I really think Ichinojo puts a lot of planning into each bout. He’s a real tactician. He was very slow at the tachiai…waiting for Kotoshogiku to make the first move. With the ozeki’s knee issues, it was apparent that he was experiencing discomfort holding a crouched stance for more than a few seconds before the tachiai. After just a few seconds, he had to adjust into more of a forward lean and finally had to go ahead into a three-point stance and initiate the charge rather than wait on Ichinojo. As he bulled across the dohyo, Ichinojo just grabbed him by the back and pushed him down. Some do not like his tactics but I enjoy the chess he plays. Kisenosato used to slow roll his tachiai, getting many opponents to false start, until Ichinojo abused him.
Speaking of Kisenosato, he defeated the winless Tochinoshin to stay in the hunt early on, one win off pace. Tochinoshin looks strong but his competition this week has been top-notch. I’m hopeful that he can muster a winning record after going through the gauntlet these first few days. Goeido had a much easier time beating Tochiozan quickly, pulling the hard-charging komusubi off the dohyo with alacrity. It’s far to early to speculate as to whether either ozeki will fall to a losing record but these early wins are very valuable for Goeido.
Kakuryu was able to take advantage of Ikioi’s low charge and pull him down by the shoulders. Ikioi really needed to get a quick belt grip. He’s having a very tough week, now 0-4. Like Tochinoshin it’s still quite possible for him to preserve a winning record but to advance in the rankings he needs to be more competitive against ozeki and yokozuna.
Harumafuji has just been fierce this tournament. After a strong tachiai and a very quick assault, he was able to swing the maegashira around, off balance, and push him out. Harumafuji is the active prototype for the light, nimble sumo I particularly enjoy…reminiscent of Chiyonofuji, coupled with the consumate sportsmanship. This is opposed to the “immovable object” type of sumo Konishiki and Akebono personified.
Hakuho stays in the lead with Harumafuji and Okinoumi. Terunofuji gave Hakuho a run for his money. He was able to lock the yokozuna’s arms and stay in the bout…but Hak’s Hak. He wriggled an arm out and slapped the maegashira down. Terunofuji is definitely on the way up, though. His basho will only get easier after this weekend and with the two early wins, he may be able to move back up to komusubi.