Self-defeating Moves in Sumo

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under sumo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.