Natsu Day 7 Highlights

I’m going to start here because I’m hungry and will fill in gaps later.

Takakeisho has been looking rather putrid as Mr. Green and Daishomaru has made a stronger case to star in the role. In their head-to-head today, Takakeisho came out swinging, and put Daishomaru into a pulling, defensive mode. With a strong thrust from close to the edge, Daishomaru spun Takakeisho around and moved swiftly for the finishing move. Oshidashi. Daishomaru stays in the yusho race with one loss while Takakeisho picks up his fifth. At M10W, Takakeisho will need to relight that fire quickly if he doesn’t want to stumble further down the banzuke in July. (Wow, we’re already talking about July? Where has this year gone?)

Chiyomaru got elbowed by the falling Takakeisho while waiting for his own match against Hokutofuji. Perhaps unsurprisingly he was unable to overcome the pressure from Hokutofuji. After a really long stare-down where the crowd began to wonder when they’d go at each other, the two finally attacked. Hokutofuji quickly had Chiyomaru back to the tawara but Chiyomaru danced along for quite some time. Hokutofuji sustained pressure, briefly getting a hold of Chiyomaru’s belt, before eventually working him off the dohyo on the other side.
Kotoshogiku faced the struggling Ryuden. You’ve got one guess: quick hippity-hop yorikiri win for the veteran. Kotoshogiku seems to have finally found his stride at M5E. With only an outside threat of needing to face the meat grinder, perhaps he can return to winning form. Admittedly, I’d written off this former kadoban twin, thinking, “he’s done; he’ll retire.” I’m glad to see him doing well. He’s become the bit of good news when thinking about his ozeki brethren.

Ikioi bounced back from yesterday’s setback against Chiyomaru with a bit of an easy one against Yoshikaze. The berserker was nowhere to be found as his more passive twin brother mounted the dohyo, tussled around a bit to get Ikioi’s belt. But Ikioi was having none of it and walked the man in purple over the salt box.
Shodai absorbed Takarafuji’s strong tachiai and tried for a throw. The funny thing is, as Shodai tipped over for the throw, he lost his balance while Uncle Takara stayed up and pressed forward, forcing Shodai to step out. Daieisho picked up his first win of the tournament with a quick demonstration of HOW TO EXECUTE A PULL. Take notes, Goeido-chan. Tamawashi brought a strong tachiai and committed to driving Daieisho backwards. But Daieisho didn’t want to go backwards. He went sideways, upending Tamawashi who thankfully saved himself from a nasty tumble and possible saltbox enema.

Kaisei disrupted Mitakeumi’s momentum…which seems rather natural come to think of it. Mitakeumi had been on a bit of a roll with his wins the last couple of days. As Kaisei charged, I got a feeling Mitakeumi was going for a pull but right when I thought he’d execute it, Kaisei’s massive left arm grabbed a firm hold of that purple mawashi. With a few more seconds of hug-and-chug, Kaisei picked up his second win of the tournament. Mitakeumi falls to 4-3.

Shohozan v Ichinojo was a beautiful bout. Rather than coming out swinging with fierce butsukari, the bruiser holstered his weapons in Ichinojo’s armpits. A grappling bout? Interesting, and a bit unexpected. When the monster reached out with his right arm to grab Shohozan’s mawashi, Shohozan moved for a brilliantly executed throw, leaving Ichinojo in a heap. Third straight loss for the Mongolian.

The Decisive Moment: Quick, who wins?

As we found out last night, Endo injured his bicep and withdrew from the tournament. This handed Tochinoshin his seventh victory. Does this mean Ozeki talk doesn’t start until 11 now? I am glad to see the quick decision to have Endo pull out and recover from his injury. We wish him a full, successful recovery. Another unfortunate implication, no one gets to win that fat stack of kensho.

Abi’s been eating his Wheaties. Goeido charged, full on at the tachiai, committed to moving forward. We should like this. This is a good sign. However, rather than meet him with his chest, Abi raised those long arms, stepped to the side, and deflected the Ozeki into the dirt. No henka here, just solid sumo from a rising star.

Chiyotairyu’s been having a great tournament. He may continue to have a great tournament after today but Mr. Brown is back. None of the wild, out of control Hakuho from the first few days. This was a calm, collected, strong dismantling of the younger rikishi. A firmly met tachiai, a quick tussle as the yokozuna’s quickly found a left-handed grip, and while his opponent flailed around to find a grip, he gave up searching for a right-hand grip in favor of a straight drive forward. Today, the yokozuna was back in control.

In the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu faced the “Sometimes Y” of Yutakayama. Today was not one of those times. Actually, so far this tournament has not been one of those times. Yutakayama’s been struggling but did look strong against the yokozuna. This was no belt-battle or slug-fest. It was more like repeated tachiais as the two billy-goats would drive into each other, Kakuryu would then try to pull, it would fail, rinse and repeat…until Yutakayama’s knee over extended and he tumbled out onto the head shimpan. Both yokozuna stay in the hunt with Daishomaru and Chiyonokuni.

8 thoughts on “Natsu Day 7 Highlights

  1. Thanks for writing this up. A few thoughts.

    • Shohozan was really impressive today. The fact that he went Yotsu, and waltzed Ichinojo like Fred Astaire is fantastic. The critical move seems to have been Ichinojo reaching across Shohozan’s back for the far end of his mawashi. Off balance and already moving right, Shohozan expertly helped the Boulder continue to gather no moss. Nice, fluid move against a much larger opponent.

    • Chiyonokuni vs Aoiyama, I did not like the way Aoiyama’s legs gave out at the end. I really hope he does not face a similar situation to dear departed Terunofuji. Some of these rikishi are so massive that lateral strain on their knees can lead to injury that is difficult to ever repair, given the load factors on those joints.

    • When Hakuho is dialed in, the thing that blows me away is how efficient he is. No wasted motion, and some times his individual movements have multiple effects. This is why I call him the Michale Jordan of sumo. Like all great, once in a generation athletes, even “good” sumotori can just look on in amazement.

    • Yes! When I try to explain sumo to non-sumo people, I always say that Hakuho is Michal Jordan.

  2. In the replay, it seemed that Hakuho favored his left arm and used his head to guide his opponent out of the ring. His bandaged right arm was only used as a guide to direct the movement of his opponent. This is not the first time Hakuho has used his head to move his opponents this basho and I’m wondering how healthy his right arm and shoulder are right now.

    • While Hakuho carries a certain veneer of invulnerability and indestructibility, I think it’s fair to say that he has been carrying a host of injuries, both to his lower body and upper body, for years now. The chronic toe injuries get the most publicity, but Hakuho has knee issues, elbow issues and probably shoulder issues as well. After each day, it takes a lot of therapy and massage to get Hakuho ready for the next day’s bout.

      The boss is getting old. He’s still great, but his greatness is slowly fading. The days of a near 100% healthy Hakuho are long gone, and are unlikely to ever return. How he continues winning is a testament to his physical talent, awesome dedication, and that brain of his, which contains every trick ever employed within the tawara.

  3. Sorry if I bother any arachnophobes on this site, but with his long limbs and quick strikes Abi is inceasingly looking like a giant spider to me.

    • And when he has problems someone must have cast the “riddikulus” spell as he looks is a Giant Spider on Rollers Skates

  4. With only six members of San’yaku left standing, both Kotoshogiku and Ikioi will have to take a turn in the meat grinder.


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