Kimarite Watch

“Kimarite” (決まり手) is the Japanese term for the winning technique used to decide each sumo bout. Those studying Japanese will be able to recognize the kanji as deriving from the verb kimaru (決まる), to decide, and te (手), meaning hand. I wonder if this is the term used for a winning hand in poker?

There are 82 of these winning techniques recognized in professional sumo. Of those, seven are known as the kihonwaza, or fundamental techniques which account for the vast majority of sumo bouts. In the most recent tournament, Aki 2018, more than 70% of wins came from these seven: tsukidashi, tsukiotoshi, oshidashi, oshitaoshi, yorikiri, yoritaoshi, and abisetaoshi. Abisetaoshi occurs much less frequently than the others but those main six comprise the go-to toolkits for many rikishi. In fact, oshidashi and yorikiri accounted for more than half of Aki bouts, and nearly half when just looking at makuuchi bouts.

Kimarite used during Aki basho 2018

During the upcoming tournament, Tachiai will be tracking and reporting on the kimarite used each day. My favorite group of kimarite are the throws, or nagete. Several of those are relatively frequent, like uwatenage and shitatenage. The spectacular ipponzeoi, though, was used only once last tournament, in a Day 1 Jonidan bout between Tatsunoumi and Wakasatake. It was a great way to start the tournament for Wakasatake. He ended up finishing with a 4-3 record while it sent the “victim”, Tatsunoumi, on a three-bout losing skid, ending 2-5.


6 thoughts on “Kimarite Watch

  1. “Te” is used as “move” in other competitive games as well, such as Shogi and Go. “Sente” is an opening move – mostly in the above board games but also used in the context of sumo sometimes. In Go, there is the term “kami no itte” (神の一手) – “the divine move”, not to be confused with Maradona’s “Hand of God” – the perfect move or the perfect reversal.

  2. Always enjoy learning a bit of Japanese with the posts Andy thanks. Didn’t Takakeze use a really good ipponzeoi around Hatsu/Haru 2017?

    • I can’t remember what I had for lunch but you have a very impressive memory. According to the sumodb, he beat Kaisei, of all people, with ipponzeoi.


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