Sumo wrestling, the national sport of Japan, is a 1,500 year-old ritualistic sport with heavy religious overtones from its beginnings as a temple entertainment for the Gods.
MCS Sign of Wrestling training school
MCS INT Sumo rank boards on wall
MCS Model of Sumo wrestler
MS Four wrestlers preparing meal
CU Wrestler helps himself to food
CU Cooking pot and people dipping.
CU Another wrestler
CU Cooking pot
CU Another wrestler
CU Wrestler feeding
MV Three wrestlers
CU Wrestler feeding
CU Wrestler's stomach.
LV Yasukuni Shrine
MS Sumo wrestlers walk in procession following umpire.
MV Wrestlers into ring for ceremony
MS Wrestlers parade round ring
MCS Takanohama drinks holy water before match.
MS Match between Takanohama & Wajima
LV Crowd PAN TO ring
CU Tamanoumi going through ceremony
MS Tamanoumi and Taiho wrestling
LS Sumo stage and crowd.
Initials BB/1704 RR/BOB/BB/1756
SPORT: SUMO WRESTLING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Sumo wrestling, the national sport of Japan, is a 1,500 year-old ritualistic sport with heavy religious overtones from its beginnings as a temple entertainment for the Gods.
But its religious overtones are not the only heavy aspect to the sport. Those who practice the sport are veritable man-mountains, averaging 300 pounds (136 kilogrames) in weight. They often eat ten times as much as the ordinary man, and suffer accordingly. Their average life expectancy is 50 years, 19 years less than the normal citizen. But with the sport goes high status, high rewards and a good life.
Some of this film was shot on April 25, the Annual Sumo day in Japan. It includes shots of one of Japan's greatest Sumo champions, Taiho. He has just announced his retirement, at the age of 30. Also shown in the film are future Sumo wrestlers, in the Tokyo Sumo training school.
SYNOPSIS: The Sumo training school in Tokyo produces many of the finest exponents of this form of wrestling--Japan's national sport. Sumo wrestlers are highly respected members of Japanese society...their sport ensures them a large bank balance and wide national fame. But the sport has one setback, for the greatest advantage a Sumo wrestler can have is excessive weight--and to attain this, these wrestlers indulge to a vast degree in food and drink, sometimes eating ten times as much as the ordinary man. This brings success...and early death. The average life expectancy of these men is 50 years.
Sumo is a ritualistic sport dating back 1,500 years. It has heavy religious overtones from its beginnings as a temple entertainment for the Gods. The wrestlers wear their hair long, twisted in a knot on the crown of their head in the Samurai manner. In the ring they're naked except for a revealing loin cloth. It reveals above all their weight. Each day they consume vast quantities of rice, a rich traditional stew and generous helpings of beer and sake rice wine. The result of their feeding is a stomach like this.
It's at the Yasukuni shrine that many of the great events in the Sumo calendar take place. Three weeks ago it was the Annual Sumo Day in Japan. Before the actual fight the wrestlers go through a series of displays according to their position on the Sumo ladder.
Each Japanese considers himself an expert in the sport, the aim of which is to throw the opponent to the ground, or out of the ring. Weight plays an important part in the manoeuvres. The average Sumo wrestler weights 136 kilograms, or 300 pounds. Before beginning the but, the wrestlers go through complicated rituals to attain complete concentration. The right attitude for the fight is considered as important as the physical attributes, and the rituals can last as long as 15 minutes.
Then the match begins. It lasts sometimes only two seconds.
The winner is the first to throw his opponent out of the circular ring, or to force any part of his body to touch the floor. There are strict rules governing things like throws and twists. Strict rules govern also the behaviour of the wrestlers, as well as the other aspects of the sport, such as the judges. These are often retired wrestlers.
According to the Sumo association's medical clinic, the wrestlers are highly prone to heart diseases, liver and kidney complaints. In the past three years, seven former top wrestlers died. All were in their 40's or early 50's. When he retires, a wrestler will shad some of the excess weight, but internally the damage has been done. The main trouble is that after years of over-eating and drinking, most Sumo wrestlers can't stop. Despite the prospect of an early death, there's no shortage of recruits and interest in Sumo wrestling.