was horrified to find the entry stating that Sumo is only practiced professionally in Japan. The match I went to was in Seoul, Korea! Clearly the Wiki page is wrong.

One way to win- throw your opponent down
First way to win- throw your opponent on the ground

However, Sumo did start in Japan. I suppose the Japanese occupation of Korea during WWII influenced their culture more than they want to admit.

Other way to win- push your opponent out of the ring

My friends and I were the only non-Korean audience members, with the exception of two other guys. I guess it’s not something tourists generally participate in. However, that does not mean tourists are unwelcome. When our group walked in, we got a very warm welcome from the Koreans, who helped us find our way to our seats and gave us balloon sticks to clap with.

The balloon clapping sticks they gave us.

The matches were exciting, but there was a lot more than that. Traditional Korean dancers and even cheerleaders added to the event to make it far more than just a wrestling match. It was a cultural experience.

One of the dancers in a very fancy Korean outfit.

I would highly recommend attending a sumo match if you travel to Korea. It is a unique experience that most tourists don’t see, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

One of the cheerleaders. Sumo isn't popular with young people so I expect the cheerleaders are supposed to help with that.

Best moment ever: I was amazed at how big the wrestlers were (after all- I’m a big westerner and Koreans seem kind of small to me.) Suddenly it occurred to me that the wrestlers aren’t huge at all. They are just the average size of Americans! That made me laugh.

The winner being honored

Author: jendelemont

The Phoenix from the desert rises again in the Pacific.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Sumo”

  1. If “real” is your way of saying “Japanese” then I should hope it doesn’t look anything like “real” sumo. The Japanese raped this country when they occupied it, and the Koreans do things their own way out of spite. Who can blame them?

    1. Sorry, I didn’t intend to rile you.

      Japan’s occupation of Korea ended decades ago. Rather than still trying to “spite” Japan, everyone should work to “get along”, I think.

      (And Japan didn’t ruin the Asian countries it occupied. Certainly terrible acts were committed and must never be repeated…but Japan also improved the standard of living with improved roads, schools, sanitation, etc).

      Anyways, Korea can certainly take the sport of Sumo and “customize” it…but maybe call it by a Korean name since it’s become a different sport.

      But, as I said, I’m not trying to upset anyone. Just stating another point of view.

  2. Oh, I wasn’t “riled” per se. I just wanted to lend some perspective. I like Japan personally. But you can’t blame the Koreans for not liking the Japanese so much and for striving to be different.

    And sports go by the same names the world over, even when they are changed. Baseball here isn’t just like baseball in the US, but it’s still baseball. Changing names just confuses everyone. 🙂

    As for the occupation… the Koreans history is very different from that of the Japanese. Who’s to say what really happened, I guess. But the Koreans believe it was a lot worse than you say it is and that roads and school were destroyed, not built. I wasn’t here, so I don’t know. 🙂

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