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  1. Japanese Sumo Wrestling is one of the oldest martial arts in Japan. In contrast to some of the traditional Japanese arts, sumo wrestling is enjoying a rising popularity - comparable to basketball in North America or soccer in Europe.

  2. During the last two decades the art of sumo wrestling could establish itself even outside of Japan. Akebono, an American born in Hawaii, became the first American champion to reach the highest rank.

  3. Sumo has its roots in the shinto religion. The matches were dedicated to the gods in prayers for a good harvest. The oldest written records date back to the 15th century.

  4. In the later feudal periods, it was occasionally used as a method of resolving political disputes by sending sumo wrestlers to decide the issue; rather similar to the feudalistic European practice of using champions to decide the right of an issue by might.

  5. In the Edo period, sumo became a popular feature of urban culture among the merchant class and it emerged as a professional sport with rules and ceremonies which are closely related to today's.

  6. A sumo wrestling match is accompanied by a lot of traditional ceremony. The marching-in of the wrestlers is a sequence of formal rituals. The wrestlers are accompanied by two assistants - one walking in front and one behind him - the one behind is usually hard to spot.

  7. The referee is clad in a luxurious kimono and wears a strange hat. After performing a series of opening rituals, the contest begins.

  8. The wrestling match is all about pushing or throwing the opponent out of the doyo - the ring - or to bring the other guy down on the floor.