Sumo is a Japanese combative sport that pits one huge, loincloth-clad (the mawashi) contestant against another in a sand-covered ring. The men push and pull each other while attempting to trip or throw their opponent to the ground or outside the wrestling arena (dohyo).
Sumo possibly originated in 2600 B.C. from go-ti (horn gore), a Chinese wrestling system in which horn-wearing contestants fight to the death. In 2000 B.C., under Emperor Huang Di, the less violent shuai jiao wrestling replaced go-ti—though shuai jiao originates from 700 B.C. Shuai jiao influenced the creation of Korea’s ssirum wrestling. Ssirum’s earliest accounts date back to the late 400s in Jian, the Chinese side of northern Korea that was under the control of the Koguryo kingdom (37-668 B.C.), which showed wrestlers in garb only used by ssirum wrestlers. During the Chinese Tang dynasty, wrestling was called shang pu (pronounced tae sang bak by Koreans), which is a synonym for ssirum. The Japanese currently pronounce these two characters as sumo.
Although sumo has a martial background, its current incarnation is purely for sport with little or no self-defense utility.