Kyushu Midpoint – Comments And Thoughts


It Was The Dog

As frequent readers will have noticed, several of our newer contributors are continuing to post amazing content to the site, and I am enjoying it so much, I have stepped back a bit and let them run. Though the Harumafuji scandal personally makes me rather sad, it turned into absolute blockbuster readership for Tachiai, and I would like to extend my thanks and welcome to all new readers.

We are now at the half way point of Kyushu, and a handful or rikishi are worthy of discussion. Let’s start at the top.

Hakuho – Clearly he is primed for yusho #40, and it’s now his to lose. True he has his toughest opponents ahead, but right now he is dominating each and every match with his typical polished ease.

Kisenosato – As we guessed, he is back at least one basho too early. He had not really had a lot of sparring practice, and he is seriously at risk of going make-koshi at this time. The NSK did admonish him to wait and return only when he was ready to deliver Yokozuna grade sumo. Right now he is closer to upper Maegashira. I would rate him at only 70% of pre-injury Kisenosato, but I think he can get closer to 90% by Hatsu. It all comes down to returning to a maniacal training regimen with Takayasu, who is also in need.

Harumafuji – The story is becoming more convoluted as time marches on. Our earlier predictions that it might in fact be less sinister than original reports now look like they could pan out, and there is going to be a large amount of splatter that hits many parties involved in this. While things are not active (aside from the investigation moving forward), be aware that unless it’s a dire emergency, the NSK will leave further action until after the Kyushu basho is complete.

Kakuryu – One has to wonder if his involvement in the Takanoiwa incident may have played a role in his decision to sit out Kyushu.

Goeido – He continues to struggle with his identity. When he attacks with vigor, he wins, when he lets the other rikishi set the tone and tempo of the bout, he most likely loses. This is the gap that Goeido must cross if he would ever wish to stake a claim to his own tsuna. Until then, his fans have to hope that he stays true to his 2.0 self and remembers to attack and drive forward.

Takayasu – He’s going to clear kadoban, its fairly certain, but he’s only about 85% of his pre-injury self. So my proscription for his is to get cozy with his water bag, battle Kisenosato daily post-basho, and to sleep against your favorite, most comfortable teppo pole until new-years. I am sure your deshi will bring you KFC at Christmas (If not, let me know and I will fly over and get it for you), so revert to your gym-rat ways and go crazy again.

Mitakeumi – Toe is clearly giving him fits, may go kyujo once he gets his 8. Not really too much awesome from him this time, just need him to heal up and come back at Hatsu like the future ozeki he is.

Yoshikaze – Hot or cold with the Berserker. Thus far more cold than hot, and we have to hope he can cobble together his 8 before next Sunday.

Kotoshogiku – Komusubi is a tough rank, you get to give a lot of wins to the upper San’yaku, and Kotoshogiku is living that now. He stays in good cheer, and gives it his all each day, but his all is now painful and stiff, and possibly covered with ben-gay.

Onosho – Hey, don’t sweat this basho, kid. Komusubi is ancient Yayoi for “punching bag with legs”, it’s part of the welcome to being a serious sumotori, so have some fun with it. Consider using the Ishiura defense as chicks dig the loose mawashi, and play up the fact you look like a hippy-hop ball, possibly by commissioning your own line of plush figures. Also, try to get your weight centered over your feet, everyone knows you lean in hard, and they are now dialed into the fact you are not a weeble (as in, you do fall down).

Tamawashi – he wants back in san’yaku in a big way. He’s going to take your chanko and make you watch him eat it. Only possible defense might be to chase him away with a beer bottle. (Too soon?)

Takakeisho – This tadpole is having a great basho, if he can stay healthy he is going to be part of what pressures some of the old guys to hit intai. He’s shown surprising strength and fighting form against rikishi that intimidate his peers. He seems to not pay much mind to any of it, and just focuses on winning.

Hokutofuji – After a weak showing at Aki (most likely due to injuries), Kaio’s doppleganger is hell on wheels so far in Kyushu. He is showing fantastic sumo, and a fearless will to always drive forward. Should he manage to become more consistent and more efficient in his sumo, he could become a San’yaku mainstay.

Ichinojo – He is large, and I always say that being enormous is not an actual sumo strategy.  But when you are his size, if you get genki and can bring some actual sumo chops to a match, there is little that can stop you. Too early to say that he’s turned a corner, but it’s great to not cringe when you see him mount the dohyo.

Arawashi – While it’s not widely discussed, Arawashi was secretly upgraded by Elon Musk, and is now completely Tesla powered. This makes him not only a foreign born rikishi, but the first cyborg rikishi as well. Please be aware the NSK wants only one controversy at a time, so for the duration no one is talking about it (except your plucky crew at Tachiai).

Okinoumi – This guy has a persistent abdominal injury that can’t be healed, it can only be surgically repaired. When they do, his sumo career is probably over. So he muddles on and does the best he can, usually in varying degrees of pain ranging from “dear god, why?” to “kill me now”. So when you see him 6-1 after the first week, you have to feel happy for the man.

Aminishiki – Why not close out the list with Uncle Sumo. What a triumphant return to Makuuchi for a man who does not give up until he wants to. This guy is showing us sumo that is borderline magical in its efficiency and simplicity. Thank you for holding on to your dream sir, we should all consider following your example.

Day 8 matches to watch


Yutakayama’s first two trips to Makuuchi did not go well, each ending with a 4-11 record and a stiff demotion back down to Juryo. He’s trying to earn another chance, but is just visiting tomorrow, and takes on Nishikigi, who seems to be perpetually defending a slot near the bottom of the top division.

One member of the 6-1 chase group, Okinoumi, takes on Daiamami, whose first stay in Makuuchi figures to be short.

I’d really like to see Asanoyama find his sumo from Aki. He gets another chance tomorrow against Takekaze, who shares his 2-5 record. This really should be Asanoyama’s match to lose, though Takekaze is wily and may try one of his patented henkas.

A really intriguing match is Endo vs. Aminishiki. Endo should have the skill, patience, and strength to prevail, but never count out Uncle Sumo.

Aoiyama is back from kyujo for some reason after badly hurting his ankle on Day 2. He takes on a struggling Daishomaru.

Shodai vs. Tochinoshin should be a good yotsu battle. The career record favors the Georgian 3-2.

It’s an even-numbered day, so Chiyomaru is supposed to win, but this pattern might be tough to continue against Arawashi, another member of the 6-1 chase group.

Shohozan and Chiyoshoma have fought better than their matching 3-4 records would indicate. Tomorrow, one of them will even his record in what should be a good battle.

Maegashira 2 has been a tough rank this tournament. Chiyotairyu, who’s actually fought well, and Tochiozan, who hasn’t, have two wins between them, both by Chiyotairyu, who should prevail tomorrow.

The rampaging Tamawashi shouldn’t have much trouble with the struggling Takarafuji, though the latter leads their career series 11-6.

Komusubi has also been a tough rank, and both slots are likely to turn over after this tournament. Kotoshogiku (2-5), who couldn’t beat Yoshikaze even after getting his favorite gaburi attack going, takes on Onosho (1-6), who seems headed for a hard landing after earning double-digit wins in his first three top division tournaments. Onosho should be able to win this one, but he needs to find and maintain his balance.

Normally, I’d be jumping up and down about the Mitakeumi vs. Takakeisho battle for tadpole supremacy, especially when both go into it with 5-2 records, but I’m worried about Mitakeumi’s foot.

After a couple of days in 1.0 mode, Goeido gets a chance to regain his forward momentum against the struggling and overmatched Chiyonokuni. But if the Ozeki comes out backpedaling and pulling again…

Yoshikaze looked solid against Kotoshogiku today, and may not give up his Sekiwake rank easily. Takayasu seems like a tough matchup for him, but their career record is even at 9-9.

*Klaxon* Ichinojo is in the joi! Our favorite boulder/bridge abutment brings his excellent 6-1 record against the struggling Yokozuna Kisenosato. They have actually faced off 11 times previously, with the Yokozuna holding an 8-3 edge. This could be the bout of the day, and if the nearly 800 pounds of rikishi lock up in a mawashi battle, as seems likely, it could last a while.

Hakuho, 7-0, takes on another of the 6-1 pursuers, M3 Hokutofuji. Hakuho prevailed in their only previous meeting. Hokutofuji never gives up and always leaves everything on the dohyo, so the Dai-Yokozuna could be in for quite a battle.

Wakaichiro’s 4th Match: Early Day 8


Wakichiro4

Tachiai’s favorite American rikishi, Wakaichiro (若一郎), returns to the dohyo on Sunday for his 4th bout of the Kyushu basho. For a change his opponent is not from Sadogatake beya (home of Kotoshogiku), but instead he faces Sandanme 87 Daishowaka.

Like Wakaichiro, Daishowaka enters day 8 with a 1-2 record, looking for a win to pull even. Daishowaka is a 30 year old, long time sumo veteran who has participated in 87 tournaments since he started sumo in 2003, never ranking above Sandanme 16.

As always we will bring you details of his match as soon as they become available.

Why I Love Sumo


I want to extend a huge thank you to Nista for finding this gem and posting it in the comments of Herouth’s Day 6 Summary. This bout features the first ever meeting of Kozakura and Yabuoka. Bouts like this are amazing and should be broadcast free internationally to promote sumo. (It’s preferable to watching re-runs of the news and documentaries.) Anyway, I’m not going to offer much in the way of preview or commentary on the bout, but I will offer a little background on the two participants. I hope you enjoy.

Kozakura is a 22-year-old from Ibaraki prefecture, like Kisenosato, and Takayasu. His shikona, 小櫻 means little cherry blossom but he uses an old variant kanji for sakura. Instead of the more commonly used 桜, he uses 櫻. He is a member of the Tatsunami stable, whose top rikishi is the recent Juryo sensation, Meisei. This stable is led by former komusubi Asahiyutaka. While still young, Kozakura’s sumo career began seven years ago and he has been bouncing between Jonokuchi and Jonidan. He reached his highest rank of Jonidan 47W in September of 2015 but has been on a long slide back into Jonokuchi. Despite the great effort, this loss is one of three so far. This 1-3 record so far means he will need to win out in order to get a kachi-koshi. Two more wins, though, may arrest the slide and have a chance at rejoining Jonidan.

Yabuoka, on the other hand, is a 19-year-old whose sumo journey began this year when he joined the Fujishima stable. This stable is lead by former Ozeki legend Dejima, now Onaruto Oyakata. He’s from Osaka, like Goeido, Ikioi, and Daishomaru, and is still fighting under his real name, Yabuoka Kazutaka. Oka means “hill” and is a common kanji used for place names and people’s last names – like Fukuoka. It’s an important one to know for Japanese learners. After a great spring which propelled him into the midst of Jonidan, the youngster has dropped back into Jonokuchi. He’s clearly skilled and has a lot of heart, but at a mere 87kg, he will be trying to gain mass to advance. He is 2-1 so far this tournament. One more win may earn him a spot back in Jonidan, but he’ll surely want to pick up a few more.

Day 7 – Redemption Will Wait


goeido-2017-11-day-07

I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard

Paul Simon

The basho is turning wackier, with only Hakuho anchoring it at the moment.

Let’s start from the end this time. Hokutofuji grabs his third kinboshi, from the kinboshi dispenser that Kisenosato is proving to be. He takes a different tactic than Takakeisho and Shohozan, and combines nodowa with a right ottsuke which doesn’t allow the Yokozuna to get a left-hand grip.

I would expect the Yokozuna to just rely on his right hand, but he seems to be baffled and lost, and after a few dances around the dohyo Hokutofuji sends him out. Third loss for Kisenosato, and the sigh of relief from his fans yesterday seems to have been premature.

He is in an interesting position if he wants to go kyujo, though. You don’t just decide that you don’t want to participate. You have to hand in a medical certificate. And with the storm brewing around Takanoiwa’s medical certificate, the Kyokai is going to be checking that the certificates it gets are genuine. If he hands in a certificate regarding the state of his left arm and chest, he’ll probably have to abide by whatever the doctors recommend for it, and I doubt that it will just be “two weeks rest”.

In the penultimate match, we have our only reliable yokozuna keeping his finger in the dike. Onosho said after the two trained together, that “the training was a valuable lesson for him to win their real bout”. I think he meant it, because he actually prevented Hakuho from getting any sort of grip on either his mawashi or his body. So Hakuho switched to plan B, sidestepped and handed Onosho his second tsukiotoshi of the basho. So in fact Onosho’s only win so far is against “Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm” Harumafuji on day 1.

Goeido‘s match with Shohozan seems to have been a replay of yesterday’s match with Chiyotairyu. Shohozan takes the initiative, and Goeido just reacts and retreats, and can’t find a way to attack. This is his second loss, he drops out of the chaser list. Also, he wanted to redeem himself for the last basho, and that redemption will be really hard to achieve now, because he really needs to do superb sumo from now on to make himself look like an Ozeki again, much less a candidate for a rope-run.

Takayasu, on the other hand, having made no vows, maintains a cool head after his losses. He takes Chiyonokuni‘s belt right from the tachiai. Chiyonokuni manages to escape the grip and plans to launch one of his cat-bat flurries, but he is too close to the edge and Takayasu gets him out before he can do anything. Takayasu needs to scrape three more wins to clear his kadoban, and with only one Yokozuna and one Ozeki to face in the second week, has a very good chance of doing so.

The Kotoshogiku vs. Yoshikaze bout starts well for old Giku, although Yoshikaze denies him the hips. But it seems that Kotoshogiku doesn’t have enough stamina and simply loses power after holding Yoshikaze against the tawara for a few seconds. Yoshikaze takes advantage and runs Kotoshogiku to the other side of the ring.

Tamawashi runs all over Mitakeumi. It seems Mitakeumi doesn’t even know what hit him.

I didn’t like the Takakeisho we saw today. It was too much like his old self, which may mean he is developing a Goeido-like tendency for version-flipping. Chiyotairyu attacks and attacks, only to have Takakeisho sidestep and hand him the tsukiotoshi. Well, Takakeisho can always say that he didn’t do anything that Hakuho didn’t do.

Ichinojo seems to have decided to go as Aminishiki today. Only, being about two times as thick as Aminishiki, he can’t move sideways fast enough, and Tochiozan‘s grabbed head simply meets his torso. Oops. But this basho Ichinojo thinks fast on his feet, and he manages to recover and push his opponent. Yet another win for the boulder. Tomorrow he faces the ailing Yokozuna, which is going to be a challenge for him, as he is not the kind of oshi man that Hokutofuji or Takakeisho are. Anyway, go go bridge abutment!

I don’t know exactly how, but Takarafuji actually managed a worse tachiai than Shodai. It seems he can’t win on days Aminishiki wins. Problem is, of course, that Aminishiki wins a lot. Shodai pushes him all the way out, and today Isegahama has only Aminishiki and Terutsuyoshi to look to… wait a minute, you really have to see this:

Terutsuyoshi faces the hitherto undefeated Sokokurai. The bout ends pretty quickly, only… they touch the ground at the same time. Then there are two whole minutes of monoii. And a torinaoshi.

But it is well worth the wait, because what follows is really, really exciting sumo. Kudos to both Terutsuyoshi and Sokokurai, to whom I apologized for the jinx of mentioning yesterday that he was undefeated.

OK, so this was more than a minute. More like 8 minutes (unless you were smart and skipped the monoii). We now go back to our scheduled programming.

Arawashi doesn’t waste much time in his match with Daishomaru. Unlike yesterday’s annoying henka, he gets right into a belt grip and pushes Daishomaru all the way to the other side. Quick and clean, and he keeps himself in the chaser group.

Chiyoshoma is disappointed again today. He manages to get a good grip on Endo and tries a suso-harai. Failing that he loses that shallow grip and his balance with it.

Daieisho tries a tsuppari attack against Tochinoshin. But the Georgian pays no attention, and gets him where he wants him – in a strong mawashi grip. From then there’s only one way for Daieisho, and that’s out.

It’s the seventh day. Seven is an odd number, and on odd days, Chiyomaru loses. Like clockwork. What is that slow, weak tachiai supposed to mean? Kaisei takes the gift and says thank you very much.

Ikioi seemed to have the upper hand in his bout with Okinoumi. But eventually, both fell down, nearly the same time, the shimpan had to consult amongst themselves before awarding Okinoumi the white star.

What’s up with Asanoyama? Where is the strong sumo we saw yesterday? Or is he only capable of executing that against feeble old men? Myogiryu sails forward easily and picks his fourth win.

I’d like to say that Kagayaki wins when he doesn’t do his Kermit Flail. But, well, this was basically a fluke. He did almost get Nishikigi in a kotonage, but then Nishikigi grabbed a hold of his hand – maybe with a tottari in mind, and dragged him to the other side, but then both fell, and unfortunately for Nishikigi, he fell first.

We’re down to the geriatric battle of the day. I’ve been waiting for this bout since the results of Aki became known, but it was a little too short for pleasure. Takekaze is on his way to Juryo, or to intai, and if Aminishiki wasn’t older than he, I’d berate him for harassing the elderly. The tachiai commences with a coconut clash, which seems to bother Uncle not at all. And then he did his push-me-pull-you trick and rolled the Oguruma man like a die.

That’s it, other than Kotoyuki quickly giving Daiamami another black star, though both will probably see each other in Juryo in Hatsu.

Leaders

Our Supreme Leader, Father Of Phoenixes, Ruler of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, King Of Kings, Hakuho Sho.

Chasers

Hokutofuji (M3)
Ichinojo (M4)
Arawashi (M5)
Okinoumi (M12)
Aminishiki (M13)

Not a single member of the sanyaku in this list!


As you know, I follow Naruto beya. So here is Torakio trying to break a world record in matta. Be that as it may, the Bulgarian is kachi-koshi, 4-0, and who knows, may have his eyes on the jonidan yusho.

Aoiyama returns


Aoiyama

The ponderous Bulgarian will be back in action on Day 8, when he faces M7 Daishomaru. His ankle injury against Okinoumi on Day 2 looked pretty bad, but I guess he wants to try to cushion his fall down the banzuke for the next tournament. The maegashira 11 only has one win, on opening day, and probably needs to pick up at least four more to stay in Makuuchi. Doing so in 8 days while coming back from an ankle injury seems a tall order, but maybe he believes that picking up a win or two and falling less far down into Juryo is worth it.

Five Interesting Matches on Day 7


 

Things are beginning to get more and more exciting as the midway point of the 2017 Kyushu basho draws closer. With another day of action ahead of us, here are five matches of interest for day 7.

Nishikiki vs. Kagayaki

Sitting right on the line between Makuuchi and Juryo, Maegashira 15 Nishikigi is desperately trying to prolong his time in the top division. He is set to face Kagayaki on day 7, who is also at risk of a return trip to Juryo should he not get his sumo in gear. While Nishikigi may be battling one opponent this Saturday, Kagayaki is facing two, as the young rikishi from Kanazawa is constantly fighting his own poor balance. Kagayaki leads their series 4 to 3.

Asanoyama vs. Myogiryu

The Asanoyama we all remembered from Aki finally showed up today and delivered a commanding performance against Aminishiki. While it was disappointing to watch everyone’s favorite uncle take his first loss, I’m sure many were relieved to see the promising young rikishi halt his four-day losing skid. Asanoyama’s day 7 opponent will be Myogiryu, who has also been struggling to collect wins in Fukuoka this basho.

Kaisei vs. Chiyomaru

Those of you averse to ample fields of sweaty back hair may want to give this match a pass. The only thing Chiyomaru has been consistent with this basho is his inconsistency. The rotund rikishi has flip-flopped between winning and losing every day and can expect his fourth loss tomorrow if he continues to follow this pattern. His rival for Saturday, Kaisei, is having a somewhat better basho and comes into day 7 with four wins.

Takarafuji vs. Shodai

Early in the basho, it was looking like we would finally see a bit of the Shodai who took the sumo world by storm in 2016. He’s since fallen back into his old habits and suffered a third consecutive loss yesterday in a one-sided bout against Daieisho. Tomorrow he meets Takarafuji, who managed to bring his win-loss ratio back to 50% with a day 6 victory over Chiyonokuni. Shodai needs to figure out his sumo, and soon, or he risks another make-koshi, while Takarafuji is probably just glad Ishiura is down in Juryo untying other mens’ mawashi.

Tamawashi vs. Mitakeumi

Tamawashi really wants back in the San’yaku, and I mean really! The former Sekiwake brought his A-game to his day 6 match with Yoshikaze and must have peeled a few layers of skin off the veteran brawler’s face with his blistering tsuppari attacks. Tamawashi takes on Mitakeumi tomorrow, who may be the worse for wear despite winning his bout with Onosho on Friday. Mitakeumi appears to have hurt his leg after landing on the stadium floor and was limping as he made his way back on to the dohyo. Tomorrow’s match will be a good indicator of just how serious this leg injury is. Mitakeumi leads their series 8-1.