Sumo is a gift if you’re sick of UFC

Need a break from UFC? We've got you covered with a crash course in Sumo wrestling.

By: Stephie Haynes | 3 weeks ago
Sumo is a gift if you’re sick of UFC
Photo by FourTildes via Wikimedia Commons

The current form of the UFC and MMA, in general, leaves a lot to be desired for some and for that contingent of fans, you have options. Allow us to introduce you to Sumo, the national sport of Japan. Even with Japan’s heavy investment and success with baseball, Sumo still captures the attention of millions.

Sumo history

Sumo’s origins go back millenia. That’s right, folks, it’s been practiced for more than a thousand years. As a matter of fact, it has roots going all the way back prehistoric paintings, with first written accounting of it occurring in 712. Wikipedia notes this:

‘The first mention of sumo can be found in a Kojiki manuscript dating back to 712, which describes how possession of the Japanese islands was decided in a wrestling match between the kami known as Takemikazuchi and Takeminakata.’

Admittedly, I wasn’t a big follower of Sumo until our coverage of it began, but after the glut of watered down Apex cards the UFC force feeds us, it was easy to let my wandering eye rest on something I’d been overlooking. Perhaps you’re looking for a little action on the side, or maybe even a whole new sports obsession. Either way, we’ve got you covered.

If you’ve noticed, Bloody Elbow has invested coverage in Sumo for quite some time thanks to Tim Bissell, one of our amazing managing editors. I spent some time with Tim recently to learn more about it, and even recorded it for those who’d like to learn more. We plan on doing more of these to take new fans on a continuing journey of the ancient art.

Did you know?

Did you know there have only been 73 yokozuna in the more than 1000-year-history of the sport? The current leg of the Grand Tournament of Sumo, the natsu basho (summer series), features the 73rd yokozuna for the first time this year when 31-year-old Terunofuji competes. Terunofuji is coming off double knee surgery this past October, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up.

Did you know that the athletes are insanely athletic and limber despite their enormous size? And for the record, Sumo wrestlers don’t come into their careers enormous. They strive to put that weight on and use it advantageously in the dohyo. Their careers generally only last until the mid thirties, at which point carrying all that weight invariably catches up with them. Many immediately begin shedding their excess pounds as soon as they retire.

Chapter 1

In this first chapter, Tim takes us on a crash course of Sumo. Some of the things you can expect to see are as follows:

  • Brief history
  • Rules
  • Living quarters
  • Daily regimen
  • Terminology
  • Perks and benefits
  • Controversy

Listen up!

You can listen to the entire episode here with no paywall for bonus content. If you have specific questions you’d like us to address, please let us know in the comments. And don’t forget, paid Substack subscriptions are the best way to support our work and show us that you believe in what we’re trying to do in the combat sports space. So many Bloody Elbow listeners have pledged to support our work so far. Will you be next?

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About the author
Stephie Haynes
Stephie Haynes

Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

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