Never noticed it properly discussed on here, so this might end up on its arse, either way, I thought I’d post it.
I’m a pretty big follower of Sumo Wrestling and have been for years. Watched it as a youngster on Eurosport, and got my head in to it a bit more when I was in Japan in 2006.
I became much more of a fan a couple of years ago and now it’s arguably my main sport passion.
We’re currently at day of this months Tournament (Basho) and the results so far are pretty crazy to say the least. The Ozeki who won November’s tournament with a record of 13-2 has yet to win a match this month and is 0-4. On top of the the 2 Yokozuna’s are not competing again, this is following formal notice warnings from the Yokozuna Deliberation Council telling them they must compete or it may be suggested they retire. It’s expected that one of them will bow out gracefully and a new sumo will be promoted to Yokozuna ranking. Now really is a great time to get in to Sumo, if you have any interest. So much happening and a bit of a changing of the guard is apparent.
I thought I’d post a basic ‘guide to sumo’ in here. I’ve done an audio version here, along with daily results so far here: SUMO DROP but I thought a text version would be useful for those who are interested in Sumo, and are up for some discussion, but don’t really understand the rules, rankings and divisions. For reference, I only really follow the Makuuchi division, which is basically the premier league. I do occasionally catch up with Juryo, mainly to see who’s in contention for promotion to the main stage.
There are several divisions in Sumo wrestling, and the focus of our review shows, will be the top division, the Makuuchi.
Sumo wrestlers start out in the bottom division and based on their win/loss record in each tournament, can be gain a promotion up to the next highest division, until they reach the Makuuchi division.
The Sumo tournaments are called Basho’s. Each Makuuchi division Basho lasts for 15 days and takes place every other month. Each Sumo (Rikishi) will compete in 1 match each day, for a total of 15 fights. They will be pitted against other Rikishi in the division who are at a similar ranking.
The aim is to finish a 15 day Basho with as many wins as possible. If a Rikishi is victorious and gains more wins than losses by the end of the 15 day Basho, it is considered an overall win. This means they will enter the next Basho event at a higher ranking. If they win several Basho events in a row, they might have the opportunity to be promoted in rank. With that promotion comes a higher pay and higher prestige.
When a Rikishi is promoted up to the Makuuchi division, they start at the rank of a Maegashira. The vast majority, typically around 33 Rikishi, will be ranked as a Maegashira when competing in the Makuuchi division. They can however be promoted in rank to elite levels, based on their performances and win/loss records at Basho events. Their overall aim is to reach the highest rank possible and become a Yokozuna.
There are far more comprehensive glossary’s available online, but these terms will give you the basic understanding required when watching Sumo.
Basho – the name for a Sumo tournament, short for Honbasho Dohyō – the name for the ring in which the Sumo’s wrestle Gyōji – the name for the referee in a Sumo bout Hakkeyoi – the crazy phrase the referee constantly shouts during a bout, which means “Put some spirit in to it” in order to encourage the Sumo’s to keep fighting Kinboshi – If a standard Meagashira Sumo defeats a Yokozuna during a bout, they are awarded a Kinboshi gold star, which results in a permanent pay rise, due to beating the highest ranking Sumo Kinjite – The forbidden, illegal moves in a Sumo bout. This includes, hair pulling, eye gouging, punching, choking and grabbing an opponent’s crotch Komusubi – 4th highest Sumo ranking Maegashira – 5th highest Sumo ranking Makuuchi – the name for the highest division, in which the top 5 ranking groups of Sumo’s wrestle Matta – name for a false start to a bout, usually because both fists of each Sumo have not touched the floor, which typically leads to the referee restarting the bout Ozeki – 2nd highest Sumo ranking Rikishi – the name for all professional Sumo wrestlers Sanshō – the name for the 3 different prizes awarded to Sumo wrestlers for exceptional bouts of wrestling Sekiwake – 3rd highest Sumo ranking Senshūraku – the name for the final day of a Basho Shimpan – the ringside judges who give ruling over a disputed decision during a bout Shishō – the name for the master in charge of a Sumo stable Shonichi – the name for the first day of a Basho Yokozuna – highest ranking Sumo
Here’s a calendar of the scheduled 2021 Basho events pencilled in.
Anyway, yeah, day 4. What a wild ride it has been so far. Only 3 unbeaten by day 4, all from the general pool of fighters, and out of those yet to win a match, one is an Ozeki who was a contender to become a Yokozuna. Not a chance of that now.