Day 5 – Flash Flood

Today we saw two of the leader group being washed away.

Ichinojo, Takayasu, bye!

And now the leader group consists of only three men. One of whom is – as it turns out – the same age as Onosho’s dad.

But let’s start at the beginning. We had a flood of flash bouts today. The first of them was Myogiryu taking on Juryo visitor Tokushoryu. Myogiryu gets both hands inside and quickly yori-kiris Tokushoryu.

Not much beauty in the Nishikigi vs. Kotoyuki bout. Kotoyuki retreats, retreats, until he runs out of dohyo. He seems on his way back to Juryo, possibly to be replaced by a very motivated Ryuden.

And then we move to the first serious challenge to Aminishiki‘s reign over the Maegashira ranks. Daiamami knows Aminishiki well, and knows where the Ancient Mariner’s weakness is. He pushes him against the tawara. But Aminishiki somehow manages to do his bale dance and get away, only to be caught again. The old wizard’s knees almost cave, when he gives a final dance to his right, and uses the grip he has on Daiamami’s left arm for a sukuinage. Uncle Sumo visibly pants as he picks his kensho-kin. But he is still in the yusho race!

Ikioi gives Takekaze another black star, as this elderly man fails to mimic the senior citizen from the previous bout. Ikioi gets him in a double-hand-inside, holds him high and leads him out.

Kagayaki once again goes into a belt battle with Kaisei. He nearly turns the Brazilian around, but Kaisei rallies and gets face to face again. Kaisei has the upper hand, at least as far as mass is concerned, and then dispatches the man in the mustard mawashi in short order.

Okinoumi continues in his good performance vs. Daieisho. It starts with an exchange of slaps, and Daieisho gets Okinoumi to the bales, but he take a risk, grabs Daieisho under his shoulders and presses down for a Katasukashi. By the way, did you know that “Katasukashi” also means “disappointment” or “letdown”? I’m sure that’s how Daieisho felt.

Asanoyama is probably not going to repeat his double-digits from Aki. In fact, the way it looks, he’ll be happy if he can get a kachi-koshi at all! All he does against Endo just doesn’t work. The strength is there, but he can’t put it together.

Chiyomaru continues in his on-off-on-off series. The NHK commentator explains that Chiyomaru has a problem with mawashi fighting because he can’t reach the opponent’s belt owing to his huge belly. Tochinoshin, on the other hand, doesn’t have much of a belly, has long arms, and he catches Chiyomaru in a belt grip right away and just leads him out without the Kokonoe meatball ever showing much defense.

Arawashi grabs Shodai‘s arm and tries to pull. Shodai resists. Arawashi tries again. Shodai gets out. Arawashi gets a belt grip, but Shodai is not letting him do much. So the Mongolian goes for the arm yet agai, and this time pulls the kotonage he was aiming for from the start. Very nice bout!

Takarafuji manages to scrape a second win today vs. Daishomaru. He keeps his opponent at an arm’s length, showing his usual patience, he evades an attack and keeps the distance between their bodies. He finally gets a yori-kiri without ever getting any sort of firm grip. I must say that it looks like the goings-on at Isegahama are taking their toll on all their sekitori. Though winning, Takarafuji looks tired and gloomy.

It’s a wonder how Chiyoshoma keeps winning against Ichinojo, who is about twice his weight. Today’s bout wasn’t even very long. As soon as he got a mawashi grip, he sent the boulder outside. Of course, if he had tried to do this with only the one hand on the mawashi, he would have to get a new elbow installed tomorrow. He helped the giant along by pushing him with his left hand. I hope Ichinojo rallies and continues his good form as the basho continues.

It’s rare to see Chiyonokuni in a mawashi match. And Hokutofuji is no yotsu expert, either. But still, this is where they found themselves, locked into each other’s mawashi. At some point, Hokutofuji tries to throw Chiyonokuni, but Chiyonokuni rallies. Then there’s an attempt at a kotonage, which eventually leaves Chiyonokuni open, and Hokutofuji pushes him out. Again, a great bout to watch.

And here we begin the flash flood. Kotoshogiku vs. Chiyotairyu. Going, going, gone! I wouldn’t have believed Kotoshogiku could win so fast these days. Especially against Chiyotairyu, which is usually not a pushover.

Then, Takakeisho pushes at Yoshikaze for just a second, side steps, Yoshikaze would have regained his footing – but Takakeisho is there to push him out. Wham, bam, gone in a flash!

This is followed by Takayasu, who is pushed by Tamawashi right out of the dohyo before he manages to get his breath back after the tachiai. You snooze, you lose. And our Kadoban Ozeki drops off the leaderboard.

But have no fear! Goeido is here. He must have been watching the videos from the previous Onosho matches. Usually, I’d complain about him doing his sumo backwards, but for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, you know. And since Onosho proved that he overcommits and can’t stay on his feet, Goeido served him up with the exact kind of dish that he cooked for himself. So, Goeido still in the lossless group.

Now, what followed in the Hakuho vs. Tochiozan was a very strange thing. This was not your regular “matta”, where the two wrestlers don’t find the correct second to rise. This was actually before the Gyoji started the bout (the gyoji changes the position of his feet during the pre-bout, and this marks which of the shikiri rituals is the “real” one). Events outside the venue must have been weighing on Hakuho’s mind.

Although the bout itself ends pretty quickly and decisively in Hakuho’s favor, he once again pulls one of his “extracurriculars”, though at this point he really doesn’t need any hint of misconduct. That push was certainly a dame-oshi.

Now, the musubi-no-ichiban was worth the money. Shohozan must have watched Takakeisho’s bout with Kisenosato yesterday, as he went for basically the same thing: constant attacks on the Yokozuna’s left side, combined with nodowa, that left the Yokozuna defenseless. Then he tried to throw the Yokozuna, but Kisenosato is not an easy fellow to throw. But Shohozan continued with his pressure and pressed the Yokozuna against the tawara. Unfortunately for Shohozan, the Yokozuna’s right side is still functioning, and he managed a suicidal throw, that got the Yokozuna the come-from-behind win in this bout, which was completely dominated by the Maegashira. Oh wow.

So, what does the leader list look like now, a third of the way into the basho?

Yokozuna Hakhuo
Ozeki Goeido
Maegashira #13 Aminishiki

Say what?

By the way, there is another leader list to follow: those with the most wins for the year. As we started this basho, which is the last of the year, Harumafuji was leading with 47 wins. With Harumafuji no longer able to earn any stars this year (and probably ever), the list looks like this.

Mitakeumi 49
Takayasu 48
Harumafuji 47
Hakuho 47
Takakeisho 46
Hokutofuji 45
Tamawashi 44
Ichinojo 44
Yoshikaze 43
Goeido 41
Daishomaru 41

Whoever ends up as the yearly leader is going to have a negative record: the worst number of wins for the leader of the year, after Takanohana’s 60,  which he achieved years ago. With only 10 days to go, matching 60 is going to be impossible without a playoff.

Finally, here are a couple of Juryo matches for your pleasure:

Ishiura vs. Yutakayama:

Ryuden vs. Homarefuji

Again, nobody from Isegahama, with the exception of Aminishiki, seems to be doing any sumo. Ryuden, on the other hand, got his first kensho-kin yesterday and is very uppity.


26 thoughts on “Day 5 – Flash Flood

  1. Ryuden has a thick following of fans, at least at the Kokugikan. I was somewhat surprised by the number and enthusiasm that was on display daily at Natsu. That being said, he is looking a lot more genki now than he was then, and I am guessing we will see him in Makuuchi soon.

    The Takayasu match really underscores that “The Beast” is still recovering from a fairly serious injury, and only just a couple of weeks prior started real sumo training. It’s also important to note that this means Kisenosato is under-trained as well (and its showing). The primary reason that Kisenosato was able to finally reach Yokozuna is the same reason Takayasu was able to reach Ozeki. They had each other to train against, and they trained with mindless abandon. Hours and hours each and every day.

    Since that intense period of improvement, both have suffered serious injury, and have not been able to repeat that focus. If they can return to that regimen, the Hatsu performance from both should be greatly improved.

    • Who doesn’t like a little dragon-generated electricity in their lives? It feels like he’s been around forever, but his comeback is long overdue.

      He’s been one of my favorite recent fixtures of Juryo even with his streaky match record, so I’ll be happy to see him get his crack at Makuuchi. He’s going to have to put on some more muscle to compete with the other tall guys in the upper ranks.

    • Tamawashi just seems to have Takayasu’s number, even when both are at full strength—something about their styles makes this a good matchup for Tamawashi.

    • Ryuden is one of the obasan favorites I keep talking about. He belongs to the subclass of “ikemen” – handsome, manly man, as opposed to “kawaii” like Ura or Abi, or indeed Kakuryu… The “ikemen” group includes Ikioi, Arawashi, and Okinoumi among others.

      But Ryuden may have the making of a good WTR story once he gets up there to Makuuchi and settles down. Turns out he first had a concussion (incidentally, in a bout with Takanoiwa), then at some point broke his hip bone three times in a row. He was kyujo for such a long time that he hit jonokuchi and was in danger of being thrown out of the banzuke (and therefore out of his career), so for the first four basho of 2014 he showed up for a single bout (and picked a win in each), which kept him in the roster. I didn’t even know that excessive kyujo can get you taken off the roster!

      He then resumed full participation and won three yusho in a row – Jonokuchi, Jonidan and Sandanme. But just like the 21 club, stopped there with a makekoshi at makushita. He’s been having mixed records since.

      Anyway, the fact that he managed to return to Juryo after all this, and get himself in a good placement for a Makuuchi entry looks like a miracle to me. Go Ryuden!

      • Dropping off the banzuke is no real problem, just means the rikishi has to do maezumo again. However, because that costs them an extra two months, many will do the show-up-for-one-bout thing to stay in jonokuchi, especially if they think they’ll be back in fighting shape for the next basho. I think the deal with Ryuden was that his hip rehab was pretty complex and they misjudged how much more time he’d need, resulting in those repeated one-day appearances, always hoping he’d be ready for the next honbasho.

  2. I would also note that Goeido has been fantastic during the first third of the basho (Act I), and I am eagerly waiting to see if he will fade going into the start of week 2, as he sometimes does. For folks wondering about Goeido, we call this mode Goeido 2.0, or the fierce, hyper-offense style Ozeki sumo that is a real wonder to behold.

    At no time does Goeido really leave himself any escape in this mode. If Onosho had been able to meta-read the situation correctly and apply his own plan, he could have won. But each and every time, Goeido moves first, and his opponent is forced to react. In that way they are constantly trying to blunt his attacks, rather than winning.

    If he could do this all the time, it would quite possibly be Yokozuna quality sumo.

    • I’m with you about not minding the retreating sumo from Goeido in this match, Bruce. But, you’re correct that he didn’t leave himself an “out” from his strategy and that’s usually what causes him to lose when he practices this brand of sumo against better opponents. Maybe his experience against Haramafuji in the last basho taught him to strategize better? We’ll have to see.

  3. Shohozan re-emphasizes something from yesterday–Takakeisho is a BEAST. Shohozan is a strong dude, but he could barely move Kisenosato around with all those collisions. Even without the arms for an offense, Kisenosato is hell on wheels to get out of the dohyo.

    As much as I loved Aminishiki’s wily win, the gyoji need to crack down on these blatant matta we’re seeing every day. Not even close to four hands.

    Onosho has some learning to do. What started as a run of bad luck is turning into a run of bad balance. Get it back under control, man!

    • I think the hands are not connected to matta. Matta is when there is a false start, and it’s more about breathing than about the position of the hands. The “both hands on the ground” is a rule they are really lenient about, though there are gyoji who are stricter, and I know that at a certain point the kyokai requested more strict adherence.

      Take a look at these Chiyonofuji bouts from his famous 53 win run, and count the number of hands on the floor, especially those of the dai-yokozuna…

      • Nearly every bout has four hands down. And in nearly all cases where it’s less it’s Chiyo ‘s opponent that is falling short. Chiyo punches the Dohyo before the start of each bout, that’s all that’s required.

        • He doesn’t actually touch the ground. At least, most of the time. He does this little punching routine, yes, but it usually does not touch.

          Actually, there’s a good reason for that. Listen to the gyoji, he says “te wo oroshite”, not “te wo tsuite” as they do today. So it means in those days all you needed was to have your hands down, but nowadays you have to actually touch the ground. Well, technically. As was mentioned already, most gyoji just let it go according to the old tradition.

  4. Holy Uncle Sumo, Batman! What a fantastic win for Aminishiki! I’m also glad to see Tochinoshin and Kotoshogiku look more genki in their wins today too. Again, there was a great mixture of kimarite in the bouts today along with a lot of spirited sumo. Okinoumi looks to be rejuvinated from his ailments and is doing well too. I wouldn’t worry about Asanoyama too much. He’s still learning and the other rikishi are now familiar with his tactics. So, he’ll lose matches, but I don’t think he’ll go down to Juryo. We’ll see what the next 10 days hold, though.

    • Asanoyama has never had a make-koshi in his career yet. And today has been his first time to lose four straight bouts. Of course, Makuuchi is a whole new level. But somehow, I expected more, especially after training so much with Yokozuna.

      • I agree, I think someone with his talent still has a lot to show us. His situation reminds me of something my father always said when I was younger: you have to learn how to lose so you can learn how to win.

      • I’m hoping it’ll be 5 straight bouts, since he’s up against Aminishiki next. You don’t want to be the one who gets in front of that popularity train, youngster.

  5. I’ve been doing my own writeup, and only just noticed this one. Should I put it in the comments, or a brand new post?

  6. I think everything Hakuho does is very intentional. I can’t be the only person who gets annoyed at Tochiozan’s histrionics before each tachiai. So Hakuho decided to teach him a lesson by bypassing all the weird arm dancing by going before the time limit. Got a nice slap in, too. There are no accidents with Hakuho. It’s just a shame that the gyoji called a matta, because that would’ve been awesome. When was the last time a jikanmae bout happened?

    • Yes, Hakuho is a very intelligent man. But really, does he need this? What did he gain, other than that juicy slap? The gyoji called a matta because clearly this was not done by mutual consent. I think even Hakuho is human.

      • He’s human, he’s ornery, and he’s mean. It’s pretty clear to me that he wanted to teach Tochiozan a lesson.

        I agree with you that Hakuho’s judgment is questionable at times. My argument is simply that his actions are intentional. He’s not making accidental mistakes, he’s intentionally acting in ways that some people will find objectionable. Rightly or wrongly, he has his reasons.

      • Hakuho REALLY does not like Tochiozan’s slow-roll. Tochiozan has always done this three-step pre-tachiai slide with his ankles and Hakuho HATES it. This is not the first time I’ve seen Hak do this. In fact, I think Tochiozan cut back for a while to where he was only doing a one-step slide because Hakuho has slapped him before. I noticed him coming back to this lately.

        • Sorry, I don’t see it. I see him sliding a little, but not three steps. Both today, and yesterday vs. Goeido. Nothing like what Harumafuji normally does. In fact, I don’t see much change between the pre-tachiai before or after the slap.

      • Just a hypothesis, but perhaps with everything going on with his fellow Yokozuna at the moment, (scandal, missing multiple basho, giving up easy kinboshi) Hakuho is coming off so aggressive because he feels he needs to remind the lower ranks that the title of Yokozuna still means something and isn’t to be taken lightly. But as you said, Hakuho is an intelligent, complex man, and the only person who knows why he does what he does is Hakuho himself.

        • Just to clarify, I don’t blame Kakuryu or Kisenosato for their current situations, which are out of their control. The perception of these two men amongst the lower ranks and the opinion of the Yokozuna title may have been affected by their current circumstances, however, as it’s demystified them and opened them up to criticism. I could see hushed conversations about how “Kakuryu is too brittle” or “Kise is easy, just go for his left” becoming more common in the locker room. This is something Hakuho would not take kindly were he to catch wind of it.


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