WANNAakkaido

Best Way to Get Into Sumo?

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Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask but I kind of want to be a sumo wrestler.  I'm currently 19 years old, 6 foot 1 (or around there) and 160 pounds usually.  I live in the US and currently enrolled in a four year college.  I'd like to finish my degree and in three and half years be ready to join sumo.  So basically what I am asking is what exactly should I be doing to train because the US sumo website exercises aren't all that taxing and I know that real sumo wrestlers definitely train more.  There isn't a judo club anywhere near my college but there is one in my hometown so I plan on joining it during the winter and summer breaks I get.  I would also like to know where I should go once I finish college to be a sumo wrestler.  I know that there is the US Sumo open and then there is the Japanese Sumo Federation and that is basically my options.  How easy is it to get accepted to either of those?  I know that for the japanese sumo you have to join a stable, but do they have certain requirements?  Also, does it cost money to live in the stables?  

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Contact John Gunning. He set up Homarenishiki (though the Canadian did not have much success). 

As a foreigner, it is very difficult to get into sumo, because each heya is only allowed 1 wrestler with foreign shusshin (place of birth). Because of this, many heya would want to use that space up for someone they feel very strongly about. In your case, I hate to be so negative, and I hope you take it positively, but your weight and height is quite unremarkable (Homarenishiki was 196cm!), and you don't have a portfolio and I think you might be a little too old. If you do contact John, he will try to dissuade you for months like he did Homarenishiki, but if you really want to, there is no downside in trying. 

Don't think it costs anything to live in the stables - your board, clothing and food will all be provided for, but the training is hard and the lifestyle is even harder (being essentially a servant to sekitori, if your stable has one, the etiquette, the early mornings,  and (if you are extremely unlucky) hazing). 

While waiting, I suggest you: (1) learn the Japanese language, (2) build up your physique and (3) build a sumo portfolio and (4) educate yourself more about the sumo world and be extremely sure about what you are getting yourself into. Good luck! 

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Be mindful also that especially with the Covid outbreak that sumo heya are more than likely not going to be accepting of foreign recruits especially if they are coming from outside of Japan. If you were in Japan already and active in the sumo community that is one thing, but it looks like you are working with a blank slate. Having gone and worked in Japan myself, it is very hard to get accepted into certain Japanese circles or companies if you are aiming big. Japan is very hierarchal in its society whether it's school, work or sports. Seniority is everything and you will 99.99% of the time have to do whatever you are told, whether from the oyakata or senior wrestlers even if you don't agree with it. Also, keep in mind that it can take a long time to get a visa to be able to wrestle over there, since it is considered a job. The process can take anywhere from 3 months to more than a year.

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2 hours ago, WANNAakkaido said:

 I kind of want to be a sumo wrestler.

Kind of won't cut it.  You lack size, experience and even a remote knowledge of what you want to get into. If you are not a troll, find something else for a career.

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8 hours ago, Asojima said:

Kind of won't cut it.  You lack size, experience and even a remote knowledge of what you want to get into. If you are not a troll, find something else for a career.

I don't see why not, I have 3 and a half years to bulk up and train. I'm not looking to be a sumo wrestler as a career but because I want to. Theres a reason I want to finish my degree first. I don't think I'd be successful but I'd rather try than regret not trying. What I came here to ask was what I should be doing to train and learn, not whats realistic or not. 

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Here is my recommendation. Get started with amateur sumo ASAP! Go to the US Sumo Federation website and try to find a club in your area. If you don’t find anything close, it’ll be worth the drive to travel and train in person with people. Learn how to train at a club. Next year, enter an amateur sumo tournament. If you enjoy it, then keep going and see where it takes you. If you don’t enjoy it, then you know it’s not right for you. Don’t wait three years though, start with amateur sumo now. 

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1 hour ago, Shinobi Steve said:

Here is my recommendation. Get started with amateur sumo ASAP! Go to the US Sumo Federation website and try to find a club in your area. If you don’t find anything close, it’ll be worth the drive to travel and train in person with people. Learn how to train at a club. Next year, enter an amateur sumo tournament. If you enjoy it, then keep going and see where it takes you. If you don’t enjoy it, then you know it’s not right for you. Don’t wait three years though, start with amateur sumo now. 

Problem is I live in Montana and the closest club is in Oregon. I might make a drive down there next summer and train with the club there, but for now my best option for consistent training would be judo as it's the closest sport to sumo if I remember right. 

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5 hours ago, WANNAakkaido said:

Problem is I live in Montana and the closest club is in Oregon. I might make a drive down there next summer and train with the club there, but for now my best option for consistent training would be judo as it's the closest sport to sumo if I remember right. 

There are a few great colleges in Oregon.  If sumo is your goal, go to school there and train there.  Hawaiians moved to Japan.  Japanese kids pick a college that has a sumo program.  If you're not focused enough to sacrifice your college choice to do Sumo, then you won't make it when you get to Japan.  In that case,  keep making excuses here like the last two guys and then drop off the list.

With all due respect.

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On 13/10/2020 at 05:22, WANNAakkaido said:

I don't see why not, I have 3 and a half years to bulk up and train

 

On 12/10/2020 at 12:53, WANNAakkaido said:

 I'm currently 19 years old

 

Sorry to have to deliver some bad news but not only do you not have three and a half years - you are already too old.

Osunaarashi at 19 had a history of success at world amateur level (gold and silver medals at junior and senior world championships), was built like a tank and already able to handle makushita level opponents without much trouble and several oyakata told me to my face with him standing there that he was too old.

Homarenishiki (not as experienced but with a bigger frame and arguably more potential) likewise got rejected by all but two stables - and even then those took extra effort to turn 'no' into 'yes'.

As mentioned you won't be able to get into Japan or reach the level required for any stable to have interest in you for at least a couple of years. Even the possibility of a world championship happening in 2021 is not that great.

Essentially you'd need to win gold in your division at the next US nationals, make the USA team for the World Championships and win gold there (something no American has done in decades) and then hope Japan / the JSA was open and that there was a stable master with a space open (and no Mongolian in the pipeline) willing to give you a shot at age 21 or 22 when former gold medal winners that have been bigger and more experienced like Zaza from Georgia haven't been able to get in.

The only 'realistic' shot you have is to transfer to a Japanese university, join the sumo club and win a national title before you graduate (or at least be consistently in the top four at major tournaments). 

Of course anything is possible, but the odds on someone living abroad aged 19 with no sumo background making it into ozumo in the current climate are beyond slim.

Edited by John Gunning
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On 11/10/2020 at 22:53, WANNAakkaido said:

 I kind of want to be a sumo wrestler. 

I'm going to take you at face value that you are serious about wanting to become a sumo wrestler.  The big question is ---- WHY would you start off by saying you "KIND OF WANT TO BE A SUMO WRESTLER"??  "Kind of" is a phrase that is very non-committal, the very opposite of the attitude that one needs to have to be successful at anything.  Professional sumo wrestling requires that you literally GIVE YOUR ALL!  There is no room for "kind of" in the world of sumo!  Even if you want it with every fiber of your being, and I'm not sure if this is the case with you, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything.  And I must say in your case, no matter how hard you might want to train and then get into a stable in Japan, reality is going to raise it's ugly head.  It's great to have dreams and goals, but let's focus on a goal that's realistic.  Getting into a stable in Japan is totally unrealistic for the many reasons that have already been stated.  However, there is nothing to stop you from "self-training" in sumo techniques with the ultimate goal of competing in US amateur sumo wrestling competitions.  Below is a link to usasumo.com --- Sumo Self-Training.  If you can develop your mind and body by practicing these techniques over and over and over, this would be a great starting point.  You must start slow and build on that.  Ultimately, you will realize that to be successful in sumo, you must have not only all of the physical attributes listed but just as important, you must have the mental strength.  You will have to push yourself beyond your endurance.  I agree with what another member said.  After you have built yourself up, enter an amateur sumo competition to see if you enjoy it.  Will you be able to handle defeat as well as victory?  Can you endure defeat and remain stoic?  If it's a close match and the referee gives the win to your opponent, can you walk away with your head held high without any show of emotion?  This sport will test you in ways you cannot even imagine. 

Become familiar with the usasumo.com website.  Start the Self-Training program.  As mentioned already, you may have to move out of state and finish your college education elsewhere.  Time is of the essence.  19 is old in the world of sumo.  Forget Japan.  Focus on success.  Focus on competing in the US.  Here is the link to the USA Sumo Self-Training  https://www.usasumo.com/learn/sumo-training/

I wish you the best of luck!

 

Edited by sumojoann
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Add to the above --- I recommend you contact USA Sumo directly at 310-288-3641.  They can answer all of your questions.  If you wish to use their online form, here is the link  https://www.usasumo.com/contact/

Edited by sumojoann

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There are a series of sumo self-training videos on Youtube that would help you.  They feature 2-time Japanese National Champion Takeshi Amitani.  He is also 2-time USA Sumo Champion.  Here is the first video --- Shiko ---

There are also videos # 2 thru 8 available covering Koshiware, Suriashi, Teppo, Sumo pushup, Wakishime, Chiri-cyozu and Salt-throwing.

Edited by sumojoann
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2 hours ago, sumojoann said:

I'm going to take you at face value that you are serious about wanting to become a sumo wrestler.  The big question is ---- WHY would you start off by saying you "KIND OF WANT TO BE A SUMO WRESTLER"??  "Kind of" is a phrase that is very non-committal, the very opposite of the attitude that one needs to have to be successful at anything.  Professional sumo wrestling requires that you literally GIVE YOUR ALL!  There is no room for "kind of" in the world of sumo!  Even if you want it with every fiber of your being, and I'm not sure if this is the case with you, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything.  And I must say in your case, no matter how hard you might want to train and then get into a stable in Japan, reality is going to raise it's ugly head.  It's great to have dreams and goals, but let's focus on a goal that's realistic.  Getting into a stable in Japan is totally unrealistic for the many reasons that have already been stated.  However, there is nothing to stop you from "self-training" in sumo techniques with the ultimate goal of competing in US amateur sumo wrestling competitions.  Below is a link to usasumo.com --- Sumo Self-Training.  If you can develop your mind and body by practicing these techniques over and over and over, this would be a great starting point.  You must start slow and build on that.  Ultimately, you will realize that to be successful in sumo, you must have not only all of the physical attributes listed but just as important, you must have the mental strength.  You will have to push yourself beyond your endurance.  I agree with what another member said.  After you have built yourself up, enter an amateur sumo competition to see if you enjoy it.  Will you be able to handle defeat as well as victory?  Can you endure defeat and remain stoic?  If it's a close match and the referee gives the win to your opponent, can you walk away with your head held high without any show of emotion?  This sport will test you in ways you cannot even imagine. 

Become familiar with the usasumo.com website.  Start the Self-Training program.  As mentioned already, you may have to move out of state and finish your college education elsewhere.  Time is of the essence.  19 is old in the world of sumo.  Forget Japan.  Focus on success.  Focus on competing in the US.  Here is the link to the USA Sumo Self-Training  https://www.usasumo.com/learn/sumo-training/

I wish you the best of luck!

 

Thank you, this is the most helpful response so far. I'll do my best. 

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On 13/10/2020 at 19:10, John Gunning said:

 

 

Sorry to have to deliver some bad news but not only do you not have three and a half years - you are already too old.

Osunaarashi at 19 had a history of success at world amateur level (gold and silver medals at junior and senior world championships), was built like a tank and already able to handle makushita level opponents without much trouble and several oyakata told me to my face with him standing there that he was too old.

Homarenishiki (not as experienced but with a bigger frame and arguably more potential) likewise got rejected by all but two stables and even then with those took some extra effort to turn no into yes.

As mentioned you won't be able to get into Japan or reach the level required for any stable to have interest in you for at least a couple of years. Even the possibility of a world championship happening in 2021 is not that great.

Essentially you'd need to win gold in your division at the next US nationals, make the USA team for the World Championships and win gold there (something no American has done in decades) and then hope Japan / the JSA was open and that there was a stable master with a space open (and no Mongolian in the pipeline) willing to give you a shot at age 21 or 22 when former gold medal winners that have been bigger and more experienced like Zaza from Georgia haven't been able to get in.

The only 'realistic' shot you have is to transfer to a Japanese university, join the sumo club and win a national title before you graduate (or at least be consistently in the top four at major tournaments). 

Of course anything is possible, but the odds on someone living abroad aged 19 with no sumo background making it into ozumo in the current climate are beyond slim.

That definitely is bad news but I'd still like to try. I'll look into transferring to a different college in the meantime. Also, I know you are pretty knowledgeable in the sumo world so I have some questions.

How many foreigners are currently competing in Japanese sumo? 

I'm aware of the one foreigner per stable rule so if there is less than 44 (I believe there are 44 current stables) foreigners in competitve sumo, I would still have a slim tiny insy chance, correct?

I'm not aware of the current situation of rookies in sumo so I would like to ask if there are a shortage of newcomers coming into sumo? (The reason I ask this is because I know there are some extremely small stables, and I know one only has 2 active wrestlers)

If the there are a shortage of new comers, is the reason that stables are as picky as they are (I'm not trying to say I'm like top grade material or anything) because they have to pay for their food and shelter? Or is that provided by the sumo federation itself?

Finally, I would like the hard truth from you. Does an average teenager like me have a chance in hell at competing in sumo, even at the lowest division, if I were to train like hell and try to get accepted? 

Thank you if you answer all of these, I know I come off as ignorant or as a troll but I do really want to compete in sumo at any level and decided to ask the experts. I'd rather try and fail than give up before I've tried and regret it later. Again, thank you. 

 

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3 hours ago, WANNAakkaido said:

(1) I would like to ask if there are a shortage of newcomers coming into sumo? 

(2) Does an average teenager like me have a chance in hell at competing in sumo, even at the lowest division, if I were to train like hell and try to get accepted? 

 

(1) No. There are always more foreigners wanting to get in than can. 

(2) Yes but that's a low bar. I'm in my late forties and haven't put on a mawashi since 2012 but let me pick and chose my opponents and I feel confident I could get kachikoshi in jonokuchi or  maybe even jonidan. Barring meeting stars as they are just starting out, anyone with hallway decent skills or size should be able to get to sandanme at least. Things get exponentially tougher from there on out.

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1 hour ago, John Gunning said:

.. let me pick and chose my opponents and I feel confident I could get kachikoshi in jonokuchi ...

How many times would you be allowed to pick Hattorizakura???  (Holidayfeeling...)

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1 hour ago, Asojima said:

How many times would you be allowed to pick Hattorizakura???  (Holidayfeeling...)

Far fewer than you might like.

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On 14/10/2020 at 07:24, WANNAakkaido said:

Thank you, this is the most helpful response so far. I'll do my best. 

I think this was very well put, but you have to have Heart, you have to have a drive, and passion, not where you give 100%, but150%. Way back when I did it, i never thought that lifestyle could exist.

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Consider this a solidarity post.

I'm 33 years old with a serious knee injury to boot, so accepting it's impossible is all too easy for me. But, and I assume this is true for many others here, I absolutely have pangs of "If only I'd discovered sumo when I was younger". The idea of really giving it a go is tremendously exciting.

Sadly, what everyone said here still holds true. With no background, you'd be competing for spots against people around your age (possibly younger), who are further developed and are likely already making inroads.

As people have said, if you really want to do it, start amateur sumo now. If you were to make it going pro; then you'll succeed at amasumo anyway, there's nothing to lose; and I'm sure if you were to pull off the miracle everyone here would be stoked to see your progress.

For me personally, I've been working out about a 18months on my upper body while trying to get my dud knee under control; with the hope then to just take part in some amasumo at any level. I regret not doing THIS when I was 19 and before my injury; so don't delay this three years.

Go do some sumo now. If you love it; then you have a few years to dedicate yourself fully to it in the hopes of that almost-nonexistent chance. 

Worst case? You finish your degree and don't have sumo regrets. You'll have given it a go. Hell, if you get to partake in a national or international tournament; that's pretty freakin' cool and a great goal in it's on right.

All the best.

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On 14/10/2020 at 15:24, WANNAakkaido said:

Thank you, this is the most helpful response so far. I'll do my best. 

Believe me, all the posters of less helpful responses have your best interest in mind. Ozumo is a harsh, alien environment for a western kid. Very few have succeeded (though one who did replied above, btw).

I was only 24 when I got into watching sumo, but even then I never fancied it for myself. No way did I want to put myself into that situation - though I'm grateful for those who do. 

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To add to everything many of the current successful Japanese rikishi start in elementary school. The Mongolians are transferring to Japanese schools earlier and earlier.

There's nothing wrong with getting involved with US amateur sumo and enjoying working out and matches in the sumo way through them. I am sure any sumo club in the US would love someone who shows up often. I took my first job only in a city that I knew had a strong baduk club, which was essentially just a hobby, and I had many hours of enjoyment just through that. The US clubs supported the strong club members in sending them to pro-level tournaments in Asia, and US baduk is just on slightly better footing than US sumo.

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