Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

With great relief, we have seen Takayasu and Kaisei have both withdrawn from the tournament to address their injuries. Neither rikishi was really up to competing at this point, and both were risking more serious complications to their injuries. A number of rikishi showed up hurt (Kaisei, Tochinoshin) or did not show up at all (Yoshikaze, Takakeisho) coming from 2 months where there was no jungyo, and the rikishi were free to get themselves healthy.

The question begs to be asked: Is the state of treatment so poor, so haphazard that these athletes, who are worth millions of yen to sumo’s bottom line, left to fend for themselves when they get injured? Fans have noted the caviler attitude taken to injuries around rikishi like Ikioi, Kisenosato, Ura and Terunofuji. What the hell, sumo? I know Japan is not the US, but maybe it’s time for the NSK to take a look at how the NBA, NFL and other pro sports leagues keep their stars and mainstays healthy and on the field.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Enho – Enho throws the kitchen sink at Sadanoumi, but Sadanoumi will not go down. While this is a fantastic example of just how much energy Enho puts into a match, it’s also the most wide ranging display of Sadanoumi’s defensive skill that I have ever seen. Sadanoumi improves to 7-4.

Kagayaki defeats Yago – Yago continues to struggle with his lower body, as he achieves a position to over power Kagayaki a couple of times, but he’s not able to deliver any power or pressure against Kagakayi’s relentless attacks. Yago is another future bright star, but he needs some repairs.

Tochiozan defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima opens strong with a lot of forward pressure against Tochiozan, but as has been the case this whole basho, he gets too far forward to sustain his balance. Tochiozan reads this, and steps back for the win.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Nishikigi – Terutsuyoshi gets inside at the tachiai, and grabs Nishikigi’s armpits and pushes upward. With his center mass raised that high, Terutsuyoshi pushes him out for the win. Nishikigi is now make-koshi as Terutsuyoshi rack up win #9.

Chiyomaru defeats Takagenji – Takagenji committed to finding a belt grip out of the tachiai, and while he struggled to get a hand of Chiyomaru’s mawashi, the round one was pushing him around and finally out. This was a lack of plan B for Takagenji, and that will come in time.

Tomokaze defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki tries a hit and shift, but Tomokaze is too “dialed in” to over commit, and is able to pivot and attack. Kotoyuki’s shift was on the clumsy side, and his feet were poorly placed. Tomokaze reads this with great skill, calmly grabs Kotoyuki’s head and pulls.

Okinoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu brought the intensity, Okinoumi brought his patience and overflowing sumo skill. It is in fact a valid (though not widely used) sumo skill to not initially go for the winning move, but rather stalemate your opponent and wait for them to make a mistake. Of course Yokozuna Kakuryu has perfected this ability, but it was nice to see Okinoumi employ it today.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Kotoeko got the better of the tachiai, and put Shimanoumi into a reactive mode. This worked brilliantly as Shimanoumi could not get his offensive plan together, and Kotoeko dominated the match.

Daishoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Daishoho takes full advantages of the slippery Nagoya dohyo and Chiyotairyu’s innate compulsion to blunder ahead at ramming speed.

Takarafuji defeats Shohozan – Shohozan had control of this match, but could not finish Takarafuji. Both of these vets look surprisingly worn out for men who have had 2 months (without Jungyo) to prepare.

Daieisho defeats Shodai – Shodai once again blows the tachiai, giving Daieisho a perfect mawashi grip, and the foot position to make it work. Shodai does advance Daieisho to the tawara, but it was really only to set up the uwatenage that put Shodai on the clay. Great sumo execution from Daieisho today.

Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji preferred handshake tachiai missed its mark, and he was left wide open to Asanoyama’s opening gambit against center-mass. The Natsu yusho winner did not even pause for a moment as he scooped up Hokutofuji and shoveled him out.

Endo defeats Ryuden – Both rikishi engaged in a tactical battle over grip and stance, and we once again saw Endo employ that right hand shallow / mae-mitsu grip, even if it was just for a moment, to unbalance Ryuden. Both of these guys are excellent technicians, but all too frequently fail to win. But they produce some really great technical sumo!

Aoiyama defeats Abi – Battle of the “Big Oshi” came down to footwork and balance. Here, Aoiyama can really shine as he repeatedly gave ground to Abi, who kept putting his balance further and further forward, until Aoiyama had him extended and could easily shove him across the bales.

Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Whatever injury Tamawashi is nursing, he has very poor stability on his feet this basho. Ichinojo plays with him for a time before he uses his enormous strength to dunk him into the clay. Tamawashi now has double digit losses.

Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – Meisei but up a huge fight for a rikishi who has only won 2 matches this July. He coaxed Mitakeumi into a mawashi battle, but quickly found the mechanics of holding up that tadpole to be exhausting. Points to Meisei for keeping his hips lower than Mitakeumi for the whole match.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku threw everything he had at the Yokozuna, and had the advantage at least twice. But as Kakuryu is prone to do, he kept his cool, stalemated Kotoshogiku and waited for his opening. The opening came with Kotoshogiku did not have his weight evenly on his feet, and went to shift his stance. That momentary easing of forward pressure opened up the gap between the rikishi, and Kakuryu pushed hard and drove Kotoshogiku back and out. Great effort by the former Ozeki, and masterful display of Kakuryu’s sumo style by the Yokozuna.

23 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

  1. “The question begs to be asked: Is the state of treatment so poor, so haphazard that these athletes, who are worth millions of yen to sumo’s bottom line, left to fend for themselves when they get injured? Fans have noted the caviler attitude taken to injuries around rikishi like Ikioi, Kisenosato, Ura and Terunofuji. What the hell, sumo? I know Japan is not the US, but maybe it’s time for the NSK to take a look at how the NBA, NFL and other pro sports leagues keep their stars and mainstays healthy and on the field.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a Gaigin, sometimes it is disheartening to see these men compete injured and I keep wanting to ask someone why. Why let your man go out there and risk farther injury. Why risk your future health trying to fight injured. But, as I said, I am gaigin and cannot begin to understand the mindset.

    • On the one hand it would seem appealing to allow injured wrestlers to take a mulligan and skip at tournament without loss of rank. There are two problems with that. The first is that it was tried before and abandoned as it was believed (as I recall) that some wrestlers were abusing the system to get extra time off which they really didn’t need and then returning with an unfair conditioning advantage. The second is that it would be a bit unfair to guys like Tamawashi, Takarafuji, Abi, Meisei, Daieisho, Kagayaki, Nishikigi etc who always turn up for 15 days and manage to stay healthy.

      One option that would, I think, go a long way to solving the problem would be to go to four tournaments a year, in January, April, July and October, a schedule that has been tried before. This format is I believe, likely to return the day after Hattorizakura arrives for his yokozuna promotion ceremony astride a winged Wessex Saddleback.

      • I do get, kinda, the play-thru-the-pain mentality (I’ve seen enough football players do that, even my favorite Lady Vol did it.) when it is something like a sprain. But when the injury in question is one that really needs time and/or surgery to heal properly, then I have to sit back and shake my head. If Kisenosato would have had that torn muscle properly seen to there might still be 3 Yokozuna.

      • I actually mean that there is no real medical position within the NSK (that I can tell) who more or less tell rikishi that they are not allowed to compete, and to ensure they are sent to a qualified medical establishment for care and recovery. The NFL, NBA and other leagues do this. My own brother served in this capacity at one point for the San Francisco 49rs.

        It’s not hard, it’s not expensive and it results in better health for the athletes.

        • One of the problems is the complex heya structure, the autonomy of the heyas and their dependence on the koen-kai for a large part of their budget. The wrestlers feel obliged to their supporters for the support. All those kesho-mawashi and silk shimekomi and air conditioners don’t buy themselves.

        • From here it looks like the NHK approach is more similar to that of the WWE which discards injured athletes like old chewing gum.

  2. Aoiyama is always a tough matchup for Abi, as he more than nullifies the latter’s usual reach advantage. This time, Aoiyama literally caught Abi in mid-air and applied a push that Abi had no ability to resist as he didn’t even have a foot on the dohyo.

  3. Kakuryu’s win today was extremely impressive.

    Kotoshogiku gets a good position after the tachiai and starts moving forward. Kakuryu simply waits until his feet are up against the tawara for traction and then starts resisting. He kicks Kotoshogiku’s right leg to open up a path to his left. He shuffles in that direction along the tawara and twists for a throw. Kotoshogiku doesn’t lose his balance but the move does shove him around; instantly Kakuryu reverses direction and gains space to reset at the center of the dohyo. Masterful. From there the rikishi jockey for an advantageous position. Kotoshogiku lifts the yokozuna with gaburi-yori but the motion is all vertical. As the rikishi settle back down Kotoshogiku feels Kakuryu reaching out for a right hand grip and pops his hips out of reach. This coming-down-and-moving-hips-backward motion is the sort of opening that Kakuryu’s reactive sumo is designed to exploit; he instantly moves forward and gets inside with a thrusting attack that knocks Kotoshogiku down over the bales — tsukitaoshi, pretty uncommon I think.

    • I’m not a fan personally, but bouts like this just reinforce why he is Yokozuna. His skill is undeniable and impressive. I think he’s gotten that tendency to go backwards to defeat under control. I have’t seen him do that so much this year.

    • I just checked our Juryo coverage today, it was preempted by a Diet legislative election piece, so only the last handful of bouts got broadcast. I’ll try and get that (day 11) online somehow by tomorrow Thursday in the western world.

  4. I miss the Juryo digests on Youtube. Does anybody know if it’s possible to watch all Juryo matches, preferably same format as Nattosumo’s Makuuchi coverage?

    Glad to see Aoiyama doing well after some tough matchups.

  5. When was this picture taken? Looks like Ura and Oyanagi (with a facial expression like Takakeisho :-D )

    • Fantastic, thanks! (Sorry your comment took a little while to post—comments with links go to moderation).

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