DICTIONARY OF BASIC SUMO TERMS
Banzuke: An ordered list of men fighting
up through the ranks of professional Sumo; a ranking sheet.
Basho: A sumo tournament. In a sanctioned
competition, consists of seven or fifteen bouts held over a two
Dohyo: The ring within the square in which
Sumo is performed.
Heya: A building used to house and train
rikishi. This includes sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities
and training dohyo.
Hon-basho: Any of six official basho held
in each odd numbered month by the Sumo Kyokai. Only these contests
count in the official scores used to rank the rikishi.
Jungyo: The exhibition bashos that are
held across the nation in between the regular basho schedule. These
help in recruiting new rikishi to the sport and also give other
people a chance to see the rikishi up close. The most extensive
Jungyo is in July-August, covering the Tohoku and Hokkaido regions.
Juryo: The first of the two professional
divisions of Sumo. Thirty men vie for entrance into the top, Makunouchi
Kachi-koshi: In a tournament, attaining
the number of wins that assures a better than even percentage.
Out of 15 bouts, for example, a rikishi is said to be kachi-koshi
at that point where he tallies 8 wins.
Kimarite: The names given to each of the
seventy winning techniques and two inadvertent methods that describe
the result of a Sumo bout.
Kin-boshi: Literally, "gold star." This
is a salary incentive to Maegashira ranked sekitori to defeat Yokozuna.
Kokugikan: The Arena of the National Sport,
in the Ryogoku neighborhood in southeastern Tokyo. This is the
rather magnificent facility where Hon-basho, retirement ceremonies,
World Amateur Championships and other events are held.
Komusubi: The rank below Sekiwake but above
the Maegashira. There are typically two or three rikishi holding
this rank. Most rikishi do poorly when promoted to komusubi for
the first time and are demoted.
Kyokai: An official association or administration.
For Sumo, the Nihon Sumo Kyokai administers the sport under the
Ministry of Education.
Maegashira: The lower ranks of the Makunouchi
division, numbered from one (highest) to 15 or 16. There is an
east and a west position at each numbered level. The number of
Maegashira ranks is adjusted so that there are a total of forty
Make-koshi: The opposite of kachi-koshi.
In a 7 bout tournament, having 4 losses guarantees make-koshi.
Makunouchi: Also called Makuuchi, this
is the top division of Ozumo. It is comprised of the ranks of Yokozuna, Ozeki,
Sekiwake, Komusubi and Maegashira.
Mawashi: The thick belt that is wrapped
around a rikishi for Sumo. It is wound in such a manner that protects
the genitals as well as offering a way for the combatants to grapple.
Oyakata: Stablemaster or coach. The man
who trains and takes care of all wrestlers living in his stable.
Ozeki: The champion rank of Sumo. Whereas
lower ranks can be attained by consistently winning, this rank
must be granted by the Sumo Kyokai.
Rikishi: Literally, "strong man." This
is an all-purpose term for men engaging in Sumo.
Sansho: Any of three special prizes awarded
to Makunouchi sekitori under the rank of Ozeki. These are for superior
technique, superior performance and fighting spirit.
Sekitori: A rikishi who is ranked in one
of the top two divisions of Sumo, who are being paid a salary.
Sekiwake: The junior champion rank of Sumo.
Usually two to four rikishi hold this rank.
Sumobeya: See Heya. When referring to a
specific heya, the suffix -beya may be used; instead of saying
that Tosanoumi's heya is Isenoumi, it is neater to talk of Tosanoumi,
of Isenoumi-beya. It is less awkward to say, "Look, there's
Izutsu-beya" than "That heya is Izutsu."
Torikumi: The term for an individual sumo
bout, or also used to refer to the list of bouts for an entire
Toshiyori-kabu: A financial term, this
is a license that must be purchased from the Sumo Kyokai in order
to hold a position as Oyakata, or coach. There are only a limited
number of these positions, each of which carries a name. Currently,
these cost between two and four hundred million yen.
Yokozuna: The pinnacle of active Sumo,
this is the rank of grand champion. Only 65 men have held this
Yusho: The tournament title. A rikishi
wins a yusho by winning more matches than any other in his division,
or if two or men are tied, by being triumphant in a playoff.