Tochinoshin’s Final Exam Results



Up until day 12, the “grumpy” elements of the sumo world maintained that Tochinoshin might be denied an Ozeki promotion due to some concerns about the strength of his opponents in this tournament. Through no fault of his own, this tournament went “Nozeki” fairly early. But Ozeki hopeful Tochinoshin focused on his sumo, and winning his matches one day at a time.

Day 12 was an unexpected wrinkle in the anticipated order of things, when his match against Yokozuna Hakuho was brought forward by one day. This provided an opportunity should Hakuho win of having a 3 way tie for the yusho going into the final weekend. The odds seemed good, Hakuho held a 25-0 advantage over the Georgian, and while Hakuho was not quite his genki self, he seemed sufficiently potent to apply the brakes on the Tochinoshin yusho train.

But all of the chatter and expectations fall away when two men face each other on the dohyo. It comes down to strength, speed, training an no small amount of luck. The match was excellent, and I urge readers to watch it as soon as they can.

Tochinoshin’s win over Hakuho marks a fundamental shift in the sumo world. We all know that the long serving stalwarts are fading; its the natural order of things. But it’s a identifiable point in time where one rikishi who had been completely dominated by possibly the greatest Yokozuna ever to mount the dohyo was able to train, to work and to overcome his history and emerge victorious.

Nothing stands in the way of his promotion to Ozeki, and little stands in his way of his second yusho in three tournaments. Tochinoshin’s story is one of the great stories of sumo, and indeed one of the great stories of individual sports competition. The team at Tachiai wish him a long an prosperous reign as Ozeki, and we will continue to cheer him on.

39 thoughts on “Tochinoshin’s Final Exam Results

    • Huge respect to Hakuho for going for a belt battle. I thought he may go for more of the “だめ” stuff or get away from Tochi’s strength.

  1. Congratulations on a truly great performance. Also so happy to have been able to watch in real time. $25 well spent.

    • Watched it live too, on a tiny non-work monitor in my home office so as not to disturb the household, and ended up whooping so loud I woke up half the household anyway. Oops. Rewatched it on a better monitor to clarify what I’d just seen, and…wow. Incredible match.

      • Sumo runs from 2 – 4 AM here in Texas. Similar reaction – real effort to stifle myself

        • Same up here in Dallas – set the alarm for 3:00 AM to watch the last half of Makuuchi. So happy that DirecTV has TV Japan now. iP streaming is better than nothing, but the signal I get is fantastic, with great dynamic range and good detail.

  2. Phenomenal sumo from an amazing rikishi! Hooray for (Near-) Future Ozeki Tochinoshin!!! Now go win that yusho!

  3. I am so thrilled and Tochinosin deserves this- he worked hard to get where he is, and had total commitment. He should also be the poster rikishi for how to deal with an injury- treat it seriously and heal, and have the determination to work your way back up. Also props to Hakuho for playing it straight and fair, nothing shady, just good sumo. Well done, both of them!

    • Whoever was in charge of Tochinoshin’s recuperation should be very, very proud of those results — and should be consulted immediately re Endo and Ura.

      Same with whoever’s coached him on his mental game. I was looking at footage from just a couple of years ago and that Tochinoshin, though excellent, would be out-strategized and out-psyched by this one. By the time those two lined up this morning I honestly think Tochinoshin was in Hakuho’s head in a way that somehow made 25-0 not matter; that false start didn’t look like an intimidation tactic so much as nerves.

      What. A. Match.

  4. It’s interesting to go back and watch their match in July 2017, day 2. Hakuho tried exactly the same strategy — pure muscle on the mawashi. Tochinoshin beat Hakuho this time by a thinner margin than the one Hakuho beat Tochinoshin by back then.

    I wonder what accounts for the improvement in Tochinoshin’s sumo since the start of the year. It seems to me that his reaction time and mobility have improved, resulting in a more versatile rikishi better able to react, defend, and improve when his opponents start to mount successful attacks. Is it simply that his leg is finally sound?

  5. “The team at Tachiai wish him a long an prosperous reign as Ozeki”
    Why not a short and prosperous one?
    If he continues like this he could make the ultimate steps towards Yokozuna. 🙂

    • Could also be interpreted as:

      Dear Tochinoshin.

      We know you are about to be promoted. We know you have a bum knee that we really hope you protect. Please last longer than Kisenosato.

      Love, Tachiai.

  6. This is great motivation for the Dai Yokozuna. I can see Hakuho training to beat Tochinoshin for the next two months.

    • Dai-Yokozuna is going to have an interesting couple of months between here and Nagoya. He’s still Hakuho, but this is Hakuho facing a new chapter in multiple parts of his life. Lot to think about.

        • I agree with you, he hasn´t got the strenght of his heyday. He isn´t a machine after all, we all know the amount and quality of fight the man has been through.
          But in this basho I also saw him kind of absent minded in many bouts, almost as if putting only the bare necessary for the kachi. I believe that today´s defeat can give him some focus back. Hakuho can win yushos by sheer fierceness alone, even in his dotage.

          • I have only seen it in his Abi bout. I don’t think he was unfocused in any of the others. Merely trying to cope with the fact that he doesn’t have his original leg power anymore.

  7. It was an amazing match. I loved the power that both Hakuho and Tochinoshin exhibited throughout it. While personally I thought that Tochinoshin could have made it to Ozeki without this win over Hakuho, there can be no denying now that Tochinoshin will be promoted to Ozeki.

  8. Felicito mucho a Tochinoshin,creo que tiene muchísima fuerza,Hakuho tiene estrategia,yo creo que también Kakuryu gana por estrategia ya que si tuvieran que usa la fuerza no serian Yokozunas,yo creo que el Sumo se basa e fuerza o estrategia,y en fuerza Tochinoshin es el más fuerte de todos.los felicito a todos los contricantes ya que en Sumo es uno de los deportes extremos más facinante con más audiencia en el mundo,la lucha es fuerza,astucia y estrategias.siempre gana el mejor!!!!

  9. Amazing bout. Completely dominant sumo for four tournaments now. Great story of his comeback after the knee injury, very wise that he rested it for a few tournaments and has managed to come back so strongly now.

  10. I normally avoid this blog like the Plague, Because Spoilers, until I can watch the matches on NHK World, but I was literally losing my mind about this one so I had to look ^^;;; TOTALLY EXCITED!!! 😀 😀 😀

  11. At the rate Tochinoshin is going, he won’t be an Ozeki for long. If he wins Natsu, gets promoted to Ozeki and then wins Nagoya in July, he could be a Yokozuna by Aki in September.

    • Normally they look for a pair of wins as an Ozeki. But I love your enthusiasm. After Kakuryu, the may be a bit more patient to give him the rope unless they need to mint a Yokozuna ina hurry.

      • Three wins in a row with a zensho yusho if he doesn’t lose? I don’t see how they could refuse him, honestly.

          • If he wins a zensho yusho this time and a zensho yusho next time… nah, still probably not enough. But it has never happened in the six-annual-tournament era that a sekiwake has won a tournament, been promoted, and won the next tournament as well, so who knows?

            (The only sekiwake to ever win a tournament, be promoted to ozeki, and win that tournament as well was Futabayama; his wins were zensho — part of his record-setting winning streak — but he was not promoted to yokozuna until after his third yusho.)

            • And in 1949-50, Chiyonoyama won his first two basho as Ozeki, and still wasn’t promoted until he won his third a year later.

  12. Omedetou gozaimasu Tochinoshin!!! 😀 Watched the live feed at 2am on the West Coast, and it felt like we were watching sumo history being made.

    I have one question, and be gentle with me, as I am somewhat of a Sumo noobie. When Tochinoshin came out into the hallway to warm up, he walked over to a bucket at the end of the hall, and he started visibly gagging like he was throwing up into it. Everyone around paid no attention… like it was a normal occurrence. Later, Hakuho did much the same.

    Is it normal for rikishi to vomit there? Is it some kind of ritual to rid the body of negative energy, or is it just nerves getting to certain guys?

    • I was wondering the same thing – I had not seen this done before. Maybe someone has some inside knowledge that has thus far escaped me.


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