it is quite safe, obviously you could get hurt, but in all of our meets, there has been one or two scrapes (and I’ve gooten 30-40 by practicing things by myself)
I think wrist guards and a helmet, like in every aspect of unicycling, should be worn
Part of the safety comes from the fact that you can grab onto your oppenent, and as he’s pushing you off, he’s also there for you to grab onto and slow down the process of falling off.
I think this is not something that a beginner should do. My experience has shown that if you are comfortable on the uni, you can idle (doesn’t have to be well) and you have very slow speed control, I think those are the bare minimums you should shoot for.
It’s really fun
edit: you’ll notice us not wearing wrist guards, and I have no helmet. This is certainly not recommended (this was more a pose for the pic than anything, and we weren’t geared up, unfortunately)
Steve Dressler and I hosted the Sumo tournaments at the last three UNICONs. Steve did most of the work, while I took more and more pictures…
I’ve been playing Sumo/Uni-Wrestling/Demolition Derby/Gladiators for many years. I used to do it with Bradley Bradley in my first year of riding, on giraffes. When played that way we called it Dogfighting. Not recommended. We quit doing it on the giraffes after an especially hard landing, where we came down in a heap, tangled up with the unicycles and each other. Who’s pedal is up my butt? That sort of thing, almost literally.
Safety equipment is never a bad idea. But the fact is, most of my sumo experience has been played on flat floors in recent years, and there was little or no safety equipment in evidence at the UNICON tournaments. This does not mean it’s a bad idea! My earlier sumo experiences were mostly outside, but never ended with worse than scrapes and bruises. Safety equipment recommended.
In UNICON tournament rules, which are not written down anywhere, there are no rules against use of feet or hopping. But house rules can be added, to fit whatever your situation may be. My friends and I used to have a rule against grabbing the seat, because it was too easy to unseat an opponent by grabbing the back. But later we learned to deal with that, either by evading the opponent in the first place, or being able to jerk away from the grabbed-on hand.
Sumo is pretty safe. If a rider is a total beginner, they probably shouldn’t be playing sumo until they can at least turn and mount. Beyond that, the key is having well-matched competitors. A more experienced player has to “play nice” to offer a reasonable challenge to a less-experienced opponent.
Since the intent of the game is to have fun, injuring your opponent takes away from that by ending the game. In most cases, riders are in contact when one or the other goes down, and the top rider can often help let the bottom rider down easy. And sumo games don’t necessarily end with somebody going down. If it’s really sumo you’re playing, pusing the opponent outside the chosen playing area is all it takes. You could even play a less violent version, and have it be all about pushing over the line and not dismounts.
The rules we used at UNICON also have safety components. The intent is to use pushing and pulling motions only, and not to do anything that will injure or inflict pain on the opponent. Keeping the game safe is the job of all players, and if they keep this in mind, the danger level is no greater than it is in learning any trick.
There should be no contact on the head and neck, though I just thought of that and it was not included for UNICON play. I thought of this remembering a video clip I have of world champion Jose Roman in one of the final matches, against Jamie Mossengren. Jose pushed his hands upward, which ended in him pusing Jamie’s face up and back. This was an illegal move then, and would be better covered by a “no head or neck” rule.
So you can grab and pull on arms and legs, push on the other rider or grab the unicycle. But you can’t poke their eyes, pull their hair, or twist their arm or wrist to use pain as the tool to bend them. Also, no grabbing of the clothes. This rule makes life equal between people wearing different clothes, and saves lots of repair sewing. We ripped a lot of shirts and jacket pockets in the early days!
Lastly, liability. In today’s society, liability looms over all unicycling activity. If you actually have insurance coverage for “unicycling,” you are, in theory, covered. Is wrestling (real wrestling, like in the Olympics) dangerous? You can get hurt, like any other physical activity, but I don’t think it’s especially so. Unicycle Sumo is a relatively low impact sport, and should only be played with honor, by players who are doing it for fun, and not at the expense of their competitors.
>We never use safety equipment, but I would recommend helmet and hand
Hi, Lars. I love sumo – our club is getting into it now. Thanks for all
your help and advice last summer.
As for hand-protection, I must caution readers that using some
wrist-guards CAN be dangerous…for your opponent. I hurt a few people
last year when my wrists hit them in the chest or hands. So now I don’t
wear guards, and I hope that I don’t fall badly. I’d rather hurt myself
than my opponent.
Helmets are probably a good idea, tho I don’t use one.