Aki Day 5 Highlights

Yoshikaze Fansa

Act One is a wrap! By now everyone should have the ring rust scraped away, and should be in tournament form. We can certainly tell who is hot, and who is not. There is a solid block of undefeated rikishi at the end of the first five days, and that includes the entire Yokozuna population. As a result, the upper Maegashira and the Komusubi are getting crushed. This is typical for a basho where the upper ranks are actually participating.

5 – 0 Rikishi: Kakuryu, Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji, Yoshikaze

Combined Komusubi – Maegashira 3 Records: 7 – 34 (Ouch!)

Mitakeumi is off to a 5-0 start, and today he beat an Ozeki, which counts as a “quality” win. On day 6 he will face Goeido, who is fighting well and got day 5 to rest thanks to his fusensho over the injured Yutakayama. Mitakeumi has started well enough to be seriously considered as bidding for an Ozeki promotion.

Highlight Matches

Yoshikaze defeats Chiyomaru – I can’t stop thinking about Yoshikaze’s disastrous 2-13 Nagoya, and how completely different things are for him at Aki. Chiyomaru gets a bit of offense in just after the tachiai, but Yoshikaze takes command and masterfully maneuvers the burly Chiyomaru to defeat. Given that he has finished act one 5-0, I am curious if the scheduling team are going to keep him fighting the bottom of the banzuke, or start seeing what he can do against the likes of Hokutofuji.

Kotoyuki defeats Takanosho – Kotoyuki reverted back to his (apparently better-fitting) light blue mawashi, and his sumo seems to have come back with it. His match today against Takanosho was more in control and focused than his first three. Kotoyuki got the inside position at the tachiai and set the tempo for the match.

Takanoiwa defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma took the fight to Takanoiwa’s face… again and again. But Takanoiwa kept driving forward and working to disrupt Chiyoshoma’s slaps. It worked, and Chiyoshoma found himself arse-first into the zabuton.

Ryuden defeats Nishikigi – A great endurance match. Nishikigi putting on a great demonstration of persistent ottsuke, pinning Ryuden to his chest while keeping Ryuden away from his mawashi. Ryuden kept working, and kept wearing Nishikigi down, eventually landing morozashi and driving forward. Some solid sumo from both.

Okinoumi defeats Aoiyama – Notable because Aoiyama remains winless, and once again seems to have collapsed during the fight, rather than succumbing to a specific kimarite. The judges did rule it a tsukiotoshi, but it looks more like Aoiyama’s right knee gave out.

Hokutofuji defeats Kotoshogiku – If you are looking for some first class battle-sumo, this is a place to start. Kotoshogiku was always going to try to go chest to chest with Hokutofuji, and launch the gaburi-yori hug-n-chug attack. Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” puts him in command before the first step, landing firmly on Kotoshogiku’s shoulder, and preventing his left hand from getting a grip. Hokutofuji then endures a few face blows to get inside, and completely lock out Kotoshogiku’s primary attack. Kotoshogiku fights back with skill and power, but Hokutofuji stays inside and thrusting against Kotoshogiku’s neck and shoulders. A shift to hazuoshi (armpit grip) at the edge and Kotoshogiku hands over the shiroboshi. Hokutofuji starts Aki with an impressive 5-0.

Onosho defeats Shohozan – Perhaps Onosho has shed his ring-rust. His thrusting attack displayed the speed and focus that was missing on prior days, and he overwhelmed his stronger opponent. He gets Shohozan’s shoulders turned, and slams the motor into drive. Much better from Onosho!

Tochiozan defeats Kagayaki – Notable in that Kagayaki was completely shut down by the more experienced Tochiozan. This match was lost / won at the tachiai, when Kagayaki went for a thrusting attack at Tochiozan’s neck and face, then shifted to try for the belt. Tochiozan went center-mass with his hands at Kagayaki’s chest, and controlled the man and the match from there.

Abi defeats Myogiryu – Like a pair of tabbies battling for a feather duster, these two delivered a train of windmill tsuppari, with Abi’s superior reach being the deciding advantage. Fun sumo, if a tad repetitive in terms of Abi-zumo.

Asanoyama defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni has been consistently a half step behind each match. Today he drove inside at the tachiai, with Asanoyama bringing him to his chest and setting up a see-saw battle for grip that ended with Chiyonokuni reaching over Asanoyama’s shoulder to attempt a pull down. With both men off balance, Asanoyama gambled on a hard drive forward and it paid off as Chiyonokuni became a dropping dead body before Asanoyama went spiraling into the dohyo. The monoii that followed affirmed that Asanoyama was the winner.

Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Notable because Ichinojo was not passive today. He rallied strongly with his heels against the tawara and drove forward to win the match. Tamawashi starts Aki with a surprising 0-5 record.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s signature move (like Kotoshogiku’s) is so effective, he tries to use it as his first choice every time. Mitakeumi knows this, and used it to distract Tochinoshin and secure the win. You can see Tochinoshin work for a left hand outside grip on Mitakeumi’s mawashi, but Mitakeumi pushed hard at the tachiai to get an inside position and lands his hands of Tochinoshin’s chest, thrusting him back strongly. Tochinoshin has lost about 3 feet of dohyo, but thrusts forward to try for the grip again. Again Mitakeumi is inside against his chest, but Tochinoshin gets his grip now and starts to lift. But he’s already too far back, and he’s too high. Mitakeumi has moro-zashi, and drives forward a few inches to push the Ozeki out. Masterful sumo from Mitakeumi today.

Takayasu defeats Ikioi – Takayasu landed a deep left hand inside grip at the tachiai, and was in command. Ikioi rallied and advanced strongly after a bit of leaning on each other, but a mis-step caused him to be on the wrong foot, and Takayasu helped him finish turning the wrong way around and gently shoved him out. Ikioi also has a 0-5 start.

Kakuryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Less brutal than expected, it seem Chiyotairyu thought this was a matta. Kakuryu quickly got his preferred grip, and it was an almost polite yorikiri after that.

Kisenosato defeats Shodai – Again, Kisenosato had to work much harder than a Yokozuna should to beat Shodai. But we saw some classic elements of Kisenosato sumo. Kisenosato locks up Shodai’s arms at the elbows and proceeds to constantly shift his weight and bounce around. This keeps Shodai from ever really establishing a firm footing to launch an attack. As the match progresses, Kisenosato keeps the bouncing on rhythm, and it forces Shodai higher, and off balance. The result is a fairly solid throw by the Yokozuna, and a great example of some of his great sumo. I fear for him in act 3, but for now, let’s enjoy a high-functioning Kisenosato.

Hakuho defeats Takakeisho – A bold and clear display of why Hakuho is a dai-Yokozuna, even if he is fading out. Hakuho loves to face up-and-coming rikishi with their own style of sumo. It’s kind of a dominance thing to say, “I am so good, I can beat you with your own techniques”. Today it got him to the edge of trouble when Takakeisho timed a side-step with digital perfection. Hakuho was falling forward towards the bales. But then the dai-Yokozuna DNA kicked in, and he re-asserted his balance and pivoted back to the attack before Takakeisho could finish him. In lunging at the Yokozuna, Takakeishio bet everything on that final move. But Hakuho was ready and a light touch on Takakeisho’s shoulder was all it took to send him rolling to the dohyo. The smile of Hakuho’s face after told the story.

20 thoughts on “Aki Day 5 Highlights

  1. I noticed Mitakeumi knock Tochinoshin back several feet at the tachiai. An incredible blast, causing Tochinoshin to stand upright. And he never recovered. Absolutely love Mitakeumi’s determination! Very focused. Hopefully this will light a fire under Tochinoshin! Wake up call, big guy!

  2. “Combined Komusubi – Maegashira 3 Records: 7 – 34 (Ouch!)”

    2-18 for the M1s and M2s, and Kaisei with both wins. Tough first act when you are an M1.

    Loved the Hakuho smile today, seemed to appreciate his good fortune.

      • A photo of that smile would make a good caption contest.

        When I see it, it reminds me of the Lefty Gomez saying: “I’d rather be lucky than good.”

        No doubt Hakuho is good, but the smile often comes out after he dodges a bullet.

    • And one of Kaisei’s wins was against Endo, so 1-18 if you discount wins against lower-ranked maegashira. Adding in the two Komusibi, who are 1-9, we get 2-27. Ouch indeed!

  3. I read the Nishikigi/Ryuden somewhat differently. Ryuden landed his signature morozashi right off the Tachiai. Now, if Nishikigi was much bigger and stronger than him, he could have tried what Tochinoshin later tried – a soto-yotsu (both arms out mawashi grip), but he isn’t. So he used the arm-bar defense – locking both arms so that Ryuden won’t be able to grab the mawashi. This wasn’t an ottsuke, I believe, because usually in ottsuke you grab the rival’s upper arm from below.

    Be that as it may, the problem was that there was nothing else he could do, and eventually his energy ran out, the bars melted, and Ryuden got his grip and won. Nevertheless, Nishikigi (“Miss Piggy”) looks good this tournament.

    The NHK announcer did not consider Kisenosato to be in control in that match. It was going Shodai’s way, and then Kisenosato came back with that throw. I keep hearing “Kisenosato, gyakuten!” (Kisenosato [wins], with a surprise comeback!) this basho. He seems to have taken a page from Hakuho’s style of using plan B, plan C and plan D when his basic plan doesn’t work. And it doesn’t, most of the time.

    It was interesting to see Takanoiwa taking time to help Chiyoshoma get up. Japanese wrestlers usually refuse help. But there seems to be a different etiquette when both sides are Mongolian, including a quick exchange of taps on the body.

    • I fully recognize and accept that at times my options differ from others in the sumo world.

      I have seen the term ottsuke used to a variety of physical arm blocking postures that prevent a grip.

      Your milage my vary.

  4. I watched the Asanoyama-Chiyonokuni bout several times and remain mystified as to why Asanoyama was declared the victor. It looked to me as if his hand/arm touched down outside the dohyo well before any part of Chiyonokuni did. What did I miss?

    • Chiyonokuni was a victim of the “dead body” rule. It’s not often used and when it is used it’s done very subjectively by the Shinpans. If a rikishi is considered a “dead body” they lose the match.

      • I am not sure that was it. The definition I have of “shinitai” in my sumo dictionary is:


        “A posture in which balance is judged to be lost and recovery is impossible. Although the wrestler is still inside the dohyo, and has not touched the ground with anything but the soles of his feet, the moment he enters that posture it is considered a loss. Conversely, if recovery is deemed possible and one’s posture is still not considered a loss, the expressions “ikitai” or “taii ga nokoru” are used.”

        This implies – and I’ve seen this claim around the ‘net – that “shinitai” is something that happens inside the dohyo, not outside it. In this case, the shimpan – and the NHK broadcast team – said that because Chiyonokuni was “already flying”, this was not a loss. That is, the important point was that he no longer had a foot on the dohyo or the tawara. If he had, he would have won, even if his “balance was lost and recovery was impossible”.

        It’s like that rule that if you pick up a rikishi and lead him out, stepping outside the dohyo with the rikishi in your arms does not cause you to lose.

        I think something is implied here about having a foot inside the dohyo. From the discussions I also gather that it’s important who attacked, because at some point both of their feet are in the air. But I really need to research this further – I haven’t seen these rules written anywhere as yet.

      • Yeah, Wulftrax, I remember seeing Hakuho lose a bout like that a couple years ago and even he looked puzzled by the decision. So, if even he is flummoxed by that ruling, I don’t feel so bad.

  5. Kisenosato is having to work hard for his wins, but I don’t think many of us would have seen him getting 5 wins at this stage.

    He looks in good shape to get his 10. I’d expect him to lose against Hakuho, Kakuryu and Mitakeumi. He benefits greatly from not having to fight Takayasu (who would probably beat him). I’d expect his bouts against Goeido and Tochinoshin to be close with the rest winnable. So you can see a clear route to the magic 10 which would be a hell of an achievement given most were putting this down as his swan song.

  6. I’m going to guess that the scheduling team is going to let Yoshikaze try to keep running up the score against those near his own rank during Act Two, and only pull him up the torikumi in Act Three if he continues to pile up the wins.

  7. So, wait – we’re going to let Andy off the hook with that Tamawashi yusho prediction?!? ;)

    (i know mine isn’t looking TOO much better!!!)

    Re: Kisenosato, he’s wobbly, but I wouldn’t rule out him taking one from the group of Goeido/Hakuho/Kakuryu/Tochinoshin/Mitakeumi

  8. One more note on Act One. Despite the carnage in the upper maegashira ranks, a few of them have already done enough to avoid any danger of demotion to Juryo. These are: M1 Kaisei, M3 Shodai, M4 Abi, M5 Myogiryu, M5 Asanoyama, and M9 Hokutofuji. Sadly, winless M2 Yutakayama runs a slight risk of demotion if he can’t come back from kyujo and pick up a victory.


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