R: R: [sumo] Tokitenku vs. Asashoryu ---> Goeido vs. Asashoryu

Lon Howard itsulon at wavecable.com
Sun Jan 20 18:37:12 EST 2008

On Jan 20, 2008, at 10:52 AM, Paolo Viel wrote:

> I perfectly follow what you say about the flow and the rhythm, and  
> it should
> be also my opinion if it were not
> for the fact that we read loser rikishi's comments like "I thought  
> it was a
> matta".
> Now: the matta is called by the gyoji, isn't it ? I mean: it does  
> not happen
> that the two opponents stop
> by themselves because "it is a matta". Or does it ?
> Therefore if rikishi A stands up without fighting or simply  
> receives rikishi
> B's first attack at the tachiai
> without reacting this should clearly show the gyoji that A was not  
> ready and
> a matta should be called.
> Otherwise why does rikishi A complain that "I thought it was a  
> matta" ? It
> should mean that the gyoji failed
> to see that only B was ready and A was not. Am I still missing  
> something ?

I don't think you're necessarily missing something, regarding the  
concept.  I think it's more that you are desiring that the humans  
involved act flawlessly, when in fact, they are only human.

Sometimes one rikishi wants a matta and pulls up at the last moment,  
thinking he still has time.  His aite sees him pull up and  
automatically pulls up too, whether the gyoji has actually called  
matta or not.  When both rikishi see the other stop, it confirms  
matta for both of them.  If one wasn't called, the first one who  
realizes it gets an easy win when he moves forward first.  When the  
loser says, "I thought it was a matta," he really is telling the  
truth.  It was a simple brain drain on the part of the rikishi.  Both  
of them know better, but it happens in athletics all the time...in  
the heat of the moment, sometimes the mind drops focus.

As for the gyoji, my opinion is that they have been instructed to  
call just enough matta to keep the rikishi 'honest.'  Unless they're  
going to follow the letter of the law and tag someone with a loss  
once in a while for excessive matta, there is no point in calling  
matta every time it occurs because it will bring the action to a halt  
so many times that people won't want to watch anymore.  So they'll do  
it once in a while, just to make it look like they're in control, but  
not enough to make them look like a traffic cop.

I have no empirical evidence to support this but it's just my  
opinion, based on the events that are observable, and the rules, as I  
understand them.  Despite all the human frailties and imperfections  
related to the tachiai, I feel it's eccentric nature goes a long way  
toward making sumo the most compelling sport I've ever seen.

Lon Howard

It does happen sometimes that the gyoji doesn't call matta but both  
rikishi 'feel' matta.  I

Once in a while we'll see both rikishi start a tachiai and then both  
of them will stop, both thinking (and perhaps hoping)  this is a  
matta because neither got off well.  When both notice their aite not  
moving either, it confirms the matta in their mind.   then notice  
that the gyoji is not stopping the action.  Usually one of them  
recognizes the situation first, and then walks the other out of the 

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