Among the many ways in which the world changed in 2001 was the addition to the Nihon Sumo Kyokai’s official list of kimarite (‘deciding move’, literally ‘deciding hand’) of a category of five self-defeating moves. (This is where the official translation of kimarite as ‘winning technique’ becomes a bit awkward.)
- fumidashi ‘(rear) step out’ – This is when the defending rikishi accidentally steps back over the edge without the attacker initiating any kind of technique [cf. fumie (‘step pictures’), the holy icons that early Japanese Christians were supposed to step on to prove they were no longer believers].
- isamiashi ‘forward step out’ [lit. ‘spirited foot’] – This is when the attacking rikishi accidentally steps too far forward and out of the ring before winning the match, giving the victory to his opponent.
- tsukihiza ‘touch knee’ – This is when a rikishi stumbles without any real contact with his opponent and loses the match by touching down with one or both knees.
- tsukite ‘touch hand’ – This is when a rikishi stumbles without any real contact with his opponent and loses the match by touching down with one or both hands.
- koshikudake ‘hip collapse’ – This is when a rikishi falls over backwards without his opponent attempting any technique.
In this instance, the rather hide-bound, but tradition-inventing Sumo Kyokai seems to have been rather visionary. I expect “Self-Defeat, and How to Avoid It” to be one of the major themes of the 21st century.
UPDATE: After Day 12 of the current Natsu Basho, Asashoryu remains 12-0, with no one else closer than 10-2. The Bulgarian Kotooshu suffered a quick and brutal loss to Asashoryu yesterday by a tsukidashi (‘frontal thrust out’), but he recovered nicely today to beat the ozeki (‘champion’) Chiyotaikai, who had been only one loss behind the grand champion, but is now at 10-2.