Hatsu Day 1 – New hairdos, old problems

Troubles at the top

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the rather embarrassing error made by the substitute gyoji, Shikimori Kandayu, who pointed his Gunbai to Kisenosato’s side in his bout vs. Takakeisho.

That feeling when you just made a boo-boo in front of 127,000,000 people.

A gyoji-gunbai-sashi-chigae – 行司軍配差し違え – is when the gyoji points to one wrestler, a monoii is called, and the shimpan reverse the gyoji’s decision. These things happen. Only, they are not supposed to happen at the top levels. The suspended tate-gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke, was suspended once before, and his promotion to Shonosuke never materialized, exactly because of a series of sashi-chigae. A tate-gyoji is not supposed to have those. That’s what the short sword is for.

Now Kandayu, based on seniority, is supposed to be promoted to tate-gyoji once the Inosuke position is officially vacant. His judgement in this basho and the ones that follow is supposed to prove that he is worthy of that promotion. So then, the first bout he referees, what does he do?

Yes, a gyoji-gunbai-sashi-chigae.

To say nothing of the poor Kisenosato who for a moment thought he managed to somehow snatch this win. The Yokozuna was very unhappy at the end of that event.

By the way, I think what’s killed Kisenosato in this bout was not his missing left pec or any of his injuries. He is mobile, and Takakeisho didn’t really force him to use his left side. I think what kills him is his lack of confidence. If he can’t dominate from the beginning he loses his nerve.

Hakuho faired only slightly better. I agree with Kintamayama and Sankei Shinbun as well as our reader Coreyyanofski’s comment on Bruce’s post: Hakuho was one step away from starting Hatsu with a black star.

Hakuho committed himself to adhering to the criticism the YDC made at him in their last meeting. No harite, no kachiage to the face area. Only, he committed himself a little too late, with too little time to find and refine a winning tachiai. He himself said, after his final pre-basho keiko: “I’ll have to see what the results will be”. If he wants his kachiage to hit a man’s chest or shoulder, he needs to have a very low tachiai, especially with rivals who are 20cm shorter than he is. It’s not his style of tachiai.

Onosho had Hakuho at the tawara in the blink of an eye. Hakuho becomes very quick when he smells straw, and he managed to move and pull Onosho, and then to get himself out of the way before being taken down together with the loser. Happy – he wasn’t.

Miyagino oyakata also divulges that in his morning practice, Hakuho aggravated his old problematic toe. It got swollen and had to be iced. This may be a cause for concern as the basho continues.

Good Hair Day

But I said I’ll talk about hairdos! OK, so ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new version of Torakio, straight up with a new miniature chon-mage. I must say it looks much better on him than his original zanbara:

The rival is Terunohana from Isegahama beya. Torakio starts to look like a rikishi.

Here is Terutsuyoshi for you. In the previous tournament he wore an oicho-mage. Alas, he dropped to Makushita, and now wears a chon-mage. But he is still Terutsuyoshi:

(C/O SumoSoul)

The rival is Asabenkei, Makushita #2, who also looks to return to Juryo. Enjoyed Terutsuyoshi’s dogged tenacity? Well, here is someone we all know and love, who still wears a zanbara. I think his hair looks long enough but perhaps he doesn’t want to have to endure a dekopin from Hakuho just yet.

Edit: better video from One And Only:

I declare Enho to be the new Ura. Jokoryu is no pushover, and he beat Enho in their previous match.

What else in the hairdo department? Yes! Finally, the two mountain boys get to wear oicho-mage:

Left: Asanoyama, Right: Yutakayama. Big boys!

Asanoyama got to celebrate his oicho with a win. Yutakayama, on the other hand, suffered under the surprisingly active hands of Ishiura today.

Edit: Can’t finish the hairdo section without honorable mention of Wakaichiro, who also got his first chon-mage (though he did not participate in day 1):

Isegahama woes continue

The NHK highlight editors were very merciful. They did not include Terunofuji nor Aminishiki. But we had to face the harsh truth in Kintamayama’s summary.

Hmmm… Look at Terunohana and Terutsuyoshi’s videos above. Could it be that Isegahama oyakata stands with a baseball bat and crashes the knees of every rikishi who dares to join his heya? Seriously, it seems like nobody in that heya has a whole pair of knees to his name.

But Terunofuji’s problems go deeper than just his knees. He is still on a rampage of self-destruction. He put on so much weight that he can hardly move. His upper body muscles sag and he finds it hard to even hug his opponent as he used to. Twitter gossip says he has a fiancee. If so, she may find herself the sole breadwinner of their common household, should a wedding occur. For a man who answered the question “What do you like best in the world?” with “Money!”, he sure seems to be wrecking his main means for earning it.

But Terunofuji is not the only trouble at Isegahama. In fact, of 17 rikishi who participated in today’s bout, from Jonokuchi to Makuuchi, 9 came back empty-handed, including every single sekitori from Takarafuji through Homarefuji (who lost to Amakaze). We can only hope that Aminishiki’s slippiotoshi was accidental and that he will show us some of his good old Uncle Sumo stuff starting tomorrow.

But to finish on a high note, let’s mention that Shunba won his bout today vs. Fujisato by Okuridashi. If I find a video I’ll share.

Another lighter piece of news is that Satonofuji is still doing the yumitori shiki! I suppose that the Kyokai is waiting to see how many Yokozuna heyas it has left before it can appoint a new bow twirler. So for the time being, we can still glimpse Satonofuji’s serious face beside the dohyo while the winner of the musubi-no-ichiban accepts his kensho-kin.

Satonofuji. Oh, and Hakuho.

Other quick notes

Ryuden wins his first Makuuchi bout. If you watched the NHK preview, you may have seen Raja Pradhan explain Uwatenage. Ryuden looked like a demonstration of “how this is done in real life”.

Abi has an amazing body. His legs are longer than Betty Grable’s. I think he is wasting that body on mere oshi-zumo. And I don’t think he is going to be Ozeki just yet. Young Peter Pan, you should use those legs to stabilize yourself. Take a look at some Bokh videos!

Chiyoshoma very impressive. I just hope he can grow a personality.

Mitakeumi beating Kotoshogiku by gaburi-yori. That’s not something you see every day. Also, the shimpan halting the fight and the gyoji having to tap the shoulders of both rikishi to signal that the bout is over.

I enjoyed seeing Ichinojo being active rather than lethargic. But he still gives in too early at the tawara. Even Terunofuji held up longer.

Kakuryu beat Hokutofuji at his own game. It’s usually the man from Hakkaku beya who neutralizes his rival with tsuppari and nodowa. But that was a mighty clash of skulls there, ending with Kakuryu bleeding.

Can’t wait for day 2!

14 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 1 – New hairdos, old problems

  1. Glad you called out Kisenosato’s facial expression – they showed this a ton of the live NHK feed and it’s clear he was extremely upset. Hopefully he can get himself composed in a hurry because he’s in the midst of facing all the guys who are hungry for promotion and are full of energy.

    Re: Terunofuji, I really wish he had taken this basho off after not being able to recover his rank last time out, because the reality is that if he can rebuild strength there’s no reason he can’t look at the huge numbers of rikishi who have fallen down to Juryo, almost all of whom he possesses a much much higher skill level than, picked up a yusho and come back to Makuuchi stronger and less injured. At the current rate I’m not sure what his ceiling is.

    • I’m not sure that taking a basho off would have helped him any. If he is not going to do anything active (like a surgery), rest is not going to heal his knees, and he desperately needs to work out his muscles and drop some fat. With less weight on them and more power in his muscles he might be able to avoid the tawara. More rest is just more ice cream and flaccidity.

      • Fair enough, I take that point

        Also though – in either case – I wonder if he could take some inspiration from someone like Hokutofuji (this is based solely on what we saw on the NHK Preview admittedly) in terms of doing non traditional work outs that strengthen his lower half the right way

        Even if he DID take a basho off so as not to strain his knees and focused on physical therapy techniques to lose fat weight/add strength to his upper muscles, I have to imagine that could only help his overall game. It seems 3 months focus on the right kind of recuperation and training could help him come back as the beast we all know him to be

  2. Question about the Kotoshogiku match. Was that Kandayu who missed the right foot out. In the replay it looked like the Gyoji was looking right at it. If so, does that omission count “against him” at least informally. Thank you.

    • I think this was Kimura Tamajiro. Shikimori Kandayu only presided over the last two bouts. I don’t know if it will count against him or not. He may have missed the fact that it actually touched outside, as the tip of the toe was hidden by the tawara from where he was standing. In any case I’m not sure every little mistake counts.

      • Thank you, as I was thinking about it tonight, it is certainty better to not assume contact on no-contact if the Tarawa is obscuring his view. If he touches the judge will see it, and it would be far worse to stop the match early on an error.

  3. Most of the wrestlers have put on too much fatI They should loose a significant amount of weight,change their exercises,include a lot of swimming and weights!

  4. Terunohana is working up to an Abi-style shiko!

    Some kind of weird lensing on the Enho-Jokoryu bout — makes their heads and upper bodies appear out of proportion with their lower bodies. (New sumo fans might be interested to know that Jokoryu’s highest rank is komusubi and that he holds the record for the most consecutive wins upon entering professional sumo (27) and for the fastest rise from jonokuchi to makuuchi (9 basho). He’s back up to makushita after falling to sandanme following injuries and kyujo.)

    • Yeah, SumoSoul takes videos of his TV at an angle. Makes everybody have large heads. The other video I had access to had half the dohyo obstructed by a text box… If I find better quality videos, I’ll replace those.

  5. Aww, your heya curse extended to our favorite bow master as well today. :(

    The lower rank stream commentary has mentioned Takanohana vs Isegahama beya a couple times, so I’ve been side eyeing all the Taka-rikishi every time the annoying music wakes me up. Too bad they get saddled with a creepy oyakata.

    • That creepy oyakata sure knows how to pick talented deshi… I just hope most of them are not rotten people like Takagenji. :-(

  6. Hakuho has to spend mental energy to prevent himself from using his normal hartite-kachiage tachiai which is why I thought he looked hesitant. It’s tough to change something like that when it’s been so useful for so long. I expect thought that he’ll be able to solve it after a few matches but we’ll see.

    Toe problems are like cuts on the fingers; even if they’re small they can have a big impact on comfort and use…


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