Nagoya Day 4 Highlights


Hakuho-Classroom

Nagoya Crazy Train Still Rolling On.

Many sumo fans assumed that at some point this week, the Nagoya bahso would settle down to a standard sumo grind, but this basho is a run away beer truck rolling down hill. The only hope we have is to climb on board and drink the contents while the ride lasts.

With Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the basho, the noises of his retirement have returned at an elevated volume. I think it would be a great loss for sumo, given that his style is fairly unique. But it’s clear that his body is not up to the challenge of supporting the intense schedule of the modern sumo year.

There was a good amount of concern and confusion in today’s match between Ura and Onosho. To the fans in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnaisum, it must have looked that Onosho was a clear winner. In fact it seems that both rikishi were not quite certain who had won. As the gyoji handed the kensho to Ura, the shimpan rose, and Ura assumed that a monoii had been called. Looking confused, he tried to hand the kensho back to the gyoji. In fact it was simply the half way break, and the Shimpan were changing over.

Lastly, in a bout that I loved, but that many in Japan are criticizing, Hakuho completely and utterly deconstructed fast rising star Takakeisho in the final match of the day. It’s quite understandable that Takakeisho would be in awe of his first ever match against the dai-Yokozuna, and Hakuho played on that. After a series of tsuppari delivered to the young challenger, Takakeisho backed off and waited. This prompted Hakuho to encourage him to attack, and it devolved into butsugari geiko. This may not quite make sense, but in that 30 second bout, Hakuho reduced Takakeisho from challenger, to student. Personally I found it endearing, but it seems that a good amount of the sumo mainstays in the NSK found it quite insulting.

Selected Matches

Nishikigi defeats Sokokurai – Nishikigi continues to look renewed in his return to Makuuchi. He is now 4-0 and half way to his kachi-koshi. Sokokurai put up a good fight, but Nishikigi was not going to lose.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Tokushoryu completely overpowered Chiyonokuni in this match, which resulted in a monii. I have to wonder if Chiyonokuni is nursing some injury from Natsu, as he continues to turn in dismal results.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – Aoiyama the man mountain continues to dominate, and remains unbeaten thus far. I am certain that Maegashira 8 is the perfect rank for Aoiyama, as he seems to be doing very well with this degree of difficulty.

Ishiura defeats Chiyotairyu – Ishiura showed up with some really solid sumo today, and the crowd loved it. I am not sure if he has physical or confidence problems, but everyone is hoping to see that same hard-charging sumo machine that first entered Makuuchi in January.

Ura defeats Onosho – In addition to the post-match confusion, this was some really solid sumo from both men. Onosho really pushed hard from the tachiai, but lost momentum moments from victory. His final pulling throw at the edge saw his foot out for just a moment as Ura took flight.

Tochiozan defeats Endo – Something happened at the tachiai, and Endo more or less stopped trying just after the initial charge. All of sumo hopes Endo is not harboring some performance limiting injury.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Takayasu’s initial shoulder blast seems to have disoriented Mitakeumi, who was never able to get stable and attack. Takayasu continued to press the attack and move forward, and prevailed. This is two days in a row where it seems Mitakeumi became disoriented after a really solid blow to the head on the tachiai.

Goeido defeats Ikioi – Example of Goeido 2.0 behavior. Explode into the tachiai, carry that momentum into your opponent’s chest and just run him off the dohyo. Sadly Ikioi is winless.

Hokutofuji defeats Terunofuji – Hokutofuji is holding up very well against sumo’s top ranks. If he can stay healthy, he will join them before long. It’s clear that Terunofuji is struggling daily to compete through the pain.

Kisenosato defeats Shodai – All of the sumo world breaths a sigh of relief. Not only did he win, but he was producing power through his left side. Maybe he can make a go of it after all. Shodai, of course, had a terrible tachiai.

Harumafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent deploy of Harumafuji’s mini-henka, against an opponent who sort of expected it.

Hakuho defeats Takakeisho – In what I can only call “Mole Boss Sumo”, Hakuho is cat to Takakeisho’s mouse. When they made this Yokozuna, they broke the mould. Much respect to Takakeisho for continuing to try to attack in spite of Hakuho batting him around like a piece of twine.

16 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 4 Highlights

  1. Watching it from an NHK feed without english commentary early this morning, it looked like Endo may have gotten a handful of chonmage and backed off thinking he was going to be disqualified.

    At least I’m hoping for that and not an injury–he certainly seemed to just stop fighting completely.

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  2. I can’t see Hakuho’s behavior as endearing. That man treats his rivals with disrespect, and since he is so much stronger than they are, it’s rather disappointing. A man’s character is seen by how he treats his inferiors. Has anybody ever seen Chionofuji in his day delivering neko-damashi, giving a rival a little extra push off the dohyo after that rival has already lost, or taunting a rival like that? Arienai. Hakuho is being a douchebag, and I find it worrying that this is the man young rikishi will be trying to imitate for generations to come.

    Yesterday Harumafuji pushed his rival out of the ring – then laid a hand on him momentarily to prevent him from falling off. That man – I respect.

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    • I can see you side of it. But to me it looks like the match started as a serious bout, but it was clear that Hakuho was not going to open up on him right away. He has stated in the past that these young up-and-comers interest him greatly, and he is very keen to see what they are all about.

      So Takakeisho charges him repeatedly, but immediately backs off when Hakuho lands multiple blows on him. At the start, Hakuho is not trying to win, he is simply trying to prevent Takakeisho from doing anything effective. Takakeisho shortly realizes this, and decides he is not going to continue.

      Hakuho pauses, and invites him to “take the chest”. I may have found it endearing because I have personally been in an analog of what I just described during my time in the US Marines. Both when getting it and giving it, the act was one of training, and was meant to ensure that the next generation of Marines would turn out the right way.

      I have huge respect for Takakeisho, and if you have read this site you know I think in a few years he is going to be a big deal in sumo. But truth be told, he is not quite ready to challenge Hakuho yet – they both knew that. Given that reality, do you blast a promising young rikishi off the dohyo, possibly injuring him and jeopardizing what is likely a bright career, just to prove the point? Or do you give him a taste of just how powerful and effective Yokozuna class sumo should be, but in a safe way that ensures neither of you will get hurt?

      The fact that it was clear that he made damn sure that this next-generation mainstay was not injured is what tipped me that he harbored no malice to young Takakeisho.

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      • There’s a difference between malice and disrespect. And in fact, Hakuho is so versatile that he could have finished this safely in 10 different ways. Nobody says he should have hacked him to death.

        Anyway, I believe the exact difference between your situation in the Marines and the one with Hakuho is that it was a training setup. Here we are talking about an internationally televised official tournament.

        I doubt very much that Takakeisho left the dohyo with a feeling of “Today I learned something new”. I’m betting on “I wish my parents weren’t here to see this” instead.

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    • Chiyonofuji is hardly the best counter-example given the near-universal behind the scenes judgement that he was a colossal jerk in his active days, to the extent that nobody even really wanted to work with him after he became oyakata… The public facade may have been more appealing, but that’s about it.

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  3. Hokutofuji looked awesome but he should not have been able to finish the fight like that. If Terunofuji weren’t hurt, I can’t see how that groan-reach-strain-pray yorikiri would have worked.

    I too liked the odd Hakuho bout. Weird, but fun. As usual, fans split!

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  4. I also enjoyed Hakuho’s “come at me, bro.” Looking at tomorrow’s Torikumi, interesting that Ura got pulled up into the top 16 before Endo.

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  5. I will loose my mind if yoshikaze beats hakuho this basho

    No one can yorikiri a healthy terunofuji, his game is sttength. Yokozuna can only throw him through dexterity and technique, but not overpower him. He looks injured

    If i dislike any Y, its haruma. He employs henka every basho. And his speed blast is very dangerous. Look what he done to kise.

    I side with bruce on hakuho issue. To me it looks like he is giving experience to his opponent. The extra shove? Fart, 38 yusho, he is bored so much with lack of motivation. I think it would have been better if asashoryu is still around

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    • Asashoryu would be 36 now and already had more injuries by age 28 than Hakuho has had until today. I really don’t think we’re missing much by not having him active…

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      • The point is hak has no challenge from anyone. He is so much better than everyone. Its kinda boring. The reason for the extra shove and such

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        • I still don’t understand how pointless fantasizing about Asashoryu is supposed to help mitigate Hakuho’s dominance.

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    • The odds of Yoshikaze beating Hakuho are slim, but Yoshikaze is the source of many magical surprises, so I am eagerly awaiting about 3:50 AM in Dallas.

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  6. Aoiyama is so one-dimensional it’s infuriating – more one dimensional than Kotoshogiku even (at least he’s been so fun to watch)! It’s a slapfest where he’s got to keep you off the mawashi and keep moving forward so that hopefully he’s big enough he can slap you to the edge and out. It’s ugly stuff. I don’t want to see this dude ending up at M3 or whatever in September and getting to fight against the best of the best. It just feels like a waste.

    I loved the whole thing with Hakuho today, and Bruce I agree with you fully. Takakeisho looked totally unprepared and had no game plan. Hakuho could have totally exploited that but the difference with him over the last two tournaments is that he has adjusted his game plan to every single match and defused every rikishi’s strengths. But you can’t do that when your opponent isn’t bringing anything. Next time maybe Takakeisho will come with a game plan (and/or a henka!). He will be great someday, maybe even someday soon.

    But Hakuho’s approach on a day by day basis is really interesting. We all know about Shodai’s garbage tachiai – so what does Hakuho do? Slaps the hell out of him at the tachiai and the dude falls over (I know, slippy dohyo in Nagoya, I saw it myself, but still!). He goes chest to chest with Tochinoshin and defuses him. It’s how he managed Natsu to a zensho yusho. All of his bodes extremely well for a fiery match with Yoshikaze tomorrow.

    And yeah, Kisenosato looked great!

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