For tournaments that happen in Tokyo, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council conducts a supervised practice session, referred to as the “Soken”. The YDC is a body of sumo enthusiasts who are outside the Japan Sumo Association, who advise the Association on matters concerning the sport, and the leading men of sumo. They frequently state opinions on all manner of rikishi, but it’s undefined how much actual sway they have over the Sumo Association.
The Aki Soken was conducted on Friday August 31st, and most of the rikishi who are part of the joi-jin were present, going through training routines, and a few practice bouts under the watchful eye of the council. One notable absences was Ozeki Takayasu, who did not even appear. This is typically a sign that a rikishi is in poor health, and we may now consider him doubtful for the Aki basho.
His stablemate, the perpetually injured Kisenosato, was present, and in fighting form. He faced fellow Yokozuna Kakuryu, and Ozekis Tochinoshin and Goeido, finishing with a 4-4 record. He dropped 2 bouts to Kakuryu, but his 4 matches against Goeido were of the most interest. After a rough start against Goeido, Yokozuna Hakuho encouraged Kisenosato to re-engage and re-challenge himself. Entering the ring, he proceeded to dominate Goeido in what can best be described as rough and vigorous sumo. His form still looked a bit off, but his fighting spirit was on full display.
More disappointing was Ozeki hopeful Mitakeumi, who turned in a dismal 1-13 result against a variety of opponents, including a pounding by Yokozuna Hakuho. Fans pulling for Mitakeumi to reach Ozeki should take note that he seldom shines in these events, and is generally considered much weaker in practice than he is on the dohyo. A video below for your review.