Day 7 – Old Dogs, Not Entirely New Tricks

Harumafuji vs. Shohozan
Not falling for that one again, thank you very much!

Congratulations. Our sole surviving Ozeki has finally learned to walk forwards! We’re so proud! We’ll soon have him up and actually doing Sumo. Allow me to hope, though, that by then our Yokozuna will regain his mojo, because Goeido still needs a stiff lesson. In an interview for Asahi Shimbun, he said “Rather than focus on the responsibilities of an Ozeki, I’m currently focusing on doing my own sumo. If I do that, the results will follow”.

Never mind the worn cliché – somebody should make a rule that demotes any rikishi who uses that in an interview. Then again, we’ll be left only with one foreign rikishi, who will only agree to be interviewed in his mother’s tongue. But if that’s the Ozeki’s “own sumo”, I’d rather see him do it in his own sumo division, hopefully in some remote country where television has not been invented.

Anyway, today Shodai’s tachiai forced him to move forward, and use some oshi-zumo to banish his rival from the ring. Goeido actually got some compliments from Hakkaku, who said that he was “calm and pressed forward”, and that his posture and tachiai today were better . Which means that Hakkaku has not watched many Shodai bouts recently, or he would have realized that the only thing Goeido could side-step today was Shodai’s glare.

Oh, deities of sumo, I’d really much rather see Onosho take the Yusho than that cowardly Ozeki.

The Yokozuna has still not gained his full confidence back. He is cautious, very cautious. Staying low, mindful of his center of gravity, keeping his defense up, and more reactive than active. Eventually Shohozan managed to grab his arm and tried for a Tottari. But the Yokozuna is not falling for that again. By the time Shohozan pulled him to the tawara, Harumafuji found a morozashi and pushed him out.

And in the battle of the tadpoles, Onosho recovers from the kinboshi poisoning, while Hokutofuji doesn’t. Onosho looks like an Ozeki, not like a maegashira #3. At least as long as nobody catches on to that over-commitment problem.

OK, dropping down to the bottom now, because frankly, the more interesting bouts were in the bottom and middle of the Makuuchi . As an appetizer, Aminishiki fans will be glad to know that he won again, but today’s kimarite wasn’t a flashy one. Just another henka and a throw. And if you don’t know that Aminishiki will try that then you deserve to stay in Juryo. By the way, right now Aminishiki has no less than 44 distinct kimarite under his mawashi (not including fusensho and hiwaza).

I’m not sure why the other members of the Tachiai team make much of Asanoyama’s sunny attitude. He doesn’t seem to be any more enthusiastic than Chiyonokuni, for example. But he has a nice, pretty face, and today he demonstrated some patient sumo vs. Daiamami.

I’m really starting to like Chiyomaru the Ever-Round. Two days ago, a show of oshi-zumo. Yesterday, a demonstration of yotsu-zumo. And today, an endurance test. Kaisei was very active, and had Chiyomaru at the tawara several times, but the human sphere kept his balance. Eventually, it was Chiyomaru who waited patiently and the Brazilian was the first one to run out of stamina and out of dohyo.

Takarafuji is also being very reliable, and throws Nishikigi almost as an afterthought.

Ikioi seems to have picked one that he he shouldn’t have from poor Ishiura. At the very least, that bout should have resulted in a torinaoshi. But there was not even a monoii.

Chiyonokuni and Arawashi’s bout was fun to watch. Yotsu Zumo? Oshi zumo? Those two kept changing their holds and threw every trick they had at each other, fast as lightning. Poor shimpan. One rikishi falling on you is bad enough, but two? I hope he is well. He is lucky those weren’t, say, Chiyomaru and Ichinojo.

Now, Kagayaki vs. Takanoiwa. Yesterday we discussed the issue of head-butts in the comments. This bout had at least three of them. It looked more like Ushi-Tsuki (bull sumo, it’s a thing) than like human sumo. Lots of tsuppari between the butts, but eventually Kagayaki ended up dazed and got thrown out. I’m worried about a concussion there.

Chiyotairyu wins again, by heavy tachiai… and Ichinojo loses again, by henka. The actual kimarite are not really important.

Another non-crazy day. We have a pack of four men in the lead, but don’t let that confuse you. Daishomaru and Daieisho will probably get the attention of the torikumi team and get some quality bouts before long. The real leaders are Goeid-ugh and Onosho.

19 thoughts on “Day 7 – Old Dogs, Not Entirely New Tricks

  1. This was a pretty bitter analysis. That’s cool about Aminishiki, though, I knew he had a deep bag of tricks, but I never realized it was quite that deep.

    • Well, my commentary is not much better on Goeido. As the lone Ozeki he has a duty to perform here, and it does not involve being a slippery eel. There is a fine line between a reactive rikishi (which Kakuryu demonstrates) and just evading the fight all together.

      I am very very glad Goeido executed an offensive sumo plan today. I maintain that when he does that, as he did every day at Aki 2016, he is close to unbeatable.

      • I’m no fan of Goeido either, but he deserves some props today. That was some real sumo after the non-tachiai. I really thought Shodai would give him the business once they got going but he went through him pretty nicely.

        • But that’s exactly it. Almost nobody in the sumo world can “give him the business” if he decides to do his own sumo, his real own sumo, not that silly line dance. Since he decided today that he can’t henka his way to a win, and he needs to dust off his actual ozeki skills, he won like an ozeki should win in a bout against a maegashira #5 without a tachiai. He is not injured and he is not weak. Why does he employ his real skills only under duress?

  2. I would say that for Asanoyama it’s less of a sunny attitude and more of a “I can’t believe I get paid to do sumo!”. He clearly loves it, and if you get a chance to read or hear his interviews, he just seems damn happy that he is living his dream.

    It makes me think of something profound I was told, “Gratitude it the mother of all virtues”. He just seems grateful to be able to do something he truly enjoys, and feels blessed that he is able to do it now at the highest level. To him every match is another opportunity to enjoy the basho from the best spot in the stadium.

  3. Throw me down a rope ladder so I can heave myself aboard the “Anyone But Goeido” boat. Of course the old bullfrog wasn’t going to pull any dodgy evasive nonsense todai because Shodai is a passive, re-active type who waits for opponents to make mistakes (he’s a sort of supermarket own-brand version of Kakuryu: bigger size, but not as good as the real thing). The real test will come against Tamawashi tomorrow. Big Tam will come out all guns blazing and if Goeido pulls a henka the judges should call bs and demand a rematch on goddam principle.

    Other thoughts. Takanoiwa v Kagayaki was just sick. Headshot! Bang! Repeat x 5. Ichinojo must be so fed up with this sport. He finally decided to man up and go aggressive and he gets henka’d and thrown in one second by one of the sneakiest guys in the room. Arawashi looks like he might be starting a Tamawashi-style “I’m too old all this deference crap” run. And remember, Daieisho is the taller, younger, better one who pushes and thrusts: Daishomaru is the older, shorter, slightly less good one who tends to pull and slap. Or is it the other way around?

    • Yes, I feel sorry for poor Ichinojo. I’ll be looking for any interviews or write-ups about him, because I get the impression that the entire Mongol sumo community is making sport of him, and I don’t understand why.

      • The thing I find interesting is how popular with the Japanese fans he is compared to the other Mongolian wrestlers. When they do the dohyo-iri (I know, my spelling is terrible), most of the Mongolians only get a smattering of cheers, if that. But Ichinojo is always cheered! The man has a lot of fans.

        • Ichinojo is seen as a “gentle giant”. He is always friendly and kind when he is interviewed or seen in public. Having a “sunny disposition” goes a long way in Japan.

  4. Once again another great analysis!
    Down in sandanme, Enho just made His 4th victory and extended his wining streak to 20 in a row ( including his 2 maezumo matches). As this is only his 3rd ranked Basho, this is great!!
    I’m hoping he manages to go 7-0 (and that I haven’t jinxed him!)


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