Frequently Asked Questions:
- I haven't time to read your whole
web site. What are the basics?
- What happens if it rains on
the day of my outdoor event?
- Are you insured and what is covered?
- How much space do you need
for a Sumo Experience event?
- How many people can a Sumo Experience
event cater for?
- How long does a Sumo Experience event run for?
- Can I have a Sumo party in my local park?
- How long does it take to get the suits on?
- How early should I book?
- Did I hear right? You do fire-breathing too!?
- Can I drink and Sumo?
- I could hire the suits myself, so what are the extras you offer?
- What is not covered in a Sumo
- I'm really competitive. Can you give me some winning tips?
- What are the future plans for
Q. I haven't time to read
your whole web site. Can you just tell me the basics?
A. OK, this is the quick corporate tour of the essentials:
- Service - for
the distinctive of what we offer see Welcome.
- Space -
for how much room is needed see FAQ.
- Conditions - for who can and can't Sumo see
- Costs -
for fees and extras see Prices.
- Booking - for our
email, phone, etc.
Q. What happens if it rains
on the day of my outdoor event?
A. You have a choice:
- You can go ahead with the event and try to dodge the showers. The suits
won't be damaged by a little rain. However the mat quickly becomes slippery and the event will become disjointed by stop-starting.
- You can cancel. You will either loose your
deposit, or you can reuse your deposit to re-book.
- A real belt-and-braces approach is to reserve an appropriate indoors venue as a fall back. There is always the chance that you can negotiate a 'sale or return' with the hall hirer (it has been done!) in which case it will cost you nothing if the weather holds. But depending on the nature of your event may not always be not always possible.
Some of our customers have suggested running Sumo under a marquee and although there will be marquees out there big enough (to cover the 22ft x 22ft combat area), they need to be free of supporting poles in the centre. This specification will be difficult to source and (we suspect) frighteningly expensive.
Q. Are you insured and what is covered?
A. We have Public Liability Insurance to the
tune of £5,000,000.
This is standard Public Liability Insurance for the 'inflatables industry' to cover you against injury (see our safety page). But the gray men at the insurance company have included a mix of sensible and killjoy conditions that grows annually. The current highlights are:
- The equipment cannot be used at the same licensed venue for more than eight consecutive days and only for four periods in year and never in nightclubs
- Children (under 16) can only compete against others of a similar age and size
- The competition ring cannot be used on concrete, car park or similar.
Q. How much space do you need
for a Sumo Experience event?
A. The crash mat is 12 feet by 12 feet and an
additional boarder is required for spills, spectators and waiting contestants.
This means that a clear flat area of at least 22 feet by 22 feet (6.7 meters by 6.7 meters) is
required. This is an important safety requirement as, despite the thick padding of the suits, a fall against a wall or pillar would be dangerous.
Q. How many people can a Sumo
Experience event cater for?
A. This will depend on the people involved. Sumo
Experience runs a single "dohyo" (Sumo arena) so only two
people can wrestle at any given time. Watching
can be as entertaining as joining in. There is no particular limit to
the number of reserved onlookers, and the headcount of "I'll-just-give-it-one-go"
people can also be quite high. For team building events where full participation is the aim, the ideal target number is 12. So anything between about 8 and 14 works well. But remember that men aren't permitted to fight women so you will have a problem if there is only a token member of the opposite sex there.
Q. How long does a Sumo Experience event run for?
A. For a team building event we have found that 90 minutes is the ideal length for the Sumo bit although this is customisable to your requirements. The Sumo-Station always proves very popular at Fun days and Fairs and for this very reason we cannot serve for any more than two hours at these events. Your event may well be a four hour stretch but picking up combatants from the crash mat for that length of time would just be too much for the back of your "Gyoji" (Sumo referee)!
Q. Can I have a Sumo party in my local park?
A. The answer is a qualified, 'Yes'. However, if you contract Sumo Experience for your party in the park, the event would be regarded as 'commercial', so you will need to get permission from the park authorities. We are often asked to do parties in the London parks and have previously been refused permission. If you check out the London Royal Parks Picnic Guidelines and their detailed Regulations you will find that Sumo wresting isn't mentioned. So it may be worth you giving your park of choice a call to check what their policy is - you never know you might get through to a friendlier park keeper than we did!
Q. How long does it take to get the suits on?
A. Putting on a sumo fat-suit is just like pulling on a big heavy vest, then all that is needed is the neck brace and helmet (both Velcro fastened) Take a look at this movie clip and you'll see that it takes as little as 15 seconds to get a suit off one combatant and another 15 to get it onto the next. So to swap out one pair for the next is about a minute; leaving more time for posing and fighting!
Q. How early should I book?
A. We could say 'as early as possible' but that's not the answer you're looking for. Two months ahead would be a good policy. But never assume that you've left it too late. We have taken a booking at 20 hours notice before now and are looking to better that.
Q. Did I hear right? You do fire-breathing too!
A. That's right, for an additional charge your Gyoji (referee) will perform a brief fire-breathing display at the end of your event. But let's be clear about this; its fire-breathing, not fire-eating (that would be dangerous). OK, its not really Japanese but its a trick that Martin picked up during his days as a rock singer (at open-air concerts you need to be seen from the back!) Unfortunately due to the sensitivity of modern fire-detection equipment this can only be arranged it the venue allows or at out-door events (weather permitting).
Q. Can I drink and Sumo?
A. No. Or at least not at the same time. The
Sumo must come first as there are safety and public liability issues. We suggest that if you have both planned you position Sumo as an ice-breaker at the start of your evening. Please read the safety page carefully
for further details.
Q. I could hire the suits myself, so what are the extras you offer?
A. Good question. You can hire similar equipment from other companies who will drop it on your lawn like they would a bouncy castle. Sumo Experience is so much more than a hire company. With us you get:
- the `Gyoji' - the host and master of ceremonies, referee and purveyor of fun
- the ceremony - the `gyoji` comes in full regalia, kimono and hat.
- participation - with the traditions of salt throwing, parading and stomping as well as wearing your souvenir team bandana
- keeping the score - on a large whiteboard
- sound effects - from a gong, japanese mood music and a megaphone (if needed!)
- mood - with a few blasts from the smoke machine (venue permitting) and (optional) fire breathing display
- safety - the supervision for safe fun and self-service first aid if by chance you do get battle scared!
Q. What is not covered in a Sumo Experience event?
A. This clearly can't be an exhaustive list,
but the obvious ones to state are:
- the venue (that is over to you to book or host)
- food and drink
- rain cover (events under the sky are subject to whatever falls
out of the sky)
- prizes (currently the only prizes are a sense of triumph and possible
smugness depending on your nature!)
- transport of guests to or from the event
Q. I'm really competitive. Can you give me some winning tips?
A. Indeed we can. After watching
literally thousands of fat-suit fight we can let you know some of the insider secrets. (Consider it a reward for having read so far into our website!)
- Be Big - The person with the bigger body mass has an immediate advantage just like in real Sumo wrestling.
- Be a Rugby Player - Rugby players are trained to get their legs pumping and push through their opponent. This is very effective for Sumo too.
- Hitch your skirts up - Lifting the bottom of the suit up onto your thighs means that you can spread your feet wider aiding balance and making you more agile. The skirt of the sumo suit will otherwise restrict your movement and give a similar effect to having your shoelaces tied together.
- Dodge - Simply step to one side when your opponent initially runs at you and he will crash straight out of the 'Dohyo' (ring). (This usually only works once!) But be careful not to step out of the ring yourself.
- Be Slippery - Don't let your opponent get a straight push at you. Keep your legs moving from side to side or even spin. There will be a good chance that you opponent with loose balance and fall, or step, out of the 'Dohyo' (ring). A good grip on your opponent and wrestling him from side to side can have the same effect. This is a good strategy if your opponent is bigger and/or stronger than you.
- Push down - One of the rules is that if any part of the body except for the feet touch the ground you are out. So lock with your opponent and then push his shoulder down. This means that you gain a quick win without having to test your strength too much. (This is my own technique when I have been challenged by younger bucks. It's not pretty - but it's effective!)
Things to avoid:
- Don't Jump - When you are in the air you have nothing to push against.
- Don't Kick - It may have a place in most marshal arts but not in sumo, you will find yourself off balance and easily pushed out.
- Don't Wait - There is no advantage in giving your opponent time to make the first move.
- Don't Look Down - This is where Rugby players can come undone. If you don't keep your opponent in your sights he may dodge you.
- Don't Step Out - This may sound obvious but what some people do is stick a leg out behind them to angle themselves for the push, often, outside of the boundary of the 'Dohyo' (ring).
- Don't Touch the Floor - Steady yourself with a hand on the floor and you'll be out before you fall.
- Don't Laugh - You can't push and laugh at the same time. (Ask any woman whose been through labour.)
Q. What are the future plans for Sumo Experience?
A. There are constant improvements and lots of plans. Since inception we have introduced a
Japanese-style bandana for every guest to wear and take away as a Sumo Experience memento, a large gong to accent the ceremonials, a sound track for mood and a smoke machine for where the venue allows. There is also now a
feedback page where our clients can let
us know how we scored against their expectations. Also a safety assessment document has been compiled and will be
reviewed at least quarterly (copies available via the safety page). We eventually plan to produce a promotional DVD that can be used
as introduction to a Sumo Experience event but will also instruct on safety issues. Much of the footage that we are likely to use is already available on the movies page. We have already trialed projection of real sumo footage onto venue walls. Beyond that we have plans to add lighting as the scale of our operations enable. Watch this space!