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Kimarite (sumo winning technique)

Sotogake is an outside leg trip ("soto" is "outside", and "gake" becomes "wrapping a leg/foot around the opponent's leg/foot"). While facing each other the winner will get a good grip on his opponent's mawashi (belt) and pull him close. Then he will wrap his leg or foot around his aite's (opponent's) lead leg (from the outside), and force him to fall over backwards.

It is a risky move as the attacker will be vulnerable when he initiates the leg-wrap. The secret is to to force the opponent's upper body backwards, ruining his balance, before trying to trip him up. Otherwise the attacker may just find himself holding on to 300 lbs of determined sumotori (sumo wrestler) while standing on one leg (this will of course be the case with most kimarite involving legs).

Sotogake can be seen as a defensive move against a tsuppari attack (slapping attack); the defender dives through the attacker's blows, and latches on to his mawashi to end the bout with a sotogake. It is a kimarite that requires speed and presence of mind rather than raw strength - although possessing both, like eg. Yokozuna Asashoryu does, is not a drawback (Asashoryu has won with sotogake a total of 7 times since he was promoted to sanyaku1 in May 2001).

Of the 82 official kimarite, 29 involve the legs (15 are "leg to leg" tripping techniques, and 14 are "hand to leg"), but only a total of 7 (3 and 4) bouts out of the 571 mentioned below were won by using one of these 29 kimarite.

Of 571 bouts in the Makuuchi division (Haru and Natsu Basho, 2005), 2 (0,3%) were won by sotogake.

Back to the kimarite menu

  1. The sanyaku is the upper part of makuuchi, the highest division in sumo.

My sources are www.scgroup.com/sumo and www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html

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