Please note: This article is about the game of wrestling. For other uses of the term, please see Sumai (disambiguation).
Sumai Match

Sumai Match

Sumai, also known as sumo, [1] was a game of wrestling, one that was taken very seriously, and controlled by strict rituals.

Details Edit

Duel Edit

Sumai duels were performed in a dojo. Blessed rice was used to line the outside of the wrestling circle they would fight within. The first samurai pushed out of the circle loses, who first stepped out of the circle with both feet. [2] An actual bout of sumai was over in seconds, as two massive wrestlers slammed into one another with the intent or knocking the opponent off his feet or pushing him out of the ring. [3]

Ranks Edit

Sumotori Arena

Sumotori Arena

There were four ranks of Sumo, the lowest of which was the juryo. The next rank up was maehashira, followed by sanyaku. The highest rank was yokozuna. [4] [3] Another way to rank the sumo was Shin Deshi, Komusubi, Sekiwake, Ozeki, and also finally yokozuna. [5]

Rituals and Traditions Edit

Before bouts took place between two wrestlers (who were also called sumo), there was a period of meditation, as well as purification. [3]

Bouts only took place between two sumo of the same rank.

Imperial Winter Court Edit

During the Imperial Winter Court, only sumo of the highest rank, the yokozuna, were allowed to compete. The bouts took place between two teams of wrestlers that fought seventeen rounds. The winner of this tournament was gifted a masterwork bow and was then invited to perform ritual dancing and singing, called bugaku, while twirling the bow. [3] [4] The sumai were formed into two teams, East and West. Should the East win, it was believed the next year would be one of great bounty and success, while a year that followed a Western win would be one of conflict and strif but also of opportunity. The West did win roughly once per decade, and on extremely rare occasions the West has been known to win twice in a row. This actually happened on two separate occasions during the reign of Hantei XXXVIII, and the last time was in the two winters before the Scorpion Clan Coup. [6]

History Edit

Origin Edit

Legends said Osumo was a warrior who dared to defy Hida himself to a wrestling match, as condition to surrender his village to the Kami, who was seeking new followers. Hida lost the wrestling match for three successive days. Finally, on the fourth day Hida switched tactics, allowing Osumo to seemingly overwhelm him. The sudden shift in weight caught Osumo off-guard and he lost his balance, allowing Hida to easily throw him to the ground. To this day, sumai practitioners were called sumo in Osumo's honor. [7]

Kuni Administration Edit

In the early centuries of the Empire, the administration of sumai fell to the Kuni. Trained sumo purified their fighting arena with salt, a safeguard against evil spirits. They also stamped their feet while shouting fierce kiai, a derivative of the common belief that loud shouting attracted the Earth kami and drived out dark spirits. [8]

Brotherhood Administration Edit

Before Hantei XVIII ascended to the throne he was besotted with the ideals and methods of sumai, and some tales claimed he attained the rank of yokozuna. One of his first decrees as Emperor established sumai as an official sport at the Imperial Winter Court, which came under the administration of the Brotherhood of Shinsei. The Miya family decreed all sumai tournaments must be formally recorded. The annals of modern sumai were recorded and the records of all sumo were known and remembered. [9]

Moderm Sumai Edit

The new Imperial sport had a major change in the rules: a circular ring, which added an element of positioning and strategy to what had previously been a contest of raw strength and skill. The ring was surrounded at four points with pillars, each facing a cardinal direction, and each mounting charms beseeching protection from the kami. The sumai dojo were called "stables", where they underwent intensive specialized training, including specific diets. All of the sumo competing are divided into two groups, designated East and West. All sumo except yokozuna performed the dohyo-iri, walking a full circuit around the ring, bowing to the spectators, and raising their unarmed hands into the air. Each yokozuna instead had his own individual ring ritual. Formal sumai competitions lasted for eight days, and a sumo from the winning stable was honored by performing the bugaku bow dance before the sponsoring authority. [8]

External Links Edit


  1. Art of the Duel, p. 17
  2. GM's Survival Guide, p. 52
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 65
  4. 4.0 4.1 Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 32
  5. Book of Earth, p. 50
  6. Sword and Fan, p. 174
  7. Book of Earth, pp. 48-49
  8. 8.0 8.1 Book of Earth, p. 49
  9. Book of Earth, pp. 49-50

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