Monday, July 07, 2008

Sumo Practice

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament is due to start this Sunday July 13th.Last week sumo wrestlers descended upon Nagoya and have been practicing in various beya or stables dotted round Nagoya in preparation for the 15 day competition.
I tagged along with a friend early this morning to see the wrestlers at ozeki Chiyotakai's stable go through their paces.
Members of the public can watch the workout provided they remain quiet and they dont use their flash when taking photos.There was one amusing incident when a man arrived with a small pit bull terrier.The animals asthmatic wheezing reverberated around the courtyard much to the other onlookers amusement.Of course it was only a matter of time before the owner and dog were told politely to depart.
The photo above shows umbrella bearing onlookers gathered outside the building that houses the practice sumo ring where the wrestlers practice.The stable occupies quite a large area of land and there are a number of buildings and structures on the block.

Although we arrived just after 7am it was obvious that the wrestlers had started some time earlier judging by the amount of sweat.When we left at around 10am some three hours later they were still working on their fighting moves and holds seemingly oblivious to the humidity and heat.

After the initial lengthy series of stretching moves and exercises the wrestlers had a number of low contact bouts with each other.The winner of each of these low intensity bouts got to choose his next opponent so eventually all the wrestlers were involved.
I was surprised by how flexible and fast moving even some of the heavier wrestlers were.
One of the spectators,an elderly woman,told me that there were 24 wrestlers in that particular stable with ozeki Chiyotakai being the highest ranked wrestler there.All but one of the wrestlers was Japanese,a lower ranked wrestler from China.She also said that we were fortunate this morning to see Chiyotakai as he sometimes practiced at other stables.

Chiyotakai can be seen in this final photo below near the back of the practice dohyo or sumo ring.He's holding a towel and wearing a white mawashi or loincloth in contrast to the black ones worn by his more junior stable members.He appeared in the practice area around 9:30am and rather than join in the practice seemed to be supervising and advising the other wrestlers.The final part of the practice we witnessed before departing due to a rainstorm involved more practice bouts.They were more intense and high contact than the earlier ones.
Wrestlers practiced their intial charge or tachi-ai and various techniques again under the eye of Chiyotakai who encouraged their efforts.

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