Hatsu Day 2 Highlights

Kisenosato Sigh of Relief

Top line result – Kisenosato won today. He won in a tough battle against a strong, healthy youngster in Hokutofuji. Meanwhile, Hakuho looks uncharacteristically tentative, Kakuryu dismantles Takakeisho’s wave action attack, Takayasu goes the distance with a persistent Kotoshogiku, and I worry there is something amiss in Yoshikaze-land.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Ryuden – A pair of loose mawashi leads to a rather challenging battle, where Daiamami was able to muscle Ryuden out at the edge.

Asanoyama defeats Nishikigi – I am starting to hope that Asanoyama has gotten his sumo back under control. Asanoyama was double-inside at the tachiai, and Nishikigi offered very little resistance.

Ishiura defeats Abi – Ishiura seems to have gotten his sumo together. He is looking focused, tight and he is using his size and strength to his advantage. Abi, in spite of his sunny disposition and outstanding shiko, is still looking for the recipe to get a Makuuchi win.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – This version of Kagayaki is quite different from the disorganized mess of the last three basho. It’s probably the case that Kagayaki is not yet ready to succeed at upper Maegashira level, but here at the bottom, he is doing great.

Aminishiki defeats Chiyomaru – Uncle Sumo locked up Chiyomaru and went chest to chest with the big man, and won! Not a great or glorious battle, but good to see Aminishiki going straight out into battle.

Kaisei defeats Chiyonokuni – Two false starts put both contestants in a hesitant mode, and Kaisei took control of the smaller but more aggressive Chiyonokuni. I am really concerned about Kaisei’s bulk. At that size, one bad fall and it’s all downhill.

Endo defeats Ikioi – In the battle of the Japanese virtues, it was Endo all the way. There was some question on who touched down first, but Endo prevailed. I am starting to be cautiously optimistic that Endo has put his health problems behind him.

Tochinoshin defeats Arawashi – It was not even close, and frankly it was startling to see how small Arawashi (who is not small in person) looked as Tochinoshin lifted him over the tawara. I am eager to see how Tochinoshin does when he starts facing the San’yaku in a few days.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Alright, that’s two weak days from Yoshikaze in a row. As a fan I am starting to worry that something is wrong with the berserker.

Goeido defeats Onosho – Goeido has started Hatsu strong, and he’s completely dialed in on the 2.0 software. The ankle repair appears to have been a complete success, and I think he’s fighting as well right now as I have seen in the past two years.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – For recent joiners of the sumo fan world, this was a classic Takayasu match. Enormous strength and almost inhuman endurance. It’s also a huge measure of respect for Kotoshogiku as he was able to match the Ozeki during that lengthy battle, and never gave up one inch without a fight. Classic match.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – That’s two days in a row where the boss has struggled. Yes, Ichinojo is the Obelix of sumo, but in prior engagements, Hakuho has been able to eliminate Ichinojo’s size as a factor. One can assume that the change up in his tachiai has significantly disrupted his sumo.

Kakuryu defeats Takakeisho – Amazing bout from Big K! I refer to Takakeisho’s big weapon as a “Wave Action Tsuppari”: he tends to do a double arm thrust 3 times then move. Kakuryu knows this, stops the first wave at the tachiai and moves inside with a shallow grip. Takakeisho moves to escape and Kakuryu does not let him re-set. Takakeisho’s out in the blink of an eye.

Kisenosato defeats Hokutofuji – And all of Japan breathes a sigh of relief. This was actually a very good match, and my compliments to Hokutofuji, who put up one hell of a fight. From the tachiai, Hokutofuji works hard to block Kisenosato’s left hand grip. He then makes the mistake of grabbing Kisenosato’s left forearm and pulling. This seems to really fire Kisenosato up, and he unleashes a hell of a storm on his opponent. After a few very strong blows, Kisenosato lands his deep left hand grip, at which point it’s all over. Great match, if a bit sloppy.

34 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 2 Highlights

  1. Tochinoshin is super solid and may have a chance to win. Tamawashi also looking fierce. Onosho needs a diff mawashi. Despite haruma being out this is gonna b a rlly gr8 basho

  2. Kakuryu looks really good–not just healthy, but aggressive. That guy means business. So does Mitakeumi.

    The first pet theory I ever came up with while watching sumo on my own: hanging onto a loose mawashi always equals defeat as far as I can see. It basically means you have no leverage and you’re not really holding onto your opponent anymore. I’ve been on the lookout for an exception to this, but so far…

  3. Got to give Ichinojo some credit: he gave Hakuho a hard time in the previous basho as well, when Hakuho didn’t have any Tachiai limitations. In fact, he didn’t have much of a problem here, either. With an opponent this big and tall, even if he did a kachiage, it would not have hit anywhere near Ichinojo’s face. The tachiai was not even important – most of this bout was pure Bokh. Eventually Hakuho switched to a small man tactic – mae-mitsu and burying his head in Ichinojo’s chest. Kudos to Ichinojo for not giving up as soon as his feet touched straw, and trying to push back.

    I’m really impressed with Kakuryu’s confidence. That man knows that his technique and power are there. That was honest-to-goodness Yokozuna sumo. Get that emperor’s cup!

    Goeido was good, but I’m really unimpressed with Onosho these days. He overreached once again and Goeido immediately caught on and helped him down. It’s not the color of the mawashi, it’s the quality of opponents. I’m not enthusiastic about tadpole sumo at all, and Onosho is showing the worst of it. Takakeisho at least has his push-me-pull-you act that keeps him balanced, and Hokutofuji has better technique and composure than both of them. But I think someone like Ryuden, if he didn’t have the bad luck that caused him to arrived on the stage only at 27, would have made much more sense as an Ozeki candidate. Or wait, we have someone who is a relatively young ozeki-type wrestler: Takayasu. Here is someone who can do either oshi or yotsu, and has the stamina of a triathlete. He is certainly a credit to the rank.

  4. As always, we need to remember that it’s only day two, and people are still going to be finding their sumo. Don’t speculate too much based on what we’ve seen so far! There’s plenty of room for things to change.

  5. The article mention of Arawashi and Tochinoshin size difference sent to the research pages. I’ve always thought of Arawashi as small, but at 6’1″ and 308 pounds, he’s in-range and heavier than quite a few NFL defensive linemen.

    Tochinoshin’s 6′ 5.6″ and 390 pounds puts him on the tall side, and he’s heavier than any NFL linesman today. One big strong guy.

    • Yes, I did the same before posting, and I was surprised that they were not that different by the numbers. Perhaps it was the camera angle, but Tochinoshin seems to overwhelm Arawashi in today’s match. When Tochinoshin is healthy, he is a force of nature.

      • It was the Tochinoshin that most of us know and love: pick him up, chuck him out, job done,next!

        The size thing is always a bit deceptive in sumo: you look at someone like Ishiura on the dohyo and think of him as a “little guy”, but if he walked into a normal room you’d think,”wow that is seriously big bloke”.In my corner of the world we’d stick a jersey on him and have him playing prop forward for the local Rugby League team.

        • I got to meet Chiyonokuni last May, and that point was evident – he was a big guy in person. Kisenosato is actually impressively large indeed. As in if said, “Hey, American guy – can I borrow your wallet?” you would feel quite interested to give him what he asked for. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  6. The way Ichinojo made Hakuho work hard for his win was impressive
    Giku was awesome
    Kisenosato showed exactly why he’s a Yokozuna
    If Kakuryu keeps this up its his Emperor’s Cup
    Sadly it will be another win on day3, sad because it’s against my favourite rikishi – day1 was a dramatic loss, day2 has me worried that something possibly not right, day3 will show us how his spirit is faring – Yoshikaze Gambaroo 💚🙏

  7. Had to laugh when Hakuho did his post-match extra shove on Ichinojo… and it had no effect on the big guy.

    • Had to laugh too. I’m told that the literal translation is something like “useless push”. It certainly was useless against the pliable boulder.

      • Not exactly. “Dame” is sometimes used as “cannot be done”, or “useless”, but its literal meaning is “forbidden”.

    • Seems like “strongly discouraged” is more like it. If I were him, I’d ignore this nonsense and go back to the tachiai he’s comfortable with.

      • I agree. He really seems to frighten people with those two maneuvers. You can see wrestlers wrinkle up their faces in anticipation of either. WHAT AN AWESOME ADVANTAGE THAT MUST BE,

        • That, and it seems to serve as a timing mechanism for him, sort of like a foot tap by a baseball hitter. Without the slap, his timing is off.

          • Nobody seems to care about Takayasu’s forearm blast to straighten up his opponent at the start. He uses THAT move all the time.

            • Takayasu does it with his shoulder, not his elbow. And he doesn’t usually hit his opponent’s chin. A kachiage is supposed to lift the opponent’s body up, but it can be dangerous and that’s what people have been complaining about.

      • And in the next YDC meeting it would be more than “strongly discouraged”.

        People here seem not to appreciate how much Hakuho’s popularity has declined in the past couple of months. Thinking in terms of athletes, who cares if Hakuho behaves like LeBron James?

        But he is not an athlete. He’s a Yokozuna. The YDC represents the expectations of the Japanese people from Sumo, and especially its Yokozuna. And if you think that’s just a bunch of old geezers who lost touch with reality, go back and watch Hakuho’s dohyo iri at Meiji Jingu a few days ago, comparing it to those of Kisenosato and Kakuryu. It’s almost completely silent.

        You actually don’t have to go that far. Go to Jason’s video of today’s bout. During the pre-bout the Kokugikan is silent as a grave. And in Yesterday’s bout you can hear almost exclusively “Onosho” calls.

        I think the problem is not with the kachiage and the harite themselves, as much as it is that Hakuho is perceived as self-absorbed, disrespectful, defiant, and completely deaf to any criticism. People have lived with those harite for a long time, but not with a series of incidents that looks more and more like he wants to go the Asashoryu way.

          • Remember that the troubles with Asashoryu didn’t start with that punch to the face that caused his intai. There was an incident with a monoii, similar to the one Hakuho has with Yoshikaze. This in itself is considered a failure of hinkaku. There was that soccer match that was taken as a selfish attempt to get rest pretending to be sick. There is a similarity in the dame-oshi habit. Then there’s Hakuho’s less than passive part in the Haruma incident. Yes, he is more self possessed than the volatile Asashoryu. He owes 63 basho without suspension and 40 Yusho to that. But it’s getting too close for comfort.

        • Kintamayama’s Day 1 summary showed three YDC members in the audience. They looked like three of the least amused people possible. I was wondering if YDC guys are are always present in a group, or was that a special occasion?

          • Yes, apparently it was a “soken” (viewing something together). I guess that’s a perk of being in the YDC.

        • I know of an elderly Okinowan woman who is living in the US. Relative of a friend. She has been a sumo fan all her life. Recently I asked how she was doing and whether she had enjoyed the November basho. Friend said that she’d gotten disgusted and given up sumo. Why? She said she was “Sick of the disrespect. Sick of the Mongolians.” Which ones? “All of them. I’m sick of all of them.”

          Only one data point, but that was eye opening.

          • Not much different than some of my parent’s friends who quit watching the NFL this year. People tend to believe what the media feeds them.

          • I think your sample is of a slightly more, shall we say, extreme part of the fans? Racism is certainly not foreign to the Japanese public, but I don’t think that’s the issue that causes Hakuho’s popularity decline. Those who hate Mongolians hated them before Kyushu 2017 as well.

            Some may have changed their attitude towards Mongolians because of Haruma’s betrayal of trust. He seemed to be the ideal Yokozuna and he wasn’t. So they take Asashoryu and Harumafuji and see a trend.

            But people are cheering for Kakuryu, and Tamawashi has a huge following. Personality matters. Not all Mongolians are being disrespectful. Hakuho, however, is.

  8. I guess it’s also the case that Tak has never knocked anybody into unconsciousness with his forearm blast. God only knows how many concussions Hakuho’s right elbow has caused over the years.


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