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No Ring, No Coach, No Problem - OU Sumo Club's Determination Leads to Remarkable Success Despite the Odds

No regulation ring, no coach. The Osaka University Sumo Club has trained hard to overcome this adversity and win a tournament at which no national university has ever had much success.

The members of the club train hard on their “sumo mat,” always with the goal of getting “even stronger.”

Training on a “Sumo Mat”

The Sumo Club at Osaka University has no permanent sumo ring, so the team makes their own ring using a mat placed on concrete. Unlike a traditional sumo ring made from dirt, this “sumo mat” does not allow the participants to easily parry their opponent’s charge while sliding across the ring, so not only does this training environment different from one that simulates an actual tournament, it also brings about the risk of competitors injuring themselves by hitting their head on the concrete if they get thrown too far outside of the ring.

Because the team is only 4 years old, they have no coach either. This means that the team members have to come up with their own training regimen.

In spite of this adversity, team captain NAKAYAMA Kotaro intensely studied sumo primers and videos to formulate his own training method. Team subcaptain NITTA Ryusei said about his captain, “He watches videos of high-level wrestlers from his weight class again and again and incorporates those techniques into his own movement.” This training method makes good use of the “brains” that students at OU are known for.

Finding Success in a Cerebral Battle against Private University Powerhouses

And so, the day of the 41st West Japan Student Sumo Tournament by Weight Class in July of 2016 arrived. Captain Nakayama had already lost in the first round of this tournament twice before, and no one from a national university has ever accomplished anything remarkable at the tournament.

However, this OU team did some big things, with team subcaptain Nitta winning 3rd place in the under 65kg division, while team captain Nakayama won 1st place in the under 85kg division.

Next Up: A Team Victory

The best part about sumo, as captain Nakayama put it: “The rules are simply but deep. Anyone can be successful if they compete in a style that suits them.” Mr. Nitta added, “Winning against someone bigger than you is the best.”

Achieving success in the face of adversity has made an impression on a number of individuals. This has allowed the team to gather support in order to improve their practice environment.

“Now we can get even stronger,” remarked Mr. Nakayama. The success of the captain and subcaptain have motivated the rest of the team.

Their next goal? “Winning the team competition."

Sumo Club

With victories over powerhouse private universities in the 41st West Japan Student Sumo Tournament by Weight Class in July of 2016, team captain NAKAYAMA Kotaro (3rd year, School of Economics) took 1st place in the under 85kg division, while team subcaptain NITTA Ryusei (3rd year, School of Economics) took 3rd place in the under 65kg division.

The team practices on a sumo ring made from a mat laid over concrete with the drive to “get even stronger” always on their mind.

・The Osaka University Sumo Club was established in 2012. The club consists of 12 members, 10 male and 2 female. The club borrows a sumo ring from a local elementary school for practices on Tuesdays and Fridays, and on Saturdays, the team practices on a mat laid out in front of the Gymnasium 2 on the Toyonaka Campus.

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