Aki Reflections – Tadpoles In Stagnant Waters

tadpole Mitakeumi
Takakeisho moments after sitting on his big purple cushion ringside

Tachiai readers know that we have a cohort of sekitori that we refer to as “Tadpoles”. They are all fairly young, and feature a highly bulbous body shape, and a predisposition to primarily oshi-zumo. This group would include Mitakeumi, Takakeisho and Onosho, and the team recognize that they are a force for the future of sumo.

In the days leading up to sumo’s fall tournament, there was a great deal of interest focused on this group. Mitakeumi was on the cusp of meeting the criteria for Ozeki promotion, Takakeisho had returned to San’yaku after his first attempt at Komusubi ended in January’s disastrous 5-10 record, and Onosho had successfully returned to Makuuchi in July after sitting out Osaka for recovery to a damaged knee. With many of the top men of sumo looking questionable in the days before Aki, there was a good chance that we were going to witness tadpoles ascendant.

Instead, the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranged from “fairly genki” to “holy crap”, and fans enjoyed one of the better tournaments in the past two years. To underscore the idea that the Tadpoles represent a piece of the future, both Mitakeumi and Takakeisho managed not just a kachi-koshi, but a respectable 9-6 result. In broader context, Mitakeumi blew his Ozeki bid up in the second week, where he has been known to fade, it’s unknown when he will be able to reassemble enough wins to try again, but we are certain he will. For Takakeisho, his efforts will net him a move from Koumsubi West to East. It should be noted this is only the second time that Takakeisho has held a San’yaku rank, and after only one prior attempt, he was able to hold. The down side being, of course, as a Takanohana deshi, he will face the distractions and swirl around the closing of the Takanohana heya, and transfer to Chiganoura heya. Will it impact him? I would not be surprised.

That leaves us with Onosho, who at Maegashira 6 finished with 4-11. His offense was weak during Aki, and his mobility was poor. Clearly he is not quite healed from his knee surgery, and is struggling to compete effectively now. Under normal conditions, his sumo is at least equal to Takakeisho, but his fans must wonder if the damage to his knee is forever going to limit his ability to compete. Besides his returning to wearing his red mawashi, all of his fans hope that he can get his body healthy and return strong to Kyushu.

Summary – in spite of the sumo death-ray that melted so many, the Tadpoles exited Aki in fairly good condition. Should to top ranks falter for November or January, I am certain that we will see this cohort of rikishi step up and perform well above expectations.

16 thoughts on “Aki Reflections – Tadpoles In Stagnant Waters

  1. Question: how much is it going to screw up putting matches together if all of Takanohana beya is absorbed into one beya? Are they forever banned from facing each other because they were stablemates at one time? How does that work?

    • Not much of a problem as only a wrestler’s current stable counts. Taka’s stable was a small one, so there won’t be any seismic shifts in the match-making. If they all go to Chiganoura the only issue will be that Takanosho would not be matched against Takanoiwa or Takakeisho.

      It must have been much harder to work out the match-ups in the old days, when wretlers from the ame ichimon were not normally asked to fight each other.

  2. Don’t forget Daieisho, who has distinct tadpole tendencies. A respectable 8-7 at M10 would normally give him a cosy spot around M8. The next banzuke, however, will be anything but normal.

  3. Remember Takakeisho was the last wrestler to face Harumafuji, when the Takanoiwa scandal broke loose. If he kept his cool then – and he did, including being classy enough to prevent Harumafuji from falling off the dohyo – I’m sure he will overcome this crisis, well, maybe not easily, but quite successfully.

    • I imagine, if it’s anything like other athletes who go through turbulent times, guys like Takakeisho and Takanoiwa will find solace in competing and doing what they love and have dedicated their life to.

  4. The anti-tadpole must be long-armed Abi, who also practices oshi-sumo. However, the very top of the sanyaku at the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks is populated by yotsu-sumo practitioners. The technique of the latest Ozeki Tochinoshin could be the very definition of oshi-zumo. My point is that I don’t see much of a future for the tadpoles and the anti-tadpole unless they learn oshi-sumo..

    • That’s my opinion as well. The problem is that at least Takakeisho and Onosho are physically limited in that respect exactly because of that tadpole shape. Mitakeumi – maybe because of his mixed roots – seems to have longer arms and at least be capable of grabbing a Mawashi – which is probably a good reason why he is the highest ranked tadpole.

    • Completely agree, but I have seen both Takakeisho and Onosho grab the mawashi. It’s all a matter of when they morph their sumo. I agree with Herouth, in that Takakeisho’s T-Rex like stub-arms and bulbous body shape will make it tough for him, but I am sure he’s going to give it a go.

    • Akebono was quite successfull with mainly oshi-sumo. It’s not a no go. Obviously diversity helps a lot. I also think that Mitakeumi has already undergone quite some transformation, even to the degree that I think in certain matches he would have been better off with his oshi-attacks, e.g. vs. Kisenosato last basho.
      Giku also had a successfull Ozeki career as a one trick pony.

  5. Off topic but, what kind of climb will Ura probably get as a result of going 6-1? How does climbing or dropping even work in the amateur ranks? (Aside form the obvious KK and MK up and down).

    • Based on past history, around Sandanme 30. Not sure exactly how they determine the sizes of the promotions and demotions in the lower divisions—someone could probably reverse-engineer it from previous cases.


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