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mikawa

Training with a Sumo Dojo in Tokyo - Part 2

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Went to Tachikawa last night to train with the guys at Renseikan Sumo Dojo. The session went better than it did last summer, but it was still very very hard. My arms and legs are still sore this morning. Below are some of the takeways from the keiko.

  • Someone once said in a documentary that "when not in the ring, you must train". He's definitely right about that. Unless you're waiting for your turn in moshi-ai (winner stays on), you need to be constantly doing exercises and drills at the edge of the ring
  • Stamina plays a more and more important role in training bouts, especially as the session goes on. If your stamina struggles to keep up, then strength and skill can only do so much
  • Against more experienced opponents, it's actually really hard to get your favored grip, which in my case, is the migi-yotsu grip (right arm inside). There were so so many times when I had to settle with a right hand outside grip. Takeda Kanato said that it's because of what happens at the tachi-ai, and the need to keep both arms close together
  • Whilst strength plays a major role against bigger opponents, positioning is very important against smaller opponents. They move so quickly that you have to move around the ring just as quickly. Getting a belt grip makes you life so much easier in this situation
  • I tried using moves like katasukashi (under arm swing down) and kakenage (hooking inner thigh throw), but couldn't get them to work. Not enough force perhaps? On the other hand, uwatenage worked really well last night, as did that one kubinage (head lock throw), though I was told afterwards to not use it as it was potentially dangerous
  • It's a great feeling when you hear club members saying "[insert real name] fighto!" (they were cheering for both sides). There's a real sense of comradery about it, and I can only imagine what it must be like when your whole club are cheering for you during a tournament bout
  • When lending your chest to someone in butsukari-geiko, you really feel the impact from their charges, and your chest will become redder and redder. The soles of your trailing foot will also feel the effects of friction after sliding across the ring so many times

I really struggled against an opponent who was using a tsuppari-attack (arm thrusts). Any advice on what to do in this situation please?

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Sounds like a great experience and some really interesting insight - thanks for sharing! How long have you been doing sumo? I have a bit of experience wrestling at a university club in Japan and am likewise a fan of the migi-yotsu, but had serious trouble ever using it against any decent opponents. Also, I agree that it feels great when people are cheering you on.

As for countering tsuppari, I was told that it can be effective to try and get your hand under the opponent's armpit and thrust back on their upper arm to upset their rhythm and knock them off balance (although I admit that this is much easier said than done!)

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1 minute ago, rokushakubou said:

Sounds like a great experience and some really interesting insight - thanks for sharing! How long have you been doing sumo? I have a bit of experience wrestling at a university club in Japan and am likewise a fan of the migi-yotsu, but had serious trouble ever using it against any decent opponents. Also, I agree that it feels great when people are cheering you on.

As for countering tsuppari, I was told that it can be effective to try and get your hand under the opponent's armpit and thrust back on their upper arm to upset their rhythm and knock them off balance (although I admit that this is much easier said than done!)

Sorry, just realised I have a photo showing what I meant from when we practised countering tsuppari one time.

IMG_20190327_143514_060.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I have never done any sumo, and it's really a shame that the sport is still so inaccessible, but as a former boxer one of the best ways to defend against a forward charging opponent was simply to pivot/side step them. The movement part of this is rather easy, but the more difficult part comes with timing the movement and having the ring sense to move in the direction that affords you the most space to continue with your defense or counterattack should the opponent not be fooled. From what I've seen in sumo, you can add an arm slap down to this create offensive opportunities for yourself.

As a boxer I was also told to keep my elbows in as much as I could, and I think there is some use in that for sumo too---if you are looking to grab someone who is thrusting, the straighter you can keep your arms the more likely you are to slip them inside if the opponent's thrusts start to come from the sides with their elbows out rather than straight ahead.

Edited by Katooshu
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Posted (edited)

Very interesting to get a real feeling of actual sumo action. This is beyond my realm of experience. When looking at tsuppari, most of the time it seems to me a weak attack - there are not many who can do it really with their whole body behind it, they just do it as thrusting with the upper body. So even if it's a whirlwind of hard palm impacts, the best thing seems to me to ignore them, move against and through them and quickly get to the belt - a tsuppari thrust-er is usually helpless then.

Of course this is just my idea what would be a good move, I don't know how difficult that is in the real situation. I only learned how to deflect and evade strikes and kicks during my time in Japan, doing karate in the neighborhood dojo to have some interaction with the Japanese.

Edited by Akinomaki
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Posted (edited)

By any chance did you compete in June's West Japan college championship roku? I managed to catch a stream of that, and the one team did have a couple foreigners, I think one with shorts on underneath the mawashi, and then a tall lean fellow brave enough just to sport the mawashi.

 

Edited by Katooshu
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22 minutes ago, Katooshu said:

By any chance did you compete in June's West Japan college championship roku? I managed to catch a stream of that, and the one team did have a couple foreigners, I think one with shorts on underneath the mawashi, and then a tall lean fellow brave enough just to sport the mawashi.

 

Yes, I am the tall lean fellow! :-D

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Posted (edited)

Ah, that's so cool! To compete in a major college event like that is very impressive! Much respect

Edited by Katooshu

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8 hours ago, rokushakubou said:

Sounds like a great experience and some really interesting insight - thanks for sharing! How long have you been doing sumo? I have a bit of experience wrestling at a university club in Japan and am likewise a fan of the migi-yotsu, but had serious trouble ever using it against any decent opponents. Also, I agree that it feels great when people are cheering you on.

As for countering tsuppari, I was told that it can be effective to try and get your hand under the opponent's armpit and thrust back on their upper arm to upset their rhythm and knock them off balance (although I admit that this is much easier said than done!)

Many thanks for the advice! I can try that during Saturday's training session, but as you say, theory and practice can be two very different things.

Tuesday was only my second time participating in a keiko, there are still a lot of things to learn and to try.

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6 hours ago, Katooshu said:

I have never done any sumo, and it's really a shame that the sport is still so inaccessible, but as a former boxer one of the best ways to defend against a forward charging opponent was simply to pivot/side step them. The movement part of this is rather easy, but the more difficult part comes with timing the movement and having the ring sense to move in the direction that affords you the most space to continue with your defense or counterattack should the opponent not be fooled. From what I've seen in sumo, you can add an arm slap down to this create offensive opportunities for yourself.

Side-stepping definitely works, but what to do after that to nullify the thrusts is the question. I tried arm pulling, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped.

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4 hours ago, Akinomaki said:

Very interesting to get a real feeling of actual sumo action. This is beyond my realm of experience. When looking at tsuppari, most of the time it seems to me a weak attack - there are not many who can do it really with their whole body behind it, they just do it as thrusting with the upper body. So even if it's a whirlwind of hard palm impacts, the best thing seems to me to ignore them, move against and through them and quickly get to the belt - a tsuppari thrust-er is usually helpless then.

Maybe a lower stance would help to get to the belt?

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11 hours ago, mikawa said:

Maybe a lower stance would help to get to the belt?

The lower firm stance is the key to everything. I have experienced that with it, nobody could really push me back (except the sensei of course) in the mock play we did at the dojo, so that makes me assume that you can absorb a couple of tsuppari like that. The one  doing the tsuppari on the other hand most of the time is coming in much more upright, so your center of gravity is much lower and your balance much better.

When someone starts tsuppari, you can safely assume that he will repeat the thrusts at least 4 or 5 times. During tsuppari, he has practically lowered all his defenses and his balance is weakened. The key then is to get into his rhythm of tsuppari in an instant. If you can do that after 2 or 3 tsuppari and then move forward with his rhythm, through his attack straight to the belt, he has no chance to regain a firm stance himself and you just move him out.

So you have to train to move fast with your hips low - in other words do more and lower suriashi.

Edit: if you can get into the moving rhythm of somebody, it feels like you are pulling his strings. I remember one occasion in the play  (low speed) training, where I simply moved away from all his moves and in return  landed a hit every time.

Edited by Akinomaki
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12 hours ago, Katooshu said:

Ah, that's so cool! To compete in a major college event like that is very impressive! Much respect

Thanks very much! I never had much success in any of the tournaments I entered (I wasn't very good to be honest haha) but the experience itself was enough to make this sumo fan very happy.

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7 hours ago, Akinomaki said:

move forward with his rhythm, through his attack straight to the belt, he has no chance to regain a firm stance himself and you just move him out.

If that works, it's very satisfying, but actually what I would try to do is to deflect and evade the tsuppari, slide along his side to his back and push him out from behind.

Edit: on 2nd thought, what I really would do at once as soon as I get to his side is a foot sweep - and to get sure combine it with a sukuinage.

Edited by Akinomaki

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Update: Saturday's keiko has been cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis

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