Lately, Terunofuji’s Instagram photos have largely come from the weight room. Monday he shared some pics and a few video clips of him sparring with Fukuoka Daigaku judoka. This is a fantastic development as he will need to dramatically expand his tool kit to bring himself back to the top ranks.
Terunofuji’s rise was very quick, based on a no-nonsense, take no prisoners, Kaiju mode where he would simply overpower nearly all opponents. Here, he defeated Mr. Sky Crane, himself, Tochinoshin. This was on his way to winning the makuuchi Yusho in May of 2015.
However, less than a year after the Yusho and his Ozeki promotion, knee injuries began to nag him, hobbling hopes of more yusho and muting earlier Yokozuna chatter. In an early career of epic yotsu battles, including bouts against Ichinojo and Osunaarashi, below, took their toll.
As much as we loved Kaiju, we would love to see Terunofuji back in the Big Leagues in any form. To get back, he will have to adapt and training with judo wrestlers will hopefully provide new emphasis on grappling techniques to lessen the strain on his knees.
After compiling data from the SumoDB, we can see from his position near the top ranks of Makushita, he will likely need a yusho to jump that Juryo threshold. I’ve not updated the data since the end of the September basho so he has already inched closer to that red line. The recent ranks (blue tick marks) are based on the September data and do not reflect the latest banzuke release. The grey bars represent the wrestlers’ highest positions.