Takayasu Gets A Workout
Earlier this week, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council held another of their periodic open trainings sessions, referred to as Soken. These are typically held in front of the committee and a few choice members of the press and the public. They allow committee members to gauge the strength, health and competitive nature of the top rikishi in the sport. This time, as the upcoming basho is in Tokyo, and there has been a massive public uptick in sumo interest, the soken was held at the Kokugikan and was open to the public.
As mentioned earlier, Kisenosato was not present, and this resulted in quite a bit of outrage from the committee.
But of more interest to us at Tachiai, was that the other three Yokozuna, both Ozeki, and a host of others from Makuuchi were present and going through their paces. First and foremost was Hakuho, who has looked very tentative in the past few basho. For Wednesday’s soken he was fierce and fit, winning all nine of his test matches. Kakuryu paired off against Goeido and Terunofuji, racking up 8 wins. Both Goeido and Terunofuji were looking healthy and strong, which is a huge relief for those fans fearing a “noZeki” future.
Takayasu was there, and paired off against Harumafuji. With Kisenosato being unavailable as a training partner, there has been genuine concern over Takayasu’s ability to hone his sumo for this critical basho. He must score at least 10 wins to secure the Ozeki promotion he has been chasing for the past year. He only won 4 out of 10 bouts against Harumafuji, but he looked strong and was moving well. Following the bouts with Harumafuji, he was treated to an exhaustive session of butsugari with Hakuho. From which Takayasu emerged covered in dirt and sand.
Far from being any kind of “hazing” by the Yokozuna, they all know that Takayasu is on the cusp of an important basho, and without his training parter, he needs all the help he can get. Takayasu fans everywhere are grateful that Harumafuji and Hakuho gave their time to help tune him up.
Video of the soken, including Takayasu’s butsugari below