Promotion to Yokozuna



What are the standards for promotion to Yokozuna?

Promotion to yokozuna and ozeki must be preceded by unanimous approval of the JSA board of trustees. Standards for becoming a yokozuna include two consecutive tournament championships or a record equal to same. The JSA asks the Yokozuna Judging Committee to consider possible candidates. Along with a superior record, a candidate must have “dignity” and “great physical strength.”

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What are the standards of the Yokozuna Judging Committee?

In January 1958, the committee made public its standards for promotions and other actions.

  • A yokozuna candidate must have dignity and great physical strength.
  • The judging committee shall recommend ozeki who have won two consecutive tournament championships.
  • If a candidate has a record equivalent to the above, the committee must recommend him unanimously . *”Unanimously” above was eventually amended to “two-thirds. “
  • If the items listed below pertain to a yokozuna, the following can be issued by the committee with a twothirds majority: encouragement, warning, recommendation for retirement. (No system for demoting a yokozuna shall be considered.)
    • Missing a significant number of tournaments. A yokozuna will be encouraged to concentrate on making a full recovery as long as the nature of the injury or illness is such that a return to the ring is possible.
    • Actions that result in tainting the title of yokozuna.
    • A poor record and a general consensus that the rank cannot be upheld.

What does the Yokozuna Judging Committee do?

Upon the request of the JSA (trustees), the committee considers candidates for yokozuna, and the JSA respects its recommendations. The yokozuna judging committee meets after the final day of every official tournament.

What does the JSA do with the committee’s decision?

If the committee recommends a candidate for yokozuna, the JSA board of trustees meets to make a final vote. Emphasis is always placed on the committee’s oponion.

What happens after the meeting of the trustees?

After the meeting, the promotion to yokozuna is made official at the banzuke ranking conference.

How is the promotion announced?

As soon as the promotion has been made official at the banzuke conference, two messengers are dispatched, one trustee and one judge. They go to the stable of the new yokozuna to inform him and his stablemaster of the promotion. The two, along with the stablemaster’s wife, are on hand to greet the messengers and carry out a prescribed ritual (dentatsu-shiki) .

What does the yokozuna dentatsu-shiki entail?

There is a set format for the ceremony, and the atmosphere is one of gravity. The messengers face the rikishi, his stablemaster and the stablemaster’s wife, and say,
“I have come to tell you that today, at the banzuke ranking conference and meeting of the board of trustees, the ozeki was promoted unanimously to yokozuna. ”
Then the new yokozuna replies, “I humbly accept this decision. I will do my best not to bring shame to the title of yokozuna. ” Actual expressions may vary. Yokozuna Takanohana said, “I humbly accept the decision. I intend to continue tenaciously to follow the path of sumo with all that is within me. I sincerely thank you for coming today.”

Who is on the yokozuna judging committee?

“Good men from all walks of life who love sumo the most and who have a great understanding of the sport.” The 15 committee members are all invited to serve by the JSA (JSA members cannot serve).

What is the yokozuna judging committee training observation?

Prior to a Tokyo tournament, the members of the yokozuna judging committee are invited to the Sumo Training School to watch a combined practice session of all yokozuna, ozeki, and other top makuuchi rikishi.

Yokozuna are numbered as they are promoted. What if two are promoted at the same time?

They are not numbered until one retires; the first to quit gets the lower number.

When did yokozuna first appear on the ranking chart?

The first yokozuna to be listed on the ranking chart was Nishi-no-umi, the sixteenth yokozuna, for the May 1890 tournament. He was not, however, the first one to ever attain that rank. The title of yokozuna did not become an official one until 1909, when yokozuna was first stipulated as the top rank in the rules of the predecessor to the JSA.

What is the origin of the “rope” (zuna) in yokozuna?

It is said that the rope was first used as a decoration in Shinto land-breaking ceremonies. During such ceremonies, strong rikishi did their stamping to purify the ground. A version of this ceremony became the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony. During the first such ceremonies, yokozuna tied a small ground-breaking rope to their waists. It was not until the middle years of the Meiji era that the rope began evolving into ever-thicker versions.



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