"Sumo stadium" by  (CC BY 2.0)

Where the culture of sumo wrestling is one based on respect and civility. But are there important lessons to be learned from the foundations of culture that sumo is built upon, and can these translate to business in the western world? Well, the recent fracas between two football teams Manchester United and Manchester City found itself compared negatively to the world of sumo wrestling by another football manager so, clearly, even in the most public and showy of businesses in the UK (those relating to the Premier League), respect is something being demanded.

While Sumo itself has slipped in recent times when it comes to upholding its strict traditions and is recovering from allegations of a culture of bullying, the act of respect tends to be present to such an extent that, in matches, the level of mutual regard can be so excessive it can be hard to see who has actually won a bout. The recent falls from grace come against the backdrop of a very strict set of rules and traditions that simply must be upheld.

How Can the Sumo Way Be Used To Show Respect?

Using the image of a sumo wrestler as a positive image in business marketing is a strategy already being used to good effect in some industries. The popular and well-reviewed Casumo online brand makes use of a sumo wrestler (the eponymous "Casumo") to portray a positive image to its customers, whilst Sports.com once used an animated sumo character as a trusted virtual means to break sports news to avid readers.

Actual sumo wrestlers in Japan are very much expected not only to be ambassadors for their sport, which constitutes a massive business in itself, raking in serious money in the country, but also for the whole of Japan (regardless of the wrestler's nationality), so it makes sense for brands and businesses to use the Sumo image as a mark of serious trust and earned authority. 

Embracing the New

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of sumo's development has been the fact that a range of foreign-born wrestlers have become big players in the sport. Sumo is clearly a changing and evolving world and it now has grand champions who have not been born in Japan. In a changing world, the ability of a truly ancient sport to change whilst still following set traditions and the key teachings of respect is an inspirational message to take into the business world for other industries in other countries.

Fat bastards
"Maku-Uchi 2" by  (CC BY 2.0)

Indeed, with businesses now dealing with a smaller, more connected world, those based in the UK can make sure they try to portray the UK as a country where businesses are able to be trusted and reliably able to show respect to different cultures and different businesses. Business representatives looking to ensure that they are able to present their companies in a positive light when it comes to representing UK business as a whole should, therefore, clearly look to sumo rather than the football world as a culture to follow.