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Sumo - or sumo wrestling is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohy) or into touching the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet.
The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. It is generally considered a gendai bud (a modern Japanese martial art), but this definition is misleading, as the sport has a history spanning many centuries. Many ancient traditions have been preserved in sumo, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt purification, from Shinto. Life as a wrestler is highly regimented, with rules regulated by the Japan Sumo Association. Most sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal sumo training stables, known in Japanese as heya, where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition.
From 2008 to 2017, a number of high-profile controversies and scandals have rocked the sumo world, with an associated effect on its reputation and ticket sales. These have also affected the sport's ability to attract recruits. Despite this setback, sumo's popularity and general attendance has rebounded due to having multiple yokozuna (or grand champions) for the first time in a number of years and other high-profile wrestlers such as End? and Ichinoj? grabbing the public's attention.
In addition to its use as a trial of strength in combat, sumo has also been associated with Shinto ritual, and even certain shrines carry out forms of ritual dance where a human is said to wrestle with a kami (a Shinto divine spirit). It was an important ritual at the imperial court, where representatives of each province were ordered to attend the contest at the court and fight. The contestants were required to pay for their travels themselves. The contest was known as sumai no sechie, or "sumai party".
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