Nagoya Day 6 Highlights

What an opener for act 2! One of the great things about act 2 is there seems to be some kind of mental / stamina barrier that arrives day 6 or 7, where suddenly rikishi who were on hot streaks go cold, and rikishi who were struggling find their sumo. As the Great Sumo Cat works its magic, thus we saw some fascinating reversals on day 6.

It’s clear that even though Hakuho is fighting better than anyone on the dohyo, his elbows are bothering him. That wince and flex on the left arm following today’s bout was a very broad tell. I fully expect Hakuho’s ego to drive him to the point of body failure in his focus to remain the dai-Yokozuna for another year. He might be able to pull it off, but the cumulative injuries from a long decade of fighting and defeating the best the sumo world can offer is degrading him, a piece at a time.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Kaisei – It’s not a surprise, sadly. Kaisei has no ability to do sumo right now in any meaningful way. Too many injuries, and with his big body, any damage to his hips or below and he’s more or less useless. Will he sit out? I think he believes that maybe if he gambarizes he can pick up a few more and soften his fall.

Enho defeats Yago – Any normal person would watch that match, see Yago completely envelop Enho, and think “Yeah, that little guy is screwed”. When really, once Yago had his “paper covers rock” body position, there was absolutely nothing he could do but wait and see what kind of fresh hell Enho was going to uncork. Like a chest-buster from the movie Aliens, it was no obstacle for the truly motivated to break free from that much flesh. Enho pivots and Yago gets to enjoy the physics of angular displacement first hand. You see, the inside part of the wheel moves a little, the outside moves a LOT.

Chiyomaru defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima can’t seem to buy a win. There are no reports that I have seen that detail what ails him, but he has certainly fallen apart during this tournament. Chiyomaru focused on Toyonoshima’s neck until Toyonoshima was doing nothing more than reacting to Chiyomaru’s attacks, then Chiyomaru swept to the side and pushed Toyonoshima down.

Sadanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – First of the undefeated to take a black star on day 6. Sadanoumi got inside early and set up sideways to Terutsuyoshi, who immediately went to throw, but found himself without the grip to execute. He attempted to pivot back to be chest to chest and establish a deep right hand grip, but by that time Sadanoumi had driven him out.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko’s poorly executed attempt to hit and shift left him with zero defense, and Mr Fundamentals cleaned up. After shedding an impressive amount of ring rust, I think Kagayaki is getting it in gear.

Shohozan defeats Nishikigi – Battle of the arm-locks, and Shohozan does them very well indeed. Hopefully Nishikigi was not injured.

Daishoho defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan strikes me as frequently having a “Cunning Plan”, that frankly is amazing, but once a young, genki brute like Daishoho gets a hold of you, your plans are not worth much. Its great to watch Tochiozan try plans B and C, but the whole time Daishoho maintains forward pressure, and keeps advancing.

Okinoumi defeats Takagenji – Experience. Takagenji went in hard and strong, but Okinoumi wrapped him up, and waited. Like a fish on the hook, Takagenji tried a few gambits to change the calculus of the match, but Okinoumi waited for him to release just a bit of pressure (which unweighted Takagenji’s left side just a bit), and then rotated into the shitatenage. Great sumo from Okinoumi.

Onosho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu had this one locked up due to Onosho’s well documented balance problems, but a really clever move by Onosho as he was airborne shoved Chiyotairyu enough that he had to take a step, and that step landed before Onosho did, giving him the match.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku was completely shut down and defeated in a blink of an eye. Myogiryu went chest to chest, turned the former Ozeki and advanced for the win.

Takarafuji defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze gets his first black star as he goes down to a combination of poor footwork and Takarafuji’s tachiai. I would say this is at least one part slippiotoshi. Nagoya is famous for these, as the humidity and heat make that clay surface slippery, as hundreds of feet pack the dohyo, and smooth it out.

Ichinojo defeats Shimanoumi – You can see Shimanoumi struggle for hand placement. At the tachiai they find Ichinojo’s enormous soft belly, and sort of sink in. While Shimanoumi is figuring this out, the Boulder already has a right hand inside grip and Shimanoumi is in deep trouble. As Ichinojo advances, Shimanoumi releases all forward pressure and just prepares for the fall. In the words of Patrick Stewart in Dune, “Gads, what a monster!”

Hokutofuji defeats Meisei – Meisei won the tachiai, and had a left hand inside grip on Hokutofuji, pressing him to the tawara before Hokutofuji could get his defensive footwork together and circle away. His rapid pivot left Meisei off balance, and in some damn impressive sumo, Hokutofuji switched to attack mode in the midst of the retreat, grabbing Meisei’s right arm and unleashing a kotenage. Brilliant stuff.

Mitakeumi defeats Ryuden – These two knocked heads at the tachiai, and I am going to guess that Ryuden was more than a little discombobulated by it, as he offered very little offense or defense against Mitakeumi’s thrusting attack.

Tamawashi defeats Asanoyama – Hey look, that’s the Tamawashi we know and love. Asanoyama went for his intended grip to set up offense, and found that Tamawashi was inside, thrusting against his chest, and it was all over. Tamawashi starts act 2 with his first win.

Takayasu defeats Daieisho – Takayasu’s foot placement was terrible in this match, and he was all over the place. It’s only by sheer luck and some solid one-leg sumo that he was able to stay in long enough to win. He ceded the inside lane to Daieisho, and when he discovered that Daieisho was out-thrusting him, Takayasu engaged reverse gear and tried for a pull down. The hatakikomi worked, but Takayasu looked like hell.

Shodai defeats Goeido – The sumo equivalent of losing to baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, Goeido lets Shodai’s cartoon sumo get the best of him. Goeido seems to go soft in the tachiai, so I have to wonder if that ankle is bothering him again. When the Ozeki gets in trouble, he starts moving in reverse, which he did today. Shodai was not one to let that opportunity go past, and made Goeido pay.

Kakuryu defeats Endo – Standard match for them both until the moment when Endo goes for that right hand shallow grip, the same one he has used at least twice this basho to dismantle an opponent. At this point, Kakuryu has the presence of mind to go “oh damn!”, and activate the “Break glass in case of emergency” sumo. For Kakuryu that is to step back and pull.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – A double-ladle of mind games prior to the bout, Aoiyama gave Hakuho a very good fight today, and frankly looked better than he has in quite a while. Hakuho was not unscathed at the end, and seemed genuinely sore. If I were a richer man, I would buy Aoiyama (Big Dan) the most obscene Harley or Indian I could find, as that man needs a hog to ride when his sumo days are done.

18 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 6 Highlights

  1. I think the comparison to the worst team in baseball is rather unfair to Shodai. The man is 4-2 against mostly san’yaku opponents, his victories haven’t been flukes, and he did really solid yotsu-zumo against an Ozeki today.

  2. Onosho was not, in fact, airborne before Chiyotairyu. That was explained by the head shimpan. They checked and found that Chiyatairyu started “flying” (his foot left the surface of the dohyo) before Onosho, therefore it was Onosho’s win. Who touched outside first was of no consequence.

    Tamawashi remembered that nodowa he was demonstrating to us on NHK all of a sudden. I guess Asanoyama didn’t watch.

    What I liked about the Hakuho staredown is that eventually, it was the Yokozuna who had to relent and bow before Aoiyama. Aoiyama knows that Hakuho is no longer capable of vindictive sumo. He will lose for sure, but he will not get a mouthful of Yokozuna scrotum. So what does he care?

    • Asanoyama has taken a subset of sumo and worked hard to really polish his execution of it. When he gets to do that, he’s brilliant. When he gets into a situation like what Tamawashi delivered today, his ability to go to a “plan b” is limited. I am quite sure that will come in time. I think Asanoyama has a bright future if he can stay healthy.

      • Both Yokozuna seem to think so. Even in the raw, they make comments that sum up to “Thank goodness, we thought sumo was doomed, but there is a decent Yotsu wrestler coming up the banzuke, and it’s not you, Shodai [stern look]”.

  3. comparing enho to alien bursting forth is not just pushing the envelope, it is over the line
    even the most creative writing still should not surpass the bounds of human decency

  4. and now we have ‘mouthful of Yokozuna etc’
    goodness gracious; does this colorful phrasing aid the intent of the writer or more distract from the message?

    • Comments like these make me sad we can’t down vote comments anymore.

      This is a place run by fans for fans. You don’t like the colourful phrasing? Don’t read it.

      • a good thing that you are not in charge of free speech, marcus

        i think the comments section is still for comments
        don’t like them? don’t read them, neh?

    • Hey wuli – thanks for stopping by Tachiai, and taking time out of your life to leave not one but two comments. Should you get the urge to write more, let us know. We are always looking for fans to join the team and help put content on the blog. As you can see, it is sometimes a thankless task.

      • sorry, no offense intended
        my comments are meant in the same fun spirit as the writing here

        still, i think one need not work too hard to see the possible relevance of what i offered
        just a view

        sincere thanks for you and the rest of the writers here

        as to your offer to consider sumo commentary from me, thank you
        even if i grasped sumo deeply enough to write on it, the quality would not meet the standards of tachiai

  5. Hakuho fights to win, what more is there to say? And i can almost guarantee he will go “kyujo” next basho. Am I mad about it? No. Is it the right thing for a yokozuna to do? Certainly not.
    I don’t think his body is in much better condition than tochinoshins, but as long as his knees and toes are okay he can still win with experience and skill.

    • Sumo_da, he has to stay active until his citizenship application is approved. I think the first trimester of this basho looks better for him than that of the last two he was in.

      (Only two unsponsored bouts today that I counted.)

  6. I always enjoy these write ups, but the summary of Enho v. Yago had me smiling to myself like an idiot and nodding my head in appreciation – Bravo! Author!

    The game of chicken as to who would crouch down first between Hakuho and Aioyama was riveting. I’m not sure it ended up being to Aioyama’s advantage to provoke the demi-god – when Hakuho ended up squatting first, the cliché that swam into my mind was: “You mess with the bull you get the horns….”
    I agree with all the comments that Hakuho does not seem to be 100% comfortable with either of his arms right now. But still, it’s worth bearing in mind that he just beat Aioyama at his own oshi-zumo game. He didn’t win by exploiting Aioyama’s naïveté on the mawashi; he stood and traded blows with one of the very few dudes who probably has bigger stronger arms than Hakuho – and the consensus opinion has been that Aioyama has looked plenty genki thus far.

    Really happy for Hokutofuji today – he has had a steep learning curve the past few tournaments: even though he was MK for 3 out of the last 4 tournaments, when he has been ranked up around M1 and K1, he’s still acquitted himself pretty well, mostly through sheer bloody-minded determination and fight. But today he showed true class and showed he totally deserves to be in the jo-jin/lower-sanyaku mix. Fingers crossed he gets his KK…

    • Your point about Hakuho taking on Aoiyama at his own game is what I absolutely love about the boss. He takes on Tochinoshin on the belt. Harumafuji, belt. Kakuryu, belt. It’s like it’s his source of pride to dismantle the opponent’s strongest attack.

  7. The Ichinojo – sandworm analogy is the boss. Now if you could end Enho victories with ” … Muad dib!” we’d have a perpetual meme factory!

  8. Quite frankly, I’m bemused at the frequent comments on this blog disparaging the tone/style of the writing. This is a blog not the Japan Times! Team Tachiai, keep doing what you are doing!

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