Sumo

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

From once they are called to mount the dohyo, makuuchi division wrestlers have four minutes to prepare for their bout.

After bowing to each other, they go to the corner, do shiko (foot stomps) and receive the chikara mizu and chikara gami (power water and power paper) from another rikishi.

Wrestlers who have already lost that day are not allowed to hand those items over, so the victorious wrestler from the previous bout manages his side, while the one yet to fight deals with the other.

If successive men on the same side have lost prior to the final bout of the day, a lower-ranked rikishi will come in and perform the duty. Because they will already be in yukata and out of their mawashi, they bare one shoulder to represent a victorious wrestler.

Grabbing a handful of salt, the two rikishi preparing to fight return to their side of the ring, squat down and perform a series of movements called chiri-chozu.

Those are designed to show that the wrestlers are not carrying weapons.

Rikishi then return to the corner and center of the ring several more times.

At any of the face-offs they can initiate the bout. There is no requirement to use the full four minutes. Some rivals couldn’t wait to get going and often started early, but it’s not something commonly seen these days.

Once the bout is over, the two wrestlers return to their respective sides and bow again. The loser leaves the ring while the winner squats and makes a swiping motion with his right hand.

If there is prize money on the bout it is handed over by the gyoji (referee) on his gunbai (war fan).

Before picking it up the winner performs a three-stroke motion in the air called tegatana.