Kotoshogiku and Sports Psychology in Japan

This observation comes via Yohann over at Dosukoi.Fr. Please click through to read the full article over there (french). Kotoshogiku was interviewed about his recent victory and why it had taken so long for a Japanese wrestler to win a yusho.kotoshogiku-768x543

Personally, I think this is an issue for Japanese sports and its athletes as a whole. In the US and Europe, sports science and sports medicine are entrenched. Beyond using data to increase effectiveness the use of sports psychologists has been a regular practice at the professional and Olympic level for decades.

However, there are many cases of Japanese athletes under-performing expectations and blame (anecdotal, at least) is placed on the media for the pressure they put on the athletes and their expectations. From figure skating, like Mao-chan, to golf, baseball, and sumo, many Japanese I’ve spoken with believe the media are relentless.

It’s hard for me to square that with what I see in the US.  Athletes and all sorts of public figures are put under intense scrutiny – Japanese media can’t be worse. Before winning the Superbowl, Peyton Manning was having the worst season of his career. People thought he was washed up when he was benched, mid-season. Afterward, people mocked the way he shamelessly plugged his sponsors in his post-game interview. Now, mere weeks after the win, come allegations of sexual harassment – an allegation that dates back to his college days. His sterling career looks to be tarnished by impropriety like so many before him…Joe Namath (link to on-air, cringeworthy sexual harassment of Suzie Kolber), any Dallas Cowboy, and Brett “1990s golden boy” Favre. So many of our athletes have humiliating run-ins with the law, or TMZ, but are still able to perform. Athletes in Japan, even foreigners like Ichinojo, seem to crumble under the intense pressure of the spotlight.

All of this leaves me with a big question: What is the state of sports psychology in Japan? This may not be an indicator of anything but the field does not even appear to be in the Japanese Wikipedia (link to English page – note the Korean page…but no Japanese).

I’ve spoken with Yohann about this before. He noted that it’s easier to become a rikishi for native Japanese while standards are much higher for foreigners hoping to make it. Thus, it could be a case of selection bias. We see foreigners being successful because only the successful foreigners even get into a stable in the first place. There’s definitely something to that. But I also think there’s a need for more intense use of sports’ psychology. Maybe if someone out there agrees, you can create the Japanese wikipedia page?

八百長(Yaocho): Match Fixing…In Other Sports

The Japanese word for match-fixing is 八百長(yaocho). It seems the sporting world has been full of cheating controversies lately. Professional tennis was rocked by allegations right before the Australian Open. Russian track-and-field athletes are facing bans from competition. Rampant corruption at FIFA, including rigged bidding for World Cups and match fixing. Even cycling has been hit with a revelation of technological doping when a German racer was found to have a motor inside the frame of her bicycle. Continue reading

Terunofuji Will Compete In March

Yohann over at Dosukoi.fr is reporting that Terunofuji will compete in March.
Click here to read the story over on his site (French)
. I wrote a few days ago that I am in favor of him skipping the tournament and everyone who voted so far has agreed. terunofuji(The lone dissenting vote is actually mine…I was just testing the vote app.) I hope he heals quickly. As mentioned before, he has a broken collar bone that will surely be sore and a target for anyone who wants some kenshokin. I think this is a huge mistake since he could come back fresh in May, pick up 10 wins, and preserve his ozeki status. Even if somehow he weren’t able to win 10 matches, I’m confident that a healthy Terunofuji would not only make an eventual return to ozeki status, I think he’d win another yusho or two. If he gets a few more, he’s destined for yokozuna promotion…if healthy. Competing in March does not assure he will get a winning record unless there’s some yaocho funny business. If everything’s on the up-and-up, he’s STILL in danger of promotion AND he’s at serious risk of further aggravating the injury. SIT HIM.