Sumo is a martial art form that originated in Japan thousands of years ago. Part of the Shinto Religion, Sumo in Japan is rooted in rituals, a highly regimented lifestyle and even communal living. Early images carved in woodblocks that depicted Sumo did not illustrate the largely obese wrestlers. In fact the woodblocks present images that are far more like the men and women that practice Sumo wrestling worldwide today.
Cody Davis-Stout is a member of Welcome Mat Sumo Club in Kansas City and is the only female Sumo Wrestler in the Midwest. Cody is a mom, a wife and a full-time paraprofessional, yet twice a week she manages to take part in the rigorous training involved in competitive Sumo wrestling. When Cody competes it is against women in the same weight class, but in training she is wrestling men and it likely is serving her well.
The number of women Sumo Wrestlers is growing internationally and even some elementary school aged girls are joining in. As with any male dominated activity, the women involved have to work hard to prove themselves. Luckily, Sumo Wrestling is vying for a place in the Olympics and in order to be considered,women must also be participants.
Welcome Mat Sumo Club
Welcome Mat Sumo Club is offering a Women’s Only Clinic on July 18th and 19th. (details below)
sumo 12Though we often refer to the loin cloth worn by Sumo wrestlers as a diaper it is actually called a mawashi. The mawashi is traditionally made from silk (beginners wear cotton) and is about 30 feet long and 2 feet wide. It can be tied in such a way that it serves as a disadvantage to one’s opponent. The mawashi can be grabbed and held during a competition though some areas are “off limits”. If the mawashi is tied loose, an opponent is more challenged in using it to his or her advantage. Historically if the mawashi came off it was immaterial. However, today it would result in disqualification. While Andre, the coach for Kansas City’s Sumo Club sometimes wrestles “bare”, meaning he wears only the mawashi, it is not unusual for participants to wear close fitting shorts beneath the mawashi.
Andre Colemen, an accountant by day, began the Welcome Mat Sumo Club a little more than a year ago. Andre is passionate about competing and has qualified for the 2015 International competition in Taiwan.
In order to win one must force their opponent to step out of the ring or to force one’s opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body except his feet.
Derek Jefferies is presently the youngest of the adult group at age 24. There is something called muscle memory. The theory is that when a person does something repetitive over a period of time, a sort of memory is created and the movement can be performed without conscious effort. Of course it is not the muscle that remembers but the brain. This theory is clearly proven in Derek Jefferies, a former football player. It would appear that many of the same movements that he used in football are also used in Sumo. The buoyancy and grace of his movement makes his Sumo activity seem incredibly natural.
Meanwhile, Andre Coleman’s second nature for this martial art likely originated from his time as a Judo instructor. Andre continues to teach Judo when he is not working as an accountant or coaching Sumo.
Derogatory remarks about big guys wearing diapers are making way for serious competition. Women and men alike are embracing this sport. The benefits can be found not only in winning competitions but from the demanding whole body workout.