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Sumo myths


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#1 Kaikitsune Makoto

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 10:27

Now that mage shock absorbing factor has been revealed to have been a myth, I thought of opening a new thread to all the myths and "urban legends" I have heard of read.

1. Sumo wrestlers are only fat with no real muscles

Basically this is only from people who have not seen professional sumo for longer than 1 minute or so. However, sometimes there are reports from people who go to see amateur sumo tournaments that "there were horribly fat people who could barely get up onto the dohyo! disgusting...you call these athletes???". Surely there are mostly top athletes in international amateur sumo tournaments as many are current of former top wrestlers, some judoka and people with background in powerlifting or other strength sports but still occasionally there are some really unathletic guys in amateur sumo who strengthen these ideas of "just get horrendously fat and you can do sumo!"-ideas. Konishiki's last years made him the best known rikishi in those people's minds who only saw sumo occasionally on Eurosport or so. Whereas Konishiki was also very strong even in his decline, he was a bad example of how rikishi are and people remembered him particularly well so got their perceptions from sumo largely from his massive and sad girth.

2. Sumo wrestlers are castrated.

This is one myth that every now and then pops out! The wonderful logic behind this is that sumo wrestlers need to have that distinctive thick mage and so they can't be allowed to go bald so snipping out the testicles would take their testosterone production away and testosterone is the main decisive reason for balding (when genetic predisposition exists). Well, people don't know that usually but they often know that those boy singers of old times who were castrated so they wouldn't ruin their high pitch voices in teens, never got bald heh..

The effective counter attack is to refute the logic by explaining that without testosterone, these guys would not have the means to get so big and strong. But this then requires that one must explain that rikishi need muscles too in addition to fat (Blinking...)

3. When sumo aspirants turn 13, they are sent to spesific "fattening camps" where loads of butter and lard is given to them so they will gain a lot of weight and fat and that they spend years on those camps! I was once approached with this urban legend at the gym where someone talked about sumo on Eurosport. One enthusiastic person was telling this to others. Maybe this was the product of his own imagination but it sure was funny to listen such an enthusiastic story. Or is this international urban legend too?

4. "Hi! We were talking about this on our break and found your site and thought of asking you this! We have heard that sumo wrestlers rub their testicles into their abdominal cavity before matches so they could stay safe. Is this true? Thanks for reply!".

That was a translation of an email I got some 3 years ago from some Finnish company where bunch of women had had this exciting topic during their coffee break and had found my little Finnish sumo FAQ site and decided to contact me. I was naturally truly honoured to get my first ever question concerning sumo so I gave a good answer to which the women thanked cordially and even wrote politely that they should find out more about this interesting culture and not just make these silly degrading questions. The future of these prospective future Kotonowaka-fans is unknown to me but maybe that was the beginning of beautiful sumo fanism for these ladies! (Applauding...)

In every case, testicles travel from abdominal cavity to their normal anatomical position. The traveling starts in featus state and then gradually proceeds. Adult men have the pathway left and they could put their testicles into the canal if they so wished. I am sure there are some members on this forum who have had hernia and in hernia examination doctor, urologists especially, stick their finger into they canal and try to figure out if there is any hernia. That is just the corridor where testicles come from. So it could be possible to force the testicles into the canal, then tighly squeeze the thigs together and wrap mawashi really tightly around so that pressure gradient would keep the canal shut and testicles would be there during the bout! Not sure if this would be possible though but in principle I think so.

5. They chuck rice and join the fray

Not really a myth but quite common errorneous assumption. Many people think they throw rice into the dohyo and not salt. Maybe this comes from the fact that Japan and rice are associated and in many cultures rice is thrown in weddings to wish for fertility and this chucking of salt associates with that image in their minds!

6. 200kg is a common weight for a sumo wrestler.

Nearly always people overestimate significantly the weights of rikishi. Maybe that is Konishiki-effect again and in amateur sumo Yarborough-factor?
The Core of Sumou is a very good thing always no matter if sumou is rotten or not.

#2 Kintamayama

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 10:51

I have collected Sumo myths over the years, and will be publishing them in a book entitled "Sumo Wrestlers: Myths and Fetishes".
Here are some:

1. Rikishi get their names (shikona) by pulling writtten names out of a hat provided by their Oyakata.
2. The mawashi color is always chosen by the Okamisan.
3. During meals, no TV allowed.
4. Sumo wrestlers don't go in the pool at least 30 minutes after they have eaten.
5. Sumo wrestlers don't drink water after eating a watermelon.
6. Sumo wrestlers don't look into the sun.
7. Jewish Sumo wrestlers do not eat pork.
8. Sumo wrestlers always marry older women.
9. Sumo wrestlers always marry women with martial arts background.
10. Sumo wrestlers are not allowed to weigh themselves on coin-operated weights, because they always get the same result- "Please stand on the weights one by one".
11. Sumo wrestlers are bad politicians.
12. Politicians are bad Sumo wrestlers.
13. Foreign Sumo wrestlers speak perfect Japanese.
14. Foreign Sumo wrestlers don't know the words of the Japanese National Anthem.
15. Hawaiian-born Sumo wrestlers pick fights with other Hawaiian born civilians at every opportunity.
16. All Sumo wrestlers are not smart.
17. A good mawashi costs upward of $100,000.
18. Tsukebito are not allowed to cross streets alone.
19. Retired Sumo wrestlers make for excellent restaurant owners.
20. All Sumo wrestlers are fantastic gourmet cooks.
21. The correct way to call Sumotori in English is Sumo wrestlers, or SUMO, as in "That SUMO is really FAT!"


Those are just appetizers.

Edited by Kintamayama, 30 October 2004 - 10:58.

I am retroactive.
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#3 Mark Buckton

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 11:13

my head must be in the sand - heard #1 of the top post - NONE of the others - ever! (Blinking...)

#4 Otokonoyama

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 14:28

4. "Hi! We were talking about this on our break and found your site and thought of asking you this! We have heard that sumo wrestlers rub their testicles into their abdominal cavity before matches so they could stay safe. Is this true? Thanks for reply!".

That was a translation of an email I got some 3 years ago from some Finnish company where bunch of women had had this exciting topic during their coffee break and had found my little Finnish sumo FAQ site and decided to contact me. I was naturally truly honoured to get my first ever question concerning sumo so I gave a good answer to which the women thanked cordially and even wrote politely that they should find out more about this interesting culture and not just make these silly degrading questions. The future of these prospective future Kotonowaka-fans is unknown to me but maybe that was the beginning of beautiful sumo fanism for these ladies! (Applauding...)

In every case, testicles travel from abdominal cavity to their normal anatomical position. The traveling starts in featus state and then gradually proceeds. Adult men have the pathway left and they could put their testicles into the canal if they so wished. I am sure there are some members on this forum who have had hernia and in hernia examination doctor, urologists especially, stick their finger into they canal and try to figure out if there is any hernia. That is just the corridor where testicles come from. So it could be possible to force the testicles into the canal, then tighly squeeze the thigs together and wrap mawashi really tightly around so that pressure gradient would keep the canal shut and testicles would be there during the bout! Not sure if this would be possible though but in principle I think so.

I've heard this one in regards to karate adepts of the past...they had supposedly developed their body control to such a degree that prior to a kick/punch aimed at their groin, they could voluntarily retract their "kintama" into their body... (Blinking...)

I prefer the advice given by Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid 2, "...the best way to avoid a punch is to not be there!" :-P

#5 Kaikitsune Makoto

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 16:52

One more myth is that rikishi can't perform procedures enabling them to maintain good hygiene after toilet visits of the sitting type. And that apprentices have to aid in that. I am not 100% sure about Konishiki at the end of his career but otherwise lot of nonsense I believe...
The Core of Sumou is a very good thing always no matter if sumou is rotten or not.


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