Explain Sumo Wrestling to me.

I’m watching a Sumo match. I’m trying to figure out why, when the two wrestlers are in the ring and squat down, they stand, then squat again, then totally step away and towel down, slap themselves, etc.

Is this akin to a baseball player taking their sweet time prepping in and out of the box before taking their stance for real? Is there a certain meaning to everything these guys are doing, or are they just psyching each other out?

It appears to be a lot of show for a wrestling match that is over in seconds. One man is pushed out once, and that’s it. Game over. Yes? It seems that way.

I’m just trying to get a grip on this, so to speak. I’m in Japan so the play by play isn’t doing me a darned bit of good.


The leg-stomping, salt throwing, and all that are Shinto purification rituals.

I find American football and basketball far more inscrutable than Sumo wrestling, and I’m American. Probably just depends on your point of view.


A lot of it is indeed just for the psychological advantage. When the match is over in a few seconds, the small distinctions between two wrestlers make big differences, so any advantage is useful.