Hikiotoshi is a frequently used pull down technique, where the winner brings his opponent down by pulling him forward and off balance, while backing away ("hiki" is to "pull opponent down" and "otoshi" is "make opponent fall onto his front or side").
The attacker may pull at (almost) any part of the opponent's body but the hair: hair-pulling equals disqualification. Yokozuna Asashoryu was disqualified in the Nagoya basho (July tournament) 2003 for pulling maegashira Kyukushuzan down by the hair, in what should have been a hikiotoshi. The pull may also be executed by holding the mawashi (belt), but it is forbidden to grab the front part, covering the vitals.
Hikiotoshi can easily be mistaken for hatakikomi, which is a "slap down" technique. The way to tell them apart lies in the pulling motion of hikiotoshi: the winner will end up more or less in front of the loser. At hatakikomi the winner will usually end up to one side of the loser. (To complicate matters further, hikiotoshi and hatakikomi is very difficult to distinguish from tsukiotoshi, a thrust-down technique).
Wrestlers who rely more on thrust than technique at the start - tachiai - run a rather higher risk of losing by hikiotoshi (or hatakikomi). Often their centre of gravity will be low, and the opponent "just" have to speed them on their way to the dohyo floor. A rikishi (sumo wrestler, lit. "strong man") who initiates a hikiotoshi must be certain to have room enough behind him, to prevent himself from inadvertently leaving the ring (touching the ground outside the ring means losing!) when he moves backwards.
Of 571 bouts in the Makuuchi division (Haru and Natsu Basho, 2005), 43 (7,5%) were won by hikiotoshi.
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My sources are www.scgroup.com/sumo and www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html