Sumo bouts

Japanese page is here.


How many official tournaments are there each year?

Since 1958, there have been six tournaments a year, held on odd-numbered months. Originally, there were only two annual tournaments. A third was added in 1949, a fourth in 1953, and a fifth in 1957.

For how many bouts does a rikishi wait ringside?

A rikishi must be in the “waiting” position next to the ring two bouts before his own. There are always two rikishi each on either side of the judges on the east and west sides.

Are ringside rikishi always waiting for their bouts?

No. Sometimes they are rikishi who have lost their bouts. There must always be one rikishi available when bouts are postponed or completed. Therefore, before the final bouts, you will probably find a losing rikishi sitting next to the ring.

Can any ringside rikishi serve strength water?

A rikishi waiting by the ring will give “strength water” to rikishi in the ring. This is a point of sumo etiquette. If, however, the waiting rikishi has lost his bout that day, he cannot do the honors. There is no rule for this, but it is done to avoid bringing the same bad luck to a fellow rikishi. If there are only losing rikishi on hand, the water will be provided by a yobidashi. It should be noted that this ritual “strength water” is not used for bouts that are not part of official tournaments .

What do rikishi do after they climb into the ring?

After the yobidashi calls their names, rikishi step into the ring and go through the following ritual before the bout begins:

  1. Stamping. The east rikishi stands under the red tassel, and the west rikishi under the white. They turn their backs to the ring and clap once. Then they raise their right leg, stamp, and then their left and stamp once more.
  2. They receive “strength water” and rinse out their mouths with it.
  3. They wipe their mouths with the “strength paper.”
  4. Then they fling a handful of salt into the ring.
  5. At the ring entrance, they go through the ritual chiri motions: the rikishi crouch and face each other, then clap and put their arms out straight from their sides.
  6. They go back to the salt baskets for more salt.
  7. The rikishi then move to the face-offlines where they stamp again.
  8. Then they crouch at the lines, stand up, place their feet, bend over, and take their face-off positions.
  9. The above steps are repeated until pre-bout time is up.
  10. When the time is up, the bout begins.

What does it mean to “cut chiri”?

A rikishi stands on his toes, and squats, bending his knees out to the side. He puts his arms out straight from his sides, and then brings his palms together and claps. This clap is taken from Shinto ritual. He then puts his arms back out to his sides with his palms facing up, and then turns them down. This entire process is called “cutting chiri.” Another way to say it is chirichozu. The rikishi is showing his opponent that he is unarmed and prepared to fight fair and square.

Does a rikishi toss salt after each chirichozu ?

Yes. Rikishi also fling salt after each time they meet their opponent at the face-off lines. All ritual motions are repeated until the pre-bout time is over.

How much salt are rikishi supposed to toss?

Rikishi can take any amount of salt – a fistful is fine, and so is just a pinch. But it must be tossed into the ring. Eating it will not fulfill the ritual of tossing it. Sometimes rikishi even sprinkle it on their feet, probably to ward off injuries.

What do rikishi do after bouts?

When a bout is over, the two rikishi bow to each other, and the winner is declared by the gyoji, as the loser leaves the ring. The winner gives strength water to the next rikishi on his side, while the loser bows toward the ring and exits the hall. No matter how a rikishi feels about losing, etiquette requires that he bow to his opponent. Rikishi have been known to strike a victory pose after winning, but this is not considered polite. If a rikishi makes a show of his emotions, it is safe to say that he will be issued a warning.

Maya rikishi stand up while the gyoji declares him the winner?

The gyoji stands in front of the winner, raises his gunbai (umpire’s fan), and calls out his name, but there are no rules about the position of the rikishi. Winners, however, always squat down. It is said that this squatting position expresses thanks. When there is an incentive prize, both the rikishi and gyoji crouch as the gyoji places the envelope with the prize on his gunbai and passes it to the rikishi.

Maya rikishi receive an incentive prize without making the “hand sword” cutting motions?

No, he is required to crouch and go through the motions.

What happens if there is no incentive prize?

While squatting, the rikishi raises his right hand up towards the center of his body and makes one diagonal cutting motion down to the right.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x