Hatsu Day 6 Highlights

It was a brutal day at the Kokugikan, with two competitors in top divisions matches leaving the arena in a wheel chair. It was truly ugly to watch, and in the case of Kizakiumi, I am really worried he may have suffered some level of neurological damage.

Then there is the matter of the leaderboard. Now we normally don’t even talk about the leaderboard until day 8, but I should note that none other than Shodai is the sole leader of the Hatsu basho going into day 7, with a spotless 6-0 record. I have been critical of Shodai for his poor tachiai, but it’s clear that he has been continuing to improve his sumo. But I have always believed the biggest problem was squarely his mind – he was prone to losing confidence at all the wrong times, and failing to exploit advantages when they were presented. For whatever reason, right now Shodai is on fire. In all honesty, I am impressed with his sumo right now, and I would love to see him carry the cup out of the Kokugikan next weekend. Best of luck to him.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Kiribayama – The master of high efficiency sumo shows how to make it pay. As the match extended, Kiribayama frantic efforts tired him before Tochiozan even broke a sweat. The match went quite long, and Tochiozan was able to stay with the much younger Kiribayama due to his relentless conservation of energy.

Ikioi defeats Kizakiumi – A fairly standard pushing / thrusting match with a terrible end. Kizakiumi fell head-first backward from the dohyo, and collapsed. He did not move for quite some time, and frankly I wondered if he had broken his neck, as he pivoted on his neck as he landed.

Tokushoryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Sadly Terutsuyoshi did not get a win for his birthday, as Tokushoryu stood him up and slapped him down. With this loss, only a single spotless record remained – Shodai.

Azumaryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Following a pattern now, Azumaryu released forward pressure just after the tachiai, and transitioned into a smooth uwatedashinage to send Kotoshogiku to the clay.

Kaisei defeats Kotoeko – Although Kotoeko attempted to force Kaisei to turn to attack him (usually a good tactic), Kaisei seemed to track better than normal, and made quick work of Kotoeko.

Shimanoumi defeats Tsurugisho – Another wheelchair match, the fight ended when Tsurugisho’s left knee collapsed while Shimanoumi was trying to twist, possibly to load a throw. Down went Tsurugisho, and out came the wheel chair after far too long a delay.

Chiyomaru defeats Ishiura – This match was Chiyomaru from the start, and Ishiura was stumped what to do to counter Chiyomaru’s powerful forward rush.

Chiyotairyu defeats Takanosho – Annnnd.. HENKA!

Yutakayama defeats Kagayaki – We previewed this as a high interest match, and it did not disappoint! Undefeated Kagayaki takes his first loss, but he gave Yutakayama a grand battle. I can now say with confidence that Yutakayama is noticeably improved since November.

Sadanoumi defeats Ryuden – Sadanoumi latches a left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, and that immediately put Ryuden into a defensive mode. Try as he might, he could not shake Sadanoumi’s grip and they stayed locked together until both toppled over into the salt basket.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji employed his preferred defend and extend gambit, but Aoiyama was relentless. Big Dan tried everything, but could not get Takarafuji out. He finally seemed to give up and just apply an old “heave-ho” to Takarafuji’s armpits and out he went.

Shohozan defeats Meisei – Its amazing to watch that leap forward Shohozan put into his tachiai, leaving Meisei struggling to set up a defense as they went chest to chest. As Meisei began to work a grip, Shohozan swung him down for the win. Solid sumo, but I sense that Shohozan is still frustrated, not getting his daily requirement of hitting in yet again today.

Onosho defeats Enho – What a surprise this match was! Onosho suddenly found his balance and his sumo on the same day, and gave Enho no room to fight, locking him up and marching forward for a decisive win.

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got the better of the tachiai, but suddenly found himself tangled up and unable to even reach for a mawashi grip. At the moment he figured out he was trapped, it was one step from the tawara, and Shodai advanced to 6-0 to start Hatsu. Wow.

Abi defeats Hokutofuji – In a battle of the neck bruisers, whomever landed first was bound to win. As is so often the case, Abi had contact before Hokutofuji could even plant his feet to attack. And immediate neck pull and turn, and Hokutofuji was out.

Okinoumi defeats Daieisho – Okinoumi seems to finally have his body and his chronic injuries sorted out, and he is unleashing a textbook of versatile sumo every day. I love how heavy his sumo is right now. Look at how he moves his feet. Damn solid stuff.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu threw plan A, B ad C into the mix in just a few seconds before Asanoyama got control of the match and shut down any further attempts to attack. Asanoyama certainly does look like he’s headed to higher rank, but I am sure he has a lot of improvement left in him.

Endo defeats Takayasu – Endo hammers another nail in the casket of Takayasu’s Ozeki career, with a definitive win over the struggling Tagonoura rikishi. It seems that both of Tagonoura’s kanban rikishi will be lost to treatable injuries.

Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – The tadpole battle was all Mitakeumi at the open, but Takakeisho masterfully deflected Mitakeumi’s finishing move to send him tumbling to the clay. Wow, nice rescue. Ozeki!

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – Goeido stayed low, stayed moving forward strongly and completely paved Tamawashi. This is the kind of sumo Goeido does so well, and it was an enormous treat for my final match in Tokyo.

32 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 6 Highlights

  1. “… but I sense that Shohozan is still frustrated, not getting his daily requirement of hitting in yet again today.” Laughing because it’s true.

    Abi vs Hokutofuji: I thought this was clearly a false start and was shocked to see it allowed to stand. Still, from my point of view, it was Hokutofuji who jumped the gun so I suppose that sleight of hand came back to bite him.

    Asanoyama vs Myogiryu: Myogiryu almost had this at one point but Asanoyama made a nice recovery and then the tide shifted. I’m happy.

    Endo vs Takayasu: I think this is absolutely the poorest display of sumo I’ve seen from Takayasu. No heart at all. It’s very disappointing to see the fall. Good for Endo, though.

    Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi: Two roly-polys with, in my opinion, Mitakeumi needing to not be so rotund. He’d do better if he lost weight. Nice sumo by Takakeisho. I’m starting to like him.

    Goeido vs Tamawashi: Nice, nice and nice. Goeido did a good job.

    • I agree on Abi vs. Hokutofuji—stone-cold matta. Abi was nowhere near ready, still holding his left arm by his side in a prelude to moving it forward when Hokutofuji launched, without even coming close to getting his own left fist down. As you say, the one who gained an unfair advantage lost, so maybe “no harm, no foul,” but a clear blown call by the gyoji.

  2. Very scared day. When I turned on the TV I saw the replays of Kizakiumi and just a few bouts later Tsurugisho carried off. I think there were one or two more rikishi taking quite a hard fall. Maybe especially in this context I feel super critical about Ryuden. I felt he should just have taken this one step back when loss was unavoidable instead of entangling Sadanoumi and slowly falling over backwards. Sooner or later that will cause an injury.
    Takayasu has clearly no power. That’s not the first fight were he has a decent opening, but after a few seconds just runs out of juice and gets escorted out. The only fight he lost, because he was in a bad position is the one to Tamawashi.

    Other than that I have to say Shodai is really fighting the best in years, Endo is impressive as well, even though he gifted away this win to Takakeisho the other day. Takakeisho manages to win a lot of bouts he should lose. Hokutofuji and Asanoyama look both good, but not like they will content for the yusho.
    I also agree with the comment about Yutakayama. He finally seems to be moving well again, kinda like in 2018, when he looked like a future Sanyaku mainstay for a short time.

    Terunofuji was on NHK today too and I have to say he looks way way better than his last tournaments. Just by looks of todays fight I wouldn’t be surprised, if he went 15-0. He seems comfortable with his knees. Looking forward to see him matched with Ichinojo ;)

    • Ryuden has done it previously when he pulled opponent out of the ring after he was pushed himself. In that case the opponent, did not realise Ryuden still had a hold and fell awkwardly.

  3. I’m almost confident Takayasu re-injured that left arm of his again and now he’s afraid but trying to gambarize. It’s only going to hurt him in the long run. He should pull out and PROPERLY heal up before he even considers coming back.

    Once again, here come the medical staff debates on how injuries are handled…

    Terunofuji is looking superb down in Juryo. I’m curious to see how he handles the upper ranks of Juryo.

    Ichinojo on the other hand is having Super hot days then Super cold ones. I feel bad for the big fella.

  4. Being a Shodai fan these last few years has been more frustrating than rewarding, so it feels great to see that devotion pay off now. I hope he can keep it up!

    Like anyone working out of a slump, Asanoyama’s win wasn’t pretty but a victory is a victory. Hopefully he will regain his confidence and we will see the same dominant Rikishi who dismantled all comers in the first three days of Hatsu.

    Not sure what to say about Takayasu. He looked utterly defeated. Begs the question: did Endo beat Takayasu or did Takayasu beat Takayasu.

  5. The last time Shodai started 6-0 he was at Makushita 37w and won the Yusho.

    He strung together 8 straight in Juryo and … won the Yusho.

    He has caught fire before, Hope mentioning this doesn’t jinx him.

  6. I didn’t realize Kizakiumi had a possible neck injury, until you mentioned it, because I only saw him limping out with someone’s help, so I watched the fall again. I can’t believe they would force a rikishi to walk out of the ring area with a neck/head injury. The risk of even more serious damage is just so high.

      • all prayers today for our injured rikishi
        they sacrifice so much for our education and enjoyment

        may the empowered in sumo world come to their senses
        (far too many years behind in updating ringside medical care; disgrace to still-sacred sumo)

      • First response approach in sumo is abyssmal. In any other sport, qualified medics are out by the athlete’s side within moments.

  7. I’m thinking dropping down to M10 and cleaning up there did Shodai’s confidence a world of good, especially when he finished the tournament by beating Asanoyama to earn a jun-yusho (his first) and a special prize.

    Onosho seemed to take a page from Tochinoshin’s book in defeating Enho. Well, minus the sky crane.

    And it’s remarkable how Hokutofuji predictably fell apart after getting a fusensho over Hakuho on Day 4.

    • That seems…premature. He only needs 3 more wins to ensure a stay. And that move has always been a part of his arsenal.

      • It seems that this is the only really functional weapon of his arsenal. Probably sooner than later he is headed to Juryo, where he can paly with Chiyoshoma.

      • The henka is becoming less and less popular. In the past it was used even by Yokozuna. Nowadays it’s just Chiyotairyu, Ishiura, Tochinoshin and maybe one or two more. Shameful really.

        • I don’t mind the lighter guys using it ocasionally, makes the fights more interesting. But when I take a few minutes off my day to watch sumo, I want to watch sumo, not a 200kg dude running away to fish for a cheap win.

        • It’s a totally valid strategy, and necessary from a game-theory perspective, like occasionally shooting a penalty kick straight down the middle.

        • Do not understand “shameful” if a henka is a legal move. Is this Henka shaming? What about leg trip shaming or nodowa shaming?

  8. Not a good day for the pixies – Enho, Terutsuyoshi, Ishiura and Kotoeko all lost.
    I feel Onosho’s lack of height worked to his advantage as Enho couldn’t get underneath him as he can against taller foes.
    Even though he eventually lost, Kiribayama’s 360 twist is the coolest thing I have seen this tournament since… since his last 360 twist against Kaisei! I am now a total fan and praying he can get his KK.
    Very impressed with Yutakayama today. He really had to wriggle and thrash around as Kagayaki was threatening to get the moro-zashi.
    Both Abi and Endo prevailed using something like a semi-henka or ‘hit-and-shift’. Having started out 0-3 and with the suspicion of a leg injury, my boy Abi has pulled it back to 3-3. Gambare!!
    it is still too early really, but it already feels like a 3 way race between Shodai, Takakeisho and Endo. Fascinating!

  9. Tokushoryu employed a classic big-man technique against Terutsuyoshi — pressure the opponent statically and when his throttle is fully open, let go of the brake and slap or pull down. A favorite of Chiyotairyu, Takayasu (in happier days), and Aoiyama. Ishiura gave us a demonstration of why that tactic doesn’t work when smaller rikishi try it against larger opponents — the static hold doesn’t require full effort from the larger opponent, so when pressure is released he is not automatically falling forward into the pull down.

    Abi employed (perhaps inadvertently, given Hokutofuji’s early lauch) a variation on the henka-non-henka tachiai. Usually we see rikishi using this tactic engage in close with relatively light pressure on an angle to obtain an advantageous position by bouncing off their opponents to the side. Here Abi used stiff arms and light pressure to bounce off Hokutofuji at a distance, using Hokutofuji’s forward momentum to power his own evasive maneuver.

    Usually when you get inside on an opponent and are applying force to the center you’re in an advantageous position, but against Takakeisho you’re not in as good a position as you think. He’s able to generate such strong lateral pressure from the outside that you risk getting pushed off the line and overbalancing. That’s how Takakeisho beat Endo on day 4 (left hand: scrape Endo’s hand off the belt, rock him to his left; right hand: head push perfectly timed to send him back the other way) and it’s how he beat Mitakeumi today. Kisenosato beat Hakuho a couple of times with a similar move.

    • You know you’re a sumo fan if you find yourself nodding your head to, “ a variation on the henka-non-henka tachiai.” And it makes perfect sense.

      • heh heh
        yes, didn’t even blink; normal sumo commentary phrasing

        must be one to know one

        god, we’re lucky
        if only sleeping masses knew

  10. Having noticed Shodais tachiai (or better yet: lack thereof) in the last years, I noticed that his tachiai has gotten better during the last half year, often commenting to my wife that he has started to move a bit forward and not only upwards.

    Every bout he survived the tachiai and came to do sumo, that guy is a monster!

    And this basho he has figured out a tachiai that a) protects him from serious injury and b) doesn’t seek to win the initial clash, but to stalemate the opponents tachiai, so he gets his chance to do sumo. And as I said before, then this guy is a monster.

    I hope he keeps on refining his approach – it’s pretty novel as far as I can tell.

    • I absolutely agree concerning Shodai’s tachiai. It’s still a half-beat slower than his opponent’s tachiai, but it is delivered with force, so he’s no longer just absorbing the other guy’s opening blast.

  11. Myogiryu was standing Asanoyama up and driving him back with an extended arm pushing against Asanoyama’s shoulder. Then Myogiryu’s arm skidded over the top of Asanoyama’s shoulder and everything changed.

    Yutakayama was brilliant at repeatedly disrupting Kagayaki’s fundamentals. The Mountain Man really emptied out the tool box in this hard-earned win.

    Yes, Meisei managed to grasp Shohozan’s belt, but it was with his badly damaged left arm. As soon as Big Guns set up his throw, Meisei’s weak grip was released.

    The new Dark Knight of Sumo continues to roll. Keep it up, Endo!

  12. Goeido can still bring it. and I was thrilled to see him bring it to Tamawashi . Alas, he has seldom been consistent. Thank the Great Sumo Cat for Takakeisho.


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