In Sumo, everything depends on rank. And your rank depends on how
you do in one of the six tournaments per year. The idea behind these
are fifteen days of matches. If you do not win at least eight
of these matches, you will be demoted to a lower rank.
Each Rikishi has one match per day during the tournament.
The locations and names of the tournaments are:
||Name of Tournament
Ring-Entering ceremony, also known as the Dohyo-iri, is performed
by all rikishi in the Juryo and Makkuchi Divisions. It is performed
before each day of the tournament before the Juryo or Makkuchi
division bouts. There is the east-side and west-side Dohyo-iri.
All of the participating rikishi are wearing a ceremonial apron,
called a Kesho-Mawashi that hangs down to just above the ankle.
In the ceremony, the referee enters first and then the rikishi
file in, according to rank. The lower ranked rikishi file in
first. As they enter, their name, hometown and stable are announced.
After the highest ranked rikishi (Usually a Ozeki in the Makkuchi
division) they perform a brief sequence of ritual movements.
The ritual includes clapping, raising arms to show that they
have no weapons, and pulling up the kesho-mawashi to imitate
stomping. After the first side completes the ritual, the other
side enters and performs it.
A picture of the Makkuchi Dohyo-iri.
The Yokozuna (Grand Champion, the highest
rank in Sumo) Dohyo-iri was first performed in 1789 by Tanikaze.
After the Makkuchi Dohyo-iri is complete and the rikishi have
left the dohyo (ring), the Yokozuna enters with the head Gyoji
(Referee) and two attendants. The two attendants are active
rikishi who must be below Ozeki rank but must still be in
the Makkuchi division. The first step in the Dohyo-iri is
a loud clap to alert the gods. The second step, raising arms,
shows that no weapons are concealed. By stomping the feet,
the Yokozuna scares away the evil spirits. If there is more
than one Yokozuna, they will take turns going first, but each
Yokozuna must perform the ceremony every day of the tournament.
The interesting thing about the Yokozuna
Dohyo-iri is that there are two distinct styles. In early
Sumo, each Yokozuna took pride in having his own individual
style, but, eventually, they started to imitate a previous
Yokozuna. By looking at his Tsuna (the large white hawser
around his waist), you can tell which style he will perform.
If they perform the Shiranui-style, there will be two loops
on the back of the Tsuna. If they practice the Unryu-style
Dohyo-iri, there will be one large loop.
A picture of the Unryu-style Yokozuna dohyo-iri
A picture of the Shiranui-style Yokozuna
A example of the handing-off of the purification
When it is time for a rikishi to step onto
the Dohyo, the Yobidashi (Ring Attendant) will call his name.
The two rikishi will bow to each other, and step into their
corners. In the corners, the rikishi clap and stomp twice.
If the match is a Juryo or Makkuchi bout, they will be able
to use purification water and paper. The last winning wrestler
from his side hands the water and paper to the rikishi. Since
the Dohyo is considered to be sacred ground in the Shinto
religion, the Rikishi throw salt onto the Dohyo. (The Japanese
believe that salt chases out evil spirits and has cleansing
power.) The rikishi go to the east and west sides of the Dohyo,
and at the same time, squat, clap, and extend their arms out
Eventually, they get down to the Niramiai.
The Niramiai is when they squat, touch their fists to the
ground, and glare at their opponent to try to get the psychological
edge. This usually occurs about three or four times in a Makkuchi
The bout starts when the Gyoji (Referee)
says "Jikan Mae!" which means, it is time. Then,
the two rikishi squat down, and they charge when they are
both ready. The decision to charge is made through eye-contact
alone. The starting charge, called the Tachi-ai, is synchronized.
If one rikishi jumps before another, the Gyoji will stop the
fight and they will start again. Most matches are not very
long and are over very quickly. There are seventy-two kimarite
(techniques) in sumo.
If a match lasts a long time, a gyoji will
call a time out. The rikishi then go to their corners and
take a break. Then, they go back to the ring and take the
same positions as when the time out was called. The gyoji
starts the match again by simultaneously hitting the backs
of their mawashi (belts). Immediately after the match, the
gyoji will point his Gunbai (Fan) toward the winning rikishi's
side. If there is a disagreement, the Shimpan (Judges) will
rise and move to the center of the Dohyo. They will discuss
the match and either agree with the gyoji, overrule it, or
order a rematch. If you wish to view matches, please go to
the video section.