Sumo tournament bouts

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When do the day’s bouts begin?

The time varies from day to day. Generally, on days when there is pre-sumo, bouts begin thirty minutes to an hour earlier than usual, at about 8:30 or 8:40 a.m. The final day of a tournament (senshuraku) starts two hours later, at about 10: 20 a.m. As a rule, the final bout of the day ends at 6 p.m., but this is usually about a half hour earlier on the final day because it is followed by the awards ceremony. If there are several rematches, the schedule tends to run past 6 p.m. If you are watching TV and you notice that sumo is still being broadcast after 6:00, you can assume that this is probably the case .

How many bouts are there a day?

For ranks with a limited number of rikishi, the number of bouts is pre-determined:

  • makuuchi:18 bouts
  • makushita:30 bouts
  • juryo:13 bouts
  • sandanme:48 bouts

Because there are no set numbers of jonokuchi and jonidan rikishi, the number varies from tournament to tournament. On the fifth day of the January 1997 tournament, there were 86 jonidan and 23 jonokuchi bouts.

Who decides the bout combinations?

Bouts are set up based on specified procedures at the bout combination conference.

Who attends in the bout combination conference?

The same members as for the banzuke ranking conference.

  • Chairman of the judging committee
  • Members of the judging committee
  • Supervisors

Supervisors have the same voting rights as the judging committee. A gyoji acts as secretary, and is not given a voice in the proceedings. The gyoji records the bout combinations as they are set.

When are the bout combinations decided?

The combinations for the first two days of a tournament are decided two days before hand. From the third day on, the combinations are made the day before. The combinations for the first and second day are announced on Friday and Saturday respectively before a tournament begins. From the third day on, combinations are made based on the following:

  • Makuuchi:The bout combination conference is held at 10 a.m., and all of the bouts for the next day are set. And announced before the bouts on that day.
  • Juryo:Juryo bouts for the next day are set after juryo bouts are finished for the day. Accordingly,juryo only know who their opponents for the next day are after they have finished their bout of the day.
  • Makushita and below:Makushita rank and under only have bouts every other day, and two days worth of bouts are set every two days at about 3 p.m. after the day’s bouts are over. The thirteenth through the fifteenth (final) days are set after bouts on the twelfth day.

Do rikishi from the same stable fight each other?

The rules clearly state that bouts are only between rikishi of different stables. Tournament bouts are often called “wari, ” and when the bouts are combined, it is called setting the “line-up of wari.” In official tournaments, rikishi of the same stable will never face each other except during a play-off for a tournament title.

Are bouts combined based on rikishi rank?

Yes, they are. Basically, rikishi fight other rikishi of the same rank. If, however, a lower makuuchi rikishi has already achieved a winning record (eight wins), he may be pitted against yokozuna and ozeki in the latter half of the tournament. Makushita and lower ranks, rikishi usually meet men with the same win-loss record.

Are rikishi allowed to have bouts with other ranks?

Yes. If a rikishi in a higher rank misses a tournament or has to quit part way through, a man from the top of the next rank down will be used to fill in the open position. This is only done out of necessity, however, because the rule is that rikishi fight opponents of the same rank.

Do different ranks fight different numbers of bouts?

Yes. Juryo and above have fifteen bouts per tournament, while makushita and under have seven. Makuuchi rikishi have had fifteen bouts since 1952.

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