International Sumo Federation

Chapter 2 : Refereeing Rules

Article 6 :
The gyoji shall signal the tachiai (jump-off) by calling out "Hakkeyoi!" (Get moving!) as soon as both competitors have simultaneously placed their hands on the dohyo and are completely still.
The competitors' hands must touch down behind the shikiri-sen (starting lines).
If a competitor jumps off without waiting for the call, the gyoji must call out "Matta!" (Wait!) and start the tachiai again.
Article 7 :
If the head judge considers the tachiai to be incomplete, he shall immediately raise his right hand and stop the bout.
In the above case, the tachiai shall be begun again immediately.
The decision on whether a tachiai was correctly or incorrectly carried out shall be left to the head judge.
Article 8 :
Unless otherwise provided herein, the following criteria determine the winner of a bout.
(1) The competitor who moves his/her opponent out of the shobu-dawara (straw bales that form the circle of dohyo)
(2) The competitor who forces any part of his/her opponent's body, other than the soles of his/her feet, to touch the ground before the opponent does the same.
Article 9 :
When the opponent is in the shinitai position (dead body, i.e., in a falling position where the competitor has completely lost his/her balance), the competitor shall not lose even either of the following occurs.
(1) The competitor puts his/her hand to the ground a moment before the opponent lands.
(2) The competitor steps out of the ring of shobu-dawara a moment in advance of the falling opponent.
The above Items (1) and (2) shall be known as the kabaite (protecting hand) and kabaiashi (protecting feet) respectively.
Article 10 :
When a competitor has lifted his/her opponent clear of the ground and carries him/her forward out of the shobu-dawara, it shall not be a loss if his/her foot goes out first (okuri-ashi). If, however, the competitor steps out backward, it shall be considered a loss.
Article 11 :
It shall not be a loss if the orikomi (front fold) of the mawashi (loincloth belt) touches the ground.
Article 12 :
When a bout is won by one of the throwing techniques etc., the competitor who executes the throw does not lose if his/her instep turns over and touches the ground before the opponent lands.
Article 13 :
After a deliberation by the judges, a competitor may be judged to have lost the bout in any of the following cases:
(1) if the competitor is ruled to be unable to continue the bout through injury etc.
(2) if the competitor is ruled to have used a kinjite (prohibited move)
(3) if the competitor arbitrarily terminates the bout
(4) if the competitor is ruled that he/she deliberately failed to jump-off to begin the bout
(5) if the competitor does not abide by the judges' instructions
(6) if the maebukuro (front pouch part) of the mawashi comes undone and falls away during the bout
(7) if the competitor does not appear in the dohyo-damari (ringside waiting area) after being called twice by the broadcasting staff.
Article 14 :
When a competitor is injured during a bout, the gyoji must stop the bout immediately. The judges must consult Medical Committee members and respect their diagnosis in deciding whether or not the bout can be resumed.
Article 15 :
1. The following moves are deemed kinjite (prohibited moves):
(1) punching the opponent with a closed fist
(2) poking the opponent with fingers
(3) kicking the opponent in the chest or abdominal regions
(4) taking hold of the opponent's hair
(5) taking hold of the opponent's throat
(6) taking hold of clothing other than the mawashi (i.e. underpants, leotard, bandages, support pads, etc. This rule shall apply hereafter.) twice or more
(7) taking hold of the maebukuro or maetatemitsu (front vertical part of the mawasihi), or sticking fingers in at the side and pulling
(8) bending back one or two of the opponent's fingers
(9) biting
(10) slapping the opponent's face with an arm outstretched more than a shoulder width.
2. When any kinjite is used, the gyoji must stop the bout immediately.
Article 16 :
The gyoji must in all cases determine the winner at the instant the bout is over.
Article 17 :
If the head judge or any of the judges has an objection or a doubt (hereinafter referred to as "objections etc.") to the gyoji's decision regarding the result of a bout, he shall raise his right hand immediately and lodge objections etc.
The objections etc. must clearly point out a kimarite (officially recognized technique) and be stated plainly and concisely.
Once the gyoji has given the kachi-nanori (formal announcement of the winner), the decision is final and no objections etc. may be raised.
Article 18 :
When an objections etc. has been raised, the whole judging panel must immediately move to the center of the dohyo and discuss the matter.
In their deliberation, the judges shall identify the reasons for the gyoji's decision as a point of reference and take this into consideration.
A judge may abstain from the deliberation in situations where the bout ending move was hidden from the judge's view, or for other legitimate reasons.
A judge must not express the validity of his own opinion so strongly as to impede the deliberation.
Article 19 :
The head judge shall make the final judgment in a deliberation and shall announce a clear and concise explanation of the decision.
In principle, the decision shall be reached by a majority vote of the judges (excluding the gyoji ).
The head judge shall try to convince the minority of the validity of the majority decision.
Article 20 :
When the head judge or one or more of the judges has confirmed that a bout has been decided but the gyoji does not call a decision and allows the bout to continue, the following measures shall be taken:
(1) In the event of a fumikoshi (stepping out of the dohyo) etc., where there is a visible mark on the ground, the judge who observed the evidence shall raise his right hand to clearly signal the end of the bout. If this happens, the head judge shall instruct the gyoji to stop the bout and the final decision shall be made through deliberation among the judges.
(2) In case no visible mark is confirmed on the janome (circle of swept sand immediately outside shobu-dawara) as an evidence to decide the winner, an objections shall be lodged at the end of the bout, and the decision shall be reached through deliberation.
Article 21 :
If the gyoji mistakenly calls out "Shobu atta!" (The contest has been decided!) when a bout is in progress, the head judge or any of the judges shall lodge an objection and a torinaoshi (re-match) shall be declared following a deliberation.
Article 22 :
If a bout goes on for over three minutes without coming to a conclusion, the bout shall be stopped and a torinaoshi shall be ordered.
At a signal given by the timekeeper, the head judge shall instruct the gyoji to stop the bout.