Sumo Wrestling in Netflix's Sanctuary: Uncovering the Fascinating World

Published on 24 May 2023 at 12:30

Sumo wrestling lovers behold! Are you ready to step into the ring and witness one of Japan's most beloved sports? Look no further than Netflix's gripping drama, "Sanctuary." Through this series, viewers are transported into the fascinating world of sumo wrestling, where athletes battle it out for honor and glory. From the intense training regimens to the intricate rituals surrounding each match, join us as we uncover all there is to know about this captivating sport in "Sanctuary".

Introduction to Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling is a traditional Japanese martial art and form of competitive wrestling that dates back centuries. It is considered the national sport of Japan, and has been practiced by the country's elite warriors for centuries.

Today, sumo wrestling is still a popular sport in Japan, and is also gaining popularity around the world. Netflix's Sanctuary tells the story of a young man named Kiyoshi Oze who dreams of becoming a professional sumo wrestler.

The series follows Kiyoshi as he trains under a former sekiwake Enshō-oyakata, and ultimately competes in his first professional tournament. Along the way, Kiyoshi learns about the history and culture of sumo wrestling, and comes to understand the importance of discipline, respect, and honor in the sport which he lacks quite clearly.

Sanctuary is an entertaining and enlightening look at the fascinating world of sumo wrestling. The film provides viewers with an introduction to this unique sport, and offers insight into the culture and traditions that surround it.

History of Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling is a Japanese sport that dates back to the 7th century. It is said to have originated from the ancient Shinto religion, in which it was used as a way to entertain the gods. Sumo wrestlers are known for their large size and strength, as well as their strict training regimen.

 Sumo has been steeped in tradition and ritual. For example, wrestlers must wear special belts called mawashi, which are made from silk and can weigh up to 30 pounds. They also must perform certain rituals before entering the ring, such as throwing salt to purify the area.

Today, sumo is still a popular sport in Japan, with matches taking place several times a year. It is also gaining popularity worldwide, with tournaments being held in countries such as the United States and Australia. If you're curious about this unique sport, be sure to check out Netflix's Sanctuary, which offers a fascinating look at the world of sumo wrestling.

Sumo Wrestling Ranks and Hierarchy

The sumo ranks, known as the "banzuke," provide a clear delineation of the wrestlers' status and progression within the sport. Let's take a closer look at the various sumo ranks and what they signify.


1. Yokozuna (Grand Champion):
- Sitting at the pinnacle of sumo ranks is the esteemed Yokozuna, or Grand Champion.
- Yokozuna wrestlers exemplify unparalleled skills, unwavering technique, and remarkable character.
- Attaining Yokozuna status is the highest honor in the sumo world, accompanied by immense respect and admiration.
- Yokozuna have the privilege of deciding when they retire, symbolizing their supremacy in the sport.


2. Ōzeki (Champion):
- Below the Yokozuna rank, the Ōzeki, or Champion, stands as the second-highest rank in sumo.
- Ōzeki wrestlers are highly skilled and revered for their exceptional abilities.
- They are considered strong contenders for future Yokozuna promotion.
- To achieve Ōzeki status, a wrestler must consistently deliver outstanding performances against formidable opponents.


3. Sekiwake (Junior Champion):
- The third-highest rank in sumo is occupied by the Sekiwake, or Junior Champion.
- Sekiwake wrestlers often find themselves on the brink of Ōzeki promotion.
- Competing against Yokozuna and Ōzeki, they face the elite of the sport, demonstrating their mettle and determination.


4. Komusubi (Lower-ranked Sekiwake):
- The Komusubi rank follows Sekiwake and serves as a stepping stone to higher positions.
- Komusubi wrestlers act as the gatekeepers to the upper ranks, facing demanding opponents.
- Their performance against higher-ranked adversaries influences their future ascent in the sumo hierarchy.


5. Maegashira (Rank and file):
- Occupying the bulk of professional sumo wrestlers, the Maegashira consists of multiple divisions ranging from Maegashira 1 to Maegashira 17.
- Wrestlers in the Maegashira divisions are not among the top four ranks.
- They fiercely compete against each other, aiming to climb the banzuke and secure higher rankings.


6. Juryo (Junior Division):
- As the second-highest division in professional sumo, Juryo showcases promising wrestlers seeking to ascend the ranks.
- Wrestlers in Juryo consistently battle against opponents in their quest for promotion.
- Their performances in Juryo tournaments determine their potential advancement to higher divisions.


7. Makushita (Junior Junior Division):
- The Makushita division marks the path for aspiring wrestlers striving to reach the higher echelons of sumo.
- Makushita wrestlers hone their skills and gain valuable experience.
- Their performances directly impact their ascent through the ranks, with strong showings leading to promotion.


8. Sandanme (Third Division):
- The Sandanme division represents wrestlers in the early stages of their professional sumo careers.
- These wrestlers are still refining their skills and building their reputations.
- Advancement through the Sandanme division depends on consistent performances and victories.


9. Jonidan (Fourth Division):
- Jonidan houses wrestlers who are relatively new to professional sumo.
- Wrestlers in this division aim to establish themselves and make their mark in the sport.
- Success in Jonidan allows them to progress up the ranks and compete against tougher opponents.


10. Jonokuchi (Junior Fourth Division):
- The lowest division in

Sumo Culture and Customs

In Japan, sumo wrestling is more than just a sport; it's a way of life. The athletes who compete in this ancient form of combat are revered as national heroes, and the culture surrounding the sport is rich and fascinating.

Netflix's new series Sanctuary shines a light on this world, following the lives of sumo wrestlers as they strive to achieve success in the Dohyō. The series offers a unique look at the culture and customs of sumo wrestling, giving viewers an insight into the dedication and discipline required to become a champion.

The Sumo Association is a strict hierarchy, with wrestlers divided into different ranks based on their ability. The higher-ranked wrestlers are given preferential treatment, including better living conditions and access to the best trainers.

Sumo wrestlers live and train together in communal stables, known as heya. Life in a heya is highly disciplined, with strict rules governing everything from diet and sleep patterns to how fighters must interact with each other. This intense regime is designed to produce the strongest possible competitors, but it can also be extremely punishing both mentally and physically.

The rituals and traditions of sumo wrestling are an integral part of its culture. Each match begins with a ceremonial dance known as a dohyo-iri, in which the wrestlers purify the ring with salt before performing elaborate hand clapping routines. These rituals are steeped in history and tradition, and play an important role in summoning the spirits of past.

How to Start Your Own Sumo Career

Have you ever wanted to get into sumo wrestling? Well, it's not as difficult as you might think. Here's how to start your own sumo career:

First, find a sumo training school. There are many located around the world, and some even offer online courses. Once you've found a school that suits your needs, sign up for a trial class.

Second, get in shape. Sumo wrestlers are some of the most physically fit athletes in the world, so you'll need to make sure you're in top condition before starting your training. Start by doing some basic exercises like sit-ups and push-ups, and then move on to more specific exercises like squats and deadlifts.

Third, learn the basics. In your first few classes, you'll learn the basics of sumo wrestling techniques like footwork and body positioning. You'll also start to develop your own unique style.

Fourth, enter competitions. As you start to become more skilled, you can enter competitions against other wrestlers. This is a great way to test your skills and see how far you've come.

 fifth, keep training. Sumo wrestling is a lifelong commitment, so make sure you keep up with your training even after you've started competing. By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to becoming a successful sumo wrestler!

Rules of the Game – An Overview

If you're new to sumo wrestling, the rules of the game may seem a bit confusing. But don't worry, we're here to help! In this overview, we'll explain the basics of sumo wrestling and how it's played.

Sumo wrestling is a form of unarmed combat where two wrestlers try to force each other out of a circular ring (dohyo) or into touching the ground with any part of their body other than their feet.

There are several different ways to win a match, but the most common is by forcing your opponent out of the ring. This is called a "yorikiri" and is worth four points. Another way to win is by making your opponent touch the ground with any part of his body other than his feet, which is called an "oshi-dashi" and is worth two points. There are also less common ways to win, such as "hataki-komi," which is when one wrestler slaps his opponent before he has a chance to get into proper position, and "tsuki-otoshi," which is when one wrestler pushes his opponent over with his hand.

Matches are typically fought in a best-of-five format, meaning the first wrestler to win three matches wins the overall bout. If there's a tie at two wins apiece, then each wrestler gets one more match to try and break the tie.


Through Netflix's Sanctuary, viewers can gain an in-depth look into the fascinating world of sumo wrestling. From its ancient origins to its modern-day evolution, the documentary showcases the physical and mental strength of these athletes along with their unwavering dedication to their sport. Through this film, audiences around the world can witness firsthand what it takes to be a sumo wrestler and understand why this Japanese tradition has endured for centuries.

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