Natsu Day 11 Highlights


Day 11 presented no surprises, but had some solid sumo for fans to enjoy. Thankfully Hokutofuji is kyujo, and hopefully any injury to his skull or brain will be addressed before he bouts the dohyo again. The Ozeki bid by Tochinoshin is about to enter its final stage. He has 11 wins now, which is numerically sufficient for promotion. But the elevation to sumo’s second highest rank is not simply a numbers game. It revolves around the NSK and to a lesser extent the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee deciding that the performance period in question meets a threshold for promotion.

Tochinoshin’s 11 wins have all be impressive, overpowering wins. He is clearly one of the most genki or possibly THE most genki man in sumo right now. But his 11 wins can be minimized by members of the NSK or YDC citing that they come in a tournament with no Ozeki, and should he fail to defeat either Yokozuna, the raw numbers may be deemed insufficient. Please keep in mind, I don’t get to make this decision, I am not a member of the NSK or the YDC. I am just some guy in Texas who loves sumo.

For myself I think he will beat at least one Yokozuna, and he may end up with the Yusho, which would eliminate all reservation by the NSK and YDC, in my opinion. At the larger scale, sumo needs a more stable Yokozuna / Ozeki corps, and this is how that rebuilding starts. If Tochinoshin can maintain this level of performance, he will make a fine Ozeki, and sumo will be the better for it.

Highlight Matches

Kyokutaisei defeats Gagamaru – Planet Gagamaru was his traditional, lethargic self. He put forth some effort, but he lived up to his current 2-9 tournament score. This match is notable not just because of the gravity waves that disrupted LIGO observations of colliding black holes as the shitatenage took him to the clay, but Shin-Maegashira Kyokutaisei scored his kachi-koshi, and will be in Makuuchi for Nagoya.

Arawashi defeats Takekaze – Both rikishi put a bunch of effort into this. Both are at the make-koshi line now, and for Takekaze, there is a real desire to not be considered for Juryo in July. The saving grace is that there is not a huge cadre of Juryo men who are beating down the door to Makuuchi.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Myogiryu gets his kachi-koshi, and it really looks like Chiyonokuni may have decided to coast to the finish this time. I can understand why. He is at a good rank, and he may not be genki enough for a full cruise through the joi. He’s done that a few times and he ends up getting pounded. His sumo is improving, but I am going to guess he wants to hit around Maegashira 6 or so for Nagoya. This will let him figure out if he has advanced enough to possibly accomplish anything in joi.

Nishikigi fusensho over Hokutofuji – With humble gratitude to the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, Hokutofuji is kyujo for now, hopefully getting that head scanned and any sort of medical treatment needed. As a result, the man who never gives up, Niskikigi, gets his kachi-koshi at the very bottom of the banzuke, and will be Makuuchi for Nagoya. He really has put forth a lot of effort to hold on by his fingertips, and it’s great to see it pay off.

Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – As expected, this was a fascinating match to watch. From the tachiai, Takarafuji is working to get control of Takakeisho, with Takakeisho constantly moving about and landing blows. If you have a chance to watch this on replay or YouTube, watch their feet! For whatever reason, I think a rikishi’s feet say more about what they are doing than their arms or heads. Takarafuji keeps being forced to give up his defensive footing and retreat. As soon as he is moving backwards, Takakeisho matches the timing of his steps to land thrusts when his feet are not planted. This just accelerates Takarafuji’s movement. When Takakeisho makes a mistake and pushes too high (as opposed to center mass of the chest), Takarafuji deftly moves inside and rushes forward. Takakeisho is not even slightly phased by this, and sets up a finishing move at the tawara. A ballerina pirouette later and Takakeisho’s won! Great great sumo from these two!

Ikioi defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru launches into the tachiai with gusto, and it puts Ikioi into a defensive mode straight away. Ikioi circles away and breaks contact, then attacks. Again, watch Daishomaru’s feet at the moment Ikioi starts to press his offense. His feet are not set, his balance is not over his hips. Ikioi exploits this and rushes forward for the win. Ikioi with a well deserved kachi-koshi.

Yutakayama defeats Ryuden – Both are make-koshi, and possibly deeply so by the end of Natsu. But you would never know it looking at these two members of the Freshman team go at it with vigor. If you like yoritaoshi wins, do watch this one.

Shohozan defeats Abi – As pointed out in last night’s preview, Abi tends to get his arms up and stop his opponents tachiai. Today Shohozan countered that with pure speed. Robbed of his disruptive opening move, Abi did not have time to reset, and Shohozan attacked like a hangry bison in a fresh alfalfa field.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Looks like Endo’s return may not have been a good tactical move. Tamawashi uses his face for a slapping target. As we learn in the Marines, you can have a great battle plan, but as soon as someone is punching you in the head, it’s tough to keep on plan. Endo make-koshi now.

Ichinojo defeats Chiyotairyu – Not one, but TWO loud belly blasts from these two men of girth. After the second one, it seems that Chiyotairyu’s sideburns were bereft of their power inducing kami, and Ichinojo more or less walked him out.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoshogiku – I think the scheduling team moved Tochinoshin’s match with Hakuho up to day 12, because they wanted a chance to have a 3 way yusho battle set up for the final weekend of the basho. Points to Kotoshogiku for giving him a good fight, but Kotoshogiku got off balance, and Tochinoshin did not let that opportunity escape. I truly hope Kotoshogiku can get his kachi-koshi.

Hakuho defeats Shodai – About as minimal as a match could get, Shodai offered no resistance to speak of.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – There we go! That’s Kakuryu sumo to be certain. Mitakeumi gave him an excellent match, and it was touch and go for most of it. But as has been typical for Kakuryu, he likes to win in the last 3″ of the dohyo. Why rikishi don’t ease up as they get him close to the tawara is beyond me, as Kakuryu loves to use the tawara.

12 thoughts on “Natsu Day 11 Highlights

  1. I appreciate how cautious you’re being about declaring that The Heart of Japanese Horse-Chestnut will be Ozeki, but it was clear from the start of the basho that he was on an Ozeki run, and that being the case, he has more than passed the test. He’s now up to 35 wins in 3 tournaments, including one yusho, and one could argue that his sumo has been better than anyone else’s sumo the past three tournaments. There have been no henkas and few lucky wins at the tawara. He has just accepted all comers and then overwhelmed them.

    Even if Hakuho beats with the Horse-Chestnut with the mightiest of harite, scrambling Tochi’s brain enough so that he wrestles like Aminishiki for the rest of the basho, the shimpan crew will still make him an ozeki at this point. He’s more than done the job. This is now about winning his second yusho, and not about earning a promotion.

    • From your keyboard to the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan’s pointy ears. Tochinoshin has been the very soul of genki since January (or even November really), and he seems to be liked and respected, but after even just a year or so of watching, I see that the NSK’s decisions aren’t necessarily data-based — and I’m not sure what the YDC brings to the table, but after the conniptions we’ve heard re the Mongolian contingent at the top of the bill, I suspect that nothing less than the yusho will get Mr Horse-Chestnut across the line. I hope that either I am wrong or Tochinoshin’s sumo will make the question moot!

  2. Just watched the highlights broadcast. The cameraperson who kept checking on Hakuho during the Tochinoshin bout is extremely shady and I celebrate it. The look The Boss shot Mr. Horse-Chestnut just before the tachiai deserves to be a GIF immediately.

    The Takakeisho-Takarafuji and Kakuryu-Mitakeumi bouts were everything the writeup promised, and thank you for that. I realize I’m on dangerous ground here, but Kakuryu looks far more pleased with his win than Hakuho did today. (Or maybe Kakuryu was just happy to have erased that mess from yesterday?) I’m fascinated, though, at Ichinojo’s rebound — seems like his head’s back in the right place at last. Ponies and ice cream aside, I wonder what went right?

    What a basho!

    • Re: Kakuryu, that and it was a bit hairy for a minute. He always seems to really enjoy it when it looks like he just about got away with one.

  3. Hakuho didn’t touch the ground for the tachiai for the second day in a row. A bit cheap, methinks. The yokozuna have been a bit un-yokozunalike the last couple of days.

    • That touch (or not touch) was very quick though. I had a hard time telling in real time. Does slow motion show the failure to touch clearly?

      Is it correct that nobody is going to go call a mono-ii about that touch though?

      • I went back and looked at the NHK replay of Day 10 Hakuho vs Endo. Slow motion shows the briefest of touches to the dirt. Both hands. Very quick, but a slight puff of dust.

      • I believe there is an extra condition, not just hands touching the ground. I think wrestlers can also go by “mutual agreement”.

        • Yeah, I guess if there’s “aun no kokyuu” and they are both ready to go, it shouldn’t be a problem. But it seemed to me pretty obvious that Hakuho started early in the match against Kotoshogiku. He didn’t touch down and Kotoshogiku didn’t even have the time to touch down before Hakuho had started his charge.

  4. Is this the place where I play spoilsport again and point out that the YDC has no say in promotions to ozeki? I suppose it’ll have to be.


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