Kyushu Day 3 Highlights

Witty prose goes here

After two days of the unusual and the unexpected, it was time for the rikishi to nomralize their sumo, with the Shimpan and Gyoji got in on the act. Today was a parade of matta and monoii for the ages. If you like seeing guys in fancy robes telling guys to try again, or giant former rikishi in black mounting to dohyo to discuss where they are going for beer while some poor fellow in a tiny hot screening room checks the replay – well today is your day! But there was some fine and revealing sumo, as the Ozeki corps dug deep to try and rescue their tournaments, and Tomokaze took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo to get his knee worked on. On to the matches!

Highlight Matches

Wakatakakage defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu looked quite wary in today’s match, initiating a couple of false starts in a vain attempt to get any advantage on Wakatakakage, who once again completely dominates Tokushoryu (now 8-1 career).

Terutsuyoshi defeats Daishoho – Terutsuyoshi begins to circle immediately into the tachiai, and gets Daishoho upright and moving back. Great tactics from Terutsuyoshi today, he used his agility for maximum benefit to pick up his second win.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – Kagayaki breaks through his heavy ring rust and gets into basho form. Straight ahead, fundamentals based sumo from him today, and another Oitekaze sekitori goes to 0-3.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Nishikigi goes in for a battle-hug against the bulbous Chiyomaru, and finds his target – Chiyomaru’s armpits. A fiendishly clever attack route that does not get enough use against Chiyomaru, who may in fact be a bit ticklish. The reaction from Chiyomaru is akin to “get me out of here”. That effort to escape leaves him defenseless, and Nishikigi invites him to leave the match.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ishiura – Ishiura is really flagging at the start of Kyushu, now 0-3 via a really weak bought with Chiyotairyu. We finally get to see Chiyotairyu execute well, focusing a rippling volley of thrusts to progressively move Ishiura back and out.

Shodai defeats Takanosho – It’s far too early for any leader board calls, but if there was Shodai is… well, 3-0. No surprise really as his rank vs his ability is a good sized mismatch. Shodai owned the early moments of this match, but Takanosho broke contact and rallied before Shodai slapped him to the clay.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – A part of me watches Kotoshogiku struggle daily, and wonders why he’s doing it. I am sure because sumo is his life, and he enjoys it. But he is a shadow of even himself in January. No ability to generate forward pressure, and his balance is starting to weaken. Kotoshogiku starts 0-3.

Shohozan defeats Sadanoumi – I though, “no way we are going to see another brawl on day 3”. No sir, I was wrong. Points to Sadanoumi for working hard to stay out of the slap zone, but Shohozan would not be denied. Oh, and a monoii to review the video for a hair pull after the gyoji pointed to Shohozan, but it was upheld.

Yutakayama defeats Kotoeko – Solid Yutakayama sumo again today, and he exits the dohyo 3-0 to start Kyushu. Forearm action to block any opening gambit from Kotoeko worked a charm, and Yutakayama controlled the match. Keep working, I am looking forward to your future matches against Asanoyama.

Enho defeats Onosho – Several matta here as Onosho was working from the idea that a quick blast into Enho might prevent Enho’s normal dive for the mawashi. I liked seeing the matta, as it gave some insights into Onosho’s tachiai form. Note the “crossed arm” tachiai on the second matta. Make contact, uncross the arms, and it gives you a thrust out for free. Nice. But nevermind all that, Enho goes shallow left hand grip at the tachiai and starts to unbalance Onosho, which seems to be easier than the par 3 at putt-putt mini golf.

Ryuden defeats Tsurugisho – Never let it be said that if there’s a matta streak going on, that Ryuden is not going to jump in with both feet. As expected, it completely disrupts Tsurugisho’s sumo, and when the match finally gets started his attack is vague and disorganized.

Kotoyuki defeats Tamawashi – This new, upgraded Kotoyuki is quite the package. He takes Tamawashi style sumo to the master and wins. I commend Kotoyuki’s relentless focus on thrusting against Tamawashi’s chest, keeping Tamawashi from setting his feet and starting a counter attack. Excellent oshi-sumo today from the Penguin.

Myogiryu defeats Abi – Sure, let’s have another matta. The moment of tachiai is telling, Abi is too far forward and completely off balance. Myogiryu is solid and has his hands lower, but Abi makes first contact. Abi begins his obligatory pushing attack, but with his body out of position he really has only 2 shoves in him before he loses balance and Myogiryu helps him over the bales.

Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Another day of excellent sumo from Hokutofuji. He took away most of Takarafuji’s stalemate options in the first step. The Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai did not go for Takarafuji’s non-existent neck, but rather swung in for an armpit hold that locked Takarafuji in place and lifted him up. At this point Takarafuji has very few options, but tries to respond. Hokutofuji counters by advancing strongly and delivers Takarafuji to the southwest corner of the dohyo. Hokutofuji keeps getting better.

Tochinoshin defeats Endo – Endo’s opening gambit was to dig for a right hand frontal mawashi grip, likely to evolve that into any number of pivoting attacks or a throw. But physics, thou art a capricious bitch, and that iron grip from Endo can be a fulcrum for Tochinoshin as well. Really nice sumo from Tochinoshin, sensing the risk and reversing it back on Endo. It looked messy, but was really quite an interesting match that showed just how good these two are. Tochinoshin, thankfully, picks up his first win.

Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – Back to Newtonian physics, Force = Mass x Acceleration. This match came down to the total bulk that Mitakeumi carries around every day acting as an aggressive, fleshy wall that constrained, contained and expelled Meisei, in spite of some really nice sumo from Meisei. Mitakeumi seems to have broken a blood vessel during the tachiai, and takes home the Yoshikaze ribbon for day 3.

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – A lot of respect for Takayasu for beating Okinoumi using his right arm. It was clear that Okinoumi was focused on attacking the damaged left arm, and Takayasu used that assumption to gain advantage on the right. It was sloppy, it was disorganized, but he made it work. Oh, and another monoii to discuss if it was beer and Yakitori or whisky and Okonomiyaki after the basho for the Shimpan.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Its clear that Takakeisho is really struggling, and Daieisho kept at an optimum distance where Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks had minimal effect. So the bout raged into maneuver warfare, which is not a Takakeisho strength. With Daieisho charging ahead for the win, Takakeisho tried a last-moment slap down, with the Gyoji bought, giving him the gumbai. But of course, a monoii was called because it seems that the Okonomiyaki place is only open for lunch, and there is a really nice izakaya just a block further away.

Hakuho defeats Asanoyama – Ok, now we know Hakuho’s toes are not a problem. Fast, brutal and effective today. He put Asanoyama on the deck and then added to the win with a celebratory belly-flop.

30 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 3 Highlights

  1. Wakatakakage is looking good. I’m impressed so far.

    Tsurugisho: Yesterday’s pummeling doesn’t appear to have left any physical marks but he really was tentative in his sumo today.

    Kotoshogiku: yes, I agree with your re-cap. He’s got enough strength for one oomph…and that’s it. If his opponent is able to stop the initial gambit, then it’s the end of Kotoshogiku.

    Enho: Really terrific sumo today. Smart and accomplished. There’s usually at least one moment when only a sheet or two of paper could slide between an Enho body part and the dohyo but today you coulda slid in a paperback.

    Tochinoshin: yes! Very good sumo and I’m so happy for him.

    Hakuho whupped Asanoyama. I’m a believer in Asanoyama but he got his you-know-what handed to him today.

    Beer, whiskey, yakitori, okonomiyaki: Made me laugh. Very well done.

  2. I don’t know if the “Witty prose goes here” was an intentional inclusion or not, but it had me giggling this morning, Bruce. Thanks for that. :)

    I am curious to see what will happen when Shodai gets placed against higher ranked opponents if he keeps winning. Sometimes, people rise to that challenge.

    Sadanoumi had his bell rung by Shohozan. Ouch.

    Not only is Takakeisho in proper form, but his opponents also now know a) what his main strategy and tactics are and b) that he’s gunning for a high number of wins. So, we’ll see different tactics like what Daiesho did here: attempt to control the distance between the rikishi to blunt Takakeisho’s “go to move”. Everyone and their brother knows that Takakeisho is going to have to learn to adjust his tactics, so it’s interesting to watch him work at overcoming new adversities as they’re presented to him on the dohyo.

    I think a number of rikishi are in a “do enough to win” situation for most of their matches. I’m thinking of Tochinoshin, Takayasu, and Takakeisho specifically, but they’re just the bigger names on the list. This basho is going to be completely about endurance and avoiding injuries. Everyone is exhausted or banged up except for a lucky few.

    I think we end up with a day or two of mattas like this one because the Gyoji are reminded to check for hands touching the clay. Considering that there’s video footage of the bouts, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is something that gets reviewed after the bouts are completed for a day. I doubt we could ever verify if that’s true, but it’s an interesting idea to consider.

  3. Takayasu used his left hand to break his fall. Probably not a good thing but the arm didn’t appear to crumple (at least, to me) under the weight. But he’s obviously favoring that left arm during the bout.

  4. The second Ryuden matta looks to me like both wrestlers touched down but Ryuden’s right hand was on the wrong side of the shikirisen.

    I think Hakuho’s toes are permanently damaged (that’s why he often falls onto opponents he’s just thrown) and it’s still an open question for me just how bad they are this time.

  5. I wonder whether this basho on his home turf isn’t the finish line for Kotoshogiku’s career. Perhaps he wanted to give the locals one last chance to cheer before he shuffles off to well-deserved rest. If it is his last rodeo, then I hope he’ll give us one final back-bend.

    • I think he’d slip into Juryo before retiring. Battling Toyonoshima likely won’t happen in the mid-to-upper reaches of the maegashira.

  6. Re: Kotoshogiku – worth remembering he has a kabu and with Sadogatake still about 15 years off retirement, the salary he continues to bring in (especially now as winner of 3 kinboshi late in his career) will probably be hugely beneficial towards ambitions of future stable startup costs/management.

    Have a feeling that like a number of former Ozeki who didn’t retire upon losing the Ozeki rank, he ends up ducking out before it appears he will be demoted to Juryo.

        • The kabu article is high finance! :) I can just imagine the fury that one guy must have felt for being told to pay up ¥150 million for the kabu locked in the safe…and it’s now against the rules to pay it (even if he had the money). Then gets drummed out of sumo. Yep, my head is still spinning.

          • … Then take into account the fact that sometimes it’s unclear to the public who actually owns a name – I’ve spent time this morning down the sumoforum rabbit hole and reading back threads from years back (among people who follow kabu ownership specifically) is a bit wild.

            There are folks on that forum who I would consider real students of this kind of thing, trying to make sense of what’s gone where, and usually until something comes out in a press statement, it’s completely unpredictable even for them.

        • There was a company (maybe Fantrax? or something) that tried this not long ago in baseball, the idea being that they would front a young pre-arbitration player X million for Y% of future earnings. Their idea was you could crowd-fund an investment in a player’s career. The stories on that seemed to have died down a couple years ago, and it wouldn’t surprise me if MLB (seems more likely the commissioners office than the players association, but maybe either or both) snuffed it out.

          In a sport like baseball I can see how it works as the rules on earning are very well defined and change only every 5 years, so you have an idea of what your trajectory is going to be and the injury options that can impact you.

          It’s funny to think of this vis-a-vis sumo where you have a fan club that basically just gives money and the only thing it really expects in return is: “try your best, send us a banzuke, invite us to the party so we can get a photo and souvenir and give you more money.”

          Re: students, man alive. Personally (will keep it chilly since we endeavour to keep politics out of things here of course!) I find it a little tougher to handle on a student level, it’s kind of like, let them get an education. The sumo equivalent there would be a mae-zumo or in baseball a minor-league guy pre-majors guy taking that kind of deal. If you flip your career maybe things get a bit dicey. I knew an oil trader who left at 28 when it got a bit much to go do NGO stuff in south america. I’m a fan of fantasy sports! But does the whole world need to get run that way…?!

  7. Interesting note on Tomokaze from today’s Japan Times:

    “I figured it would happen someday,” stablemaster Oguruma said of Tomokaze. “I told him to change his sumo and his mindset. He just has to accept reality and start over. Everyone gets injured and comes back. He’ll do it. I believe in him.”

  8. Hakuho looked fierce, almost as if he wanted to make a point by defeating one of the strongest young wrestlers. Overall great tourney but I’m disappointed in ishiura

  9. Is Shohozan’s brawling offense within legality? Looks bloody painful regardless. ps – enjoyed the TADPOLE FIGHT between Takakeisho and daieisho!

      • Cool! Konishiki (I think in his interview with Kintamayama) that the best thing about sumo practice was being able to legitimately punch someone in the face – these guys are all sorts of tough!

  10. RE: ticklish Chiyomaru. I’ve long had this idea that if I were a rikishi and found myself in a chest-to-chest situation, I’d release my belt grip and start tickling my aite’s sides. Then when he reacts, I’d go in for a kiss and totally freak him out. I don’t see either listed in the kinjite.

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