Concept

Ssireum

Summary
Ssireum (Hangul: 씨름) or Korean wrestling is a folk wrestling style and traditional national sport of Korea that began in the fourth century. In the modern form each contestant wears a belt (satba) that wraps around the waist and the thigh. The competition employs a series of techniques, which inflict little harm or injury to the opponent: opponents lock on to each other's belt, and one achieves victory by bringing any part of the opponent's body above the knee to the ground. There have been other terms for "wrestling" in Korean used alongside ssireum, such as gakjeo (각저:角抵), gakhui (각희:角戱), gakryeok (각력:角力), gakji (각지:角支), chiuhui (치우희:蚩尤戱), sangbak (상박:相撲), jaenggyo (쟁교:爭交). Gak (각:角), a commonly used prefix, seems to have originated from the combative act performed by horned animals such as oxen when competing against one another for the superiority of physical strength. Ssireum wrestlers seek to turn the opponent's torso from about 45 degrees to 90 degrees when throwing. This is mostly done by shifting the opponent's weight onto their leg then pushing back their weight toward the floor. The earliest evidence of ssireum dates back to the Goguryeo period. Originally used in military applications, ssireum became a popular pastime of the people, including many Korean kings, during the Goryeo and Joseon periods. In traditional life, ssireum was a popular activity on the Korean holiday of Dano, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, and tournaments are held in the summer and autumn. Ssireum competitions were also held on other days such as the Third Day of the Third Moon, the Eighth day of the Fourth Moon and Buddhist All Souls' Day.. The traditional prize at a tournament was an ox, a valuable commodity in an agriculturally based society and symbolizing the strength of the contestant. In the 20th century, ssireum became a nationally televised sport in South Korea. The first modern competition was held in 1912 at Dansongsa theater in Seoul. Korean wrestling has been referred to as ssireum since the 1920s.
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