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Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



A little late here as the first Japanese sumo tournament of the year (out of 6) is mostly over, but I've wondered for a while if anyone else actually gave a poo poo about the ancient sport of Sumo. I knew nothing about it until I went to the November 2010 tournament in Fukuoka at the tail end of my two-week trip to Japan. I was instantly hooked and have since then followed it from overseas to the best of my abilities.

Unfortunately, it's not an easy sport to follow from outside of Japan. However, thanks to YouTube, you can keep up with the major highlights in 10 or 15 minutes a day during tournaments. More to come on that.

The need-to-know:

The Biggest Websites in the World

http://www.sumo.or.jp/en/index

Your one-stop-shop for all current information on current rankings and tournament records. Contains a lot of the information that I'll be summarizing in the rest of this post. Also the site of the only (known to me) way of watching the sport live outside of Asia online.

http://sumodb.sumogames.de/

For the nerds and spergs, a site that will have a familiar feel to those who have used sites like baseball-reference. If you can't find records here, I wouldn't know where else to look. It helps to know what "rikishi" (wrestler), "banzuke" (tournament), and "yusho" (tournament victory) mean when navigating this site.

Two Men Enter - None, One, or Both of them Exit

The objective of the sport is simple - make your opponent leave the 15ft-diameter ring or make him touch the ground with any part of his (or her, if you're into that kinda thing) body, other than the bottoms of his feet, before you. Sometimes the match is over in 2 seconds when one wrestler does a quick sidestep and trip, sometimes it lasts over a minute and ends with both wrestlers crashing over the side of the dohyo while locked on to each others' mawashi (the giant adult Depends). Yes, grabbing onto the mawashi is not only legal, but it is also one of the most effective ways of winning. When both wrestlers hit the deck, the first one to hit the ground loses.

How does the match start? When the ref, or gyoji, gives the signal after prep time, the wrestlers spend a few moments burning a hole through each other with their eyes, then it begins drag-racing style. Once both wrestlers have all 4 combined fists touching their starting lines, the match is off with a thunderous collision.

Was E. Honda Really a Sumo Wrestler?

Yes and no. Believe it or not, the hundred-hands-slap move of his is probably the closest to reality. Big and tall rikishi will often palm-slap smaller guys right from the start and quickly overwhelm them out of the ring. So then, what kind of attacks are legal? Well, just about anything other than hair-pulling, closed-fist punches, biting, gouging, and kicks to anywhere but the legs. Pretty much all of those moves would be ineffective if legal anyway, since Sumo wrestlers are trained to be nearly unfazed by a palm to the face from another 350lb rikishi with a bad attitude.

For a sport that consists of two enormous men pushing and shoving at each other, there are a surprising lot of official techniques, or kimarite, for winning.

http://www.sumotalk.com/kimarite.htm

Yorikiri (pushing them out while maintaining a grip on the mawashi) and oshidashi (pushing them out without holding onto the mawashi) are very common for large wrestlers, while successful smaller wrestlers will regularly dazzle viewers with more difficult techniques.

Oh, and weight divisions? gently caress off.

The Tri-Hundred Pound Tournament

Sumo is a year-round sport, with 6 tournaments a year spaced every 2 months - January, March, May, July, September, and November. Three are in Tokyo, one in Osaka, one in Nagoya, and one in Fukuoka. Each tournament consists of 15 days, with each wrestler having one match each day for a record anywhere from 0-15 to 15-0. The tournament starts in the morning with the lower divisions consisting of strong kids that haven't gotten fat yet and fat fucks that can't lift for poo poo, progression to the juryo division (minor leagues/relegated rikishi) and finally to the big show - the makuuchi division. Each day opens up in the morning with the lower divisions, with the makuuchi finally starting in the late afternoon.

So why do a bunch of 2 to 60 second-long matches take all loving day to complete? That is because sumo isn't just a sport, it has extremely ceremonious roots. The foot stamping was/is to ward away evil spirits (while also serving as a form of intimidation), while throwing salt into the ring is symbolic of purifying the ring. Modern-day translation - they take their sweet rear end time getting ready for each faceoff until your Western balls turn purple from delayed violence. The rikishi get at least one round of foot-stamping and staring at each other at the line before the gyoji gives the signal for "THIS time poo poo's gonna get real, f'sho" by holding out his fan and getting into an open stance between the wrestlers. This signals that the next time they approach the line that they are to go into drag-racer mode. Lower divisions usually just get the one round, while makuuchi rikishi often get at least 3 rounds, plus a sip of water and/or a washcloth for the highest-ranked competitors. The latter rounds can take several minutes for a few seconds of action.

The Food Chain

Each division is split into "East" vs "West", which only refers to which side of the ring they enter in (most) matchups. Aside from that, with exceptions in the top makuuchi division, rankings are simply "East/West (Division Name) (1 through n/2)". There are no more than 40 makuuchi wrestlers at any given tournament, the lowest of which are ranked maegashira 1 through ~15, then 1-3 komusubi, 1-3 sekiwake, anywhere from 0-5 ozeki, and as many as 4 yokozuna.

The matchups and rankings are done via the Starcraft ladder system. Each tournament, wrestlers generally draw the 15 other wrestlers closest in rank to them. This means some of the lower maegashira rikishi don't have to wrestle the yokozuna or ozeki, while the yokozuna and ozeki generally have to wrestle every single one of the top-ranking wrestlers. Due to this, a record of 8-7 (kachi-koshi) over a tournament is the de facto standard for keeping your rank through to the next tournament. A losing record (make-koshi) in the lowest makuuchi ranks generally means a trip down to the juryo division for the next tournament. A great winning record can result in jumping from maegashira 15 up several ranks, even to komusubi. However, to progress from komusubi, to sekiwake, and finally to ozeki, a record greater than 8-7 is needed - usually 10-5 through 12-3. Ozeki often takes more than one tournament of good performance to attain - the sumo elders are the ones who decide on that particular promotion. The same goes for yokozuna, although the de facto standard these days is to win two consecutive tournaments. So yes, you can miss out on becoming yokozuna if you go 14-1 in two consecutive tournaments as an ozeki, but someone else wins in each case by going 15-0. Once you attain yokozuna, you are yokozuna for life. You cannot be demoted, although you are pretty much expected to retire if you can't maintain a winning record at any time after becoming yokozuna. You can, however, be demoted from ozeki for a couple of consecutive bad showings, and from komusubi/sekiwake for even one bad tournament.

The Big Kahunas

Currently there are two yokozuna and four ozeki. One of those 6 can be expected to win pretty much every tournament, so the most exciting matches of the day will involve any of them. They are:

Hakuho - Mongolia - Yokozuna
Harumafuji - Mongolia - Yokozuna
Kisenosato - Japan - Ozeki
Kotooshu - Bulgaria - Ozeki
Kotoshogiku - Japan - Ozeki
Kakuryu - Mongolia - Ozeki

Other popular (at least for Westerners) to follow currently are:

Goeido - Japan - Sekiwake, is the current favorite for the next Ozeki. Likes to scowl.
Shohouzan - Japan - upper Maegashira - Little kawaii sparkplug of a dude, wears a bright gold mawashii, and in general does very well against much larger opponents. Also likes to scowl.
Myogiryu (jesus gently caress that one is hard to say properly) - Japan - Maegashira, one of the fastest-rising stars today. Defeated 4 ozeki in the May 2012 tournament.
Masunoyama - Japan - Maegashira, supposedly had half-capacity lungs, which causes him to look like he just ran a marathon after a 10 second match. His condition was later clarified as having a hole in the wall of his heart, as if that were any more optimal.
Gagamaru - Georgian - Maegashira, enormous fat gently caress, largest current wrestler, and scarily enough, is actually getting quite good.
Takanoyama - Czech - Juryu, barely tops 200 lbs, made it into the makuuchi ranks, and when he isn't being thrown around like a ragdoll is pulling off some very impressive victories. That's him in the fuckoff video earlier. After the September basho of 2013 he dropped out of Juryo due to wrestlers finally figuring him out while he continued to struggle with putting on weight.
Tamaasuka - Japan - Juryo, apparently super awesome dude who posed for a photo with tarepanda.
Baruto - Estonia - Just retired due to injuries after a very successful career that saw him brush near the Yokozuna rank as a nearly unstoppable Ozeki.

Paying By The Pound

Much like any popular national sports, sumo wrestlers are divided into the haves and the have-nots. First and foremost, if you're not in the juryo or the makuuchi divisions, you earn jack poo poo outside of a daily all-you-can-eat buffet. And even if I were completely broke, I wouldn't take a daily gorgefest if it meant I'd be treated as wrestlers in those divisions are treated - as maids and as target practice. Once you make it to juryo, you've hit the big leagues. Minimum salaries for juryo wrestlers work out to be around $120k in the US, working up to about a $400k base salary for the Yokozuna. In a lot of big national sports, this isn't a lot of money. However, there are a few bonuses that wrestlers can earn for both one-time and permanent increases to their salary.

Kensho - Bonus sponsor money for individual matches, where the winner gets to take the stack of cash home. When you see a brief parade of banners before a particular bout, those are the advertisers who have each paid 60k yen (over $600) for a banner. The winner is given half the cash from each banner fee in a stack at the end of the match, which he accepts by first waving his right hand over the stack. A small amount of the rest is deducted to pay for the banner, and the rest is deposited into the rikishi's account. To put this in perspective, if there were 8 banners for a match, the winner would receive a bonus of approximately $5,000. Since ozeki and yokozuna almost always have a full house of kensho before their matches, that's an additional ~$75,000 they can earn per tournament. Therefore a dominating yokozuna or ozeki can virtually double his base salary over a year from kensho alone.

Mochikyukin - Thanks to "pigdog" for this explanation -

pigdog posted:

Another significant source of income for many wrestlers is Mochikyukin, which is a bonus on top of monthly salary, kensho from the matches, and tournament victory money. Every time a wrestler does something noteworthy, such as win a tournament, win a special award, win over yokozuna as maegashira, even get a positive score in a tournament, the bi-monthly bonus increases. If, say, a maegashira ranked wrestler beats the yokozuna, then for each time he manages to do that, he will be receiving an extra ~$24,000 a year until he retires.

The tl;dr version of mochikyukin - if you win a tournament, beat the yokozuna as a ranked makuuchi rikishi, or win a special prize from a tournament, you get a sizeable and permanent bonus to your salary.

Other - Aside from salaries and bonuses, rikishi are able to supplement their income with advertising revenue and koenkai, which is kind of like a fan club where the wrestler actually makes a lot of appearances. As expected, these are heavily regulated by the sumo association.

Scandalous Fat Fucks

Unfortunately, as a lucrative and ancient Japanese sport, there has undeniably been corruption. Known members of the yakuza have been known to be seen watching from expensive front-row seats, while 2011 was rocked by a match-fixing scandal. Seriously, you mean there is match-fixing in professional wrestling?

This resulted in an entire tournament in 2011 being canceled, with another one held only as an exhibition with no actual prizes. Fortunately for the real money draws, none of the top wrestlers were implicated by the scandal.

All Right, I Want to Watch Fatties Bang

Unfortunately, options are not plentiful.

Every moment of streaming video is available at the official uStream, but you'll need streaming video capture software to record the matches to watch during waking hours. I've successfully done this before, but it's not worth the effort, storage, and time spent watching in my opinion.

Thanks to seorin for the following tip for getting sumo options on actual TV:

seorin posted:

Also, another way to watch Sumo is on TV Japan, if your cable company offers it. I doubt it would be worth subscribing just for sumo no matter how big a fan you are, but if you have interest in Japanese language programming for study purposes, the picture quality is quite a bit better than what gets uploaded to YouTube.

My brief experience with Japan TV via UVerse, since I got it for free for one month: great quality, good broadcast coverage, DVR-able, but ultimately not worth $30 a month unless you have the time to invest watching 2 hours of recorded footage every day during the basho.

Other than that, it's up to a few somewhat reliable YouTube members who keep us outside of Japan up to date. A few channels:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kintamayama - posts daily digests in a very concise manner. All of makuuchi in about 7-10 minutes.

New! http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Results.aspx?hideresults=on - Discovered this method for easily following along the schedule for the day when Kintamayama is unable to do his updates. This takes you to a results page, with the results for the day defaulted to "off". From there, just select the day you want to watch and you'll be able to see video links without any spoilers.

http://www.youtube.com/user/yskohyama - reliably posts daily digests in two halves. Entirely in Japanese, so knowing rikishi names in kanji or recognizing them by face is helpful.

http://www.youtube.com/user/araibira - reliable at posting the action highlights on a match-by-match basis. I believe he takes the streaming capture and splices out the good part for each match, and is very consistent with the naming of videos. (Recently announced his retirement from Youtube posting, although his account still serves as a recent archive of footage.)

http://www.youtube.com/user/JasonsinJapan - similar to araibira, a little less consistent, but sometimes adds his own commentary and/or the news summaries from NHK which also have good commentary

http://www.youtube.com/user/sumojuly2011 - usually just posts the news summaries from NHK, which are great for keeping up with the tournaments in just a few minutes per day if you want to follow on a casual basis

Sometimes the channels aren't updating, miss videos, or possibly new people enter the fray. In general, the best search syntax to use for finding videos on YouTube is to search with:

Sumo (Month) (Year) Day (Day#) (Optional - name of rikishi)

i.e. 'Sumo 2012 January Day 14' for the most recent results available as of this OP. Add Hakuho, Baruto, etc, to the end of that to find specific matchups.

I'd like to keep this OP updated with the best info, so let me know if I've missed some important information...

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Nov 23, 2013 around 04:28

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Mandoira
Jul 27, 2003

There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.

Fryhtaning posted:

I'd like to keep this OP updated with the best info, so let me know if I've missed some important information...

Good OP (I knew nothing about Sumo but learned something about it reading this!) but you may want to PM or email a mod to change the thread tag from "poo poo post".

Are there any specific Sumo matches you could recommend beyond those youtube channels? Like matches that would be good for somebody new to the sport to watch (entertaining, unique, educational, exciting, whatever)?

Mandoira fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2012 around 17:00

Stickarts
Dec 21, 2003

literally


Informative post. Thanks for this.

jyrka
Jan 21, 2005


Potato Count: 2 small potatoes


Oh wow - Baruto! I had no idea he was that near the top. He is in the news over here quite a bit and all of his fights(are they called fights? matches?) are reported, though I don't know if it's slightly ironic because it's such a foreign sport to Estonia.

I remember an Estonian TV show went over to do a story about him and as a part of that they asked random people on the street about him and everyone seemed to know who he is and have an opinion. He really is big in Japan, huh? Crazy.

neoaxd
Nov 13, 2004

So when I'm killin' 2 minutes, you better duck
Cause Cat Horse is crazy as fuck
As I leave, believe I'm scorin'
But when I come back, boy, I'm comin' straight outta Kladno


Great OP. I have always been fascinated by sumo and the culture surrounding it.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Mandoira posted:

Good OP (I knew nothing about Sumo but learned something about it reading this!) but you may want to PM or email a mod to change the thread tag from "poo poo post".

Are there any specific Sumo matches you could recommend beyond those youtube channels? Like matches that would be good for somebody new to the sport to watch (entertaining, unique, educational, exciting, whatever)?

Ha, yeah, I was afraid of getting banned for picking a bad tag and instead got punished with "poo poo Post". Figures.

One of the most entertaining wrestlers ever to watch is Asashoryu (check out his signature pump-you-up slap around 3:11), another Mongolian. He set a lot of records, some of which Hakuho has since surpassed. While Hakuho is as humble as a Japanese, Asashoryu was extremely fiery and had several moments that caused a stir, such as shoving Hakuho after he had already beaten him. They faced each other almost 30 times between '04 and '10, ending with an almost 50/50 record by the time Asashoryu retired. Here's one of their classic matches, but with a little uh... embellishment.

National Geographic put up a good-quality and informative clip with some nice up-close angles.

There's not a lot of good stuff out there that's easy to find in general, but another couple of names to look at are Akebono and Musashimaru, the only two Americans (Hawaiian, naturally) to become Yokozuna. Akebono was 6'8" and nearly 450 lbs.

jyrka posted:

I remember an Estonian TV show went over to do a story about him and as a part of that they asked random people on the street about him and everyone seemed to know who he is and have an opinion. He really is big in Japan, huh? Crazy.

He's even bigger now because he just won the last tournament a couple of days ago! He has been an ozeki for a while, but he has never won the tournament until now. He'll be wrestling the yokozuna Hakuho tonight for a chance to go 15-0, even though he has already technically won. He handily defeated another ozeki, Kotooshu, last night to go 14-0. Him versus Hakuho will surely be on YouTube by tomorrow morning and I would expect a great match.

If he wins the March tournament, he will 99% for sure become the first yokozuna since Hakuho in 2007 and the 70th ever since the 1700s.

uinfuirudo
Aug 11, 2007


I can help out a little, Im not super knowledgeable but I used to watch sumo hungover all the time.

A lot of the famous foreign sumo wrestlers don't come from the most well known countries in Japan so Baruto being a top sumo wrestler would be pretty well known. Asashouryu and Kotooshu tend(ed) to get on tv more(mainly commercials). Sumo is the third largest popular sport in Japan after soccer and baseball so they do have a fairly large audience and the matches are also broadcasted in english by NHK.

jyrka
Jan 21, 2005


Potato Count: 2 small potatoes


Between making my previous post and now I happened to walk past a TV and they were showing a news story about Baruto's current tournament with interviews with his mother and his first coach in Estonia. Also a TV crew from Japan had flown here to do a story about him. And apparently Baruto has a sumo school in Estonia as well. I guess it's quite a popular sport over here too.

uinfuirudo
Aug 11, 2007


Sumo has growing popularity in eastern europe and mongolia, this mostly has to do with these countries having a fairly big background in wrestling, eastern europe being mainly greco-roman wrestling, and mongolia having Bökh

Stickarts
Dec 21, 2003

literally


Are some wrestlers known to be dirty? What is the penalty for being caught doing something illegal? A simple forfeit?

Stickarts
Dec 21, 2003

literally


I guess I am using this video as a source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...9E7NUgEbSo&NR=1

Is there significance or ritual for the wrestlers to squat and and stand up and squat and stand up like that before actually beginning the match?

Also, when the fight ends the judge throws the victor a little bauble that he picks up. Then the victor squats and waves his arm across the front of his body for the judge, do you mind explaining that sequence to me?

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Stickarts posted:

Is there significance or ritual for the wrestlers to squat and and stand up and squat and stand up like that before actually beginning the match?

That part alone is just a mind game that they play with each other.. a little bit of intimidation, kind of like the game baseball pitchers and batters play with each other between pitches. You'll notice that the judge will stand perpendicular to them and hold his fan away for the first round or two of leg stomps and staring at each other, etc... that's his way of saying it's not go time yet. When he stands wide and holds his fan out front, that means get ready and go. So they'll take one last chance and try to psyche each other out with the standing and squatting and not immediately putting both fists down. The only ritualistic parts once they're in the ring are the leg stomping, the salt, and the purification that some of them are entitled to (sipping water, washcloth).

Stickarts posted:

Also, when the fight ends the judge throws the victor a little bauble that he picks up. Then the victor squats and waves his arm across the front of his body for the judge, do you mind explaining that sequence to me?

Hm.. I don't know about throwing the victor a bauble. One of those decorative things that they stick into their mawashi may have fallen out and he was returning it. However, the arm waving thing is an honorific way of accepting the stack of cash that they just won for the bout. You'll notice that lower division matches often have no cash and that the yokozuna bouts will have a big fat stack of it. Those are actually sponsored cash rewards, and sumo does a pretty good job of keeping all the sponsorships and ads looking old fashioned. When you see a bunch of people parading a bunch of banners in between matches, those are actually advertisements.

Stickarts posted:

Are some wrestlers known to be dirty? What is the penalty for being caught doing something illegal? A simple forfeit?

Asashoryu was known for a bit of late hits such as the one on Hakuho that I posted before. However, I've actually never seen anyone get disqualified during a match, but I can't say for sure. It's pretty hard to climb the ranks and survive in the training "stables" (beya) without adhering to very old-fashioned Japanese rules of respect. They're not even allowed to wear regular clothes in public. Asashoryu did get disqualified for telling the Sumo association that he was hurt and then being seen playing charity soccer.

Nerokerubina
Jun 7, 2007

I think swords are neat. Do you think swords are neat?!


Fryhtaning posted:

Asashoryu was known for a bit of late hits such as the one on Hakuho that I posted before. However, I've actually never seen anyone get disqualified during a match, but I can't say for sure.

Actually Asashoryu did totally get disqualified once for pulling a dude down by the hair.

edit: Part 2 is hilarious because it has everyone throwing their seat cushions after the decision is announced - apparently this is tradition after a maegashira beats a yokozuna but it's kind of funny to see as a result of disqualification.

Nerokerubina fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2012 around 23:46

seorin
May 23, 2005

2 Sun's Dusk (Day 78)
Of the Seven Visions of Seven Trials of the Incarnate, I have now fulfilled the Fifth Trial.

Mandoira posted:

Are there any specific Sumo matches you could recommend beyond those youtube channels? Like matches that would be good for somebody new to the sport to watch (entertaining, unique, educational, exciting, whatever)?

I'm rather fond of Hakuho vs. Baruto last September. I'd watched sumo before then, but that's when I really got into it. It's a good example of how strong and skilled both of them are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oguH66aU1LU

Also, thanks for the thread, OP! I was the one who was lamenting the lack of a good sumo thread in the Japan thread a few days ago. That was right before Baruto won the current tournament and things were starting to get exciting. I'm really looking forward to the match between those two tonight.

Edit: Also, another way to watch Sumo is on TV Japan, if your cable company offers it. I doubt it would be worth subscribing just for sumo no matter how big a fan you are, but if you have interest in Japanese language programming for study purposes, the picture quality is quite a bit better than what gets uploaded to YouTube. Sometimes they start it after Takanoyama's match, though.

seorin fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2012 around 01:00

roomforthetuna
Mar 22, 2005

I don't need to know anything about virii! My CUSTOM PROGRAM keeps me protected! It's not like they'll try to come in through the Internet or something!


Awesome. I used to enjoy watching Sumo on UK channel 4 when I was a kid. Also Kabaddi was on a few times, that was pretty great as well. Us heathen westerners need more popular televised sports that are over in under 5 minutes. Dodgeball would do the trick.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

I'm rather fond of Hakuho vs. Baruto last September. I'd watched sumo before then, but that's when I really got into it. It's a good example of how strong and skilled both of them are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oguH66aU1LU

I remember that one! If I'm not mistaken, the normally-cheerful Baruto was furious with himself afterwards for having come so close. I have no doubt that that was one of the key matches that has gotten him on the warpath to the improvements that he has made since.

seorin posted:

Edit: Also, another way to watch Sumo is on TV Japan

Added to the OP - thanks!!

Edit: Also, I briefly considered a thread for the next tournament, but there would probably be more activity in a chess tournament thread. Who knows, maybe there'll be enough activity in March to warrant splitting off another thread for matchup comments and an OP with the latest clips.

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2012 around 02:15

camoseven
Dec 30, 2005

can't stop
won't stop
ing


I'm watching the minor leaguers on the live stream now, and it's pretty cool. What time will the top divisions start?

seorin
May 23, 2005

2 Sun's Dusk (Day 78)
Of the Seven Visions of Seven Trials of the Incarnate, I have now fulfilled the Fifth Trial.

About 4ish Japan time, maybe a little later. The really good matches are generally from 5 to 6, with Hakuho vs. Baruto at around 5:50 (actual time may vary a little if prior matches run long or short). If you tune in 4 hours from now you'll have an hour and a half of pretty good matches. 5 hours from now and you'll probably miss a couple good matches, but catch what are likely to be the best ones.

Of course, sometimes the high profile matches are boring and the earlier ones are better. In particular, Yoshikaze is loving nuts. I've seen him leave the ring bleeding a few times.

camoseven
Dec 30, 2005

can't stop
won't stop
ing


Oh drat, that's later than I was hoping. I'll have to check out the Youtube highlights tomorrow.

It seems like there should be a lot more bleeding/broken bones after the matches cause so many of them get thrown off the raised edge of the wrestling area. Also, the ref sure does yell a lot. What is he saying?

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



camoseven posted:

Oh drat, that's later than I was hoping. I'll have to check out the Youtube highlights tomorrow.

It seems like there should be a lot more bleeding/broken bones after the matches cause so many of them get thrown off the raised edge of the wrestling area. Also, the ref sure does yell a lot. What is he saying?

Story of my life. I stayed up for it once and it was fun, but I'm too old for the all-nighter poo poo now.

I don't know what the ref is yelling, but supposedly he's encouraging them on. Like a "go go go!" or a "do it! do it! do it!" kind of thing.

seorin
May 23, 2005

2 Sun's Dusk (Day 78)
Of the Seven Visions of Seven Trials of the Incarnate, I have now fulfilled the Fifth Trial.

camoseven posted:

Oh drat, that's later than I was hoping. I'll have to check out the Youtube highlights tomorrow.

It seems like there should be a lot more bleeding/broken bones after the matches cause so many of them get thrown off the raised edge of the wrestling area. Also, the ref sure does yell a lot. What is he saying?

Yeah, there's a reason I didn't really get into sumo before moving to Japan. I'm gonna have to get a tivo or something when I get back.

Here's a good example of Yoshikaze going loving crazy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNx3z02JUOw
It's really hard to see on the Youtube, but I'm pretty sure that was the match (well ... one of them; there were multiple) where blood was streaming down his face afterwards. I don't know if he got hit in the nose or if he just pushes so drat hard that he strains something, but dude is insane.

I haven't (yet) seen a serious player injury, but in the current tournament a ref got injured: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngbZfW4_478

I heard on the news later that he did end up regaining consciousness before they took him away, but due to his age they decided to take him to the hospital anyway.

As for what the refs say, I have no idea. I've heard the same thing that Fryhtaning has, but the actual speech is incomprehensible.

seorin
May 23, 2005

2 Sun's Dusk (Day 78)
Of the Seven Visions of Seven Trials of the Incarnate, I have now fulfilled the Fifth Trial.

Sorry for the double post, but I figure it's worth it for tonight's matches. Not the best night, but usually the last night isn't. In my (limited) experience it's the few days leading up to the end that are great, while the end itself isn't that interesting.

First, a correction to my earlier post: on the final day, the sumo matches run about 30 minutes early to leave time for the finishing ceremony. So, everything I said before about timing is true for every tournament day except the last. Sorry if anybody tuned in to the stream too late due to that.

The anticipated Hakuho vs. Baruto could have been a lot worse, but it was over too fast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2L9iwuu330
I really wish that video didn't cut out where it does. Afterwards, Baruto had the biggest loving grin on his face as he walked to the back room to get prepared for the final ceremony. It's refreshing to see someone so happy even after losing the final match (I mean, he won overall, but still). His acceptance speech / interview was pretty awesome, too. I'm not good enough to understand everything, but the key moment was when the announcer asked him if his wife gave him any support through all this, and the camera panned to her sitting in the audience, wearing a fancy kimono and having her hair done up nice. When the camera panned back to Baruto, he was crying and thanking her for everything she does for him. Sadly, the stuff that's not on YouTube was the best part. YouTube only has the boring bits.

Other matches that may be of interest:
Harumafuji vs Kotoshogiku: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hfs1HrP-_U
Kotooshu vs Kisenosato: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1ScACEZTRs (kinda boring, but high profile)
Takanoyama vs Kyokutenho: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G16zgiYF9vY (I love Takanoyama. He's the skinny guy on the left.)
Yoshikaze vs Asasekiryu: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qujDrSxmVPQ (Because Yoshikaze almost always gives an exciting match).

There were probably some other good matches that I'm forgetting, but these are the guys I usually pay the most attention to.

troofs
Feb 28, 2011

The better Manning.


This is really cool and I hope nobody minds the shameless bump, but I watched all the videos you posted and I have a couple of questions:

How do you get to be a ref? It seems to be a pretty important position in the ceremony of it all, so I was wondering if the refs were all well known like the wrestlers.

How do people get their sumo names? Is it just random or do they have some kind of meaning? I've read some people changed their names, is this a big deal or is it commonplace?

Funkysauce
Sep 18, 2005
...and what about the kick in the groin?

Fryhtaning posted:

Story of my life. I stayed up for it once and it was fun, but I'm too old for the all-nighter poo poo now.

I don't know what the ref is yelling, but supposedly he's encouraging them on. Like a "go go go!" or a "do it! do it! do it!" kind of thing.

Don't quote me on this but I thought it was "nokoto" which is like "you're still in it" or something.

Question asked above my post. Doh.

Wikipedia's answer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikona

Funkysauce fucked around with this message at Jan 23, 2012 around 21:33

AxeBreaker
Jan 1, 2005
Who fucking cares?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gy%C5%8Dji

It is in fact "nokotta nokotta!" (残った、残った!) which roughly means "You're still in it!". So Funkysauce is right.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



troofs posted:


How do you get to be a ref? It seems to be a pretty important position in the ceremony of it all, so I was wondering if the refs were all well known like the wrestlers.

How do people get their sumo names? Is it just random or do they have some kind of meaning? I've read some people changed their names, is this a big deal or is it commonplace?

I don't know much about the refs but I do know that they have ranks that can be seen in the color of their sash, etc, and only refs of a certain rank can ref makuuchi bouts, let alone bouts with the yokozuna. Only the highest ranking ref can judge a match that a yokozuna is in.

Names come from a lot of different things. Some examples....
- rikishi from the Sadogatake stable pretty much all have Koto as the first character of their name (ie current ozeki Kotooushu and Kotoshougiku), as deference to the founder of the stable, Kotonishiki. This is probably the most common denominator for names - honoring one's master.
- ozeki Harumafuji used to be known as Ama. His stable master chose the new name for him in honor of the promotion. It is also common for the stable master to choose the name for the wrestlers.
- some names have little meaning outside of conventions, but some have literal translations. Hakuho - white phoenix, Asashoryu - blue dragon. Kind of like a WWF name I suppose.

uinfuirudo
Aug 11, 2007


Fryhtaning posted:

That part alone is just a mind game that they play with each other.. a little bit of intimidation, kind of like the game baseball pitchers and batters play with each other between pitches. You'll notice that the judge will stand perpendicular to them and hold his fan away for the first round or two of leg stomps and staring at each other, etc... that's his way of saying it's not go time yet. When he stands wide and holds his fan out front, that means get ready and go. So they'll take one last chance and try to psyche each other out with the standing and squatting and not immediately putting both fists down. The only ritualistic parts once they're in the ring are the leg stomping, the salt, and the purification that some of them are entitled to (sipping water, washcloth).

Actually they do serve a ceremonial purpose, in theory the leg stomps are supposed to force evil spirits into the ground. Salt is meant as a means of purification.
Here is hakuho performing at a shinto temple http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Pfdoknn6Q even more interesting is that Hakuho is not a practitioner of shinto, which you might think would disqualify him from doing a shinto ritual; however that shrine is pretty much responsible for Buddhism in Japan.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



uinfuirudo posted:

Actually they do serve a ceremonial purpose, in theory the leg stomps are supposed to force evil spirits into the ground. Salt is meant as a means of purification.
Here is hakuho performing at a shinto temple http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Pfdoknn6Q even more interesting is that Hakuho is not a practitioner of shinto, which you might think would disqualify him from doing a shinto ritual; however that shrine is pretty much responsible for Buddhism in Japan.

I did say that the stomping and salt were ceremonious, I meant that the repeated standing up and squatting was just part of the prep and mind game that they play. For example, I've noticed that Kotooshu usually likes to wait a second or two longer to squat back down, possibly so he can tower over his opponent (he is 6'8") for a moment before the bout begins. Course that is just theory but afaik there is nothing ceremonious about the squatting or the fact that they do it more than once.

DJExile
Jun 27, 2007

Saturday football was cool, then it got mainstream. Tuesday football is where it's at now.


That's an awesome OP. I've only caught sumo on TV while travelling overseas once in a while but it's very cool to watch. I'll have to keep up on those youtube channels.

Funkysauce
Sep 18, 2005
...and what about the kick in the groin?

Yeah, those youtube channels were really great. I was always interested when I was able to watch sumo. When I was in Japan I missed it by a few weeks in November and this year again I'm gonna miss it by a week or two. It must be a great thing to see, the tradition involved makes it really cool. There has been almost zero compromise in the rules, that's awesome.

Quodio Stotes
Aug 8, 2010

by angerbot


Not to rain on the parade but this freakonomics piece made me go from mildly interested in sumo to never really wanting to watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qKP9v-76w4. (A little bit of the beginning of this piece is in the part2 video before it). The piece is ultimately interesting and disheartening at the same time and reveals a bit about the darker side of Japanese culture. Many of the events held at Japanese MMA organizations like pride have had many dubious behind the scene issues and match fixing. I think its a combination of yakuza influence in combat sports and the Japanese culture of silence.

Quodio Stotes fucked around with this message at Jan 26, 2012 around 06:03

Mr. Fix It
Oct 26, 2000

"I never killed a man in my whole life!"

Quodio Stotes posted:

Not to rain on the parade but this freakonomics piece made me go from mildly interested in sumo to never really wanting to watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qKP9v-76w4. (A little bit of the beginning of this piece is in the part2 video before it). The piece is ultimately interesting and disheartening at the same time and reveals a bit about the darker side of Japanese culture. Many of the events held at Japanese MMA organizations like pride have had many dubious behind the scene issues and match fixing. I think its a combination of yakuza influence in combat sports and the Japanese culture of silence.

As was mentioned in the OP, the Spring tournament was canceled last year due to this scandal. NHK was even considering no longer broadcasting any sumo, so the fact that they are still doing it at least makes me hopeful they're trying to root out corruption.

The yakuza connection sort of exists (sumo = traditional = right wing = organized crime), but the real cause of match fixing is how the banzuke is put together. If you win 8 times, you'll get promoted. If you only win 7 times, you'll get demoted. There's a lot of value in that 8th win, and much less in getting your 9th. You'd see the evidence of fixes in the largely in bouts between rikishi with 7-7 and 8-6 records. The 7-7 guy would win a disproportionate amount of the time, with the 8-7 almost always winning the next time the two crooked rikishi met.

Quodio Stotes
Aug 8, 2010

by angerbot


Mr. Fix It posted:

As was mentioned in the OP, the Spring tournament was canceled last year due to this scandal. NHK was even considering no longer broadcasting any sumo, so the fact that they are still doing it at least makes me hopeful they're trying to root out corruption.

The yakuza connection sort of exists (sumo = traditional = right wing = organized crime), but the real cause of match fixing is how the banzuke is put together. If you win 8 times, you'll get promoted. If you only win 7 times, you'll get demoted. There's a lot of value in that 8th win, and much less in getting your 9th. You'd see the evidence of fixes in the largely in bouts between rikishi with 7-7 and 8-6 records. The 7-7 guy would win a disproportionate amount of the time, with the 8-7 almost always winning the next time the two crooked rikishi met.

Yea they go through that in the video I posted. Its not just yakuza I know, its ingrained in the sport. If you watch the clip they found that they only stopped cheating for like a year after they got caught then went right back to it, its kind of sad. It happens in matches that arent 7-7 matches as well.

OrangeKing
Dec 4, 2002

They don't play in October.


Quodio Stotes posted:

Yea they go through that in the video I posted. Its not just yakuza I know, its ingrained in the sport. If you watch the clip they found that they only stopped cheating for like a year after they got caught then went right back to it, its kind of sad. It happens in matches that arent 7-7 matches as well.

Interestingly, I'm not sure it would be such a big deal if it were only 8-6 wrestlers losing to 7-7 wrestlers at a high rate, without any evidence that the 7-7 wrestlers tended to give back the wins the next time they played. It would hardly be the only sport/competition where teams/individuals with nothing to play for often gave away points/games to competitors who needed a win. In fact, you might simply expect such results due to the fact that the wrestler with nothing on the line might not want to push themselves with injuries or fatigue from a long tournament. Which doesn't make it right (implicitly, it hurts competitors elsewhere in the competition who might benefit from the other results), but without a formal framework for the whole thing, it's a much lesser form of collusion.

Which also made me think that if you wanted to give this thread a snarkier title, it could be "Sumo - It's just pigs colluding."

AxeBreaker
Jan 1, 2005
Who fucking cares?

http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/lev...nLevitt2002.pdf

Here's the no bullshit academic version of Leavitt's work, I'm not an economist (I work in biostatistics and public health) but I think the math is solid, there is definitely some back scratching going on, even between stables. I still want to watch the next tournament, but maybe I will have to do some digging and figure out which stables cheat, and which matches are more likely to be rigged.

Protocol 5
Sep 23, 2004

God created Fenway to train the faithful.


I used to be big into sumo until the Japanese press ran Asashoryu out of the sport for acting "Mongolian". I still followed Kaio out of sentimentality for awhile, but when he decided to retire, I pretty much lost interest entirely.

The match fixing scandal was really just something that's been going on for a long time finally getting dragged out into the light. Promotion is actually a lot harder than just winning out for the tournament and gets progressively harder as you ascend through the ranks, but kachikoshi (having a winning record) gets you a substantial boost in your purse for the tournament, so a lot of guys who have already lost 8 would throw matches in exchange for a cut of the purse. Since salaries are pretty drat low, and there are all sorts of restrictions on endorsement contracts and not much demand for rikishi as spokesmen in the first place, the system seems almost designed to be gamed. Chiyotaikai was in danger of being demoted from ozeki 14 times, won out on his final day on several occasions, and was finally demoted back down to sekiwake for the first time after losing 8 in a row his 14th time in kadoban.

AxeBreaker
Jan 1, 2005
Who fucking cares?

That paper was from 2002 and it took them 9 years to really try to clean house. It's still interesting but the problem won't get fixed until change the incentive to cheat.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Back from a week of vacation... Jesus Christ, my subscribed threads are at critical mass...

AxeBreaker posted:

That paper was from 2002 and it took them 9 years to really try to clean house. It's still interesting but the problem won't get fixed until change the incentive to cheat.

I heard something about trying to up the kensho in the later days to make the individual matches worth more than a bribe could possibly be, but idk for sure. I wonder if they'd ever change the way the rankings are re-ordered so that the line from that study is more linear. I've always been baffled by how dynamic the makuuchi in particular is. You have one off tournament and you plummet, then dominate against the lower-ranked guys and get thrown into the blender in the next tournament. It would benefit from being like the Ozeki rank where you get a little forgiveness for one bad showing before a second one sends you plunging down 9 ranks.

Protocol 5 posted:

I used to be big into sumo until the Japanese press ran Asashoryu out of the sport for acting "Mongolian". I still followed Kaio out of sentimentality for awhile, but when he decided to retire, I pretty much lost interest entirely.

Asa was pretty drat entertaining, but I also mostly respect the need for one of the last remaining ancient sports requiring its members to behave under a rigid set of rules. If behavior like Asashoryu's is allowed to be mainstream, it wouldn't be long before the first Hulk Hogan of sumo surfaces.

Sorry to hear about the loss of interest... if it's any help, the last couple of tournaments have really been pretty exciting. Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato have been on fire with their rise to Ozeki, which has also been great for Japan in giving them two new Japanese Ozeki after losing the only remaining one. Baruto has a shot at Yokozuna, too. The top 6 hasn't been more exciting to watch in the time I've watched sumo, for sure. Hakuho is still dominating, but it doesn't feel like it did in the last few years where you pretty much expected him to win 5 or 6 tournaments a year.

Protocol 5 posted:

... since salaries are pretty drat low, and there are all sorts of restrictions on endorsement contracts and not much demand for rikishi as spokesmen in the first place, the system seems almost designed to be gamed...

Actually, I thought even the juryo wrestlers make the equivalent of 6 figures in the US. The salaries look low.. until you realize that they're monthly salaries. Hakuho makes around $400k a year, plus a buttload of prize money (kensho). So, they're not living in the same kind of luxury as world-famous athletes, but it's upper-class level. Below juryo, there isn't even a monthly salary, so you literally never have a reason to not try and win every single match you can so that you can break into juryo.

Brilliant on the "pigs colluding". I think I'll use that now that this thread has somewhat of a following.

uinfuirudo
Aug 11, 2007


AxeBreaker posted:

That paper was from 2002 and it took them 9 years to really try to clean house. It's still interesting but the problem won't get fixed until change the incentive to cheat.

I think four things are at work here. 1) Japanese resistance to foreign reporting. Which is not actually as high as this might make it sound. 2) The Japanese Legal system, and their methods. 3) The Japanese media's reluctance to report on unverified things. 4) The reality that no reasonable system would help winner/loser rikishi want that next win as much as the guy who needed it to decide whether he had more wins than losses or not. I could write an entire essay on this, but the reality is that there is minimal incentive to not cheat, and that there is no incentive to not let the 7-7 guy win if you are already locked in to a winning or losing record and not going to compete for the championship. Remember this is day 15 of a fairly stressful tournament with fairly easy to injure people, so there are hard to change realities that sit here. There is nothing you can do to make them not work harder to win that 8th one or not care about dropping their 4th to 7th, or 9th to 15th one in almost any tournament since it wouldn't really help them that much.

uinfuirudo fucked around with this message at Feb 6, 2012 around 09:30

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Uncle Jam
Aug 20, 2005

Perfect


uinfuirudo posted:

I think four things are at work here. 1) Japanese resistance to foreign reporting. Which is not actually as high as this might make it sound. 2) The Japanese Legal system, and their methods. 3) The Japanese media's reluctance to report on unverified things. 4) The reality that no reasonable system would help winner/loser rikishi want that next win as much as the guy who needed it to decide whether he had more wins than losses or not. I could write an entire essay on this, but the reality is that there is minimal incentive to not cheat, and that there is no incentive to not let the 7-7 guy win if you are already locked in to a winning or losing record and not going to compete for the championship. Remember this is day 15 of a fairly stressful tournament with fairly easy to injure people, so there are hard to change realities that sit here. There is nothing you can do to make them not work harder to win that 8th one or not care about dropping their 4th to 7th, or 9th to 15th one in almost any tournament since it wouldn't really help them that much.

Yeah, its a dumb thing to dump the sport about, it happens in every sport in the US come playoff time, with star players sitting out.

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