The painting titled "Sangbak" (상박 相撲) drawn by Kim, Hongdo illustrates people gathering around to watch a ssireum competition in the late 18th century. Kim Hongdo, better known as Danwon (1745&ndashc 1806 was a painter of the late Joseon period.
|Also known as||gakjeo; gakhui; gakryeok; gakgii; chiuhui; sangbak; jaenggyo|
|Country of origin||Korea|
Ssireum (also called Sirum, Korean: 씨름) is a Korean wrestling style and is the traditional national sport of Korea. Grappling refers to the gripping handling and controlling of an opponent without the use of striking, typically through the application of various Grappling holds Many Sports involve a degree of player-to-player and/or player-to-object contact Korea is a geographic area composed of two sovereign countries a civilization and a former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. This article is mainly about the spoken Korean language See Hangul for details on the native Korean writing system Korea is a geographic area composed of two sovereign countries a civilization and a former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. Wrestling is the act of physical engagement between two people in which each wrestler strives to get an advantage over or control of the opponent In the modern form each contestant wears a belt 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. 
The history of Ssireum started around the same time that communities started to form. To protect themselves, primitive societies learned to use wrestling styles as a form of self-defense. During this period, when grappling was the predominant form of combat, various other techniques were developed. As civilizations began to evolve, Ssireum became a military art. The sport continued to be played and used for military purposes. Ssireum is the oldest of traditional Korean sports and is depicted in wall paintings in the royal tombs of the Goguryeo kingdom (37 BC to 660 AD). Goguryeo or Koguryo was an ancient Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean peninsula, southern Manchuria, and Gakjeochong (각저총:角抵塚) murals show that wrestling in Korea dates back as early as the pre-Three Kingdom era.  “Book of Later Han,” a Chinese document that was written before the history of the Three Kingdoms also has records of Ssireum, evidencing that Ssireum has been practiced even during prehistoric times. The Book of the Later Han ( is one of the official Chinese Historical works which was compiled by Fan Ye in the 5th century, using The Three Kingdoms of Korea ( refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula
Ssireum first gained widespread popularity during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Evidence of this is shown through the genre pictures of Kim Hongdo (see the above picture, Sangbak (상박:相撲)). Kim Hongdo, better known as Danwon (1745&ndashc 1806 was a painter of the late Joseon period. 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. Dano, also called Surit-nal, is a Korean holiday that falls on the 5th day of the fifth month of the lunar Korean calendar. However, Ssireum competitions were also held on other days such as the Third Day of the Third Moon, the Eighth day of the Fourth Moon, Buddhist All Souls’ Day, etc. The townspeople would gather sharing in their joy and release mental and physical tensions resulting from the strenuous work that lasted from spring to fall. In the past, the traditional prize for winning a tournament was an ox, a valuable commodity in agriculturally-oriented society, which symbolized the strength of the contestant.
According to historical documents, Ssireum has been referred to by various names such as gakjeo (각저:角抵), gakhui (각희:角戱), gakryeok (각력:角力), gakgii (각지:角支), chiuhui (치우희:蚩尤戱), sangbak (상박:相撲), jaenggyo (쟁교:爭交), with each name explaining how the methods of Ssireum have developed. Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. More specifically it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated The Revised Romanization of Korean is the official Korean language Romanization system in South Korea. McCune-Reischauer romanization is one of the two most widely used Korean language Romanization systems along with the Revised Romanization of Korean, which  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. Chinese people used to call the Korean combat style goguryogi (고구려기:高句麗技), but since 1920 Koreans have been calling the traditional sport Ssireum, also spelled Sirum.
Ssireum is conducted within a circular ring, measuring approximately 7 meters in diameter, which is covered with mounded sand. The two contestants begin the match by kneeling on the sand in a grappling position (baro japki), each grabbing a belt (known as a satba), which is wrapped around his opponent's waist and thigh. The wrestlers then rise while retaining their hold on the other's 'satba. ' The match is awarded to the wrestler who forces the other contestant to touch the ground with any part of his body at knee level or higher. Unlike sumo, pushing your opponent outside of the ring does not warrant a win, just a restart. Normally, professional ssireum is contested in a best-out-of-three style match.
There are 3 judges, a chief referee and three sub referees. The chief judge is positioned inside the ring, whereas the sub referees are located on the outside of the ring, one to the right and others to the left. If an unfair judgment is called or the chief referee in unable to render a decision, the sub referees can request a revocation of the decision or a rematch. In addition, they can recommend the cessation of the match when an injury occurs. The referees’ decisions throughout the competition are absolute and held in the highest regard, meaning that athletes cannot challenge any judgments declared during the match.
Today there are also women Ssireum wrestlers. Women wrestle only among themselves but follow the same rules (except that men are topless whereas women wear tops).
There are 4 weight classes in professional wrestling: flyweight (Taebaek), lightweight (Geumgang), middleweight (Halla), and heavyweight (Baekdu), named after the four famous peaks in Korea. Taebaek is a city in Gangwon province South Korea. Its name is shared with that of the Taebaek Mountains. Hallasan is a Shield volcano on Jeju Island of South Korea. Hallasan is the highest Mountain of South Korea Baekdu Mountain, also known as Changbai Mountain in China, is a volcanic Mountain on the border between China and North Korea
Traditionally Ssireum was contested with the top portion of the trousers rolled down to provide grip. The use of "satba" was invented with the birth of professional Ssireum in the mid-20th century. There is a movement to restore this traditional method of grip, in the spirit of maintaining its cultural and traditional roots, but it has met with some resistance as the use of "satba" has become entrenched in the modern form.
The professional league is dwindling in popularity and many wrestlers have turned their attention to mixed martial arts fighting, even though Ssireum involves no striking or submissions of any kind, as a means of making a living. Mixed martial arts (MMA is a full contact Combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques from a mixture of Martial arts traditions and Choi Hong-man, former champion of Ssireum, is enjoying notable success in the K-1 scene. Choi Hong-man ( Korean: 최홍만 Hanja: 崔洪萬 South Korean born on October 30, 1980 in Jeju-do) is a Korean K-1 is a Combat sport that combines stand up techniques from Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, Savate, San shou Unfortunately, the future of professional Ssireum remains bleak, with only one team remaining. However, it can also be argued that Ssireum is beginning to undergo global expansion as a popular martial arts sport, alongside tae kwon do and hapkido. Taekwondo (Korean태권도thɛʔkwʌndo Englishˈteɪˈkwɒnˈdoʊ is a Korean Martial art and the National sport of South Korea Hapkido (also spelled hap ki do or hapki-do) is a dynamic and eclectic Korean martial art.
It is important to note the differences between Ssireum and sumo. Ssireum has remained largely a national/traditional sport. Physical hits such as slaps and blows are not permitted in Ssireum, though they are in sumo. In both sports, the competitors are often quite large, though Korean wrestlers tend to be leaner. However, size does not guarantee success in either sport. Although both sports are quite similar, they differ in characteristics as well as values.
Ssireum is a characterized by Korean exponents as a peaceful competition focusing on harmony and unison, reflecting the philosophical outlook of Korea.