28. helmikuuta 2005 18:34

Päätinpä avata tänne sumosäikeen, kun Tutkimustuloksia Japanista -ketjussa kerran tätäkin aihetta sivuttiin - tämä hieno kamppailulaji ansaitsee kyllä ihan oman otsikkonsa! Satuin juuri lukemaan myös siinä määrin kelvollisen englanninkielisen artikkelin lajin tämänhetkisestä tilasta, että kopioin nyt keskustelun siemeneksi koko pitkähkön jutun tähän. (Joo, arvaan etteivät ehkä monetkaan jaksa lukea, mutta luovuin linkitysaikeesta, kun jutun julkaisseen Chicago Tribunen sivuilla vaatisi rekisteröitymisen, ja itse taas nappasin tämän lähteestä, josta käsittääkseni luettavissa vain lyhyen ajan. Uskon, että niitä joita jaksaa kiinnostaa, palvelee parhaiten juuri se, että voi lukea artikkelin nyt tai myöhemmin suoraan tästä.)

Tuosta selvinnee ummikollekin jo monta asiaa. Myös sumopainijoiden ruokavaliosta eli siitä itsensä lihottamisesta, mitä tuolla toisessa säikeessä ehdittiinkin heti kauhistella, löytyy yksi ateriaesimerkki... pitkälti varsin perinteistä japanilaista, määrät luonnollisesti vain omissa lukemissaan... tee tarkoittaa tietenkin paikallista vihreää.

Itseäni sykähdytti ehkä eniten mongoliaismestari Asashoryun toteamus, mistä hänellä on peräisin lajin vaatima kovuus: kesistä lammaspaimenena kotimaan aroilla. Mikä ei sielläpäin liene ihan Pikku Heidin hommaa... ;-)



Japan's national sport has been overtaken by foreign competitors, such as champion Asashoryu, and some say it has lost its luster

By Bruce Wallace, Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times. Hisako Ueno of the Times' Tokyo bureau contributed to this report

Published February 27, 2005

TOKYO -- At a mere 308 pounds, Asashoryu is not the biggest of the big-bellied men waddling around the dirt ring of this chilly sumo training stable, looking for someone to slam up against.

But he is definitely the baddest.

His opponents look as though they were carved from mountains. But Asashoryu cuffs them in the ear and drops them to their knees. He drives his palm into their throats and they recoil. He picks them up by their belts and flings them, their legs flailing, out of the ring.

He toys with fellow wrestlers like a cat playing with a beach ball.

Asashoryu's cream-colored, almost unblemished body is now the sun around which Japan's national sport revolves. Just 24 and still a bit baby-faced, he has won six of the last seven major tournaments since 2003, dominating sumo the way Tiger Woods once did golf. He is sumo's only reigning yokozuna, top-ranked in a sport that never has more than four yokozuna at a time, a wrestler many call the best Japan has seen in the postwar era.

And he isn't even Japanese.

Asashoryu's real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, and he is Mongolian. Born into a family of wrestlers in the Central Asian country's capital, Ulan Bator, he came to Japan after high school nearly eight years ago, a strong kid with a mean streak and dreams of sumo stardom. He adopted the name Asashoryu, which means Blue Dragon of the Morning, just as a wave of foreigners began shattering the cultural barrier that had long made sumo the most Japanese of sports.

The foreign invasion is revolutionizing a sport in which massive men collide in a short explosion of violence that ends when one of them is thrown from the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body other than his feet.


Sumo may have had its ups and downs over its 1,500 years of recorded competition, but they have almost always been Japanese ups and downs. Legend has it that Japanese supremacy on its islands was established through a bout between gods, and the sport's rituals provide links to Japan's religious and militarist roots.

Now with its top ranks increasingly filled with wrestlers, or rikishi, from other countries, sumo finds itself adrift. Attendance is flagging. There is no obvious Japanese wrestler emerging to capture fans' hearts and challenge the Mongolian's hold.

"The Japanese are no good," Asashoryu said derisively, morning practice over. He sits down cross-legged to a big lunch on a tatami carpet.
"Japan's economy developed, and the people became weaker," he said, elaborating by twitching his thumbs to simulate the sedentary habit of playing electronic games.

Asashoryu laughs, and he is joined by good-spirited nodding from even the Japanese wrestlers around the table. (The yokozuna is accustomed to having people laugh at his jokes.)

By contrast, he said, his summers spent on the steppes of Mongolia, sleeping in a tent, herding sheep and riding horses, were just the stuff for nurturing the toughness the sport requires.
"The sumo world is a hard life," he said as other wrestlers dutifully replenished his plates of spaghetti and pork, tofu and rice (three bowls), an omelet and bottomless cups of tea.

A wrestler not only must win tournaments to qualify as a yokozuna but also must be accepted by sumo's governors as being a man of exemplary character. The emphasis on cultural ritual and comportment means the sport has arguably more in common with a tea ceremony than baseball.


Asashoryu is not sumo's first foreign yokozuna. In 1992, 525-pound Hawaiian-born Chad Rowan, who fought under the name Akebono, became the first wrestler from outside Japan to attain the status. Akebono's accomplishment was matched by a Samoan-Hawaiian of similar weight named Musashimaru, known to his family as Fiamalu Penitani, who became the second foreign yokozuna in 1999.

But the first foreigners were outsiders, renegades who scaled the walls as solo acts largely on the basis of their overwhelming size. By contrast, the current erosion of Japanese dominance has marked a revolution within the sport that began in the late 1990s.

Faced with a sharp decline in the number of Japanese teenagers choosing to dedicate themselves to the rigid sumo lifestyle, the sport's stable masters, or club owners, sent scouts across Asia and Europe in search of new talent.

Hundreds of aspiring rikishi came to Japan to see if their raw skill and strength could earn them a place in the world's only professional sumo circuit.
Sumo's current cast hails from such places as Russia, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Tonga and Brazil.
Almost one in three places in the top division is occupied by a foreign wrestler. If there is anyone who threatens Asashoryu's dominance it is Hakuho, another Mongolian, who at 19 has already become a crowd favorite in Japan.

Fans in Mongolia clamor for news of their countrymen's success. But Japanese supporters are peeling away from sumo for more fashionable sports such as soccer, or hybrid forms of combat entertainment such as K-1, an extreme-fighting carnival that melds martial arts with street brawling.

The recently concluded New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, won again by Asashoryu, who went undefeated in 15 bouts, played to half-empty halls in Tokyo. Sumo magazine publishers say their circulation is half of what it was 10 years ago.

Given those woes one would think the Japanese would be grateful for Asashoryu, whose success is a reminder that sumo is about technique, not just bulk. But Asashoryu has had a harder time winning Japanese hearts than his fights.

The Japanese traditionally have expected their yokozunas to show about as much emotion as a Noh theatrical mask--in other words, none. Champions are supposed to possess hinkaku: a sense of dignity and grace, which is why there is much muttering about Asashoryu's very un-Japanese exuberance in the ring and his tendency to get into trouble outside it.


The purists don't take kindly to his fist-pumping victory celebrations, or the way he glares at referees, or the way he ends fights with an extra shove for emphasis to opponents already out of the ring.
And they point to a series of incidents that has led some sumo fans and officials to openly question whether Asashoryu should be stripped of his yokozuna status. (Yokozunas are never demoted. If their ability starts to fade, they are expected to retire.)

There was his notorious disqualification in 2003 from a match for pulling the top knot--the carefully combed and pinned hair--of fellow Mongolian Kyokushuzan. Three days later, Asashoryu and Kyokushuzan resumed their argument when they began brawling at a bathhouse where they had been soaking together.
Then police had to be called to Asashoryu's training stable last summer when neighbors reported hearing late-night drunken shouts and threats between the wrestler and his stable master.

Finally, Asashoryu's status as a foreigner received unwanted extra attention last fall when three of his Mongolian relatives who had come to Japan for his wedding stayed on afterward and found factory jobs without work permits. They were deported after being swept up in a police raid.

The Japanese press has feasted on such Asashoryu scandals. They nicknamed him "Genghis Khan" and "The Bully From Bator."

"Of course the media make a fuss about me," Asashoryu said, waving his troubles away. "It would be the same in America if a foreigner came in and became champion of one of your national sports.
"But the Japanese people are very generous. In the fighting world, it is important to show you are trying hard. I know if I try hard, the Japanese will accept me."

Other wrestlers say Asashoryu's "fighting spirit" is what separates him from the pack. It's evident in the scowl he brings into the ring, the fury in his eyes.
"His personality is not like the Japanese, who are taught to be patient and not misbehave," said Toshiyuki Hamamura, who recruited and coached Asashoryu at the Meitoku Gijuku High School Sumo Club.
Hamamura says the Mongolians are driven by a hunger to escape the economic underclass.
"Mongolian wrestlers are different from the Japanese," the coach said. "They have nothing to fall back on."

Indeed, sumo's future may lie in its allure to teenagers outside Japan for whom the grind and austere conditions of the sumo lifestyle remain attractive. Why, on the other hand, would Japanese teenagers get up in the predawn cold to endure suffering and pain in the dirt dohyo, they ask, when you could instead be playing, say, golf?

Sumo, unlike hitting five-irons, is a violent mashing of bone and muscle, accompanied by ancient codes of bullying and humiliation.


At a recent practice session, Asashoryu took it upon himself to punish another wrestler whose work ethic was deemed to have faltered. As the wrestler strained against another in the ring, Asashoryu delivered a series of savage two-handed whacks to the back of his thighs, first with a bamboo pole, then with a metal shovel.

The rikishi screamed and collapsed in agony with almost every blow, while the other wrestlers taunted him to get back up and fight. When the victim retreated to a corner of the stable, Asashoryu cracked him over the head with the bamboo pole. Six times.
Asashoryu called it a "whipping of love," arguing that the rikishi would emerge stronger and happier for having "overcome" the pain.
"You have to be strict to make them try harder," he explained.
And had he ever received such a whipping?
"I always tried hard," he said firmly.

But there also are signs that Asashoryu is maturing, that he is softening his image to make himself into a yokozuna the Japanese can love.
"He's still growing up, but he's trying hard," said Uragoro Takasago, Asashoryu's stable master and the target of his ire that summer night. "He has a different background. But without that strong spirit, he wouldn't be able to accomplish what he has with such a small body."

Vastaukset: 2

21.03.2005 14:12

sumoa on ihan hauska toisinaan katsoa telkkarista, mutta on se jotenkin hullun oloista touhua.

23.03.2005 00:29

Sumotoreilla on kunnon massat =)!

kirjaudu sisään jos haluat vastata