The Sumo Drill

There is a great drill called the Sumo Drill that can help your pummeling/upper body game as well as help develop awareness of your surroundings/boundaries. This is great for wrestling, because it helps develop positioning and upper body skills - especially for kids with minimal exposure to greco who are intimidated by upper body work, this helps them get comfortable there. In some ways, I sort of think of the Sumo drill as "advanced hand-fighting."

Although I don't claim to be a "street" expert, I think it helps in that area as well - trying to take your opponent down or out without going to the ground with them, or at least making them hit the ground first, and also having to be very mindful of your surroundings and how much room you do or don't have.

I pretty sure it's very close the "real" rules of Sumo wrestling - if not, it's close enough for me. I never really appreciated Sumo too much (thought it was just a couple of fat dudes in a shoving match) until I once saw "lightweight" sumo, which was under 200 lbs sumo. It looks very similar to a good greco match (not identical, but similar).

Here's how it works:

In most wrestling rooms, the mats will have little circles on them like the circle in the middle of a regulation wrestling mat. The exact dimensions may vary, but the circle is usually about 8 feet in diameter. If you don't have those little circles, you can do what I did in our wrestling room, which is put down a little circle (or even a square) of athletic tape, then tape over it with mat tape to protect it.

The two opponents start out standing on the lines and face each other. The first one to step out of bounds loses (or touch ANY part of his body out of bounds), or the first one to touch any part of his body other than his feet in-bounds loses.

So the object is to either push your opponent out of bounds, or get him to touch a knee, hand, or whatever, in-bounds. You've got to be physical, brutal, and violent! }:-] ...but still maintain good positioning, self-control, and balance.

Low leg attacks ARE allowed. Bare in mind, however, that if you shoot a low single or something and touch your knee or hand to the mat - you lost. So the Sumo drill ends up looking "Greco-ish."

Good strategies are things like snap downs (get him to touch his hands/knees), trips, foot sweeps, duck unders, body locks, snatch singles, whatever. There is also the "bum rush" tactic where you just charge your opponent to knock him out - one warning though: it might work the first time against an opponent, but probably not again, lol ("Fool me once..." kind of thing).

A technicality: in order to "win" you can go out of bounds with your opponent, as long as he touches out first, or if you hit your knee or something, you can still win as long as he touched down or out first. There is no "Oh, it didn't count 'cuz you stepped out too." As long as he was first, you won.

At our wrestling club, there are two circles. I'll usually split the guys up into two groups, and they'll take turns being "referee" for each other. The Sumo "matches" usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds each, and the guys will take turns rotating in on each other.

It's a great drill for developing some of the skills I mentioned above, and it's also pretty damn fun too. :-)

Good idea Chip. I think that would work well for MMA training as well. We used to hand fight a lot but we never made a contest out of it. TTT

I have been using this drill for years in my kids judo class. We do it as a game at the end of practice. The kids think its a blast. We make a circle with judo belts and start with the smallest and go until the line is completed. Then we go back down the line only using one leg, same rules but they have to hop on one leg. Sometimes the smaller kids get the best of the bigger kids. But like Chip said its great for developing skills while having fun.

I did this as a warm up on Wednesday. I'm about 6'2" and 220 lbs and was going against somebody almost my exact size.

Our target was to go for 3 minute rounds with constant motion. Once a guy goes out you get back to the middle fast and keep going.

After the 3 minute round my pulse was up at nearly 200 beats per minute (I'm 43). It came down pretty quickly, but that was a damned hard 3 minutes. I started doing just one minute rounds after that.

That is one damned tough drill if you really go for it. I won't be using the 3 minute round for a warm up again any time soon. I was drained for the rest of the session, but still managed to get in another hour of grappling. It turned out to be survival training.

"That is one damned tough drill if you really go for it."

Damn right, mrpallen! When some of the guys in our club get into this drill, they end up looking like two tasmanian devil-type whirlwinds trying to pummel the snot out of each other. Ah... it's a beautiful thing!

At one practice this summer, one of the guys in our club (2nd in state last year, hopefully state champ this year) grinned at me after a few sumo sessions - he had blood on his teeth from a cut in his mouth and a black eye - and says, "My GOD I love sumo!" LOL

great drill.......

great drill, been doing it at the club for a while now.

Weird thing. i made a few posts yesterday (on this thread and the Eustice one) on this forum and they're gone/deleted. Wondering what happened.

Hank, sorry buddy, not sure what may have happened. I'm sure they weren't deleted - probably some technical problem...?

It's an excellent drill.A spinofff on it is to pair them up close in size. Having them stand chest to chest, arms behind them and do the same drill.. Great for building leg drive, and can also quickly teach a kid when he's leaning in too hard (if you step away, he goes flying)

Thanks, I'll give it a try next week at class.
Gerald Boggs

Todd, I've never thought of that. Sounds like a cool little variation! I'll have to introduce that one at the next practice.