In an effort to combat long-standing issues over gamesmanship at major global tournaments, the International Sumo Federation (IFS) and Japan Sumo Federation (JSF) this month introduced significant changes to the rules governing sumo’s all-important tachiai (initial charge).

In the intro to a 10-minute video released to national governing bodies, Kazuo Saito, chairman of the JSF competition committee said, “Lately we have been seeing a lot of disordered tachiai and bad manners, particularly at international tournaments. In order to comply with the rules and protect the dignity of the sport, we will thoroughly implement tachiai in accordance with the council regulations at all tournaments from April 2024.” Staged examples of behaviors that will no longer be tolerated — and demonstrations of the new flow of proceedings — followed, with the new guidelines mostly analogous to current practices, but with one key difference.

Beginning this month, in-ring referees will add a new phrase — hikimasuyo (translated as “get ready”) once both wrestlers have their hands down, before starting the bout with a traditional shout of hakkeyoi.