Wednesday 31 July 2019
At 0745 I met the guide at the local metro station along with about 25 others. We strolled off not far down the street to the Oguruma Sumo Stable. Outside we were given a rundown on the rules: shoes off, do not sit with legs out straight so the players can see soles of your feet, no talking, no video, no flash etc.
We filed in and took a seat. Along with several others I had a chair provided as I had a back operation about 3 weeks ago. Everyone else took a seat on the floor surrounding the training area. Another tour group filed in with around 50 spectators looking on as the players went through their morning training session which was already underway when we arrived.
The first part of the session, which went on for a good 20-plus minutes, consisted of leg lifts to the left and right, each player counting out 10 of these before moving on to the next one. Not everyone did the whole 10 each time. Every now and then a few of them would wonder off to the back room reappearing a few minutes later.
Leg lifting over they then moved on to pushing each other across the ring. The guy being pushed just stood with this legs straight and leaned forward so a big effort was required.
That phase over they then practiced some throws on each other, once again taking it in turns.
Then the circle was swept and the real fun began with some full on fighting underway. Squatting in the centre of the ring they exploded into each other with a loud thud as the two rather immovable forces impacted. A struggle then went on with one trying to get hold of the other’s belt (mawashi) to try and control the opponent, or simply use force, pushing the other guy out of the ring or even tripping the other guy up. Once any part of the body other than the foot touches the ground or the foot goes outside the circle it is all over. Each bout only lasted a few seconds followed by lots of heavy breathing.
One poor chap must have either done something wrong or was privileged to get a bit of extra training as he had to fight several people one after the other and the biggest bloke several times. All this time the coach sat in his armchair looking on and only occasionally giving the odd instruction while keeping up to date on social media.
The fighting over a few of them took turns to do a shuffle around the edge of the ring followed by a few pushups and a bit of stretching.
The training over these guys head off and eat a mass of grub (about 10,000 calories) then sleep for a few hours before doing an individual training session later in the day.
This is followed by another 10,000 calorie meal.
Only the top 10% of the players get paid, the rest pay their own way hoping to make it into to the payroll one day. Apparently sums wrestler’s have a life span of only 65-70 years – very short in Japan.
I left the stable feeling quite skinny!!!