Natsu Day 10 Highlights

Nishikigi

Act 2 is over, and the yusho race is set for the final 5 days of the Natsu basho. The one goal for act 2 that remains un-obtained is handing Ozeki hopeful, and Hatsu yusho winner Tochinoshin his first loss. At this point he needs one more win to stake his claim to sumo’s second highest rank, and his day 11 opponent, Kotoshogiku, is unlikely to be up to the task of defeating him.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Myogiryu – In his first ever Makuuchi bout, Kotoeko attempts a henka, fails and finds himself chest to chest with Myogiryu. As they struggle for dominance, Myogiryu is moving backwards. Kotoeko finishes him with a rousing yoritaoshi, gaining his kachi-koshi, his first Makuuchi win, and his first kensho all in one brief moment.

Aminishiki defeats Asanoyama – Uncle Sumo picks up his second win of the tournament. Asanoyama took hold and marched forward, carrying a rather powerless Aminishiki towards the edge. A last minute throw at the tawara did not appear to work, and the gyoji gave the match to Asanoyama, but the judges call ad monoii, and reversed the decision. Replay showed some amazing footwork from Aminishiki, and he picked up the win.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyonokuni – In a shocker, the lowest Maegashira on the banzuke surprised a rikishi with a bonafide position on the leaderboard. Chiyonokuni is always very energetic, and he overwhelmed Nishikigi, who at times was staggering and off balance, but always quickly reset. Although he was absorbing most of Chiyonokuni’s offense, Nishikigi kept moving forward. Though the gumbai went to Chiyonokuni, a monoii confirmed that Nishikigi did in fact prevail. As mentioned many times, Nishikigi really wants to stay in the top division. That was some top division fighting spirit on display! Well done.

Takakeisho defeats Tochiozan – It’s a hope of mine that Takakeisho gets back into proper fighting form by Nagoya, and today’s match looked less stiff, wooden and robotic. Takakeisho, in spite of his bulbous torso, has a very natural and fluid element to his sumo. When he is using that fluidity, we see him win, and he makes it look easy and natural. This is also true of Hakuho, and even more so Enho. As stated at the start of the basho, the tadpoles are down, nursing their wounds, but will be back with fierce determination this summer. If Nagoya finds Takakeisho mid-Maegashira and Onosho lower Maegashira, the lower end of the torikumi may once again be the place with the best action.

Aoiyama defeats Yoshikaze – Every opponent goes for Yoshikaze’s face, and it’s kind of redundant. Yoshikaze fought back with strength, but there is just too much Aoiyama to slap out of the ring. Yoshikaze is certainly a half step slower than a couple of years ago, and I won’t be surprised to see him take up his kabu later this year.

Ryuden defeats Hokutofuji – A trio of false starts, the second featured Hokutofuji falling backward and receiving a strong knock to the back of his skull, which seems to have stunned and disoriented him. After the pre-bout injury, it was not too tough to win. Post match, Hokutofuji has trouble walking the hanamichi and into the tunnel. Hopefully an actual medical doctor checked him out. Concussions are not something you try to “heal naturally”.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – Quite a scrappy match that results in Daieisho picking up his 3rd win, avoiding make-koshi. Takarafuji seems to have the skill and technique, I wonder if a bit of mass and 10% more power would carry him to greater rank.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – Notable in that this is Yutakayama’s first win of the Natsu basho. Chiyoshoma picked up his 8th loss and is now make-koshi.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Wow! Ok, I have seen Abi do this a couple of times. He lifts both arms during the tachiai, connecting to his opponents shoulder and stopping their forward motion. Due to his long reach, his opponent is far short of a workable combat range, and is somewhat interrupted from their plan. Today, Abi pivoted and grabbed Tamawashi’s belt and rolled him out in one fluid motion.

Mitakeumi defeats Ikioi – Both of them came off the line in full battle mode, and it was glorious to see them fight for position and grip. Mitakeumi held the advantage, but Ikioi was conceding nothing. When Ikioi was able to switch from defense to offense, Mitakeumi deftly used Ikioi’s forward motion to thrust him down. I want to see what Ikioi can do when he’s healthy!

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyotairyu – Tochinoshin picks up his 10th win, and looks unstoppable. Today he proved that even the super-sized Chiyotairyu is not too heavy for him to lift and carry to the curb for trash day in Sumida-ku.

Ichinojo defeats Shodai – Slow motion, Maezumo style tachiai today, which left me choking on my tea. After that it was all Ichinojo herding Shodai to the edge and giving him a strong shove.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Sadly my gastric problems continued as Kakuryu sold the henka and Kotoshogiku bought it. Once again I found myself sputtering on my morning tea. While Yokozuna wins via henka are not really the way things are supposed to go, this one was kind of over the top and almost comical. Of course Kotoshogiku found it un-amusing in the extreme, and the crowd in the Kokugikan were likewise disappointed.

Hakuho defeats Endo – That disappointment was short lived, as Endo gave the dai-Yokozuna a solid match. The tempo was fast, and Hokuho was on pure offense. Endo’s strategy was to stalemate the Yokozuna and wait for an opportunity to exploit for an upset win. It did not take Hakuho long to figure this out, and he switched his sumo to a more disruptive, staccato tempo, which lured Endo in for the attack. That was all Hakuho needed to get him turned around and shoved out from behind. Excellent sumo, and great to see not only Endo come in with a solid strategy, but fantastic to see Hakuho shift gears like that.

32 thoughts on “Natsu Day 10 Highlights

  1. Not cool, Kakuryu. I’m almost surprised that Kotoshogiku didn’t give him the Terunofuji treatment at the end of that bout. As it was, that smallest of nods he gave was more likely in deference to his opponent’s rank rather than with respect for the yokozuna himself. Can’t say that I blame him; that was a lousy thing to do.

    At least Hakuho actually showed up to his match (and how!). Good on Endo, for making his opponent work for his shiroboshi!

  2. That was… I’m struggling for the right words and settle for… underwhelming!
    Is he hurt, wanted to have his yokozuna kachi-koshi and goes kyūjō?

    • Kakuryu is desperate to win back to back tournaments.

      Tochinoshin had at that stage (before Kakuryu’s match) a 2 win lead, and he probably wanted a freebie to keep it tight

      Kotoshogiku invited it, and it’s legal, but it’s just not the done thing for a Yokozuna

      I’ve never seen a Yokozuna booed and whistled that vehemently. The crowd was furious

      • On Twitter Herouth reports that Kakuryu said this about his henka: “What was I thinking? I’m not happy at all. It would have been better if I lost. I wasn’t thinking. I was doing well and spoiled it all”.

        Should we believe these sorts of self-abasing statements, or should we regard them as social performances that may or may not reflect the actual feelings of the people involved?

  3. All I can say is wtf. The quality of Yokozuna level sumo has been depressing of late. Why all the Mongolian emnity towards Kotoshogiku? Yesterday, Hakuho doesn’t put his fists down at the start of the tachiai, putting the Fukuoka veteran at a clear disadvantage. That should have been picked up by the judges but for some reason was let fly. Now a henka from the one Yokozuna without scandal and a good rep? It all looks pretty shoddy to me.

    Also Hokotofuji… Come on! When a man needs first aid he needs first aid. The way everyone handled that, especially the Gyoji, was appalling. A disappointing day to be a sumo fan all round.

    • Gotta agree about Hokutofuji. He should definitely have been checked out, and probably shouldn’t have been allowed to fight. Head injuries are not the sort of thing to be messing about with.

    • For me, the biggest scandal is the group of shimpan who walked right by Hokutofuji in the tunnel. One showed concern but kept walking. WTF is right.

  4. To add some yokozuna salt to injury I was a bit disappointed by Hakuho leading in with a elbow. The elbow was bandaged as before, but i think the blow missed. The way he handled the match showed clearly that he does not need slaps and elbows.

  5. The Kakuryu match was as underwhelming as the Abi match was delightful — thinking man’s sumo indeed. Hakuho’s match was better, but it’s hard to focus when you’re wondering if you’re seeing great short-term sumo at the expense of the long-term health of Endo’s arm.

    Also: Tochinoshin — good lord, sir. Wonder what happens if one of the yokozuna attempts cheap henka foolishness on him while he’s at this level of intensity?

  6. This by Herouth on Goeido’s henka in March perfectly captures my feelings about Kakuryu: “Are you under 170cm, [Yokozuna]? Perhaps you weigh less than 100kg? Are you injured? Coming back from a long, rust inducing kyujo? Facing a man ranked 10 levels above you? Bah. Chicken.” I hope the YDC redirects his way the opprobrium it usually reserves for Hakuho.

    And the Ryuden-Hokutofuji match is a real black eye for sumo. Ryuden needs to be censured for the repeated mattas, and Hokutofuji was clearly knocked out; there was no way it was medically safe for him to continue.

  7. Did Endo come back to try for the big phat stack of envelopes or what?! Almost got them too!

    • Not sure Hakuho was aware he was getting Full-Throttle Endo this time, but get him he did, and he should be glad. I can’t imagine anyone would want to hear a crowd make the sound that crowd made twice in two matches.

      Will they tell us if Hokutofuji is getting treatment? Because no damn way is that child not concussed. Even Ryuden appeared to recognize that shouldn’t have continued. The video is just horrific to watch, and letting him decide to head back to the dressing room after…FFS, sumo, stop it.

      • Once I am done with my work habit for the day, I will start to sift the Japanese press as best I can to figure out what the hell is going on with Hokutofuji. If I find something useful it will be on twitter first, here second.

        • Thank you for doing that. I have been worried about him all day and couldn’t find anything out.

          • Still no details that I can find in the press. I will continue to hurt my sub-standard brain-meat with kanji for the next few hours. That kind of injury can spawn all kinds of nastiness, like brain hemorrhages, strokes – something you don’t wish on anyone over a sporting contest.

  8. So far the only think I have found in the Japanese press is from the Asahi Shimbun

    https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASL5Q6F91L5QUTQP03F.html

    It states (not the greatest reading kanji) is that the Gyoji actually did ask Hokutofuji if he was ok to continue, and he answered in the affirmative. But lets get real, he was concussed, and was in no conditions to answer any questions. They should have called off that match.

    I will keep looking.

    • I think that with the confines of stoic decorum imposed on rikishi (“I just hope I can do my brand of sumo…”) it is unlikely that Hokutofuji could answer in any other way but affirmative.

    • The Sumo Association needs some education about head injuries IMMEDIATELY. You are absolutely right. There should have been no question, it should have been over. He probably needs to pull out of this basho.

  9. Hard to believe Kakuryu henka’d Kotoshugiku. Nearly as hard to believe as that Kotoshogiku can do a cartwheel! But seriously, is Kakuryu so weak that Kotoshogiku poses a serious threat to him?

    At least Hakuho gave us a real fight with Koto and with Endo.

    About Hokutofuji … his oyokata deserves a Hakuho-force slap in the face for not marching him directly to the clinic. Many officials deserve slaps in the face as well for ignoring the guy. Even the English commentator was expressing disappointment.

    • We may get reports in the next few hours about what if anything was done for Hokutofuji. He may have been checked out.

      • He needs to stay out and recuperate. After a concussion you have to rest, no sports, no major concentration, etc. The brain needs to heal. He was knocked out, groggy, and probably vomiting. If that’s not a concussion I don’t know what is. I do not want to see him tomorrow. Also, Endo did well today but his arm looked bruised and swollen to me. I think I’m getting cynical about this, but I don’t think I will buy a report that says he is ready for a match tomorrow.

  10. About Tochinoshin’s next match:
    Kotoshogiku is having a resurgence as can be seen in his earlier bouts. I think this has been recognised as neither Hakuho nor Kakuryu gave him a straight up fight and I suspect its too early to call a win for Tochinoshin.

  11. In the slow motion replay of Hakuho, does it look like he had a handful of Endo’s hair? It’s hard for me to tell, wondering what others think.

  12. I hate to say it, but I expect cheap moves out of Hakuho (and apparently, so did the YDC, to enough of a degree to tell him to knock it off,) but KAKURYU! I expected better out of you! D: I hope the YDC at bare minimum gives the Yokozuna a warning =-\ The fact that Kotoshogiku managed to land on his feet was pretty impressive, though.

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