Prof RV

Classification of Kimarite

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Dear Friends, 

I have been following sumo for a few years and now pursuing some research on the sport. I had a few questions that I hope I can get some answers to.

1) Is there any meaningful classification of kimarite in terms of the risks involved. For instance is it right to say that a yorikiri is riskier than a mawashi technique?

2) Does the wrestlers rank have any bearing on the type of technique being used?

Would be very grateful for any responses. 


Prof. Anand Vijayasankaran, 

Indian School of Business. 



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Almost anyone in this forum could answer better than me (and in better English too). But I'll give it a try: 

1) I guess with "risky", you mean that you have more chances to get injured using it. I'm not sure there's any kind of "official" classification... Using common sense, I guess kimarite that involve falling out the dohyo, for example, are riskier than others. But of course you can get a bad landing with many kimarite, or just tear something doing a yorikiri.

2) About your second question, I would say no. There are yorikiri, oshidashi or even nage specialist in almost every stage. Aiming to the top of the division, you have Ozeki Asanoyama, a mawashi wrestler, or Ozeki Takakeisho, who is an oshi rikishi, and usually gets in trouble if someone gets a hand in his mawashi (although I would say he's improving a bit). Both of them are great with their respective tools. And then you have Hakuko, that can beat anyone using anything, but probably because of that (and other stuff), he's just the best.

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To expand a bit on what Seregost has said, the definition of risk needs qualifying. Some moves are risky because of the potential for injury to either party. A kotenage arm lock could break an arm if the recipient doesn't release a belt grip; an abisetaoshi might be painful for having one rikishi fall on top of the other. Similarly, any number of nage throwing techniques might potentially be injurious if one lands badly. Nevertheless, any activity in a combat sport can have injury.

Alternatively, risk could be a measure of giving up a secure balanced stance to attempt a trip or throw maneuver -- you have to put yourself at risk of counterattack when you attempt an attack from a new position or angle. Some rikishi are better at exploiting opponents who are off balance and others "take risks" to attempt a winning move when it might be "safer" to maintain a stalemate position.

As far as rank goes, there is not much difference in risk or types of techniques where rikishi of equal ability face one another. Higher rankers have years of experience that has ingrained in them specific ways that best benefit their strengths and abilities. However, the lower ranks often have more occurrences of unusual kimarite, partly because of the greater number of rikishi at lower ranks and also because the inexperience of junior rikishi who are still learning fundamentals of techniques and ring positioning who accidentally arrive at desperate or inspired moves. Then again, there are junior rikishi of great talent (e.g. Ura) who have clever technical prowess and can execute a variety of kimarite.



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