Day 6 – It’s not easy being an Ozeki

First, I would have liked to bring you news of Hattorizakura’s first win, but alas, he lost his 70th consecutive bout today. However, this has been one of the best efforts we have seen from the “Inverted Hakuho” so far:

And if you want to see more of Hoshoryu, and how he looks when his rival isn’t Naya, here’s today’s maezumo:

(I have no idea why One And Only calls him Toyoshoryu. Both the yobidashi and the gyoji are pretty clear).

Sumidagawa from Naruto beya is currently the only one in his heya still in zanbara. He is also two losses to one win now:

And alas, Enho is having a worse time than we thought he would have at this level of Makushita:

…and with a rival who can’t seem to be able to bend his knees enough for the tachiai.

enho-has-the-sads
Enho today, doesn’t seem very happy

So, let’s ascend to Makuuchi and check what happened there today.

Just before Asanoyama starts his bout with Ishiura, the announcer wonders aloud “What is Asanoyama going to do about Ishiura’s quick movements?” The answer seems to be “Tsuppari, not let him get inside, and push him out within seconds”.

asanoyama-ishiura
“See there, that’s the tawara. Go to the other side. Thank you.”

If Asanoyama stays 7-0 tomorrow, don’t be surprised to find him matched with Tochinoshin the next day or so.

Nishikigi is not letting go of Makuuchi easily. Daiamami pulls at his nose and attacks, but Nishikigi takes a hold of his right arm and drags him to the edge for a quick kotenage. BTW, the gyoji who announced the torikumi just before the bouts began doesn’t know who Daiamami is, calling him “Oamami” instead (it’s an alternative reading of the same kanji).

Takekaze, on the other hand, seems to be past his swan song. Ryuden gets a grip on him very easily and pushes him out. Oshidashi, and Ryuden now even at 3-3. Takekaze worked very hard pumping iron before the basho – he was the only one in the gym during the New Year’s break – but those muscles are not bringing back his sumo.

Sokokurai is also in dire straits, and may find himself right back in Juryo, with Daieisho pushing him out faster than you can say “ah” (that’s an actual Japanese phrase). Daieisho is, in fact, in the chaser list for the Yusho, with only one loss so far.

Abi gets slapped down in another oshi match with Daishomaru. If Abi could learn yotsu zumo, which is a bit unlikely given his shisho, he may become known as the Yokozuna with the most beautiful dohyo-iri in history. Just sayin’.

Shohozan goes for a slap-fest with Kotoyuki. The latter finds himself rolling down the dohyo. What’s the bowling score for hitting 3 pins, er, spectators?

Kotoyuki may be pissed off because of Shohozan’s harite off the tachiai. In the first days of the basho, nobody was doing that. There was some speculation that this was due to the criticism Hakuho got for this move. Shohozan decided to break the “taboo”, and he is not the last one doing that today.

Chiyomaru vs. Tochiozan. “Ah”… And the Kokonoe man wins.

Chiyonokuni attacks Takarafuji with his trademark barrage of tsuppari. Takarafuji defends and defends, and tries to get an arm inside. He knows why: as soon as his left arm is inside, he pushes Chiyonokuni out like a rag doll. Currently Takarafuji is the only ray of light at Isegahama. 😲

Okinoumi finally looks more like himself against Chiyoshoma. The Kokonoe Mongolian still hasn’t mastered the channeling of Harumafuji as well as he would have liked. He finds himself hugged and with no room for one of his throws, and hurts his ankle in the process. I guess mimicking the Horse means his injuries as well…

Shodai uses an effective tachiai to… Wait, what did I just write? The words “Shodai”, “effective” and “tachiai” are shocked to find themselves together in the same sentence. But so it is. Shodai secures a quick morozashi on Endo and pushes him out. Perhaps his win against Ichinojo was not so much Ichinojo’s fault as I thought it was.

Ikioi seems to be in deep trouble, with only one win to his name so far, with Arawashi converting his attempt at a sukuinage into a beautiful sotogake. Kintamayama says Arawashi has bad knees, and that’s obvious from the mummy-like bandaging, but I suspect Ikioi also has some trouble in that department.

This sums up the low-to-middle maegashira. But the joi bouts is where the excitement is! Let’s move straight on to Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho. Which style will win, Takakeisho’s in-and-out tsuki-oshi, or Tochinoshin’s “Red Incredible Hulk” mode?

Well, Takakeisho got as far as pushing Tochinoshin to one side and trying to send him out. This got Tochinoshin angry. And this Incredible Hulk (a) turns red rather than green when he’s mad, and (b) wraps the puny meatball of a rikishi in front of him with his long arm and shows him how sumo is supposed to be done. Tochinoshin still riding the zensho train!

Mitakeumi doesn’t even bother with any tsuppari, where Hokutofuji may have an advantage over him. He just applies force as if Hokutofuji was giving him a butsukari. Mitakeumi looks like he seriously wants that next rank, and with two Yokozuna missing again – who knows?

And here comes the second harizashi of the day (“slap and grab”). While the first one was just a slap, not a grab, Ichinojo goes for the full monty. What taboo? I want to win, dammit. Tamawashi barely knows which Mongolian mountain hit him before he hits the bottom of the dohyo with his head. I hope he’s alright.

Goeido meets the Yokozuna bane, Yoshikaze, and finds out that he also keeps a side job as an Ozeki bane. This was over so fast Goeido may still be wondering if the bout took place. The Ozeki finds himself, again, out of the yusho race – unless all four leaders drop two more bouts. My guess is that he’ll just concentrate on not going kadoban from now on.

yoshikaze-goeido
Yoshikaze. After a slow start, now a candidate for the Outsanding Performance Award

Takayasu prepared his usual kachiage for Onosho, but the red mawashi would have none of that. Blocking him with his outstretched arm, he started his own attack, and combined with an unfortunate slip, Takayasu joins Goeido in the “Maybe next time” club.

Maybe this is the time to pause and comment that both Takayasu and Kisenosato suffer from “koshi daka”… “high pelvis”, if you please. Meaning that their stance gets too high and unstable. This is a shame, because stability and balance used to be the Tagonoura brothers’ specialty. The combination of two injured rikishi losing their dohyo sense, followed by them mostly practicing with each other, may be the cause for both men’s troubles. This is why there are still some in the NSK who believe that Kisenosato can redeem himself – by curing that koshi-daka. The problem is less pronounced with Takayasu, of course, who is not permanently damaged, has been off the dohyo a shorter time, and has practiced with more people than did the damaged Yokozuna.

Ah, what, did I leave you hanging in the air? Let’s go to the musubi-no-ichiban. And what a bout that was! Kotoshogiku determined to show he is still Ozeki material, grabs Kakuryu right from the start and starts his gaburi attack. The Yokozuna hurriedly dances hither and tither, on the one hand evading the tawara, and on the other, looking for a grip. When he finally finds one, the two stop, assess the situation, and finally Kotoshogiku attacks again. And then, Kakuryu reverses that attack into his own attack and leads the former Ozeki out. He sure was winded when that ended.

tired-kakuryu
Man, this is tiring work

So the Yokozuna maintains his record. Let’s look at the Yokozuna situation at the moment:

yokozunameter-hatsu-2018-day6

So we have one Yokozuna carrying the basho on his shoulders (unpaid), and two Yokozuna undergoing repairs. And I think neither of them will be putting his main effort into the injury that he submitted on his medical certificate. Hakuho will have to figure out a winning tachiai technique or two. Kisenosato, who actually ran out of injuries and had to report his original one (“aggravated by a hit to the chest”) as the reason for his kyujo, will have to work on that koshidaka. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll have to work on a new hairstyle.

Yusho Arasoi

6-0

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M16 Asanoyama

5-1

  • M9 Shohozan
  • M13 Daieisho

Tomorrow the leader list is going to be down one man, as Kakuryu is to face Tochinoshin. Will kakuryu lose a notch in my meter, or will he prevail against the Incredible Hulk? Don’t miss the next episode of Hatsu 2018!

 

25 thoughts on “Day 6 – It’s not easy being an Ozeki


  1. The koshi daka problem is quite real, and has been apparent since Kisenosato’s attempt to return to sumo. Somehow he infected Takayasu with it as well, and it’s ruined his sumo. Take a look at some of his late 2016 matches vs today. His sumo has changed quiet a bit, and not (at least in form) for the better.

    I don’t think Kisenosato can improve his lot too much by returning to his earlier sumo posture, which was outstanding. The test of his ability would likely come down to spending a couple of months doing upper body strength training (yep, in the weight room), and when he can bench press the equivalent of a Takayasu at 5 reps, he is probably good to go. I am pretty sure with that blown out pectoral, he’s not getting there. I feel very sad and sorry for Kisenosato. He has been quite the icon in sumo for a long long time, and he had the promise to be a very interesting and useful Yokozuna.

    One reason I really want him to just call it off and go into coaching or stable leadership is that the form he used to execute is seldom seen on the dohyo right now, and he could raise a generation of rikishi who stay low and fight hard. Yes, I would trade a fading Kisenosato for a dozen new rikishi who followed his classic style.


    • I don’t think he infected Takayasu. It was just bad luck that both of them suffered lower body injuries at the same time. One favoring his lower back, the other his thigh.

      But if Kisenosato cannot identify this in himself or in Takayasu and doesn’t know how to correct it, do we know he will be able to train young rikishi in an art that may have died with his former stablemaster?


      • We can’t tell the difference between Kisenosato forgetting the skill and being unable to execute the skill due to pain or injury. We know about the pectoral muscle, but lord knows what else he is nursing.


    • I don’t see Kisenosato having much of a coaching career, to be honest. Strikes me as the classic gifted jock who knows all about how to do it, but is no good at explaining how to do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never heads a stable at all, actually, even though it’s sort of expected of former ozeki and yokozuna to eventually do so.


  2. I respect Hattorizakura’s perseverance. It is not easy on the ego to lose that much.

    I did like hearing the guys on the video rooting for him


    • It looks like Hattorizakura has gained some weight (finally!) from the previous basho. Making it harder for people to simply pick you up and place you outside the tawara makes a big difference!


      • His Tachiai is slightly better, but that boy needs to put some oomph on his charge instead of just letting folks slam into him


        • He certainly looks like he’s putting more effort into it this time around. I hope he manages to find his target by the end of the basho!


  3. My 2 Cents:

    Im happy that Nishikigi is doing alright. I really hope that he gets even better as the basho goes.

    How sweet was it that little Ichinojo seemed to hesitate what to do when he won. I could feel that he wanted to lend a hand and was torn between helping and going to his position. <3

    Kakyryu looks awesome! As does Tochinoshin. Im exited for the rest of the basho. i know that Asanoyama has a tougher schedule ahead but i love it that he has such a good start.

    Last but not least, i feel so bad for Kisenosato. I just recently started watching again, but im deeply concerned about the hatred that seem to hit him from some people on the interwebs. For that matter i cant understand why people hate in general but for my noobie mind its hard to understand why on earth he gets so much.

    With the same thought i wish all rikishi a great basho and everyone on here a sweet WE.


  4. The kanji for “Ho” in Hoshoryu can also be pronounced “Toyo.” I guess our esteemed One and Only hasn’t caught on to the pronunciation of our newest Mongolian prospect.


  5. So that’s how giku won a yusho.. his build is perfect 4 that aggressive sumo and very hard to defend.


  6. One thing I’m not sure that has been considered is the change in mental stability that is required for sumo these days. For the Ozeki, they have physical proof that there is room for them at the Yokozuna level with Haramafuji’s retirement and the injuries that continue to plague the current members of that rank. The rest of the San’yaku and the Megashira rikishi also now realize that promotion is possible because “the logjam” isn’t at the top anymore. To put it succintly: Everything feels like it matters more than it did before. That will mentally affect the rikishi in different ways as they work to adjust to this “new normal”.


  7. I know Kisenosato cops a lot of undeserved grief sometimes, but the simple fact is that he hasn’t managed to Kachi Koshi or even finish a Basho for… what is it, five in a row now? That’s just not good enough for a Yokozuna, unfortunately. Surely it’s time for him to call it a day.


  8. Anyone else think it’s a shame they are putting Kakuryu and Tochinoshin together this early? Had the potential to be a decider if the big Georgian carries his form into week 2. When his knees are working, he looks ozeki material to me but I doubt they’ll last long enough for him to get anywhere near that.


    • Yes, although Kakuryu has faced both M1s and M2s as well as M3e, and the schedulers need to stretch out the rapidly dwindling intra-sanyaku matches over the remaining days, so they’re running out of options.


      • I agree. There are too many variables and too many rikishi who have the same skill levels to say higher than 13 is a guarantee. Anyone that does it will definitely deserve the praise they’ll receive.


    • It’s the middle of the basho, Asanoyama is too low of a rank to be matched with Kakuryu, Mitakeumi is too high of a rank to battle Kakuryu, but Tochinoshin at M3 is just the right rank for a Day 7 reckoning with the Yokozuna.


  9. This is what I’m talking about when I worry about Enho crashing out of the dohyo – Akiseyama landed on him pretty hard as he crashed over the edge – injuries are going to be difficult to avoid, and he just seems to go flying win or lose

    One thing I noted earlier this week in person was that Akiseyama has to be one of the most inelegant rikishi in all facets of his sumo


  10. The Torikumi announcer gyoji pronounces words really oddly compared to everyone else on the broadcast. If I didn’t have the schedule in front of me, I’d think there were some new contenders each day.

    Though it’s not as bad as my SO mistaking the Abema sumo intro as a Microsoft commercial. 🙂


    • I would have thought that it’s my own ears misleading me – I know my listening comprehension in Japanese is not exactly brilliant – but the Abema commentators caught on to that as well.

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