Aki Day 11 Recap – Mayhem At The Top

Here we are, in the last leg of this wonderful basho. The yusho race is getting hot. Tochinoshin’s kadoban is not clear yet. Some rikishi are teetering on the edge of make-koshi. Let’s dive in!

What morozashi?

Kotoyuki determined not to roll today. He and Ryuden clash heads at the tachiai, and Kotoyuki continues with some strong tsuppari. It could be that Ryuden is a little dizzy from that clash, but I have a feeling he has his foot slightly off the accelerator now that he is kachi-koshi.

In the match of the dew-gatherers, Kakuryu’s tsuyuharai, Nishikigi, faces Hakuho’s Ishiura, who has seven losses and can’t afford another one. Ishiura has the faster tachiai and slips in his arms. It takes him about a second to secure a grip – but Nishikigi already has him at the edge, and makes sure he is no longer a dew-gatherer as of next basho (only Makuuchi wrestler participate in a Yokozuna dohyo-iri).

Takanosho, the newcomer, faces Okinoumi, with the NHK broadcast team (Japanese) making much of the fact that Okinoumi has sanyaku experience. Takanosho cares about none of that – goes low and upwards at the tachiai, applies “hazu” to Okinoumi’s armpits, and quickly drives him out. Takanosho has a good chance of achieving kachi-koshi in the next few days.

The next bout features the man who would have been the natural replacement for Ishiura in Hakuho’s dohyo-iri. Alas, Kyokutaisei has gone kyujo again. Damage to the meniscus in the right knee. Chiyomaru gets the fusensho, and Kyokutaisei will join Ishiura in Juryo next basho.

Chiyoshoma starts his bout with Sadanoumi with a kachiage, but has no follow-up, and Sadanoumi uses his right elbow to push the Mongolian to the edge rather quickly. Then he slides his arms around Chiyoshoma and drives him out… or so he thinks. Chiyoshoma does some of his acrobatics, and turns the tables with a throw. Pay attention to how Chiyoshoma works to keep his tiptoe planted on the dohyo until the very moment Sadanoumi touches ground. Thus, no monoii, and it’s Chiyoshoma’s win.

Daieisho overwhelmes Yoshikaze with some windmill tsuppari. A few thrusts, then a hazu to direct Yoshikaze around towards the nearest bales, then some more thrusts. Yoshikaze tries to land a grip, but can’t get through the barrage, and ends up landing on Futagoyama oyakata.

Takanoiwa and Kotoshogiku are kenka-yotsu – meaning that they prefer opposite grips. This normally means that whoever manages to land his favorite grip has the advantage. In this bout, it’s Kotoshogiku who gets his hidari-yotsu. But Takanoiwa is unfazed, secures a strong grip on both sides, and pulls Kotoshogiku up, occasionally even lifting him off the ground a bit. This completely neutralizes Kotoshogiku’s ability to chug, because a gaburi-yori is less about the pelvis, and all about the traction your feet have transferring power into aforesaid pelvis. Not touching the ground, he can’t do that, and when he gets a start, Takanoiwa finishes him with a shitatenage. Takanoiwa well deserves the spot in the yusho arasoi where he finds himself at the moment.

Hokutofuji is getting tired of seeing his kachi-koshi slipping away time and time again. This time he sticks to his guns. And although Shohozan throws his own guns and the kitchen sink at him, he just patiently continues with that tsuppari, his right hand forming large circles, each pushing Shohozan further. Oshi-dashi and kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama and Onosho start their match with the expected exchange of thrusts. Aoiyama probably realizes that Onosho plans to pull at some point and let him drop, so he envelopes him in his big arms. Onosho, with his inferior reach, can’t do much against that, and the bout ends with a yori-kiri and a make-koshi for Onosho, who will have to spend some time in the nether regions of Makuuchi before regaining his Prince Tadpole status.

Asanoyama falls for Daishomaru‘s henka, hook, line and sinker. His hand touches the ground before the gyoji even completes his “hakki-yoi”. For some reason, Daishomaru looks disappointed.

Takarafuji can’t recreate his magic from yesterday. He tries to circle around the dohyo until he gets his grip, but Myogiryu makes sure he leaves orbit. Oshidashi. Takarafuji 5-6, Myagiryu nearing his kachi-koshi.

Tochiozan slams into Chiyonokuni. Kuni doesn’t really have much power in him this basho, and soon finds himself outside – and make-koshi.

Endo has a good tachiai vs. Kagayaki, but Kagayaki has the better reach and, really, Endo doesn’t have much power in him. At the edge he tries to sidestep and start his own attack. Kagayaki rallies, and Endo runs out of gas. It seems to me that whatever mystery disease was plaguing Yoshikaze in the previous basho has taken Endo in this one. He simply can’t produce any power. But while everybody was very gentle with Yoshikaze, nobody is giving Endo any breaks. Must be all those kensho envelopes.

Abi and Chiyotairyu start a tsuki-oshi match, which suddenly comes to a halt as Abi holds Chiyotairyu at arms length. Abi, however, shows the same lack of patience he has shown yesterday, miscalculates his footing, and tries to restart the attack, promptly falling on his face. Chiyotairyu doesn’t say no to free gifts.

Takakeisho slams into Ikioi, knocking the air out of him, then sidesteps, and lets the taller man find his way to the opposite side. By the time Ikioi turns back, the tadpole is there to give him that final farewell. Given the joi carnage this basho, Takakeisho is doing rather well with a 5-6. Ikiyoyo is 1-10.

Yutakayama still has nothing to offer having returned from kyujo. He lands a classic tsuppari on Tamawashi‘s chest. Tamawashi, unimpressed, gives him one big shove for his trouble, which seems to land him on Kaisei. See, Tamawashi is very considerate about Yutakayama’s health (less so about Kaisei’s).

I don’t know what posessed Mitakeumi to try that little henka, but Kaisei sees through it. He gets all over Mitakeumi and hands him what must be his most humiliating loss so far. Mitakeumi is 6-5, and kisses his Ozeki run goodbye. Although some media people still hope that he can do something if he wins out (giving him 10-5, thus 32 wins over three basho), Shibatayama oyakata says “not with this sumo”, rather emphatically.

Goeido continues his generally good performance this basho. Slams into Shodai, and starts pushing him. Shodai can only pride himself on surviving more than the one second it usually gets to reach one side, as he causes Goeido’s circle to be larger than usual. That’s all.

And then Kakuryu meets Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin.

Really, Kakuryu has been absolutely wonderful this basho. He went through those wins day after day. Straight forward and with power. But Tochinoshin is both desperate and, apparently, on the mend.

Kakuryu starts with his usual tachiai this basho, which looks like he is dropping head first into his rival’s chest. And he gets not just a grip – he gets a tight morozashi. Now, in that situation, most rikishi start saying their prayers and wondering which shimpan they are about to hit. But not Tochinoshin. His weapon against morozashi is a soto-yotsu grip, which means both arms outside. With the height difference between him and the yokozuna, he gets a very good one. And then it starts to look like a crane game in one of the ubiquitous Japanese arcades. Lift once… drop… lift again… and you got your prize toy. The kadoban is not clear yet – one more win needed – but the Incredible Hulk (red version) is back, and tomorrow’s bout between him and Hakuho is going to be a doozy.

Moving on to the next Yokozuna match, Kisenosato, and his much celebrated kachi-koshi, faces up the near make-koshi Ichinojo. Now, although he lost to Hakuho yesterday (and got that annoying extra push), Ichinojo already looked better in that match than he did most of this basho. So my guess is that his back stopped hurting. Ichinojo has a good-boy tachiai – both fists on the ground waiting for his rival’s initiative – so there is nothing the gyoji can do to help the ailing yokozuna this time. Ichinojo straightens, and hands Kisenosato three servings of kaiju nodowa. The Yokozuna doesn’t get to lift a finger, he is blown away that fast. And he is very very unhappy about that. He has to sit down for the last bout as make-nokori, and his face is more clouded than the Tokyo sky.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho faces Takayasu, who is just one behind at this point. Win, and given Kakuryu’s loss, Takayasu would be in the leader group for the yusho. Lose, and he drops behind the chasers.

Takayasu stands up too early. Matta. Bad, bad mistake. This pisses off Hakuho, who reacts by stepping over the shikiri-sen and giving Takayasu a penetrating death stare.

Now, the Yokozuna is trying to get Takayasu to lay both fists on the ground like a good boy. Takayasu lays just one fist down, as does the Yokozuna. Hakuho doesn’t like the fact that Takayasu is not committing himself, and straightens up. It’s a second matta.

Now, the third time that Takayasu tries a tachiai without committing himself, Hakuho  throws hinkaku to the wind. He doesn’t care what they say – he shoots at Takayasu who still doesn’t have his fists on the ground, hands him a slap from the right side, and a kachiage aimed at the nose from the other. Let tongues wag. That… wasn’t really sumo. And yes, there was another dame-oshi there.


Mere mortal, don’t try playing mind games with a kitsune. The Dai-yokozuna is now the sole leader of the yusho arasoi – although Tochinoshin may change things come tomorrow.

Yusho arasoi Day 11



39 thoughts on “Aki Day 11 Recap – Mayhem At The Top

  1. Couple of quick questions for long time Sumo fans: Could anyone else have gotten away with the tactics of Hakuho against Takayasu (obvious Matta and Sucker Punch)? I just about popped out of my chair at home when Tochinoshin hoisted Kak two feet in the air and powered him out–does anyone else in Sumo has this kind of power?

    • I really don’t understand why Hakuho does that. He is fighting great this basho for the first time in a long while and then he does those things not worthy of a Yokozuna two days in a row.
      It’s not that he has to play foul to win. He once was my favorite, but I really dislike that he can’t behave like a true champion.

      • Takayasu deliberately tried to psych Hakuho in the initial matta, which resulted in a furious stare. He then tried delaying the tachi-ai by not touching down. If you try to pull that crap on the boss then it’s disrespect and gloves off time. To slightly misquote Marsellus Wallace, Takayasu “used up all his privileges” and therefore got exactly what he had coming. And let’s not forget that Tak has repeatedly employed the shoulder charge to the head for over a year. Sorry, but no sympathy here.

        • Obviously we disagree on what happened. I think Takayasus tachiai was well within what rikishi regularly do, but obviously Hakuho is excting special obedience. Hakuho on the other hand in my opininion did a clear matta and not only that, but he did it on purpose combined with a kachiage. Very dirty sumo to me.
          Obviously I would wish for a long and very excitingbout, but I don’t mind if Hakuho finishes in 5s, as long as he does it in style.
          Hakuho used to be a perfect Yokozuna, always treating his opponents with respect, but somewhere in 2015 he lost his classiness. I thought he was slowly regaining that over the last year. All the more dissapointed I’m about his act now.
          Hakuho can’t deal with his age and the fact that he won’t win near 90 bouts a year anymore. It’s a pity. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore.

          • i lost alot of respect for H the 2nd time Yoshikaze defeated him and he carried on like he’d had his favourite toy taken away. Yoshikaze all class.

      • have to agree, it’s just that little extra niggle that is really not required. almost school yard bully tactics

    • I find it really off putting. I don’t know what got into him, he more and more often uses tricks like not putting hands down at start and gets away with it. Not first basho when it happened but now two days in a row questionable behavior. Puzzling!

      • Wow–what a monster! Tochi’s sumo (and Eastern European origin) definitely brings Baruto immediately to mind. Thanks for the link! I am going to have to look for some Terunofuji video as well. I love this kind of powerful sumo! I would not put Kaio quite in this power class, but he was also a powerhouse in his prime.

  2. I don’t think it should have been a matta for Hakuho-Takayasu. Look again in slow motion, and while the touch is not simultaneous, (hint: it almost never is) Takayasu does touch down almost immediately after Hakuho. Also Hakuho telegraphed the timing of the touch, so it wasn’t like Takayasu was blindsided or anything.

    The reason it looked bad is because Hakuho is so damn fast off the line and Takayasu is overly deliberate getting up. The sheer speed difference makes the bout look like a matta, even if the tachiai itself was fine.

    Takayasu should rethink his tai-atari. In order to do a big tai-atari, which he has been favoring for a while now, you need to really load up and explode upwards. Against opponents with speed at the tachiai, it just takes too damn long, and leaves you in a vulnerable position. By the time Takayasu was almost done loading up, he had eaten a harite and had been slammed into by Hakuho. It’s just not a great strategy.

    Takayasu’s real strength is his balance and power. He can outlast most rikishi in a battle of attrition. The tai-atari is more suited to all-in gamblers like Chiyotairyu. Takayasu should be more conservative in his tactics, staying low and making himself hard to move. If he waits for his opponent to overcommit, then he’ll win a lot of bouts, even against the top guys. The master at this tactic is Takarafuji, who has no real elite talent/skill except for his patience. Just by being steady and waiting for his opponent’s mistakes, Takarafuji picks up about 5 freebies a tournament. Takayasu is so much more talented than Takarafuji. He should employ the Takarafuji tactic, but weaponized with his own beastly strength. That’s his path to an eventual yusho.

    • My problem is less with the matta-or-not-matta thing. Even if it was a matta, Hakuho is justified in continuing his tachiai when the gyoji is not calling it – he doesn’t want a repeat of the Yoshikaze fiasco. The problem is that he is not really going for sumo. I mean, forget the harite – Takayasu himself does that all the time. But he was told off for that kachiage to the face, which is dangerous – and Takayasu checks his nose to see if it’s not bleeding. And then a dame-oshi. Again. This is more Chiyoshoma sumo than Yokozuna sumo. It sucks.

      • I didn’t think it was that bad of a kachiage, personally. It wasn’t an elbow, and given how low Takayasu was, it’s unclear where else Hakuho could have made contact. I realize some of us view Hakuho as a repeat offender and won’t give him the benefit of the doubt, which is a perfectly justifiable position to take, but I didn’t have much issue with Hakuho today. Takayasu being so off balance is what made it look worse. It’s not really Hakuho’s job (at least at this point in his career) to make sure the bouts are entertaining – I think it was up to Takayasu to make this a competitive bout, and in that he failed miserably.

        • This is an intense contact sport and I believe as long as a move is legal, one is free to do it. As bad as face slaps and forearm blasts look, they run a small risk of causing serious damage – as opposed to say, a throw off the dohyo which are seen and applauded all the time. The advantage of these moves is to distract, throw off timing or balance, that kind of thing. Furthermore, if one doesn’t like being smacked in the face, smack the guy back!

          • Westerners often forget that sumo is not just a contact sport. It’s a cultural sport. Yokozuna are expected to win in a dignified fashion. That’s the hinkaku thing. What works for Chiyoshoma is not supposed to be used by Hakuho.

      • Where do you see a dame-oshi? He taps Takayasu on the arm when he’s down, but that was nowhere near a shove. And I think Takayasu was just slow here. What’s Hakuho supposed to do, hold back and let him get up so we can have a nice bout to watch? Sure, harite+kachiage to the face was unneeded and dangerous, I give you that. And perhaps not befit of a yokozuna, at least as standard repertoire. But again, look at Takayasu. He could have met shoulder with shoulder, instead of getting it into his face, but again, his speed was lacking today for that. It sounds like I’m blaming Takayasu for this, because I am. Hakuho was unnecessarily rough, but Takayasu has only himself to blame. And who knows, maybe being on the receiving end of a shoulder blast teaches him a lesson to not rely on it too much and be a bit kinder on his shoulder and opponents.

        • FWIW, I don’t think this is about Takayasu being slow off the tachiai. To me, it appears that Takayasu was convinced a matta would be called and he was just trying to cover himself against any incidental contact. I think he was entirely unprepared to be blasted by Hakuho.

          • My thoughts exactly. Takayasu’s body language, at least with what shows on the highlight reel, seemed to indicate he thought it was another matta.

        • Why does he need to touch the man at all after he is down?

          Most people in this world are slower than Hakuho. That doesn’t mean they deserve to have their faces blown.

  3. I agree about Hakuho–he is better than this type of sumo. I just think he got pissed off at Tak and decided to put him in his place. Maybe sending a message to others as well—in the end we all get ripped off from what could have been a fantastic match.

    • See, I think Mike here gets at the real reason so many people are mad/disappointed. They were looking forward to a competitive, exciting match and instead they got a one-punch knockout. I definitely understand the disappointment from a fan perspective.

      But Takayasu is a damn Ozeki. It’s on him to not let himself be used as a tackling dummy.

  4. Ugly question time – We know the Ozeki run is shot for now. But what are people’s opinion on the chances that Mitakeumi can get his sumo back together enough to reach kachi-koshi?

    • The question is no uglier than whatever that attempt against Kaisei was. The last two times Mitakeumi was S1e rank, he lost 5 in a row days 8-12. This basho he has lost days 8-11, with Kisenosato tomorrow. I think Mitakeumi will be going for his Kachikoshi on day 15, just like Aki last year. Who else does he have left besides Kise and Takayasu>

    • I’m going to assume that Mitakeumi will be facing a much more motivated Kisenosato, so he’s definitely not going to be pushing the yokozuna around like Ichinojo did.

      Shodai gave himself no chance on Day 11 with another clueless tachiai.

      I fear Ikioi is going to be limping to his wedding on a sore left knee after getting blasted by Takakeisho, particularly since Ikioi no doubt will fight through it for the rest of this basho.

    • If he doesn’t improve his sumo very quickly he will struggle to retain his rank. He really needs nine wins to keep the ozeki push going. All the stuff about him not really being committed in training is coming home to roost like a flock of ugly ravens croaking “make-koshi, make-koshi”. We don’t actually have ravens in my part of the world, just rooks and magpies, but I imagine that a particularly malicious raven could manage that sound.

      Honestly though, compare Mitakeumi and Ichinojo in today’s matches and tell me which one looks like a potential ozeki. And remember that Ichinojo is the younger man.

      • I agree. Nine wins this time, AND pray that several of the Ozeki/Yokozuna don’t show up in November. If all six show up reasonably healthy at Fukuoka, it will be a tough road.

        • What he needs to do is find himself a sister. And then get her to marry Takayasu, while he himself marries either Hakuho’s or Kakuryu’s sister. I think Hakuho’s are rather old, though. Nieces might also work.

          This will make sure he has one Yokozuna and one Ozeki he doesn’t have to face ever again. Problem solved.

    • Well, Mitakeumi still has two maegashira to face. If these are Yutakayama and Endo, he’ll probably be kachi-koshi, as they are both currently in a state in which just being looked at funny causes them to fall off the dohyo. And he is very good at funny looks.

  5. I think if Kakuryu had anticipated how incredibly strong Tochinoshin’s skyhook attack would be he might have gone for a mai-mitsu grip instead of a morozashi and been in a better position to resist the outward torque that took him out of contact with the ground.

  6. Takayasu missed a BIG opportunity for himself today- I thought he might sneak this yusho the way he has quietly gone about his business up to now.

  7. Just an observation. Back in 2015 Tachi-ai’s report on Aki day 11 got ONE comment, and that was above average. “If you build it…”


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