Sumo inside the ring: more ritual, more ass

The sumo match itself rarely lasts more than a minute, and the rules seem simple. You win by pushing the other guy out of the circle. But there’s so much ritual before the shoving and grunting even begin. I like how they all come out together in special fancy aprons and raise their arms together. I am unclear whether it’s a spiritual or sexual act, but it’s hard not to stare.

The champion Hakuho also does some extra balancing and arm-raising, while wearing a special rope decoration. I like how the sumo champion is dressed up almost like a Shinto sacred tree. Even without knowing the specifics, it’s clear that he is invoking vast forces and unseen spirits.

The opponents face off several times and then go to their corners before starting the match. I like when they toss salt up into the air, which seems to purify and make the fighting space more exalted.

And finally, I love the intensity of their faces and bodies before the match begins. These big boys sure can squat low, and it’s exciting to anticipate the fearsome power they create out of their own body weight.

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