Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 12

Terutsuyoshi’s has been called “salty” in the past, but…

Today I have few bouts for you from the black cotton mawashi divisions for you, as the interesting yusho-related bouts start tomorrow. Er… in about an hour or so. We’ll get to that shortly.

Let’s start with a Jonidan bout. I picked this one up for the big name. Well, not that big, but familiar: Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito and the current official performer of the Yumitori-shiki. At this level, I wasn’t quite ready for the excellent sumo.

The rival is Chura, from Miyagino beya, which means he and Kasugaryu probably know each other quite well. But although Kasugaryu is Hakuho’s tsukebito, he is from Nakagawa beya rather than Miyagino, and so they are eligible for a match. (The video includes two additional matches – Tamanoryu/Okunisato, Dewanosora/Ezuka).

Wasn’t that lovely? Both sides have good control of their feet and balance, and so recover several times before the deciding move. I guess Kasugaryu’s age is one of the deciding factors. If Kasugaryu was Chura’s age, we might have ended up with a…

Niban-go torinaoshi

Here is a little gem for you. Sumo is not a sport of stamina. When the bout is long, the wrestlers lose much of their power. This, in turn, may prolong it further as they go into a leaning contest which is hard for either to break.

Therefore, there is a limit to the length of the bout. In the top two divisions, after four minutes of wrestling with the bout in a stalemate, a procedure called “Mizu-iri” (water break) takes place. This involves the gyoji (at a signal from the shimpan) tapping the wrestlers’ backs (much like when he needs to retie a mawashi). He then memorizes the positions of their feet and grips, and then they get a short break, after which they assume the same position, based on the gyoji’s memory and help from the video room if needed.

That’s a complex procedure, and in Makushita and below they have a simpler one. As the time limit is reached, again, the timekeeping shimpan signals to the head shimpan, who in turn raises a hand to attract the gyoji’s attention. But in this case, the bout is simply stopped, and a torinaoshi is called. The torinaoshi, unlike one that comes after a monoii resolution, doesn’t take place immediately, but rather, after the next two bouts. This allows the participants to rest a while.

Here is what it looks like, in today’s Jonidan bout between Kototaiko and Mori:

The video title says it’s a mizu-iri, but it isn’t one. The gyoji, it appears, is inexperienced, and the shimpan have to remind him what to do.

By the way, I should mention that although there are four sides to the dohyo, there are five shimpan sitting around it. The one sitting closest to the red tassel is the time-keeping shimpan (left hand ref in the video above).

For comparison, I’m adding a video of a mizu-iri, in the bout between Terunofuji and Ichinojo, Haru 2015. The video is timed just before the break.


Here is a Makushita bout between Ryuko and Ichiyamamoto. Ichiyamamoto has reached as far as Makushita 3 in the past year, but has struggled to survive in the Heaven/Hell interface area with his light frame. Ryuko is also a young up-and-comer, but also suffered a slump as he hit mid-Makushita – from which he seems to have recovered. They are both 4-1 coming into this bout.

Very nice ashitori there. Ryuko is the winner, and will continue his climb up the banzuke and into the purgatory area.

State of the Yusho races Makushita and below

In Jonokuchi, the only lossless rikishi, with 6-0, is Hatooka. Today he is facing Kojikara, who is 5-1. Besides Kojikara, four more wrestlers are 5-1. So if Hatooka wins, it’s his yusho, and if he loses, there will be an interesting playoff situation, where it’s still unclear how many will participate – between 3 and 5. This is because two of the wrestlers who are 5-1 (Yuma and Kokuryunami) have already faced each other, so they are scheduled for their last bout against wrestlers who are not in the yusho race, so both, either or neither may win. In short – ask me tomorrow!

The situation in Jonidan and Sandanme is slightly less confusing. Both of these divisions have three remaining 6-0 wrestlers. So the lowest ranked of the Sandanme 6-0 men, Fukunofuji, is scheduled against the highest ranked of the Jonidan 6-0 men, Mitsuuchi. Also scheduled tomorrow are Ura vs. Hikarifuji (the remaining Sandanme 6-0 men), and Kenho vs. Kotourasaki.

Thus, if Mitsuuchi wins, there will be a playoff in Jonidan on Senshuraku, whereas Sandanme will be decided today. If Fukunofuji wins, there will be a playoff in Sandame on Senshuraku, and Jonidan will be decided today. So anybody hoping to see Ura on Senshuraku should cheer for Fukunofuji.

The simplest situation is in Makushita – we have Sokokurai vs. Takaryu today. Winner is yusho, no playoff possible.

Juryo recap

  • Irodori is brought up from Makushita, perhaps as a test case to see if he should be promoted to Juryo from his Ms2 position. Jokoryu doesn’t waste much time taking him down. Irodori is make-koshi, and will not advance to Juryo this basho. Jokoryu still needs to win through to get his kachi-koshi.
  • Tobizaru is back to himself. A bit of a cautious start on the part of Azumaryu, and the monkey kicks his legs from under him. Yes, low kicks are a perfectly legitimate sumo technique. The monkey needs one more win for a kachi-koshi, Azumaryu will need to get two in the next three days.
  • Takekaze doesn’t seem to be able to do anything against Mitoryu, and is easily swept away. He cannot afford to lose any of the three remaining bouts or his drop down the banzuke will continue. Mitoryu in no danger, and seems to have finally overcome that injury he suffered in Haru.
  • Gokushindo faces Chiyonoo, and will probably face him again in Makushita next basho. Chiyonoo tries everything he can to avoid the double-digit make-koshi, but to no avail. Gokushindo finds an opening for a drop, and keeps his own make-koshi at a minimum for the time being.
  • Tsurugisho does not henka Shimanoumi, but still his sumo is a backward-moving one, and that doesn’t end well for him. He is nearing make-koshi land, and can’t afford a single loss, whereas Shimanoumi needs a single win in three days.
  • In an interview after this bout with Ishiura, Toyonoshima said that he is just no good at fighting with small rikishi. He is used to fighting taller rikishi and using his lower center of gravity to his advantage, but this is nullified when the opponent is short and low. Good sumo on Ishiura’s part today. He has a good chance at a kachi-koshi.
  • Highlight bout of the day – Terutsuyoshi, the leader, vs. Tomokaze, the newcomer. Terutsuyoshi does have a good mawashi hold, but that fatigue I mentioned yesterday shows. His feet remain on the tawara – Terutsuyoshi is nothing if not tenacious – but his body topples over, dipping his hair straight into the salt basket. The salt sticks to the suki-abura (the pomade used to keep the hairdo stiff) dying half of Terutsuyoshi’s hair white. Well, Terutsuyoshi is a sodium fan, so why not have some in his hair? Terutsuyoshi loses the lead.
  • Chiyonoumi is not a mawashi wrestler, but he hangs on to Takagenji for dear life. Eventually, the twin, who is more experienced in belt battles, gets a good hold on Chiyonoumi’s mawashi knot and rolls him. The knot is undone, and so is Chiyonoumi. He is make-koshi and should be very careful not to lose more because he is in the danger zone for demotion. Takagenji still needs to win out to avoid a make-koshi.
  • This bout between Enho and Kotoyuki was a really sad one. As a result of being locked yesterday by Mitoryu, Enho has lost his confidence in the technique that brought him all the way to the top of the leaderboard. Or perhaps it’s the remembered pain and being afraid Kotoyuki will do the same, as that arm lock seemed rather painful. Whichever, Enho tries to circle around Kotoyuki rather than getting inside, has no real plan, and his sumo is all the way back to what it was in his first Juryo visit. I hope he got some guidance from Hakuho about that (I’m assuming that Hakuho is still with his heya in Fukuoka), because although I don’t think he can contribute any of his own techniques to a deshi so different than him in body type, I’m sure he could teach him a river of knowledge about resilience and maintaining his self  confidence through difficulty. Enho drops to the chaser group.
  • Kyokushuho aggressive out of the Tachiai, but Tokushoryu twists himself and lets him drop down. Kyokushuho make-koshi, Tokushoryu staving off the make-koshi for the time being.
  • Not sure what to say about the Kyokutaisei-Daishoho bout. It just looked too easy. Daishoho suffers some unseen injury? Kyokutaisei needs one more win for a kachi-koshi.
  • Aminishiki getting dangerously close to make-koshi zone, again. He starts by pulling, rallies a bit and sticks his head into Hakuyozan’s chest. But he makes an untypical mistake by trying to drag Hakuyozan to the tawara and show him out. Hakuyozan keeps on his feet, but now Aminishiki is too close to the edge and easy to topple himself. Uncle Sumo usually has better dohyo sense than that.
  • Akiseyama starts the bout vs. Yago with a clear advantage and nearly manages to get him out. Yago can’t get a grip while Akiseyama has a good one. But then it seems that Yago simply doubles the output of power and Akiseyama suddenly moves backwards and out. Yago kachi-koshi, and we’ll see him in Kintamayama’s reel every day next basho.
  • Kotoeko makes good use of his weight advantage against Wakatakakage. It seems all the light-weight rikishi have started to flag towards the end of the basho – except Ishiura, who has been, er, preserving his strength. Ahem.

For the time being, Gokushindo and Chiyonoo seem certain to drop to Makushita in the next banzuke. They will be replaced by the top two wrestlers in Makushita, Daiseido and Gagamaru, who are both kachi-koshi. If a third rikishi drops – Gokushindo or Chiyonoumi – the most likely replacement is Sokokurai.

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