Today was slap down / pull down day it seems. Everyone was getting pounded into the dirt or found a hand grabbing for the back of their neck. This entire basho seems to have taken to pull down / slap down in a big way, and I am hoping this is not some kind of persistent trend. While its a perfectly valid move, it can make for less than exciting sumo.
But day 11 was not lacking in exciting sumo. Our intrepid “Man in Foreign Lands” Josh was on site, and has supplied our readers with his first hand impressions yet again. Go read it now, as it’s one of the better “day of sumo” write ups you can ever read. The man knows how to do it well. I do find it troubling how frequently he an Naruto Oyakata encounter each other near the Men’s room, but I will chalk it up to cosmic coincidence.
Daiamami defeats Kotoeko – After engaging at close range, these two execute a flailing grip-battle that ends with Kotoeko in better position. But he can’t convert that to actual offensive power, in spite of Daiamami being backed to the tawara. Instead Daiamami loads a throw and Kotoeko’s strength can’t stop it.
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – We finally see more of Terutsuyoshi’s sumo, which is what brought him to Makuuchi. Sadly its probably going back to Juryo for a rebuild unless he can “win” out or get a healthy dose of Shodai’s banzuke luck.
Kagayaki defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima gets the inside position at the tachiai, but can’t convert that to any offense as Kagayaki side steps and slaps him down. Toyonoshima is now make-koshi, and joins the list of folks who might return to Juryo.
Yago defeats Yutakayama – Close range oshi-battle that ended with what some of the shimpan thought might be a hair pull, but was deemed acceptable after a monoii. Yutakayama now make-koshi, and he has joined the denotable group.
Kotoshogiku defeats Ishiura – Ishiura never really set up any kind of offensive position, and immediately backpedaled away from Kotoshogiku. Yes, getting chest to chest with the Kyushu Bulldozer is a bad idea, but I have to believe that a small, nimble rikishi with tons of strength could have some kind of offensive move closer to his opponent.
Ryuden defeats Asanoyama – Shin-Ikioi goes kachi-koshi, which is a welcome change given his two prior basho. A protracted yotsu battle revolved around Ryuden’s ability to maintain his left hand outside grip. Asanoyama took a chance to shift his grip, and gave up forward pressure for an instant, that was all Ryuden needed to seize the initiative and take the win.
Abi defeats Shohozan – Maybe Abi-zumo is not done for yet. Against a pugilist like Shohozan, there is room for someone who will double arm you off the dohyo.
Okinoumi defeats Ikioi – Ikioi serves no purpose now but to give white stars to people. One every day. While the sacrifice is noble, it’s becoming tedious.
Yoshikaze defeats Onosho – Yoshikaze picks up his 8th win, and will mark a dramatic transition from is very timid start to the basho. At 37 years, he is not as high-energy as he once was, but it seems he can still deliver winning sumo. Onosho continues to struggle with balance, and today had some very poor foot placement in this match. I am sure Onosho is going to continue to improve, if he can avoid further injury.
Ichinojo defeats Aoiyama – A big highlight of day 11, this match which saw the two rikishi who were one behind the undefeated Hakuho battle it out. Aoiyama’s blows could stun an bull elephant, but Ichinojo absorbed them with little outward sign of effect. As Aoiyama continued to flail, Ichinojo advanced, attacking center-mass and Aoiyama quickly found himself on the defensive, and off balance. Not only was Ichinojo quite boulder-like in shrugging off Aoiyama’s attack, his sumo was hideously efficient today. He held the center of the dohyo, and made Aoiyama move, until Aoiyama lost stamina and was easy to pick off.
Shodai defeats Myogiryu – Shodai found his sumo, and gets the better of the tachiai. Myogiryu has him locked up, but tries a pull down, and throws away his position. Shodai advances and Myogiryu takes another step towards a make-koshi.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – I don’t know if Hokutofuji has run out of energy now 11 days into the tournament, but he was even more ragged than normal against Endo. At the risk of sounding like a broken MP3, watch this match again, but only look at their feet. Endo is calm, controlled and keeps his feet very low. By contrast Hokutofuji is all over the place. His force vector is not aligned to Endo’s center mass, and everything he applies gets deflected to the side. This is a recurring theme with Hokutofuji, who loses the plot when he is chest to chest.
Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – Mitakeumi continues at about 80% power, but in most cases its sufficient to dispatch all but the best rikishi. His fans hope that the knee damage can be healed to the point where he can operate at full strength, but as we saw with Kisenosato, the “healing naturally” is not always effective. As we saw with Ura, the medical intervention is not a guaranteed fix either.
Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – No shoulder blast today from Takayasu, but instead the “smooth” tachiai that takes him immediately into a mawahsi fight with Tochinoshin. Both rikishi are shifting their weight drastically, attempting to gain a balance advantage over the other. Neither of them can make it stick. Takayasu gets into trouble as he concedes the center of the dohyo to the Georgian, who sets his hips for a lift. But his hips are higher, and Takayasu advances strongly before Tochinoshin can lift. Tochinoshin makes a valiant stand at the tawara, but is forced to pivot for the second day on his injured knee, and drops, frustrated.
Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – As expected, Chiyotairyu attempts his usual lift / slap down combo. But when Goeido’s ankle is working, his balance is excellent, and Chiyotairyu can’t bring Goeido forward enough to drop him. This failed gambit left Chiyotairyu wide open, and Goeido drives inside and applied maximum force at center-mass. Nearly perfect Goeido sumo.
Kakuryu defeats Tamawashi – There was so much force flying at both rikishi’s necks that neither of them could keep their footing, and both flopped to the clay moments after the tachiai. But it was clear that not only did Tamawashi touch first, but Kakuryu executed the last “in control” sumo move.
Hakuho defeats Takakeisho – A day will come, when we see a 70 year old Hakuho, still able to fold, spindle and mutilate strong healthy rikishi in their 20s. Takakeisho brought it all out today, and Hakuho was ready. The Yokozuna landed a couple of potent round-house slaps on Takakeisho’s face, but the youngster stayed focused, on plan and on attack. To be clear, there was no defense in this match, just two rikishi blasting each other into submission. Hakuho worked out Takakeisho’s timing, and drive inside for a mawashi grip. Of course this is Takakeisho’s kryptonite, and it was time for the always enjoyable Hakuho uwatenage.