Kyushu Day 8: The March Toward 40


Hakuho continues to make steady, though uncertain, progress toward his 40th yusho. Steady, in that the rest of the old guard and the young tadpoles seem to fall all around him. Uncertain, as we wonder whether his best bouts, and his injuries, are behind him. Resorting to a henka against Hokutofuji leaves us guessing, did Hakuho see this bout as a potential threat? As a sleeper upset? Though Hokutofuji was in the hunt group to start the day, his weak tachiai meant he was not immediately dispatched by the henka but he was unable to regroup for an effective counter-attack as Hakuho backed him over the bales for a yorikiri win.

Kisenosato is not ready for this tournament, but Ichinojo sure is. I’ve seldom seen a yokozuna put away so easily. While Kisenosato tried to find a way to the Mongolian’s belt, Ichinojo just pressed forward. By the time Kise realized he was in trouble and needed to do something, he was already backed up to the tawara and his panicked thrusting was futile. His expression in defeat was one of exhaustion, deflation, disappointment. Was it one of kyujo? Ichinojo doesn’t care, he got his kinboshi and remains in the hunt with one loss.

Takayasu also struggled, but for considerably longer, to find Yoshikaze’s belt. They tussled, paused, and seemed to be gearing up for mutual tsuppari attack when Yoshikaze gave one last charge of his oshi attack…and Takayasu slipped. Goeido 2.0 went full berserker on Chiyonokuni who was likely just happy to stay on his feet as he was powered off the dohyo.

Takakeisho’s win over Mitakeumi was like watching two bubbles in the fizzy drink scene of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They dart around furiously, bumping into each other with growing urgency as the exhaust fan draws them near. At the last moment, Takakei-bubble bounces free while Mitake-bubble gets drawn into the fan and, “pop”.

Onosho made quick work of Kotoshogiku. Both will likely fall back into maegashira as they each sit on two wins. Onosho’s win was impressive as he went right at Kotoshogiku. This should have been an instance where Kotoshogiku’s trunk would kick in for a hippity-hoppity yorikiri but the youngster got him moving backwards. Then as Kotoshogiku got to the edge and his weight moved forward to #resist, Onosho vanished with only a tap on the mage to remember him by, leaving the former ozeki to flop on the clay.

Okinoumi is making a charge from the bottom of the banzuke. Today he battled Makuuchi newbie Daiamami. The surging youngster may have finally hit a wall. Jason’s favorite from Shimane-ken found a firm grip with his right hand on Daiamami’s mawashi and powered him off the clay and into the crowd.

Endo v Aminishiki was over in a blink. Endo knew a henka was coming, adjusted, and forced Uncle Sumo out. It seemed Aminishiki’s henka attempt may have been a bit too casual and slow? He falls off pace to 6-2.

Arawashi’s henka nearly backfired as Chiyomaru caught it out well. Arawashi’s agility helped him dance around Chiyomaru and pick up the hatakikomi victory as Chiyomaru fell to the dohyo. Arawashi improves to 7-1 and stays one off the lead. However, he’s not going to be able to henka himself to a yusho.

Chiyoshoma Kirikaeshi Attack

Chiyoshoma’s bout against Shohozan was just about the first good bout of the day, certainly the first good belt battle. As Shohozan led with his right foot, Chiyoshoma let his right foot slide backward and wrapped the left around Shohozan’s leg and then twisted their bodies, forcing both to fall. The kirikaeshi victory is a rare kimarite and great tripping technique.

Tamawashi jumped all over Takarafuji for a not-worth-watching Oshidashi win. Tochiozan is having a terrible tournament. His pull backfired as he fell off the dohyo first, right into the shimpan, officially going make-koshi on Day 8. Chiyotairyu picks up his third win and will need to finish strong in week two to get his kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin picked up a worthy win against a listless Shodai. Shodai didn’t seem to have a plan of attack, rather he allowed Tochinoshin to come at him. That’s not a good plan against a guy with the size and strength of the Georgian. Tochinoshin improves to 5-3 while Shodai falls to 3-5, and looks to drop further into the Maegashira.

Aoiyama made use of his long reach to pick up a very important win in his return bout. He held Daishomaru at bay, then as his opponent overcommitted, he slid gingerly to the side while Daishomaru plopped to the dirt. Kagayaki made quick work of Daieisho as the latter tried to pull. Kagayaki stayed with him and forced him out. Ikioi let Kotoyuki’s tsuppari attack bring him close to the edge where he sidestepped and Kotoyuki rolled out.

Myogiryu’s patience paid off today. Both he and Kaisei started off wanting to get a hold of the belt but neither could. Kaisei chased as Myogiryu pulled away. Myogiryu regained position in the center of the ring and started pushing, aided by a forceful nodowa, and picked up the oshidashi win.

Takekaze tried to sidestep Asanoyama but the youngster followed and chased him out. Yutakayama visited from Juryo to dominate Nishikigi. From the tachiai, Yutakayama had a forceful oshi attack, forcing Nishikigi to the outside, rotating as if in orbit, until finally pushed over the edge.

9 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 8: The March Toward 40

  1. I mean, much as I’d like to see Hakuho overpower all of his opponents head-on (and he still can, as he showed against Tochinoshin, Harumafuji, etc. in recent basho), presumably a large part of his success, and especially his longevity, is having a solution for every opponent, and winning safely and efficiently whenever possible.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I agree. Given a choice, It makes no sense to go for a riskier move for the sake of entertainment versus a more efficient path to victory. That’s what separates the top rikishi from others I think: the versatility and ability to adapt to the situation and to end matches efficiently. I would think that dragging out a match longer than it needs to just to toy with your opponent would not only be uappealing aesthetically but also unsportsmanlike, no?
      Cheers,

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    • My feelings about henka are still evolving–in my mind there are definitely good henkas, bad henkas, and meh henkas–but I don’t have a good working definition. The slap-and-slide that Moti calls HNH is, in my mind, a reasonable tachiai if not overused and if it doesn’t reek of cowardice…a status I freely admit I could not predict or define. Personally I thought Hakuho paid Hokutofuji a compliment with that move.

      But what do I know. Very little, for sure.

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      • I agree with that. It might have been a HNH, but nothing like, for instance, the blatant henka Arawashi pulled against Chiyoshoma. Oh, and you forgot the comical henkas—see Ichinojo yesterday 😆

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ichinojo’s was awesome. I don’t mind them at all. I was surprised it came against Hokutofuji, though. You need an opponent who is ready to strike…a coiled spring. The one against Harumafuji on senshuraku is the prototype. Harumafuji was so genki, he landed 8 rows back. I don’t think anyone would pull a henka against Shodai, for example.

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  2. Also, just watched it again, and I don’t think you can call that a henka. Hakuho certainly shifted at the tachiai, but rather than giving Hokutofuji a shove in the backside and sending him over the bales, he seemed to actively catch him with his right arm to keep him from going out and to secure a grip, and then prevailed in a mawashi battle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My thoughts exactly, and I’m not a henka fan, especially not at Ozeki and above. There are some sidesteps which are basically not a dodge but a preparation for a good grip or good nage.

      It was already said that one of the reasons henka are not forbidden is that they are very hard to define…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. At first I thought the Chiyoshoma-Shohozon match should have been a torinaoshi. It seemed to me that Shohozon had unhooked and re-planted the leg Chiyoshoma had tripped and then countered by pressing Chiyoshoma’s shoulders down — in fact, for last part of the technique neither of Chiyoshoma’s feet are on the ground but both of Shohozon’s feet are. It seemed to me that Shohozon had managed to apply enough force so that his upper body and Chiyoshoma’s upper body landed at the same time. And in fact all of that is true, but the side of Shohozon’s calf touched down in instant before the two wrestlers’ upper bodies did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s possible that this would have been the conclusion after a monoii, when they consulted a frame-by-frame replay, but there is no way the gyoji could have seen that in real time.

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