Winning In Sumo. “Simple” Sport?

OK. Please bear with me for a few paragraphs. I have been hesitant to write this up because this is strictly opinion and I hate writing strictly opinion because I can be (and often am) wrong about things (not just sumo related). Also, sometimes I have been known to beat a dead horse after the worms already got to it and turned it to dust. So if this discussion bores you, I’m not hurt by you ignoring me. But, as a sumo fan, I have come to understand that the sport is NOT as clear cut as, “Winner touches last.”

One good example of the hidden complexity of the sumo rules is clear after the Hattorizakura/Ishihara bout. Thanks to Jake, Leonid, and John Gunning explaining this…but like Leonid mentioned on Twitter, I like to see rules written down. There’s an NHK Sumopedia video explaining tsuridashi. But what is the rule? Tsuridashi, according to the Sumo Kyokai website, does not mention that a wrestler is allowed to walk out.

A bout is won by forcing the opponent out of the inner circle or throwing him in the dohyo. To lose the match, it is not necessary to fall in the circle or to be pushed completely out. The rikishi who touches the ground with any part of his body, his knee or even the tip of his finger or his top-knot, loses the match. Or he need only put one toe or his heel over the straw bales marking the circle.

“The Sumo” pg 3 by NSK

Unfortunately, Sumo Kyokai documentation is not quite as clear to explain. The text above is from the English-language pamphlet on the website. USAsumo also claims that the rules “in both pro and international sumo” are “very simple”. “Either force your opponent out of the 15-foot diameter “dohyo” (sumo ring) or make your opponent touch the ground with any part of the body other than the soles of the feet.” Takakeisho did this last night to Enho. Enho did NOT do this to Takakeisho.

In a strict interpretation of the English as I’m still trying to find the Japanese, in neither case does it say, “when”. If my opponent forces me out but I land last, perhaps because I fell a farther distance (as in over the side of the dohyo), he still forced me out. In the case of Enho, the decisive move was the force applied by Takakeisho which resulted in Enho falling back and out. Enho’s mawashi touch (which connected) and the attempted trip (which missed completely) had nothing to do with Takakeisho’s trajectory out of the ring.

Anyway, we also see instances of wrestlers leaping beyond the plane of the dohyo or cases like last night’s Enho bout. Whether it be the “dead body rule” or another rule for these certain special occasions, it is clear that what should be simple, isn’t. But it can still be logical and does not have to be at the whim of whomever is enforcing the rule at the moment. I find this a favorable interpretation because (to me) it is just. But I could be wrong and when I am, I like to be skewered with indisputable evidence. Thank you for sticking with my train of thought and making it this far. :) Feel free to skewer me in the comments.

69 thoughts on “Winning In Sumo. “Simple” Sport?

  1. See, this is a great bout for both sides of this argument. I say Hattorizakura won this bout, due to his opponent’s lackluster ring sense. You have to stay within the straw bales, and he didn’t. But Hattorizakura of course was also over the boundary, and in an indefensible position. The question was, which mistake was made first? Hattorizakura got wrapped up first, but Ishihara made what we’d call in tennis an enforced error. It loses you the point there; it should lose you the bout here. Not only has Ishihara stepped out, he is also the one keeping Hattorizakura from touching down outside the ring.

    I love that you wrote this up, and I heartily look forward to the impending comments discussion this will spawn.

    • Tsuridashi 吊り出し

      While wrestlers face each other, to pick up the opponent by his mawashi and deliver him outside of the dohyō (lift out)

      “Deliver him outside”- this recognizes that the carried rikishi cannot mount any reasonable defense against the rikishi carrying him, thus rendering him the loser even if his opponent’s feet touch outside the ring first. So this Ishihara bout doesn’t show a lack of ring sense, but instead a recognized winning technique.

    • I know the video above is an extreme case and i understand how obvious who had the advantage, but I personally think the smaller guy (not sure which name is for which guy) won in this case, due to Isamiashi (勇み足).

      Again, I know some things are circumstantial, but they have turned the gyoji verdict because of Isamiashi even if the match had a obvious “attacker” and the defender not having any control of their body.

      • Unfortunately, I could not see in detail what happened in your video. There is room for subtlety (there’s that 微妙 word again).

        But it’s not enough to be an attacker according to my interpretation of the English rule. The attacker would need to apply enough force using a recognized kimarite, to win.

        • I didn’t know about the exception to Isamiashi. And with kabaiashi, I guess it really does leave it to interpretation for each situation. Going back to Enho vs. Takakeisho, the main thing that I wanted to bring up is that just because one rikishi seemed to be the attacker (with the other considered dead body) doesn’t always mean the attacker should get the win. Personally, as a sumo viewer, I just wish there was a little more consistency (or at least better explanation) in the judge’s decision.

    • Even in amateur sumo sumo hattorizakura lost that bout. Hell, i have lost bouts that way.

    • Hattorizakura has no sumo sense but if it was someone else with great agility, flexibility, and ring-sense (let’s say Enho), then there is a possibility for Enho to wrap himself over the top half of Ishihara and force him to land backwards so that Enho’s heal touches inside the dohjo. So, even the position Hattorizakura was in is not necessarily a losing position because Ishihara touched the outside of the dohjo first.

  2. Yes but… One can lose by a non-kimarite (similar to Kakuryu’s only bout this basho), which is explicitly defined as a mistake by the losing rikishi that has nothing to do with the moves of the winner. So a loss can be entirely self inflicted.

    Extending that logic, can’t a rikishi, while pushing out his opponent, make a significant mistake, overextend himself and put himself in a losing position by stepping out before his opponent does?

    (For the record, I’m not re-litigating the Enho-Takakeisho bout. I think it should have been a torinaoshi but I’m interested in the principle of it.)

    • If he has forced out the opponent, I think he should have won, regardless of stepping out because he ALREADY exerted the force to defeat his opponent. Yes, you can step out and lose…but that implies you didn’t win yet.

  3. Maybe a common sense is involved to a small degree. I mean, it is quite clear who is winning that match. Hattorizakura was essentially a dead body before he was set down. Barely even a kick. Could that be part of it, too? Most times when I see wrestlers get lifted like that (usually by a younger Tochinoshin) they start flailing their legs like crazy. Perhaps that’s not only to help get you back on the ground, but also shows the gyoji/judges you are not a dead body. If you are kicking like mad and your opponent steps out first, they may say your kicking saved you by throwing him off, but being dead weight you had no influence over him at all.

    Just my observation and I’m wrong plenty of times, too! Haha!!

  4. I believe the “dead weight” rule means you have to be dead weight, which means you have to be absolutely put in such a defensive position that there’s nothing you can do. Enho May have been defeated but he clearly was able enough to attempt something and takakeisho may have pushed him out but clearly over exerted and took himself out before enho went out. In my opinion dead weight does not apply because enho was not dead weight, simple as that.

    I want to give keisho the win from the bottom of my heart because it’s always fun to see enho fans up in arms but not like this.

    Also, dead weight in my opinion should be implemented when both rikishi almost stepped out or fell down at the same time, where you can’t really pick one or the other (or it’s really close) so you use the convenient dead weight rule. In this case takakeisho clearly went outside earlier than enho

    Last point, why are we assuming enhos little push had nothing to do with keisho going out? He attempted it and managed to stay inside longer than keisho, whether it had or had no effect is not for us to decide.

    Sumo is simple, keisho pushes enho too hard and took himself out before enho went out, enho even managed to help him out too. Enho wins.

    But because sumo is NOT simple, keisho wins and asanoyama has to win twice.

    Anyway. That’s my rant. If I was keisho I would not feel like a winner after such a performance.

  5. I do not want this to come off as too hard.
    But your whole article hinges on _one_ word in _one_ version of a translation: ‘forced’!

    (I can not read Japanese. A quick Google search finds other English versions like “move out” and most often they do define it as “whoever touches last is the winner” without ever mentioning any conditions.)

    As a consequence of your interpretation, you have to pack an awful lot of meaning into this tiny little word.
    Suddenly the gyojis do not look for obvious clues, but instead you have made them into judges of ‘meaningful forces’.
    Not to be dismissive, but if this fundamental difference in judgment was the actually case, we would have heard of it long before today.

    • That word is at the crux of the rule I cited which governs the sport. With regard to the Takakeisho bout, the following statement is true, is it not?
      “Takakeisho forced Enho out.”

      • Do you not realize how squishy your wording is and how you beg the question of the word you use?

        What does ‘forced’ mean to you?
        Is, for example, a faint a move to ‘force’ my opponent in a direction he did not want to go? I make him do something, but do I therefore ‘force’ him?

        Thinking further, is a push onto somebody who is already going in the same direction not ‘forcing’ him to move in that direction? I could not ‘make him’ do it because he was already doing it? But if he did not want to do it, then that same push becomes ‘forced’?

        This gets deep into philosophy on the definitions of intent and application.

        Because ultimately there are only two options when somebody ends up outside, either he did it himself by error or he was ‘forced’ outside. For me personally, as long as there is an active influence by the opponent, I would never call it an error but see it as an effort by the opponent.

        Seems to me, we should just stay with observable conditions and outcomes:

        – Takakeisho pushed Enho.
        – Enho pushed Takakeisho. (If you scream that is was not a ‘real’ push, then fine, he grabbed the mawashi and simulated a push. Nevertheless, he was clearly active.)
        – Takakeisho ended up outside.
        – Enho ended up outside.
        – Takakeisho landed first.

        – Takakeisho ‘forced’ Enho outside.
        – Enho ‘forced’ Takakeisho outside.

        • Just quick thought, would you change your perspective if you interpret Enho mawashi grab not as a push but a hold?
          Like maybe he realized, that he would land first outside, but than he quickly grabbed onto something to regain a bit of balance in order to delay his fall.

          • No. Enho’s touch of Takakeisho was inconsequential because it did not alter Takakeisho’s trajectory in any way…it had no effect. If the trip had connected and altered Takakeisho’s trajectory and directly resulted in him beating Takakeisho, I would be VERY interested in the call. But he didn’t connect. His “activity” had zero effect on Takakeisho. You’re creating a bunch of rules and parameters that are based on your own constructs and not the rule.

  6. Btw. by your definition of ‘dead body’ you gave yesterday (Takarafuji’s feet were in the air visibly earlier than Yutakayama’s top of his feet dragged on the sand.) the result was a wrong decision in your eyes, right?

    • I don’t know. I need to find a replay. On the original replay I was looking at Takarafuji’s elbow. When they briefly showed one after the call, it was obvious that Asanoyama had a foot.

  7. I think your interpretation of the English text is biased toward “won by forcing”.

    You know, though, that this is wrong. If that was the case, there would be no “higi”. Kakuryu would not have lost by koshikudake, because Endo had not forced him to fall. He would have gotten up, dusted himself and lunged at Endo again.

    The “won by forcing” thing is just a turn of phrase, because it’s awkward to explain that you win in sumo by having the other guy lose. But that’s how he works. And you see that immediately in the next two sentences, which explain how to lose a match of sumo rather than how to win it.

    Or rather, it’s a subtle thing: if wrestler A loses the bout, wrestler B wins it. He always gets the white star, but unless he did something to force A out, he won’t get a kimarite to go along with it. So you could say that to win *with a kimarite*, you have to force your opponent out. But first, your opponent has to lose.

    • The higi are in the second part of the rule but my interpretation requires the absence of a force out/down for the higi to be applied…but forbidden attacks trump all. It’s just that my interpretation doesn’t carry an implication of time.

      I didn’t get into that component because it wasn’t relevant to my argument that there is no “first one down” component to the rule. Higi and forbidden tactics occur but just weren’t pertinent. Takakeisho forced Enho out and therefore won.

      • Again, there is no element of forcing out. Your favorite henka is another example. What forces the loser out is his own inertia. The slight tap on his back is not really the cause of his loss. It’s as slight as Enho’s tsukiotoshi here.

        Take a look at the rules of wanpaku sumo here:

        These say very specifically that you lose if you touch outside *before* your opponent.

        There are differences between wanpaku sumo and adult sumo, but not in this part.

        It is rather odd that there is no official rulebook published online. But there are unofficial sites that cite references:

    • I just disagree with the last sentence. There’s nothing in the rule that says what has to occur first. I imply that Takakeisho won by forcing out Enho before he stepped out and would have lost. He applied the decisive force to Enho before stepping out, though Enho landed after Takakeisho stepped out. Since Takakeisho forced Enho out, it was irrelevant when he touched. Or maybe that’s exactly what you meant by the last sentence? In which case I agree.

  8. There’s nothing “squishy”. This is the basic point of the sport. Takakeisho physically shoved Enho out of the dohyo. He also blasted forward, his own momentum carrying him out of the ring. Agile little Enho could read a book on his way out but he’s going out because of force applied by Takakeisho. There’s nothing in the rule text that says or implies Takakeisho has to step out last. He pushed/shoved Enho out. Enho did not push Takakeisho out. Therefore, Takakeisho won.

    • I am sorry to say this, but at this point I am not sure if you really digest what you are reading.

      Ok, one last try, step by step in three different ways.

      I stand in a ring.
      I have every intention to stay in this ring.
      I end up outside this ring.
      There are only three possible explanations:
      1. I changed my mind.
      2. I made an error.
      3. I was forced outside the ring.

      That is it! There is nothing between I did it myself and I was forced!

      If I end up outside the ring and I did not wanted to end up outside the ring, then I was forced outside the ring. How in the world is than so hard to understand?

        • And why should there? Everything he does, is with the goal to force me out of the ring!
          My opponent’s actions are never explicitly taken into account.

          There are only very edge-case circumstances in which the lack of my opponent’s actions come into play:

          1. I made an error and ended up outside the ring first.
          2. But prior to that moment, my opponent was ruled to have been in the condition of ‘dead body’.

          Meaning he was defenseless with no chance of recovery, absolutely incapable of influencing the outcome of the fight. Importantly he also did not influence me when I made my error as well, because that would be ‘forcing me into an error’. Which in turn would have mend he was indeed not ‘dead’.

          Then, and only then, does his “activity” (or more specifically is lack of meaningful activity) play any role in the decision making.

            • No, that means, either you say both forced each other out of the ring (because then ended up outside against their will), in which case the first outside is the loser (Taka).

              Or you are of the opinion, that Taka made an unforced error while Enho was ‘dead’. Which I would strongly object to, because Enho was clearly still very active having his hand on Taka’s mawashi and his feet on the ground, forcing/guiding along Taka into his mistake.

    • This is what I meant yesterday when I said it is your (and the shinpan ‘s) aesthetic preferences that are ruling you here. In your head the ‘point’ of sumo is two boys who look like Takakeisho thrusting at each other until one is shoved out. In your desire to imagine the perfect sumo match you seem to have dropped the implication ‘without stepping out of the ring first or falling down yourself first.

      You say “There’s nothing in the rule text that says or implies Takakeisho has to step out last” I’d draw your attention to this part of the rule (which Herouth has pointed to) “To lose the match, it is not necessary to fall in the circle or to be pushed completely out. The rikishi who touches the ground with any part of his body, his knee or even the tip of his finger or his top-knot, loses the match.” It does not say ‘The rikishi who is forced by his opponent to touch the ground …”. Otherwise, a rikishi who stumbled and touched the dohyo with the side of his foot when not in contact with his opponent couldn’t be said to lose. It also brings up the logical question: what happens if both rikishi fall in the circle or touch outside?.

      ” Agile little Enho could read a book on his way out but he’s going out because of force applied by Takakeisho”. I know this is hyperbole, but let’s work with it for it a bit as a thought exercise. Let’s make Enho’s balance 50% better (a terrifying proposition for any other rikishi) and say with this extra balance Enho delays his ‘ring out’ by another 3 seconds (not enough time for a book, just three good Mississippis). At the end of this three seconds its still clear that no matter how badly he wants to he cannot avoid stepping out of the ring or falling and he does. Is Takakeisho the winner here as well? What if he actually did have time to finish a quick novella before falling out? What about then?

      So, with one last reframe Takakeshio pushed/shoved Enho out with a move that committed him to leaving the ring as well. Enho did not push Takakeisho out, but continued to fight to improve his own position in hopes that it would be enough to punish Takekeisho for only half finishing the job on an attack that the over-committed Takekeisho could not adequately recover from. Enho was correct in his hopes and won. Takakeisho was awarded the victory because it didn’t look right (aestethic).

      It does make some sense. Of course the Shinpan empathize more with Takekeisho. They are all sumo elders whose styles almost certainly resembled his more then Enho’s when they were active. Sumo is their life and every aspect of it is important. Including it’s image in the mind of the public as a sport where two rikishi who look like sumo wrestlers ‘should’ (read: more like Takakeisho then Enho) crash into each other for dominance. Wins like this for Enho do undercut that image. I personally like that about him and think its a good thing, but I understand why they wouldn’t. Honestly, It makes sense you feel that way too. I mean you run the best English language sumo blog around. Your passion for the sport and its history is clear and here we see that extends to that Platonic ideal of sumo as two big boi rikishi crashing into each other, but lets not pretend that what happened here is a simple interpretation that the rest of us are missing. A choice was made here, maybe subconsciously, but when it was time for the judges to weigh in they decided that Enho’s claim to victory by the letter of the rules, earned with technique/balance, was no match for the weight (physical/historical/symbolic) that Takakeisho carries with him.

        • Hattorizakura was picked up and completely under the control of his opponent. He’s not doing anything to advance his position. Its clear he understands he’s been beaten and is resigned to it. He makes himself into a dead body.

          Enho was actively trying to both regain his balance, and to further unbalance Takakeisho. Obviously still fighting. To pretend like these are the same situation is asinine. Your example proves that sumo can be more complicated then who touched first. That is the entire extent to which it is able to inform discussion about this situation. The two situations have no similarities other then that

          • OK. Sounds rational. Now point to the language on the Kyokai website that mentions any of that. You’re inventing your own “tuck rule”. Define “under control” for example, and tell me if that applies to the Baruto/Kakuryu or any other tsuridashi bout. “Dead body” isn’t the rule used for that bout but it is used in others. What are their criteria (not mine and yours)?

              • Sure does. 1) They’re rare. And 2) the henka-er isn’t falling over, are they?

              • It’s the nature of the sport. There’s a decision. Win or lose. No draw. Otherwise, what’s the point? The whole reason for a gumbai. Two competitors could fall over at the tachiai and one would lose…but that’s not the point of the competition. The very point of the competition is to force the opponent down or out. The force that determines the gumbai is thus the decisive force. It’s right there.

              • @Andy
                “The very point of the competition is to force the opponent down or out.”
                Only in your head, by your personal aesthetic preference!

                “Two competitors could fall over at the tachiai and one would lose…but that’s not the point of the competition.”
                Yes, it is! This is what Sumo is made of. Whoever touches the ground first after the ‘hakki-yoi’ call loses (generally).

                There is no greater ‘point’ or deep intention to it. We don’t ‘measure’ a rikishi’s strength or how strong a fighter he is or how ‘decisive’ his pushes are. We count how often a rikishi touches the ground first over a period of 15 days and nothing more, period.

              • Did you read the article? “A bout is won by forcing the opponent out of the inner circle or throwing him in the dohyo.” It is the point of the sport, not just to me.

              • Well Andy, you’ve just revealed you’re not a cricket fan. There are plenty of sports that allow the draw.

                ‘Nature of the sport’ ‘What’s the point?’ – those are appeals to aesthetics.

                Two competitors could fall over at the tachiai and one would lose. – those are the rules

                Do you see the difference? It’s right there.

              • Sumo is not one of them. I’m not talking about football or cricket or anything else. I’m talking about sumo. Those are not appeals to aesthetics. They’re the rules. Just curious, when was the last double henka?

              • 1) What does their rarity have to do with anything?
                2) I mean in this case I would say Wakatakakage has about as much influence on Akua hitting the ground as Enho had ‘pushing’ Takekeisho out. They both jump to the side Wakatakakage grazes Akua his feed slip and he hits the dohyo. Unsatisfying maybe but Akua lost and that means Wakatakakage won.

                Honestly, this is really reaching . You’ve already been bodied further down the thread where someone gave you a direct japanese translation to prove that who touches first actually is important, and I found an english translation of the rules that shows the special exemptions. Your interpretation relies on strictly interpreting the language used in advertising copy from a pamphlet and appeals ‘the spirit of sumo’ and ‘the point of the sport’. To paraphrase how I ended my post quoting the rules

                Barring special exceptions, you win at sumo when your opponent loses. There are two ways to lose, and Takekeshio lost before Enho.

              • 1) Most bouts do not involve anyone falling over, right? Most want to win.
                2) Akua did not force Wakatakakage to fall out. If he did, he would have won.

              • There is nothing worth responding to in either of those. Do better

      • Aesthetics have no bearing. Replace Enho with Barney, the Purple Dinosaur and Takakeisho with Asami from Audition. It doesn’t matter. She sent him out and wins. Her force out was decisive.

        • This comment is a perfect distillation of how you either have not understood my point or are willfully ignoring it, so I’ll break it down granularity for you in hopes that it is the former. Aesthetics refers to more then just the men’s physical bodies. It speaks to Takakeisho’s style of thrusting sumo vs Enho’s more slippy style. Your very obsession with a ‘decisive’ moment speaks to how you prefer the aesthetics of sumo to look. Nowhere is that word used in the rules or even implied (unlike the idea of who touched first mattering). You, Andy, like the idea of the final thrust or the clever twist that sends an opponent flying to the mat or out of the ring. Enho winning by desperately trying to find just enough balance to allow Takekeisho to walk off job half done is a less satisfying victory. It fits in less with the culture and history of sumo, and in this case it is that, and not anything to be found in the rules, that resulted in the victory being taken from him.

          And as an afterthought, if Takakeisho’s force out was so ‘decisive’ why is there so much controversy. See to me decisively forcing someone out would involve forcing them out, and not going out before them. The ozeki forgot about the second half there. Not decisive. Undeserved victory.

    • Andy, you’re simply inventing your own set of rules that has little to do with the actual rules of sumo or how they’re applied. As many others have exhaustively pointed out, applying force is completely irrelevant.

      • I’m basing it on one rule. THE rule. It literally says that you win by forcing your opponent to touch. If you imply that the touch must come first, Hattorizakura wins. But the timing of the touch is NOT in the rule whatsoever. Well, except for Wanpaku zumo. I’m not making up any rule about requiring the application of force. They both kneel for Black Lives Matter, the first one to do so loses because no one has applied force to the other. The only way the dead body rule and Hattorizakura rules work (without being documented somewhere) is with my interpretation which does not imply a timing requirement. Thus, Hattorizakura loses, Enho loses, and it makes sense.

        • How about this, I found this set of rules in English for Sumo at the 2018 World Nomad Games. Now, given how rough this translation is, I’d say there is a decent chance it was done from a version of the official rules in Japenese. For further evidence, compare its translation of the first bit on page 5:

          “The following positions are determined the winner of the bout except for special situations:
          – the wrestler will win if the opponent touch with any part of the body step out of the dohyo in the
          – the wrestler will win to force his opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet within sebyu-davara.

          to what Herouth posted below from the amature sumo association:

          ““Regarding the rules of competition, except when these regulations specify otherwise, when the following clauses apply, the concerned competitor wins:

          1. He made/let the opponent go outside the edge bales first.
          2. He made/let any part of the opponent except the soles of his feet touch the dohyo first.”

          Certainly not perfect, but they seem to be the same rule. In the PDF I found they list special cases underneath the rule which includes

          “The attacker does not lose the bout, standing up for the sebu-davara, when he lifts the opponent and takes him out of his sebu-davara. This situation called okuriasi. However, the attacker loses the bout if by carrying out this technical action; he goes beyond the sebu-davara with his back to the front.”

          Reading between the lines of the rough translation this seems to provide the specific exception you are looking for to cover the Hattorizakura case.

            • I totally get that. I’m saying that if you assume this competition didn’t invent their own “special situations” that they took these rough translations from somewhere and that they didn’t add or subtract to them then this is the complete list (with my commentary in parenthesis)

              – The attacker does not lose the bout, touching the dohyo with his hand, with
              the fall and avoid injury at the conclusion of the technical action, because of which
              the enemy falls into the position of shini-tai. This situation called kabaite.

              – The attacker does not lose the bout, because of the sebu-davara, in order to
              crumple the falling and avoid injuries at the completion of the technical action, in
              the result of which the opponent falls into the position of the shini-tai. This situation
              is called cabaiasi.
              (These two make up the “dead body rule” as I understand it)

              – The attacker does not lose the bout, standing up for the sebu-davara, when he
              lifts the opponent and takes him out of his sebu-davara. This situation called
              okuriasi. However, the attacker loses the bout if by carrying out this technical action;he goes beyond the sebu-davara with his back to the front.
              (This covers the Hattorizakura case and similar)

              – The attacker does not lose the bout; if during the performance of the victory
              throw the lifting of his foot touches the dohyo.
              (tbh I don’t really know what to make of this one, but I don’t think it would apply to the Enho match. That said if I’m gonna have my mind blown it seems like it might be here)

              – It is not a defeat if the horizontal front part of the mawashi (oricomi) touches
              the dohyo. (This one I’m confident is not at issue here)

              After that the rules start talking about reasons why a fighter may be disqualified. So what I’m saying is if you assume this competition took its rules from somewhere without adding or subtracting special exceptions (and why would they?). Then we’ve covered the Tsuridashi exception and what we are left with is that barring special exceptions, you win at sumo when your opponent loses. There are two ways to lose, and Takekeshio lost before Enho.

      • I guess my point is, I want to see clear documentation and rule that serves as the basis of the dead body rule and the tsuridashi rule. All I have is what I quoted. I’m not adding anything to it. Ishihara forced Hattorizakura out. Takakeisho forced Enho out. Facts. Thus, they won according to that quoted text. No?

        • I don’t think all of us (and everyone over on Sumo Forum, and Kitanofuji, and all the Japanese sumo media) are confused about what the rules, written or unwritten, are. We’re puzzled by how the specific shimpan involved in this one monoii managed to interpret these well-established rules to arrive at this particular decision.

          • Given the controversy over this and the other calls, I sure am confused and I REALLY want to have a link to thorough, authoritative rules on the site. In my bureaucratic eyes, there shouldn’t be unwritten rules, and written rules should be publicly published. Otherwise you get confusion (at the very least) in enforcement. If I go by what’s published in that one quote, it does work and does make sense but it goes against some rather key assumptions we make.

            • You can buy the rule book. In Japanese. There is no rule that says they have to publish on the Internet.

              The amateur sumo association does have an official rule book in its web site:


              First page, article 7:

              第7条 勝負判定については、この規程に別段の定めがある場合を除き、次の各号に該当する場合、当該選手を勝ちとする。


              “Regarding the rules of competition, except when these regulations specify otherwise, when the following clauses apply, the concerned competitor wins:

              1. He made/let the opponent go outside the edge bales first.
              2. He made/let any part of the opponent except the soles of his feet touch the dohyo first.”

              Please note that it’s really difficult to translate Japanese “legalese” directly into English, but 先に is very clear – the opponent goes out or touches first.

              • This is brilliant. Thank you! Those exceptions will be important to review.

              • Kabai-te, okuri-ashi, the loose end of the mawashi touching ground is not a loss, if your fingertips touch ground when you throw, it’s not a loss. That sort of thing.

              • Well, that’s actually a bit of a sticky translation issue. The verb 出す “to take out, to get out” is transitive, so it does imply agency. They could have used the intransitive verb 出る- “to go out, to leave”. But it does not imply physical contact. つける “to stick, to apply” used in the second rule is the same.


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