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Traditional Korean Sports

sireum is the most popular traditional Korean sport and has been part of the peninsula's history for years. Ssireum is a wrestling contest between men, and also a popular form of entertainment. Two wrestlers pull, push, and try to turn each other upside down during each round. If the game is played competitively, a player loses the game when his upper body touches the ground.

Traditionally, Korean people have Ssireum contests during the Tano Festival on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, and during Chusok, which is on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. But, in recent years, people have begun to hold Ssireum competitions in various regions, in any season except winter. Winners of Ssireum competitions receive titles such as Cheonha Jangsa, Baekdu Jangsa, and Halla Jangsa after finishing the competition. Professional Ssireum is a very popular spectator sport among the young and the old.

Origins of Ssireum

Wall paintings depicting Ssireum matches have been found in tombs, located in Manchuria, which date back to the Goguryo dynasty. Based on this evidence, we suppose that Ssireum existed in that period. We also believe that Ssireum existed in the Goryo period based on documents that record a certain King watching a Ssireum match. Since then, the sport has become entertainment for men on traditional Korean holidays, such as Tano, Baek Joong, and Han Ga Wi, (Harvest Moon Festival) in various regions.

As for the basic posture of the sport, two competitors are sitting face to face on their knees in the center of a large circle of sand. Red and Blue bands are bound around their waists and thighs. Then, holding the opponent's thigh band with one hand, they stand up simultaneously at the order of the referee and then struggle against each other, locking their shoulders together.

As for the skill of Ssireum, it may be divided roughly into two basic skillss, which are throwing and counterattacking. Throwing involves pulling the opponent toward you, lifting him up, and throwing the opponent to the ground. Many other skills such as pulling, pushing, or turning the opponent, with ones hands legs and feet are necessary for the competitor to throw his opponent to the ground. Counterattack skills are designed to defend ones self from being thrown to the ground.

Match Rules

In a competition, the winner is the first competitor to throw his opponent to the ground. A Ssireum match consists of 3 rounds of wresting in which one opponent must get 2 wins. If there is no winner after 3 rounds, the competitor who has a heavier weight or, the competitor who received more warnings, automatically loses the game. When the referee gives a competitor a first warning, the competitor receives a half score for that round. If he receives a second warning, he loses one round.

If he receives three warnings from the referee, he loses his right to compete in the match. In addition, if a competitor commits an infringement such as strangling or throttling his opponent, twisting or breaking arms, shaking his fist, head butting, kicking, or covering his opponent's eyes, the competitor is disqualified from the competition.

(Sourced from WHAT'S ON SEOUL)

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