The Bout Begins...
Yobidashi - an assistant who announces the names of the rikishi for the next bout. Dohyo Iri for the Bout

The two rikishi for the next bout should already have entered the dohyo area earlier and are sitted on cushions at the base of the dohyo on their respective East and West sides.  An assistant, the yobidashi, calls out their names to announce the next bout.  The rikishi's then step up onto the dohyo, and facing the corner of their side, performs a simplified version of the yokozuna dohyo iri ceremony, with hand clapping, arm and palm outward, and feet stamping.  Each is offered water by another rikishi (either the winner of the previous bout, or the rikishi awaiting his next bout) to purify his mind, and a towel to cleanse his mind and body.

The gyoji then points his gunbai in the general direction of each side, and in a high pitched voice, calls out the name of the rikishi.  At this point, if any company is sponsoring this bout, assistants parade around the dohyo holding cloth panels with the names of the sponsors.  (See the image of the gyoji on the previous page.)

Shikiri - the preparatory period for the bout, but literally, marking the boundary

Shiomaki - tossing salt onto the dohyo to purify the ground

The shiomaki of rikishi Mitoizumi. left, and a young, but very trim, Yokozuna Chiyonofuji on the right.

Shinpan - a judge dressed in a black robe sitting at the edge of the dohyo.  There are 5 shinpans at each bout.


After these rituals, the rikishi now enter a period of no more than 4 minutes called "shikiri" which in sumo is a period to allow mental preparation for the upcoming bout.  The rikishi pick up salt from their respective corner and toss it onto the dohyo, to purify the ground.  They then squat facing each other, and then crouch down with their closed fists on the ground.  They repeat this ritual of salt tossing, squat, and crouch down for about 3 times until the shinpan keeping track of the time signals that time is up.  The assistants at the water and salt station will stand up to signal to the rikishi and the referee that the time for the actual bout is now due.

On the left, stamping the feet to drive out evil, and on the right, facing off in shikiri

Mitte - the act of eyeing the other rikishi

Sankyo - toeing the mark, ie crouching down on the fists and facing the opponent

On the left, retired rikishi's in mitte position in an oldtimers bout, and on right, in sankyo position.  Note how well the two rikishi's are balanced when in the sankkkyo position, maintaining low center of gravity.  Note the shinpan just to the right of the gyoji, on the right image.
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