How did you get into sumo? (Testing Twitter Spaces)

I think I’ve mentioned before how I found sumo. Late at night during the Akebono, Taka/Waka days, ESPN used to broadcast highlight shows of tournaments. The sport caught my eye back then and I remember actually showing my cousins and doing a few bouts with them in the living room. It struck me as a pure sport for a sportsman. No need for balls or goals and it’s about skill more than pure force. You’re not trying to pound the opponent to a pulp, just tip them over or push them out of a ring.

But enough about me. I started this blog because I get to talk about sumo to people, fan to fan. I realized the other day that Twitter has this Spaces feature and I’m curious about whether anyone wants to chat about sumo. I am usually on conference calls all day when I’m not trying to build dashboards, develop risk models, or update the website, so I’m not hoping for another conference call where I’m lecturing or the only one talking but I know it can’t be a free-for-all. So I figure if we keep this on point: “How did you get into sumo?” it will work. If we keep it limited to that and maybe shared our first live experiences at a basho, it won’t turn into conference call hell and can be a fun dialog.

I’m going to schedule one for 6pm Eastern on Thursday, 8/12. I’m eager to hear your stories. If this goes off well, I’d like to host them more often. Especially as things open up and when we get to go over to Japan again, I think Tachiai readers will like to hear about what it’s like and what to do from fellow fans.

11 thoughts on “How did you get into sumo? (Testing Twitter Spaces)

  1. My work schedule won’t allow for twitter participation, but my story is a little different. Mid-January 2017 my elderly Mother could no longer live alone and so I moved in for several months. She had broadcast TV only (a girl raised in the depression is never going to pay money for TV!) that only received 3 PBS channels due to a couple of incidents with pruning shears and the antenna cable. One evening after getting her settled I was cruising the channels and found the NHK Sumo Highlights. Reader I was hooked! I watched every remaining night of that basho, and tuned in again in March. They were moments of joy in a bleak time. Once home I introduced sumo to my husband who had wrestled in high school and university, but is not a big sports guy. It’s ‘appointment tv’ now in my house, and I enjoy 4 different sumo podcasts.

    An aside regarding Terunofuji being taught the dohyo-iri: don’t all little rikishi try performing it when they get a moment alone? Kind of like wannabe singers singing into their hairbrushes alone in the bathroom.

    And, finally – I love Tachiai! Thanks for everything that all of you do.

  2. Sumo! I used to be a fan of cycling. Then got quite disillusioned when the doping scandals blossomed. One day I was in our Seattle Japanese grocery store where TV screens are above the check-out lines. And there was NHK sumo highlights! No more skinny guys in lycra for me!

  3. My good friend got into sumo after tuning into NHK Newsline. I had the great good luck to be sent to Kumamoto on a brief work assignment (my first time in Japan) and got to tack on a few days of vacation. I saw a snippet of the Sept. 2017 basho on the TV in the ferry terminal in Beppu, bought my friend some souvenir rikishi clay statues at the Tokyo airport, came home and watched the rest of the basho with her as she explained about kachi koshi, the stress of being a yokozuna, etc. It was Harumafuji’s last full tournament, and I liked him. I was hooked (and shortly very distressed).

  4. I also started following sumo after watching it on late night ESPN in the early/mid 90s.
    Akebono was already a Yokozuna. So, it must have been after Jan 1993.

    • I recall now that I changed apartments in August 94. That means I can bracket my initiation to sumo to between Jan 93 and Aug 94 :)

  5. Similar to Sakura, we were watching PBS-3 on antenna around midnight back in Jan 2018 and probably day 3-4 of the basho when we got hooked. I’ve always been interested in Sumo because of E-honda from SF2 on SNES in 1994 and never was able to find it on US tv. We’ve watched every basho since that one and even the movies ‘A normal life’ and ‘Sumodo’ and some of the anime Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro on Roku.

    That random day of watching PBS also led me to being an NHK addict and now a 3x program monitor for them. Getting paid to watch and comment on sumo is pretty cool.

    I like sumo because although it can be violent, it’s nothing like MMA matches. The rise and fall of the rikishi through the ranks matches the struggles of everyday life and inspires me to pick myself up from a bad day and do better the next day. It’s fun to learn new words like mawashi and kachikoshi and juryo and the salt throwing and shiko and handclaps are interesting ceremony to feel part of.

  6. Stumbled upon it during a Wikipedia-walk three to four years ago while researching topics for a Japanese holiday. Found Tachiai the next day, read the entire back archive of posts, and got hooked.

  7. What a GREAT conversation starter! Like you Andy, it came from ESPN WAY back in the day! I was just channel surfing one day (somewhere in late 2002), and ESPN was showcasing a couple of 30 minutes sumo matches back-to-back. And from there, I leap into trying to watch sumo online…and NEVER turned back! What a honest and hard-hitting sport.

    It wasn’t my first introduction to sumo. As a kid growing up in the 70s, I believe my first encounter was in an old Ultraman episode (which I forget), and saw smatterings of sumo wrestlers either on TV or in some kind of printed form. Anyway, with the ESPN episodes, I was introduced to Musoyama, Kaio, Dejima, Tochiazuma, etc…and I believe that ESPN kept doing this up until 2006? Do you remember, Andy when ESPN stop? All I know, that ESPN hasn’t done this ever since, which is a real shame.


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