Osaka Training News

With just one week to go before the start of the Haru basho in Osaka, the stables have all moved to the Osaka area, and rikishi are training up for their first matches. Thus far there is not a clear list of who is going to be in, and who is going to be out, but we expect everyone to at least start Osaka as of today. Some news from around the stables for some headline rikishi (sorry, I don’t have any Goeido news yet).

Yokozuna Hakuho – Has been doing some training, but our last report does not feature him participating in actual practice bouts yet. This may or may not be a problem. He exiting the Hatsu basho after the chronic problem with his knee became more than could be managed. Don’t be surprised if he decides at the last minute that he is not ready to compete.

Yokozuna Kakuryuu – He is training well, and participating in practice matches within his ichimon. The most recent report (thanks to Kintamayama) cites his Friday practice session at Tokitsukaze beya where he faced Yutakayama and Shodai for 21 bouts, winning them all.

Ozeki Takayasu – Takayasu celebrated his 29th birthday this week, but continued to practice like a man driven. His old sparring partner, Araiso Oyakata (Yokozuna Kisenosato) seems to have committed himself to driving his kohai to higher levels of performance through relentless training. This is the exact mechanism that elevated Kisenosato to Yokozuna, and Takayasu to Ozeki. I personally am quite happy to see it.

Ozeki Tochinoshin – There is scant news about the big Georgian, but I would guess he is still struggling to overcome his foot injury. He is doing physical training, but as of Tuesday had yet to begin practice bouts. He is kadoban at the start of Haru, and needs 8 wins to retain his Ozeki rank. For a healthy Tochinoshin, this is an easy mark.

Sekiwake Tamawashi – The 6 weeks since Hatsu did not include a jungyo regional tour, so many of them will enter Haru well rested. As the Hatsu yusho winner, be had a number of extra duties to perform including public appearances. This seems to have delayed his start of training, but it is likely that he will pick up more or less where he left off on day 15 of Hatus. We expect him to take a number of wins from the upper / named ranks this tournament, and possibly be a part of the week 2 leader group.

Sekiwake Takakeisho – The Ozeki hopeful has been training against Ichinojo, and maintaining a winning record against him in practice matches. I have to salute this guy, he picked the largest, strongest training partner he could, and leverages the enormous Ichinojo to maximize his training. He ended Hatsu with a foot injury that did not receive much coverage, but it seems it might still be bothering him somewhat. He will be pushing for 10 or 11 wins to re-assert his bid for promotion to sumo’s second highest rank.

Komusubi Mitakeumi – After going kyujo during Hatsu for several days, he returned and managed to power through the pain enough to secure his kachi-koshi. But he is continuing to struggle in training, as his knee is still not 100%, and he has yet to have any practice matches against sekitori. Should the rest of the san’yaku show up genki in Osaka, Mitakeumi is going to be facing 15 days of pain.

Komusubi Hokutofuji – The shin-Komusubi is taking a cautious approach to training up for Haru. The first of the “Freshman” cohort to reach the san’yaku, he has thus far avoided training matches with sekitori.

Thanks to Herouth and Kintamayama, who sift through the Japanese press daily and post summaries to twitter or via email.

14 thoughts on “Osaka Training News

  1. Not sure why you’d class Hokutofuji with the “Freshmen.” He made his Makuuchi debut in Kyushu 2016, which is one tournament before Takakeisho and 3 before Onosho, so squarely within the “tadpoles”, even if the body shape doesn’t quite fit ;)

    • You make a good point. I group Hokutofuji with the Freshman more than the Tadpoles because his approach to sumo, his manners, and the way he conducts himself is more like the rest of the Freshman that any of the Tadpoles. But I do enjoy both cohorts.

      • Looking at when the current Makuuchi rikishi make their top-division debut is actually pretty interesting and not what I would have guessed off the top of my head. Starting in 2015, it’s Daieisho and Mitakeumi, followed in 2016 by Shodai, Kagayaki, Daishomaru, Nishikigi, Chiyoshoma, Hokutofuji, and Ishiura. In 2017, we get Takakeisho, Onosho, Yutakayama and Asanoyama. Debuting last year were Abi, Ryuden, Kotoeko, and Meisei. Finally this year we get Yago and now Tomokaze, Terutsuyoshi, and Daishoho. That’s fully half of the top division by my count. And they don’t break neatly into cohorts.

  2. What are all those red circles on his back? Is that from some kind of traditional/alternative therapy or medicine?

    • It’s very likely cupping, which is one of these fitness scams athletes fall for sometimes because they desperately want an edge. Michael Phelps promoted it, so it became a bit of thing here in USA. Originally Chinese tho I believe. Supposedly, if done properly, its harmless, so if this is just the placebo needed for Ichinojo to start competing every match, then I’m all for it!

      (Though given that this is the sport that encouraged Teruno and Kise not to have necessary surgeries, maybe I shoudn’t assume that ‘if done properly’ bit..)

      • It is cupping, but I wouldn’t call it a scam at all – I’ve had it done, having recovered from a tough surgery/rehab where I had a lot of scar tissue after a sports injury. After going through all that, the muscles still got very stiff from time to time, so cupping (and acupuncture) can help.

        It’s totally harmless although I wouldn’t advise going to the beach afterwards! The point is to have it done on an area of tissue/muscle that is very tense, and it draws blood into the area – which also happens in other therapies in very modern medicine.

        It doesn’t make your muscles stronger or make you a better athlete, but it can be an effective way to help them heal or to deal with muscle pain. In the case of someone like Ichinojo, it’s not hard to see why someone carrying his bulk and who participates in a sport where – especially as a yotsu-zumo rikishi – he tries to lift 400 lb guys regularly, he’s going to have a lot of back pain.

        • I’ll second that cupping isn’t as woo-woo as it sounds. I’m very skeptical of that kind of thing and also had it used for a sports injury and it was more effective than standard sports massage or NSAIDs for pain and recovery.


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