Health And Wellness News

Takayasu starts training

Oh, I missed you so much, little brother

The kadoban Ozeki started practicing again today at Tagonoura’s practice room in Fukuoka. First he took four bouts with the heya youngsters.

And then Kisenosato decided to have him for lunch call him for san-ban. The Yokozuna and he went at it for 11 times, and Takayasu (above following a hiki-otoshi) even managed to win one.

“I didn’t really think I’ll be able to face up to the Yokozuna right from the start,” said the recovering Ozeki, “It was a good practice”.

As you can see in this video, the Yokozuna also lent Takayasu his chest for a butsukari.

When asked about his physical condition, Takayasu replied: “It’s 80-90%. I’ve been able to recuperate enough to do keiko.” About his kadoban status, he said “I’m relaxed. If I lose my wits worrying I will not be able to do my sumo. If not in this basho, I’ll have a chance again in the next.”

As for Kisenosato, there was no reappearance of the famous left ottsuke in that practice session, but there were left armpit pushes and sukui-nage.

Former maegashira Shotenro fights cancer

Hakhuo revealed to the press that Shotenro, currently placed in sandanme, but formerly a long time maegashira and special prize winner, was found to have cancer – type undisclosed – around the time of the 2017 Nagoya basho. He was full kyujo from the Aki basho (when he was still in Makushita). In the meeting of the rikishi-kai – the rikishi union – held today, the 70 sekitori present decided unanimously to collect money for Shotenro as a “recuperation gift”.

Ura spotted at rikishi-kai meeting, makes vague statement

Nikkan sports caught Ura leaving the rikishi-kai meeting in Fukuoka and tried to ask him about the odds of him appearing in the Kyushu basho, and his general state of health. He responded with a vague “Yes, I’ll do my best.” This was interpreted by the reporters as a “no comment” would be in the west. The big question is what Ura is doing in Fukuoka at all.

And what is the rikishi-kai doing to improve rikishi health?

Kakuryu said during the Jungyo that he intends to bring up the subject of kosho-seido, as well as a suggestion for a prayer against injury, in the next meeting of the rikishi-kai (the closest thing to a rikishi union). Reports from the meeting mention nothing about kosho-seido, but he did bring up the suggestion for the common prayer to be performed in January “as a form of exorcism.”

Besides this and the decision to collect money for Shotenro, the only other suggestion was brought up by Hakhuo, who wants to designate tickets for sekitori in honbasho.

Yep. That’s what the rikishi union looks like. Prayers, donations and perks.

Heya Power Rankings: October 2017

Is it still October? OK, cool. A few folks have sent messages asking: “where in the heya are this month’s power rankings?” Here they are! Apologies for putting this together a little late, but as a measure of where everyone’s at, maybe it’s timely to publish this around the banzuke announcement. Of course, as stables don’t compete against one another, this is more of a fun exercise anyway.

I’ve made a couple changes this time from the original calculations. Owing to the craziness that was “Wacky Aki,” it didn’t really make sense to award a kyujo rikishi the same amount of points as one who battled all 15 days, only to fall to a 7-8 make-koshi. So, for the first time, I’ve introduced points deductions, only for kyujo rikishi:

  • 10 points deducted for makuuchi rikishi who is kyujo the entire basho
  • 5 points deducted for makuuchi rikishi who is kyujo for part of the basho
  • 1 point deducted for juryo rikshi who is kyujo for any or all of the basho
  • 0 points deducted for rikishi in either division who is kyujo but still manages a kachi-koshi (this did not happen at Aki, but it’s a good rule to set going forward as fighting through an injury to achieve a winning record should still be recognised with the full amount of points)

Finally, Andy had asked a cool question after a previous iteration of these rankings: what if we could also measure by ichimon – the network of stables to which each heya is affiliated? I’ve now included a chart of that as well – it could be interesting to watch over time. Changes in the strength of a stable can take years to materialise in many cases, so I would imagine it will take several years to see shifts in the strength of groups of them.


I’ve added in Naruto-beya here (formed in April this year by former Ozeki Kotoōshū), which isn’t of consequence yet but perhaps someday soon it will be. Let’s jump into the “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):

  1. (+1) Isegahama. 147 points (+52)
  2. (+4) Sakaigawa. 67 points (+20)
  3. (+4) Kokonoe. 56 points (+13)
  4. (+-) Tagonoura. 55 points (-20)
  5. (+5) Oguruma. 48 points (+16)
  6. (-5) Miyagino. 40 points (-67)
  7. (+8) Takanohana. 38 points (+20)
  8. (-3) Oitekaze. 36 points (-12)
  9. (-6) Kasugano. 30 points (-48)
  10. (-2) Izutsu. 30 points (-10)
  11. (-2) Dewanoumi. 25 points (-10)
  12. (+7) Onomatsu. 25 points (+12)
  13. (-1) Sadogatake. 24 points (+2)
  14. (**) Shikoroyama. 23 points (+17)
  15. (+1) Hakkaku. 20 points (+2)
  16. (**) Takasago. 20 points (+15)
  17. (-6) Kise. 15 points (-10)
  18. (**) Tomozuna. 17 points (+5)
  19. (-5) Kataonami. 15 points (-5)
  20. (-3) Tokitsukaze. 15 points (even)


As opposed to August’s chart which was fairly placid, the combination of a bizarre basho along with some new rules has created all manner of changes and lots of movers.

Isegahama returns to the top spot, because when you have a champion Yokozuna, everything is wonderful. Harumafuji’s title more than makes up for Terunofuji’s injury-inspired absence, but while that’s the main driver, the stable’s four other sekitori all scored more points than in the last basho as well. Sakaigawa vaults up to #2 fuelled by a Goeido jun-yusho, in spite of Sadanoumi’s kyujo start.

Kokonoe makes up the final spot in the top 3, owing to a solid basho in which all of their six rikishi matched or improved their standing from the previous rankings. Oguruma places in the top 5 owing to the continued resurgence and special prize of Yoshikaze along with a debut point for Yago, while Takanohana-beya benefits from continued good performance from the potential starting to emerge in Takakeisho and a rebound from Takanoiwa.


Three stables took a particularly significant tumble this time, all owing to missing stars:

Miyagino lost a truckload of points owing to its yusho-holding Yokozuna missing the entire party, while Ishiura continued to struggle. Reinforcements may soon be on the way as we have covered in some detail, but a present Hakuho is a dangerous Hakuho and this may be a one-basho blip for their chart position, while Ishiura may well benefit from diminished competition and be able to challenge for a Juryo yusho like many before him who have made the drop.

Tagonoura’s drop is simply down to the absence of its only sekitori for all (Kisenosato) and most (Takayasu) of the tournament. It is more difficult to forecast a rebound here, not knowing if either will really be able to withstand the full tournament in Fukuoka. And finally, Kasugano takes a huge drop, owing to its Nagoya jun-yusho winning slap-happy Bulgarian missing half the tournament. Tochinoshin’s make-koshi didn’t help matters.

Up Next

Chiganoura-beya will post points next time for the first time, as Takanosho (formerly Masunosho) makes his Juryo debut. He’s only their second ever sekitori since reforming 13 years ago. And Takagenji’s return to Juryo may help Takanohana move further yet up the ranks should their other rikishi be able to maintain their recent encouraging performance.

Finally, while a number of other heya have numerous immediate promotion candidates, the longer term outlook for Miyagino-beya is starting to get interesting. While the focus is on Ishiura putting it together and Hakuho staying healthy, Enho and Hokaho could put themselves into promotion contention early in 2018. We’ve talked breathlessly about the former, but the latter has quietly racked up 5 straight kachi-koshi. While his track record and somewhat advanced age makes it unlikely he would ever make a serious or sustained dent in the second tier, the presence of 5 rikishi headlined by a constant yusho-challenger could give Miyagino depth similar to their ichimon-mates at Isegahama.

Speaking of which… here are those ichimon totals:


While I’m comparing these to the previous basho, I may start to show a longer term view when we revisit the rankings in December.

Who’s That Rikishi #7: Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi

TochinoshinAge: 30
Birth Name: Levan Gorgadze
Home Town: Mtskheta, Georgia
Stable: Kasugano
Highest Rank: Sekiwake

Tochinoshin was born Levan Gorgadze, in the city of Mtskheta in 1987. As a teenager, the young Georgian practiced the Soviet martial art of Sambo and was a national level judo fighter. By the early 2000’s he took up amateur sumo and competed in several Junior and World Championships. While training with the Nihon Universities sumo team, he was scouted by Kasugano Oyakata. Levan joined Kasugano beya in 2006 and made his first professional appearance at the Haru basho. Adopting the shikona of Tochinishin, the Georgian native tore through the lower divisions, collecting eleven straight winning records. This hot streak was more than enough to land him a spot in Juryo for January 2008, where he’d win the Juryo yusho with an impressive 12-3 record. Following another winning record at the Haru Basho, he broke into Makuuchi in May.

Starting at Maegashira 14, the young Georgian experienced his first ever make-koshi losing record at the 2008 Natsu Basho. His first taste of top rank success came at the 2009 Kyushu basho when Tochinoshin finished second place behind Yokozuna Hakuho in the yusho race and collect his first Sansho special price for fighting spirit.Tochinoshin picked up his second fighting spirit award at the 2010 Natsu basho after defeating four ozeki in a row and finishing with an 8-7 record. This feat would earn him his first position in the San’yaku, and he debuted at Komusubi in July. His time in the joi was short-lived, and a poor 6-9 performance relegated him back to the Maegashira. He’d reach Komusubi again in Kyushu of 2010, but his fate was identical to the first time. In May of 2011, Tochinoshin replicated his previous second place finish with an identical 12-3 record and took home his third fighting spirit award. This exceptional performance would earn him his third promotion to Komusubi. Once again, he only accumulated six wins at the rank and returned to the Maegashira within one tournament.

Late 2011 also saw Tochinoshin embroiled in controversy. After a night out celebrating his birthday, Tochinoshin returned to his heya after the strict curfew his Oyakata had set. Not only had he missed his curfew, but Tochinoshin had broken the rules by going out in western style clothes. This this was not Tochinoshins first time breaking the rules, his Oyakata became enraged and proceeded to beat the Georgian and his fellow rikishi with a golf club. Following his beating, Tochinoshin fled his stable but returned two days later. During this time, the police had been alerted to what had happened and discovered a bent golf club inside the heya. His Oyakata was reprimanded by the association but was spared a criminal investigation when Tochinoshin and the other rikishi declined to press charges. As punishment for breaking the rules, Tochinoshin was not allowed to attend practices for a time following the incident, which the Georgian credited as the reason for his poor performance at the November tournament. Further misfortune would strike Tochinoshin in July of 2013 when he sustained a severe knee injury at the Nagoya Basho. This injury forced him to miss three straight tournaments and resulted in his demotion back to the Makushita division. Despite this setback, Tochinoshin made an incredible comeback, collecting four consecutive championships and exploding back onto the Maegashira scene at the 2014 Kyushu Basho. He managed 11 wins in Kyushu and took home his fourth career fighting spirit award.

2015 would be another successful year for the Georgian rikishi, who picked up his first kinboshi victory over Harumafuji, a fifth Komusubi promotion, and his fifth fighting spirit award. He’d experience another career milestone at the 2016 Natsu basho, where he finished with a 10-5 record and his first ever technique prize. His performance earned him a promotion to Sekiwake, his highest rank to date. Much like his Komosubi runs before, his time at Sekiwake lasted only one basho. At the 2017 Hatsu tournament, injury once again forced Tochinoshin to withdraw from competition. His time off the dohyo was substantially shorter this time, and he returned for the following tournament in March where he would be runner-up for the third time in his career. At the Nagoya basho, Tochinoshin collected a kinboshi win over Kisenosato and finished with a respectable 9-6 record. Despite high expectations for the Georgian coming into September, Tochinoshin only managed four victories after nagging issues with his knee resurfaced. After a rebound tournament in November that saw the Tochinoshin go 9-6, he entered the 2018 Hatsu basho ranked at Maegashira 5. From day one Tochinoshin dominated his competition, tearing through the San’yaku and the Joi and eventually finishing with an incredible 14-1 record, clinching his first ever career Yusho. With this victory, Tochinoshin became the first Maegashira ranked wrestler to win a yusho since 2012, and just the third European to ever lift the Emperors Cup. Following his tournament win, Tochinoshin was promoted to the rank of Sekiwake for the 2018 Haru Basho. Known for his tremendous strength, Tochinoshin is a skilled mawashi fighter who uses yotsu-sumo to win the majority of his matches. His preferred grip is a right hand inside left hand outside migi-yotsu, which he uses to force his opponents out of the dohyo.

Tochinoshin (left) vs. Hokutofuji (right), Aki basho, 2017.


Outlook good

Who needs to wait for the official banzuke when you have the crystal ball? After a somewhat cloudy performance for Aki, the forecast did well for Kyushu. The upper ranks were pretty straightforward based on Aki performances and absences, and I called all 11 slots correctly.

Among the more difficult to predict maegashira ranks, there were also no major surprises or deviations from the forecast. It’s a slight surprise to see Takakeisho jump over Chiyotairyu for the M1 slot, though they were essentially tied given their 9-6 and 8-7 records at M5 and M3, respectively. Tochinoshin seems slightly over-ranked, but the few other switches are all by one rank or half a rank and involve rikishi with identical predicted ranks. The biggest miss was Ura, whom I placed at M14 based on similar past cases, but whom the numbers would have placed at M16, where he indeed ended up on the official banzuke.

Correct rank but missed the side: Shohozan, Hokutofuji, Kaisei, Kagayaki.

Missed by one rank: Takakeisho, Chiyotairyu, Tochinoshin, Daishomaru, Daieisho, Ikioi, Okinoumi, Takekaze.

Missed by two ranks: Daiamami, Ura.

The bottom line: all 11 San’yaku slots predicted correctly; 21 of the 31 Maegashira ranks predicted correctly, and for 17 of these, that includes the correct East/West side (this corresponds to a respectable 60 points in the Guess The Banzuke game).

November Banzuke Is Live!


Now appearing on the NSK web site, the official banzuke for the Kyushu basho, starting two weeks from today.  Some notable elements include Terunofuji as Sekiwake 2E (“Ozekiwake”), Mitakeumi holds fast at Sekiwake 1E, Kotoshogiku returns to San’yaku in the Komusubi 1E slot, Onosho has his first try at San’yaku, and Takakeisho is at Maegashira 1.

Further down the banzuke, we have Aminishiki (aka Uncle Sumo) back in Makuuchi, Asanoyama levitating to Maegashira 11, and Ura still listed at Maegashira 16, even though I would be surprised if he shows up.

The story in Juryo is pretty interesting, Egyptian Osunaarashi somehow manages to hang onto a Juryo slot and is posted to Juryo 13, followed by Takagenji and Yao. Meanwhile Ishiura is ejected from Makuuchi, and appears as Juryo 1.

Meanwhile, as predicted, the Texas sumotori Wakaichiro is confirmed as promoted to Sandanme 85, and will fight at his highest rank ever.

Again, our forecast expert scored many direct hits in his banzuke forecast, and fans should feel free to compare them side by side. Hats off to lksumo!

The crew will likely have our banzuke podcast up before long, be ready!