These Girls Are Defying Stereotypes In Sumo Wrestling

Nana Abe, 12, is a real sumo champion: She has been practising since she was 8 years outdated and has hardly ever misplaced a contest. In Japan, membership sports activities are a big a part of adolescence and what number of college students bond with their classmates. Sumo — a historic Japanese martial artwork and longtime favourite sport within the nation — is open solely to males on the skilled stage, however that doesn’t cease some ladies from practising it as a membership sport.

Tokyo-based photographer Yulia Skogoreva has been photographing ladies and younger ladies who follow sumo for years. “The traditions in Japan are difficult,” says Skogoreva. “When folks come and go to the nation, that is a part of why they like it a lot, as a result of a lot of that custom continues to be intact. However there’s additionally the query of gender equality, and may we work out a solution to have each?”

Abe’s dream is to proceed her profession as an expert, however proper now there isn’t a means for ladies to proceed after commencement from college within the present system. Feminine sumo wrestlers on the membership stage are passionate concerning the sport and provides their sweat and tears to show that they need to compete. “I want that these ladies might have the chance to proceed their profession,” says Skogoreva. “For the time being even in Japan only a few folks know that feminine sumo exists. I hope that my challenge will assist these ladies to get extra consideration and attain their objective someday.”

Skogoreva, who has lived in Japan for over 10 years, understands the dream {of professional} athleticism, and her objective is to seize motion and house in a nonetheless picture. She grew up in Moscow and ceaselessly went to see ballet. She ended up in Tokyo to review at Nippon Images Institute and continued to {photograph} dance. “I just like the pure state of individuals shifting,” Skogoreva says. “Dancers neglect concerning the digicam, they simply do what they do. I began seeing dance strikes once I watched every kind of sports activities.”

She was particularly excited by sumo, which has many rituals forward of the fights that may usually appear like dance — the skilled wrestlers generally strategy the ring in colourful costume that exhibits their rank, and opponents assemble on the dohyō (the raised ring) forward of the match to stomp and showcase in a choreographed ritual ceremony known as the “dohyōiri.” Skogoreva was initially curious concerning the world of male sumo wrestlers, as a result of she had by no means heard of ladies taking on the game. Then a good friend despatched her an article a few feminine sumo wrestler, and her curiosity was piqued. “It’s an extremely tight-knit and closed-off world. It took greater than a yr to get the permissions to {photograph} there. I reached out to Russian wrestlers, after which once I got here again to Tokyo with images of Russian wrestlers, it grew to become so much simpler.”

She plans to maintain engaged on the challenge, photographing sumo wrestlers in Japan and elsewhere, in addition to persevering with to {photograph} Nana and her older sister, Sakura. “They’re rising and altering yearly. I’d like to hold photographing her till she graduates college, and possibly even after.”

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