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Sumo, or Japanese wrestling, is one of the national sports. One of the most popular sports,  Sumo is thought to originate from battles among gods in ancient times. Now more of a professional sport than a martial art, sumo’s origins date back 2,000 years. The shinto religion from which sumo was born retains strong links within the sport - many of the numerous rituals performed allude to this.

Briefly put, the aim is to make your opponent step out of the ring or to make any part of his body touch the ground, except the soles of his feet. There are no weight restrictions , however size alone cannot ensure victory  - agility and speed displayed by professionals are crucial and will often lead to a victory for a physically smaller rikishi (wrestler) .

Kendo originates from samurai fencing, with opponents fighting with bamboo swords. Heavy padding protects the body and head from hits to the torso, forearm, throat and head - all of which earn points during the bout.

Kendo Competition (Right)

 

Judo  or ’gentle way’ is one of the better-known martial arts. Involving throwing and grappling your opponent to the floor, it was first developed as a self-defence technique but now has Olympic accreditation and has a global presence.  Judo is best known for it’s spectacular throwing techniques but also involves considerable grappling on the ground utilizing specialized pins, control holds, arm locks, and Judo choking techniques. Judo is in fact a refinement of the ancient martial art of Jujitsu removing a number of the more dangerous moves in order to make it safer for a wider audience to pracxice.

 

Karate, or ’empty hand’ has its origin in Okinawa from where it spread to the mainland a little over 90 years ago. The aim is to defeat your opponent by use of a range of explosive kicks, punches, strikes and blocks. Exponents of the art are often keen to emphasise the strong spiritual element at the heart of karate.

Aikido is a solely defensive art whose roots can be traced back over 1,000 years. The technique borrows from shinto, karate and kendo and strength and speed are key elements. Spritual awareness is at the heart of the philosophy where the indivdual’s ki (or life-force) is channeled through the fingertips and used against the opponent.

 

 
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