Simple rules sumo Jason 17 Jan 2006

40 comments Latest by Fred

There are two main ways to win a sumo match:

  1. The first wrestler to touch the ground outside the circle loses (the circle is 4.55 meters in diameter).
  2. The first wrestler to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet loses.

There are a few other rules, but they’re rarely applied.

40 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Joe Martinez 17 Jan 06

Watching sumo is not getting campfire out the door any faster.

j/k Actually, maybe I’ll score well on Jepordy(sp?) or Millionaire one day because of svn.

Kevin 17 Jan 06

There’s an underlying metaphor in here somewhere. I’m still looking for it. Don’t tell me.

Patrick 17 Jan 06

Nice and simple. Just how I like it.

Tumble 17 Jan 06


stl 17 Jan 06

you can also win if one wrestler pokes both eyes out - because the other wrestler only blocks the poke with 2 fingers.

stl 17 Jan 06

you can also win if one wrestler pokes both eyes out - because the other wrestler only blocks the poke with 2 fingers.

Tomas Jogin 17 Jan 06

There are two main ways to win a boxing match:
The first is to knock the other guy the fuck out.
The second is to punch the other guy more times than he punches you.

indi 17 Jan 06

… and now back to our regularly scheduled program (sheesh!)

Josh Williams 17 Jan 06

And grabbing the front of the belt gets you DQ’d… but only if the refs catch you. Otherwise, grabbing by the front of the belt can offer the smaller dude a lot of leverage. Heh.

Justin Perkins 17 Jan 06

Campfire? Is that the new app. that you hinted at on the Web 2.0 Show Jason?

Will Gaus 17 Jan 06

Sumo is also the most corrupt sports in the world. Per Freakenomics

JF 17 Jan 06

Yes, Sumo is corrupt, but the rules aren’t. The basic rules are the rules. What goes on outside the match, or who is “fixed” in the match don’t have anything to do with the simple rules of the art.

indi 17 Jan 06

What? Sumo is fixed!? I’m shattered. Is there no game, then, ungamed?

Berndawg 17 Jan 06

Its interesting that Sumo Wrestling is thousands of years old..but the rules barely change and maybe got simplier. And you look at basketball or football and the rules change and increase every year to an enormous complexity.

JF 17 Jan 06

Berndawg — that was my point. Simple then, simple now.

Paul D 17 Jan 06

It’s the Japanese way. The game of go also has two basic rules:

1. If you completely surround a group of your opponent’s stones with your own, you capture them.

2. Areas where your opponent cannot safely play become your territory. Once both players have passed, the game is over and the player with the most territory and captured stones wins.

From these basics arises a game with more depth than any other I’ve played. Go is also vastly harder than chess for a computer to play; it requires too much abstract logic and pattern recognition.

Matt Weston 18 Jan 06

Jason’s right about corruption/ Freakonomics. The corruption doesn’t happen because of the simple game rules. It happens because of the simple tournament rules. (In sumo elite tournaments, each wrestler has fitteen bouts. If he finishes the tournament with eight wins or more, his ranking goes up. If less, his ranking goes down. Going into the final round of bouts, according to Levitt & Dubner, wrestlers with a 8W 6L or 9W 5L record are happy to take a dive against wrestlers with a 7W 7L record.)

Jonas Feiring 18 Jan 06

There must be some way to shorten this into ONE rule.

like… “Only the area inside the ring can be touched, and only with the feet…”

Oh, that’s still two rules. bummer. :-(

Damien Davison 18 Jan 06

I like this message, so 37signals-ish. If only all blog posts could be this short and still be so clear.

Dutch Rapley 18 Jan 06


Here’s your one rule: The winner is the last man standing inside the circle. ;)

John Lewis 18 Jan 06

I like Sumo as much as the next guy. Maybe more. While the rules are simple, the complexity that comes from such simple rules are amazing. For examples of complexity show in the book A New Kind Of Science is based on very simple rules that result in robust complexity. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Dutch Rapley 18 Jan 06

What really caught my attention was “There are a few other rules, but they�re rarely applied.” It sounds like the description of a SONY remote: “….there are a few other buttons…,” etc. It’s as if they are in competition with their competitors and trying to, as Jason would say, 1-up everyone by having more buttons on their remote. I particularly don’t like their products for that reason.

When you use your TV, DVD player, etc., you tend to ‘forget’ about the ‘other’ buttons as if they don’t exist. You only focus on or use the important ones.

It is important to focus on what is important, and “forget about everything else.”

Gayle 18 Jan 06

tj, I’m pretty sure it’s their blog, and they can post what they please.

I for one thought it was relevant and succinct. Lovely.

gwg 18 Jan 06

I view this site as a place to visit for some thought provoking ideas and concepts. This post is a little more subtle than some of the others, but it’s food for thought.

Even some of the more extreme posts, e.g. no meetings ever, should at least make you consider what would happen without meetings.

The take-away for me on this sumo post is: “Does my software really need to become more complex?”

Bryan Bedell 18 Jan 06

I know very little about football (US football, anyway) but the rules and plays and penalties seem so complex that whenever i watch a game, it seems more like the teams are trying harder to not screw up than they are to win. i daydream about fielding a team that, game after game, finds ways to exploit little-known rules and rarely-used arcane plays to surprise, shock, litigate, and confuse our way to victory. Luckily I have a daughter that will be playing sports soon and I can test my theory.

Dan Boland 18 Jan 06

Bryan Bedell: Don’t worry, I’ve been trying to explain the game of football to my wife since we started dating almost 7 years ago. And the worst part is that there are some rules that don’t make sense.

adam 18 Jan 06

wow…. that is so deep, man.

..and there are actually many more rules than that, that are always applied. A sumo match does not consist of only the “fight”.

Javier Cabrera (Clear Your Mind) 18 Jan 06

I’m so fat I could do Sumo if I wanted!

Simple is really better, I’m basing my business on that affirmation right now!

Daniel 18 Jan 06

Does this have anything to do with a hot air pop corn machine?

Morten 19 Jan 06

How about running, that’s got a pretty straight forward winning condition too.

Nick 19 Jan 06

Tumble wrote:

He he. But the basics of football are very simple which is part of its universal appeal (certainly the kids in my local park don’t seem to have any trouble applying the laws). And despite all this baggage from Fifa, football remains one of the fastest, most exhilarating sports to watch.

Yes you need a simple core, but you *can* add complexity and still retain agility.

mini-d 19 Jan 06

Sumo maybe it’s simple way of a test. What about Kendo match. It’s plain simple rules but they are hard to accomplish.

Christopher Fahey 19 Jan 06

One additional rule is that one wrestler can lift the other wrestler completely off their feet and carry them outside of the ring for a spectacular and humiliating victory. In this case, the carrier is actually permitted to place their feet outside the ring.

One look at current sumo wrestlers and it’s fairly obvious why this rule is “rarely applied”.

Will Gaus 19 Jan 06

Should have actually commented on the original topic. Sorry about the vague reference to it being corrupt and then ditching out. I agree with all of you, the simplicity is brillant and to watch, its great, due to the fact that you arent second guessing yourself as to what should be a legal play etc etc. You are simply enjoying the explosion and the event. In contrast, just watch an average NFL playoff game, more reviews and crazy rules than I care to see.

Spike 20 Jan 06

Nick - agree totally. One of the chief arguments against video replays and digital technology in football (or soccer, as doltbrained yankee jocks call it) is that it is a universal sport playable by anyone from toddlers in the park (my first steps were chasing a football) to professionals. The analogy tennis and the cyclopse system provides =

simple core + optional complexity = extensibilty.

Anonymous Coward 05 Apr 06


bronson Bruner 25 Apr 06

yooooo don vito

john 04 Jun 06

fuck u mole

kristy rox ya sox heheh =] 27 Jul 06

hey all jeez whoat the fck!!!! get some sumo wrestling rules on here i needa do a project on it and i ccant find any rules grrrrrrrr hey lvoe ya all heheh XD

Fred 10 Aug 06