The National Sport Of: Japan
My immediate thought is of Asians in fat suits running at each other and then falling over, because my mind has been utterly tainted by hours of watching Takeshi’s Castle repeats on TV. And whilst the utterly cruel Jap version of ‘It’s A Knockout’ may have a rubbish closing round and is dubbed by the unfunny Craig Charles, it manages to knock ten spots off the sport is sometimes likes to emulate. Where the appeal lies in sumo is a mystery matched only by that of people who sunbathe (what’s up with that? Where’s the fun?) or the strange disappearance of Snoopy from our TV screens. The sport doesn’t appear to have much technical merit and there’s seemingly little skill involved, and yet it has managed to become seen as a dignified and sophisticated sport. In short, it appears to have reached a level of admiration which the technicalities of the event don’t match up to. Of course, maybe when I do some more of that fabled Wilftonville “research” the sport will change my mind, but as it stands at the moment sumo wrestling seems even less worthy than clock solitaire.
What Is It?
Focusing on professional sumo, the sport is an insanely controlled and regimented way of life for many Japanese men. There’s a lot of money available, but at the same time the average life expectancy of the average sumo wrestler appears to be in the low 60s. In other words, it is the male equivalent of forced prostitution, given what I know of American romantic comedies. Sumo is contested between two different fighters, who wear nothing apart from a gigantic napkin round their waists to hide their jewels when they enter the arena. Said arena has a small stage in the centre where the bouts take place, and the idea is that the two wrestlers enter this circular stage and fight. They are only allowed to push each other, though (no kicking to the face, although that would be infinitely more amusing), and whichever of them pushes their opponent out of the circle or to the floor first is declared the winner. It’s that simple.
And most of Japanese society is based upon the spiritual purity afforded by sumo wrestling. For comparison, imagine if Britain or America respectively centred their cultural and social lifestyle on boxing and WWE wrestling. Oh, and also the Japanese religion, Shinto, is somehow connected to it as well. Although the sound of an overweight Jesus with boxing gloves, crown of thorns and lycra shorts does sound like a surefire crowd-pleaser, something tells me the western world would never accept it. Just to clarify: sumo wrestling is sort of religious. And you thought those little Jewish hats were silly!
But if we could get away from ridiculing religions (stop pushing me into slander, readers!) I’d like to have a little deeper look into sumo. Because heck – this blog is unlikely to ever cover this ‘sport’ again, so we may as well say everything we want to now, while we still have the opportunity. Sumo wrestling is possibly one of the strangest sports ever, in that the main activity itself is straightforward, but the lifestyle appears to be batshit crazy. For a start, all sumo wrestlers are a part of a stable, who look after them. When they are young they train up in the stable with their fellow wannabe sumo wrestlers, and it appears they are used as mini-slaves by the stable-owners. The Sumo Association also have a strict set of rules for their players which must be obeyed – Wikipedia (as ever, the main source for Wilftonville’s research. And, uh, the only) says that among other things, sumo wrestlers aren’t allowed to drive cars because once a sumo wrestler crashed his car and… well, died. So now no sumo wrestlers can drive. Don’t forget that this is one of the only sports in the world apart from darts which encourages participants to be fat and unhealthy, too! The main drink for a training sumo wrestler is alcohol. Why? Well… because.
Why Doesn’t Britain Care?
The first reason Britain doesn’t give two shakes of a pimp cane about probably has something to do with the aforementioned batshit craziness of the lifestyle, although a greater reason is probably the health-conscious nature of society. Fat children are shunned and the papers cry openly about the loss of exercise and fitness in the future generations. Sumo simply wouldn’t be accepted as a valid excuse for kids to eat as much as they want. The second reason is that Britain is a completely open society – too open, at times – and if sumo wrestling became massively popular it wouldn’t be too long until the women would start demanding to take part, too. Who on earth would want to see that? The idea of two fat British women wrestling each other while wearing tank-tops is physically and morally wrong, although knowing the general readership of this blog you probably all just got aroused. For shame, internet hordes.
One last point. It’d be really, really mean to force the geeky kids to take part in sumo wrestling in PE! Sumo wrestling gives a sense of worth to fat kids and those who are tall or well-built. In other words: the sporty kids. They already hold a monopoly on all the real sports – imagine their glee if they were put in a ring with a small asthmatic kid and told to throw them out. Personally, nothing fills me with hatred more than the glee of a successful person. Sumo wrestling should never become a part of British society.