YDC Soken – Facing No-Kozuna


On Friday the Yokozuna Deliberation Council held one of their periodic reviews of up and coming sekitori. These training sessions are called “Soken” and in the past have been fascinating looks at the state of the wrestlers, and the opinions of the council.

The headline coming from the Soken today is that all 4 Yokozuna appeared, but only Harumafuji did any sumo. This should give sumo fans globally some pause. Out of the 4 top men in sumo, only one was healthy enough to actually engage in any matches. For Kakuryu and Kisenosato, they were present but did not face off against any opponents, they simply performed training exercises. Hakuho arrived in the final minutes, and did not even join in training.

The Council chief, Masatoshi Kitamura, remarked that the situation was “Not satisfactory”, and expressed his disappointment that 3 of the Yokozuna did no sumo.

At this point fans are beginning to worry about the Aki tournament, and with good cause. With few headliners likely to appear and fewer still to make it to day 15, the upcoming Aki basho likely represents a turning point for the current crop of sumo’s best.

Some specifics

  • Hakuho – Knee problems, fans may recall that last year he missed Aki for surgery on his toe, but they also did work on his knee. That the knee is once again bothering him is troublesome
  • Kisenosato – Has not been healthy enough to train up for Aki. As always everyone is being very vague about his actual condition and holding out phony hope for some miraculous improvement over the course of a few hours that will allow him to compete.
  • Kakuryu – Still barely able to walk, has practiced no sumo, faced no opponents in test matches. He is benched for Aki, as it has been made clear he must be fully healthy and highly competitive in his next basho or he is done.
  • Harumafuji – He continues to have problems with his knees and elbows, but he is one tough rikishi. He will give it his best shot, and I expect him to at least start Aki.

More details via NHK

10 thoughts on “YDC Soken – Facing No-Kozuna

  1. My sincere hope is that they all take their injuries seriously and come back when their health allows. On the plus side, this should give some of the tadpoles a chance to shine.

  2. Harumafuji – that guy who is picked up in a stretcher and sent to ICU after every bout, according to some 😛 – had to do all the duties in this Soken. He did butsukari with Takayasu. He took san-ban with Mitakeumi and Shohozan and was 9W-0L. He ended up looking like this.

    Harumafuji Sweating

    The man may be the Hephaestus of the Sumo Olympus, but he is still a god. I think he will both start and finish Aki, unless he gets a new injury, kami-sama forbid.

    But chairman of the NSK Hakkaku did criticize Hakuho for showing up only in the last minute. In the same article I mentioned above he said “Whatever he can do in his heya, he can do here. He’s been on the Jungyo and is capable of entering the ring”. Well, I’m not sure what Hakuho is playing at. Not sure if Hakkaku is right about “whatever he can do in the heya he can do here”. After all, it’s not as if his Heya is full of the likes of Takayasu and Mitakeumi. If he practices there with the youngsters like Kisenosato is with the poor sods at Tagonoura (I wouldn’t want to be a low-ranked rikishi in that stable right now), it’s not exactly what he’s expected to do in the Soken. Then again, both Kisenosato and Kakuryu showed up on time and did whatever they could (Kisenosato, apparently, still nail-gazing, and Kakuryu doing suri-ashi). So the Dai-Yokozuna could have showed up and at least slapped a pole or asked Kisenosato about nail-gazing techniques. Is he protesting against something?

    One good thing to see was Terunofuji, who seemed not to just talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Was that Onosho that he engaged in Butsukari? A also saw a san-ban with Daieisho. Of course, that’s still not sanyaku aite, but at least he is not showing increased interest in his own nails.

    • At first I laughed at this comment. But come to think of it, if Hakuho goes kyujo either fully or early, there are only 8 sanyaku left. That means that Aoiyama only needs to do the same as he did in the previous tournament – beat every Maegashira and Yoshikaze – to get a kachi-koshi.

      Well, slightly better Maegashira than he beat before… and getting a gentle massage from Takayasu, Goeido and Terunofuji in between. But still…

      • Actually, as far as Aoiyama is concerned there would be only 7 sanyaku left as Tochiozan would be out of the equation, as would the Maegashira 1 Tochinoshin. If the predicted mass defection of yokozuna materialises, then the way that three experienced, top-class wrestlers from Kasugano are clumped together towards the top of the banzuke might well have an interesting effect on this basho. The recent training sessions in that stable must have been something to see.

        • Right! I forgot to check heya affiliations. Heh. Could be a really crazy basho if the Isegahama guys have to go into a playoff for the Yusho, and Aoiyama waddles into the next basho’s Sanyaku.

  3. Kisenosato falls below nail-gazing level. At the end of this article, which mainly talks about Takayasu wearing out his new black mawashi, they say that Kisenosato has not been seen in the keiko-room. His oyakata responded: “He ruined his health”. Well, it’s hard to translate “kuzusu”, but basically, his health crumbled, and the voice of the sentence is active, as in “he did it, it was not done to him”.


    With 7 days to go, it’s either kyujo or intai.

  4. If Kakuryu is done, it’s gonna be sad for me. I watched Kakuryu’s fast transition to Yokozuna to his equal bouts with Tochiozan to his awesome (low number) victories to Hakuho and Harumafuji to his amazing November basho last year where he got 14-1 when nobody was kyujo and then now his possible retirement.

    He wasn’t really a dominant yokozuna but he pulled me into sumo. If true, then farewell, Kakuryu and thanks.


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