6B – 22/5 – The importance of sports within Japan

This year, the 2020 olympics are supposed to take place in Tokyo (Japan’s capital). As we are learning about Japan for our topic I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn about the role of sports within Japanese society.

I would like you to research three traditional Japanese sports, for example: Sumo, Jujitsu or Judo.

For each of your traditional sports you must look at it’s history, researching:

  • When was the sport created? By Whom?
  • 3 key events in it’s history
  • Is the sport still popular today, why?

I would then like you to research at least 2 sports that Japan are currently successful in. Please explain how Japan are successful in the given sport. Have they won 3 olympic gold medals in swimming etc?

You can display this information in whichever form you like, that may be a video presentation, a leaflet, or some informative paragraphs in the comments below!

There are many different sports that Japan have made an impact on that you might like to write about too! This is an independent research task but I have added some interesting videos below!

You must send in your work to y6upload@broadheath.coventry.sch.uk

10 thoughts on “6B – 22/5 – The importance of sports within Japan

  1. Archery (Yabusami)
    Yabusame uses the Japanese art of archery and does it on horseback. Being able to shoot a bow and arrow on horseback was done in samurai battles, and was a highly esteemed skill to have. During the time of samurai battles, samurais would aim to hit their target while going full speed on their horse. In modern times. the aim of yabusame as a sport and martial art is usually to be able hit targets while moving. Demonstrations are held in shrines and temples, and sometimes during festivals. The Japanese started using bow and arrow in the time when the other civilizations did – in prehistory. Ogasawara Nagakiyo, founder of Ogasawara-ryū, began teaching yabusame in 12th century. Kyudo bows are two meters long and made of bamboo that is with 30 years old. Kyudo bows are two meters long and made of bamboo that is with 30 years old.People who had been trained Yabusami were used to fight during the civil war and other wars before that.In modern society Yabusami is still practiced by two schools but is preformed in shrines.

    One of the most famous and well-known of the Japanese sports is sumo. Sumo is essentially a wrestling sport, but the rules are a bit different from western style wrestling. Usually the match begins when both wrestlers put both hands on the ground, and ends when one player is pushed out of the ring or any part of their body other than the soles of their feet touches the ground. The match also will end if any sumo wrestler loses the loincloth around their body, mawashi, as the wrestler becomes disqualified when that happens. Although many people tend to look at sumo as fascinating but comical, there is actually a very serious element to sumo wrestling, and it is highly esteemed and respected in Japan.
    Many people don’t realize that sumo wrestling also tends to be rigid in its rules and discipline, and sumo wrestlers must follow strict rules that are set on them including things like diet and dress code.The origins of sumo date back over 1500 years and are steeped in Shinto tradition. However the rules and rituals around sumo in its current form were mostly developed in the 20th century.It is still preformed in the modern day but with different rules.

    Kendo, “the way of the sword”, is another traditional sport in Japan. Essentially similar to fencing, kendo has its influences in sword practices of the samurai. Kendo came from kenjutsu which is a type of sword-based training and fighting that came from samurais. Kendo is a martial art that typically uses wooden/bamboo swords, not real metal swords. Two opponents wearing protective armour and black hakamas will “duel” against each other using various sword techniques.The roots of Kendo, The Way of the Sword, are to be found in Kenjutsu, the art of wining a real fight with real swords. The first accounts of the art of sword fighting is recorded about 400 CE and refer to Tachikaki (tachi means sword, and kaki is the form of drawing). In Japan today you find million of Kendo practitioners all over the country.

    In the Summer Olympics Japan is most successful in gymnastics.This is because they have won a total of 31 gold medals, 33 silver medals and 34 bronze medals in total. Furthermore they impressed everyone in their first appearance during the swimming event by beating the Americans.

  2. When was the Japanese sports created?
    After the Meiji restoration, various kinds of western sports were introduced into Japan. During the 1870’s track and field events, baseball, football, rugby union, cricket and ice skating were introduced.

    I couldn’t find any facts about the first second one and the second question.

    Is the Japanese sports still popular today?
    The most popular professional sports in Japan are baseball, association football, golf, tennis and sumo wrestling.

  3. Kendo
    Kendo is a martial art that is based on Japanese swordsmanship techniques. Practitioners use bamboo swords and wear protective armor. They also wear traditional Japanese garments known as hakama. Japanese Kendo uniforms are almost always black.

    Kendo is an activity that combines martial arts practices and values with strenuous sport-like physical activity. The All Japan Kendo Federation estimates that the number of “kendōka” in Japan is 1.66 million, with over 6 million practitioners worldwide. Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana.

    Kendo was developed as a form or mental training more than physical exercise but now is regarded a sport that emphasizes winning. It has many old customs associated with it. When you put on the uniform for example, you are supposed to start by placing you left leg in the trousers first. Kendo is best done on a springy wood floor.

    The concepts behind kendo date back to feudal times, when samurai would wait for their opponents to attack before making their move. Most blows are delivered with two hands of the wooden stave, which is regarded as wooden imitation of real sword.The shinai is meant to represent a Japanese sword (katana) and is made up of four bamboo slats, which are held together by leather fittings. A modern variation of a shinai with carbon fiber reinforced resin slats is also used. Kendōka also use hard wooden swords to practice kata.

    Kendo has become a well known international sport. World Kendo championships are held once in every three years.

    Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art created during the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba (1883~1969), an expert who reached the highest level of mastery in the classical Japanese Martial Arts.

    Aikido literally translates as ‘the way of the harmonious spirit’ and is a means of overpowering an opponent simply and effectively, but without injuring either party. An important aspect of aikido is mental training in order to achieve balance in mind, body and spirit.

    Aikido is a martial way that was created in Japan in the early 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) or O Sensei. O Sensei, which means ‘great teacher,’ was a man dedicated to the study of classical martial arts including the sword, spear, staff, and various types of empty-hand combat. O Sensei developed aikido through an intense and committed lifelong study of these ancient warrior traditions.

    O Sensei, however, was not merely satisfied to create an effective form of self-defense or combat. He sought true victory over himself as well. Through vigorous spiritual and physical training, the art of aikido emerged, which in Japanese means “way of harmony with the fundamental force of the universe.” Like other Japanese martial traditions, O Sensei’s aikido was a type of Budo, or martial path meant for the polishing of the spirit as well as the body.

    Aikido is performed by blending with the way the attacker moves, using the force of the attack rather than coming against it. This is achieved by using the attackers “ki” against them. This takes very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (person who does aikido) uses the force of the attacker’s own momentum using stepping and turning movements. The techniques are completed with many different throws or joint locks which can be combined with different defenses. Aikido is one of many grappling arts.

    Today, aikido is found all over the world in a number of styles, with broad ranges of interpretation and emphasis. However, they all share techniques formulated by Ueshiba and most have concern for the well- being of the mind.

    Judo, which means “gentle way” in Japanese, is a martial art created in Japan by Jigoro Kano in 1882. It was derived from the ancient techniques of jiu-jitsu. It is the most widely-practiced martial art in the world, and the second-most practiced sport worldwide behind football.

    Judo is a martial art that was born in Japan, and it is now known around the world as an Olympic sport. Judo was established in 1882 by combining jujitsu, a form of wrestling, with mental discipline.

    Japan was under the rule of group of professional soldiers known as Samurais from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. This was an era that witnessed the development of various martial arts and combat techniques throughout Asia. The Samurais made modifications to Jijisu, or jujitsu, a hand-to-hand combat style that was used extensively in military training.

    However, with the fall of Samurais in 1868 and the restoration of imperial rule in Japan under Emperor Meji, jujitsu started losing its sheen and popularity. Even though no bans were placed on the martial art, with increased westernization, people started losing interest in both training and practicing of it. The martial art would have been extinct during this era were it not for the contributions of Jigoro Kano.

    Kano Jigoro’s Kodokan judo is the most popular and well-known style of judo, but is not the only one. The terms judo and jujutsu were quite interchangeable in the early years.

    Swimming is learned and taught very actively in Japan. A large number of people, from infants to elderly people, frequent swim schools across Japan to promote their health. One large fitness club chain has approximately 360,000 members, some 100,000 of whom belong to its swimming and exercise classes for children. At top clubs, professional coaches provide instruction, and talented swimmers train under the same coach all the way from elementary school even into college. This long-term relationship is said to be supporting the growth of superior athletes.

    Swimming is actively taught not only at independent clubs but at schools as well. Moreover, quite a few districts regularly hold long-distance swims, in which children cover distances of perhaps one or two kilometers in offshore waters. Today this has become an internationally established competitive event known as open-water swimming, but for Japan – a maritime nation – it is a traditional event.

    Kosuke Kitajima is a Japanese retired breaststroke swimmer. He won gold medals for the men’s 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events at the Athens 2004, and the Beijing 2008.

    Sumo wrestling
    Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. Many rituals with religious background, such as the symbolic purification of the ring with salt, are still followed today. In line with tradition, only men practice the sport professionally in Japan.

    The rules are simple: the wrestler who first exits the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body besides the soles of his feet loses. Matches take place on an elevated ring (dohyo), which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand. A contest usually lasts only a few seconds, but in rare cases can take a minute or more. There are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning that wrestlers can easily find themselves matched off against someone many times their size. As a result, weight gain is an essential part of sumo training.

    Yūshō are awarded in all six professional sumo divisions. The prize money for a top makuuchi division championship is currently 10 million yen, while for the lowest jonokuchi division the prize is 100,000 yen. A runner-up is referred to as a jun-yūshō.

    • Wow what an excellent read Hadisa. I wasn’t aware of the use of bamboo swords in Kendo. I personally love the inflatable sumo suits but would be terrified if I was in an actual Sumo wrestling competition.

      Which sport would you like to try from the above?

  4. Baseball and softball are very popular sports in Japan. We met the national softball team when we went to Japan. It is known as yakyu, or puro yakyu. Baseball was introduced in 1872, it was not until 1936 that a professional league was formed. Japanese baseball is different from American baseball, Japanese baseball has a smaller ball, field, and strike zone (where you hit the ball from). This too was supposed to be a Tokyo 2020 sport. There is no ‘booing’ of the opposite team in Japanese Baseball or softball, such behaviour is frowned upon in Japan.

    Japan are very Sumo and Rugby.

    The Rugby world cup was hosted in 2019. We visited the stadium that the World Cup final took place at. They are currently ranked 7th in the world – this is very good for such a small country.

    Sumo wrestling is another martial art, it is very different and has a not of rituals unlike other martial arts. It is heavily centered around the Shinto religion. Sumo originated in China, however you are unlikely to see Sumo anywhere else in the world. The goal is to get your opponent out of the ring that you are wrestling in.

  5. Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art. You use a bamboo sword (shinai) and armour (bōgu) to protect yourself. The items are – a helmet (men), chest plate (do), waist band (tare), and gloves (kote). It descends from swordsmanship called Kenjutsu. When I went on the Young Ambassador trip to Japan we had a Kendo lesson. The Sensei showed us how to hold the sword and the different moves for example – a strike to the shoulder. It is believed that the origin of- Kendo started in the Heian Era – 794-1185 . In 1975, the All Japan Kendo Federation developed a guide to Kendo – The Concept and Purpose of Kendo, this is still used today. Kendo is still popular today as a form sport in schools and for recreation, although it is not an Olympic sport.

    Karate is a Japanese martial art. Karate means ’empty hand’. There is no equipment used in Karate, the special clothing is called a karategi. It originated in the Ryukyu Kingdom it was introduced to mainland Japan in the early 1900s. Gichin Funakoshi was the founder of Shotokan Karate. Karate can be practised as an art, a combat sport or self defense. Karate is practised all over the world by all different age groups. It was to be a sport at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games – this would be the first time.

    • That is so interesting Sofia! You were very lucky to have a Kendo lesson in Japan! Why do you think this year (in Tokyo) Karate would be included in the olympics?

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