Sumo is a form of traditional Japanese combat. Closely tied to the Shinto religion, it's as much a ceremony as a sporting event. It's also Japan's earliest unarmed martial art. It originally included all manner of hand strikes and kicks, and deaths occurred in the ring, but killing techniques were banned in the early 8th century. The sportive form originated in the Sengoku Jidai Era, and the dohyo (wrestling ring) came into use in 1578. Today, there are six basho (tournaments) each year, with one bout a day for 15 days.

Before Sumo became a ring-based sport, stylists - also known as sumotori or rikishi

Sumo Traditions

Almost every aspect of Sumo contains elements of both ritual and sport. All fighters wear a uniform - a long, wrapped loincloth called a mawashi (sometimes decorated with tassels) - and variations aren't allowed. They must style their hair in a samurai's topknot, or chonmage. Low-ranking sumotori do each other's hair or that of their seniors; highranking ones sometimes have a professional stylist on their staff.

Before the fight begins, each contestant grabs a handful of salt and throws it to ritually purify the ring. Then they square off. When both feel prepared, they start the match. The fighters typically attempt to "psyche out" their rival first, and may return to their corners three or four times before they clash. It can take up to four minutes for high-ranking sumotori to begin a bout! (Low-ranking ones are expected to get on with it quickly ...) Matches have no time limit, and range from seconds to minutes in length.

Sumo rankings depend on victories. Successful rikishi are voted up and down through five ranks. The top two ranks - ozeki and yokozuna (grand champion) - are most important. Ozeki who seek to become yokozuna must win at least two basho to merit consideration. Only those who show proper "spirit," dignity, and good technique receive the rank. Yokozuna is a status, not merely a title. Once a sumotori becomes yokozuna, he can't lose that rank! A fading yokozuna is expected to honorably and voluntarily retire to avoid bringing shame to the rank.

Japanese stable. Ranked competitors must be able to speak polite Japanese. All participants, including foreigners, use Japanese ring names that feature the first kanji of their trainer's name.

Sumo is purely a sport; no "self-defense" schools exist. However, the style favors size and strength, and its practice and tournaments are full-contact. These factors make Sumo potentially useful outside the ring if the stylist learns its optional skills and techniques.

Skills: Games (Sumo); Savoir-Faire (Dojo); Sumo Wrestling.

Techniques: Feint (Sumo Wrestling); Sweep (Sumo Wrestling); Trip.

Cinematic Skills: Immovable Stance; Power Blow.

Cinematic Techniques: Springing Attack (Sumo Wrestling).

Perks: Power Grappling; Special Exercises (DR 1 with Partial, Skull and Tough Skin); Special Exercises (HP can exceed ST by 100%).

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