Hatsu Day 8 Highlights

With the middle day of the Hatsu basho behind us now, we have a clear look at what a post current Yokozuna basho looks like. A wide open, full throttle barnyard brawl of young, strong rikishi up and down the banzuke beating each other to bits every day for the cup. As sumo fans, we have naturally gotten used to a very orderly sumo world. Hakuho takes the cup if he is present, and if not, one of the other Yokozuna. This is what I think of as the “Hakuho Effect”. Fans don’t recognize it yet, but there really has never been a period in sumo where you had a single rikishi dominate so completely for so long. His overwhelming skill and power completely wicked away all possibility of anyone else really making much of a mark, and really shut down this kind of tournament.

As stated a couple of years ago when the transition started, a transition period like the one we are in the beginning stages of are hugely exciting times in sumo. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotion and thrill a minute. With “The Boss” frequently in dry dock these days, we get new champions on the rise, and we can enjoy them as they mature and their sumo evolves.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the two relics that are mounting the dohyo each day: Goeido and Takayasu. Both of them have given their lives to sumo, and have been arch competitors. For Takayasu, now at just 3 wins, he needs to take the remaining matches to regain Ozeki. Given his level of injuries, it’s quite unlikely. For Goeido, he needs to win 5 of the next 7 matches to retain Ozeki, also a very tall order. Its kind of heart breaking in some ways, as these are great rikishi who have turned in wonderful tournaments in the past. Everyone would want to see them continue. But sumo is a near perfect zero-sum evolutionary sport. Win to survive.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Ikioi – Ikioi choses to go chest to chest with Kaisei for some reason, and his one attempt at a throw falls far short of enough torque to move the big Brazilian. The look of pain ok Ikioi’s face at the end of the match tells the story.

Mitoryu defeat Shimanoumi – Mitoryu gets to the tachiai early, and Shimanoumi never really can stage much offense to counter.

Tokushoryu defeats Kotoshogiku – There was little doubt these two would go chest to chest immediately, with Kotoshogiku attempting the hug-n-chug, but finding that Tokushoryu’s bulbous abdomen is a near perfect damper for the force of that attack. Kotoshogiku keeps pressing the attack, but his balance fails at a crucial moment and Tokushoryu swings him to the clay.

Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Like so many of his bouts this basho, Kotoeko fights well, with solid technique, but can’t manage a win. He yields morozashi to Kiribayama, and the two mutually try to throw each other at the tawara, but its Kotoeko who lands first.

Tochiozan defeats Tsurugisho – After his day 6 wheelchair match, its clear that Tsurugisho can’t transmit power to ground at all. I do love and respect how gently Tochiozan treats him. It’s like how you would expect him to yorikiri his 2 year old son.

Chiyomaru defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu is single mindedly focused on getting a mawashi hold on Chiyomaru. But the entire time he is fumbling for a hand hold, Chiyomaru is pushing away at his chest, and Azumaryu runs out of room to escape.

Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Fantastic match from these two, I loved Terutsuyoshi’s submarine-lateral tachiai. Yutakayama is not normally a yotsu fighter, but I am really starting to like him in this mode. As a natural rival for Asanoyama, this expansion of his sumo technique is welcome, and I am going to say may signal his assent to higher rank. Terutsuyoshi throws a lot into this match, with an excellent combination of gambits, but Yutakayama counters all of them and prevails.

Kagayaki defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan misses his first attempt at his favorite hand on the neck pull down attack, and by the time he resets it, not only is Kagayaki chest to chest with him, but Aoiyama is out of real estate to employ it. The School of Fundamentals is still open, and it works again today.

Shohozan defeats Chiyotairyu – A set of matta to throw off the timing of Chiyotairyu’s all important tachiai gives Shohozan control of the match before it even begins.

Onosho defeats Ishiura – Onosho seems to have shed his ring-rust, gotten his balance under control and can now deliver good sumo several days in a row. Ishiura threw quite a bit into this match, but could not quite get Onosho off balance.

Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – Takarafuji’s preferred defend and extend tactic was not a good idea against the highly mobile Sadanoumi, so Takarafuji gets to work early and just drives Sadanoumi from the ring.

Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s really got nothing left on that knee. He is not even making an attempt at face to face sumo really now, as his body just can’t support it. The former Ozeki takes his 5th loss.

Enho defeats Endo – The match that folks around the world were cheering for, master technician Endo faced power pixie Enho for the first time. Endo clearly had one approach only – land a mawashi grip and use his superior size and strength to dispatch Enho. But Enho masterfully focused on making sure Endo never could get his hands secured to his belt. The result was flailing arms and scampering feet, with Endo frustrated time after time. Endo’s is going to need a formula to overcome Enho, but given his work ethic and dedication to the sport, he is going to be working that in the months ahead almost every day.

Myogiryu defeats Mitakeumi – Myogiryu reaches around Mitakeumi’s big belly to find his mawashi, but Mitakeumi can’t return in kind. Although Mitakeumi had a strong opening, he was unable to finish Myogiryu at the bales. Mitakeumi’s road to reclaim a slot in San’yaku is going to be long and ugly indeed.

Daieisho defeats Tamawashi – This match was won at the tachiai, as Daieisho took the inside position and never let Tamawashi counter. A strong advance and it was done.

Shodai defeats Asanoyama – Its rare to see Shodai fight this well, and employ this level of sumo. It’s actually quite refreshing and I hope this is his new “normal”. Asanoyama for some reason allows Shodai’s choice of thrust and shift to be the tone of the match, which plays to his strengths. By the time Asanoyama finally gets a hold of him, he discovers that Shodai’s defensive stance is set for a throw, and Asanoyama rolls to the clay.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu – I am saddened by yet another Takayasu loss. Hokutofuji relentlessly attacks the former Ozeki’s injured left arm, with great effect. But there was so much more than that. Hokutofuji consistently kept his hips lower, and kept the pressure on Takayasu. The two times Takayasu managed to drop his hips, he was able to push Hokutofuji back, but Hokutofuji’s defensive sumo was at its peak today. I marvel at how Hokutofuji’s mind can at times seem to be working the upper and lower body independently. No matter what his upper body is doing, winning or losing, his lower body seems to keep moving forward.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – Wait… Takakeisho goes chest to chest with Okinoumi? Then throws him? For the win? Ok, this was unexpected and delightful.

Abi defeats Goeido – Goeido can’t overcome Abi-zumo, as it is an almost perfect foil for Goeido’s massive frontal assault style. There was a monoii to check Abi’s ballet move on the tawara, but slow motion replay only made it look more skillful.

22 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 8 Highlights

  1. Endo vs Enho: well, that certainly was the bout of the day. I thought Endo was going to absolutely destroy Enho and yet he couldn’t even manage to get ahold of him. It’s so strange to see sumo wrestlers standing apart, feinting grappling moves. I know this was the first time these guys have met, but doesn’t Endo watch tape if his opponent prior to facing off? Isn’t there somebody providing a few coaching tips? Hypothetical questions as Enho deserved that win.

    Takayasu: okay, I finally concede that it’s over for him. I like him so it’s hard, as a fan, to fess up to the obvious.

    Asanoyama. My guy, so very disappointed but Shodai did a good job.

    Takakeisho: He’s looking good.

    Goeido vs Abi. Abi did well and Goeido is just done for. There’s only going to be one Ozeki (Takakeisho) left very soon.

    • I have to say even that loss gave me great hope for Takayasu, as he was putting up quite some resistance, something that had lacked in a few battles before. Hokutofuji was someone I had noted as a potential loss. There were a few occasions were the bout could have gone either way too. Sadly it doesn’t seem like Takayasu can keep this kind of sumo up every day with his current health status.

  2. Fabulous, thrilling day of sumo!
    I admit I have been sleeping on Tokushoryu till now. For someone of his body shape he is amazingly nimble and fleet of foot.
    It is perfectly insane that Tsurugisho is still appearing each day (I know he conjured a win against Ishiura!). The dude can barely walk.
    Terutsuyoshi was the definition of ‘honour in defeat’ today.
    For a man with balance problems, Onosho managed a lovely extension of one leg whilst balanced on the straw bales.
    I loved Shodai’s subtle little nod of affirmation after his win.
    Hokutofuji v Takayasu was a wonderful scrap even if it is sad to witness Takyasu’s slow demise. In the end, both men were just totally spent and exhausted.
    And to round it all off an Abi pirouette for victory! Huzzah!

  3. I forgot to mention that I heard just a bit of the post-Takayasu bout English commentary and was puzzled to hear something to the effect of, “I don’t know what’s wrong with Takayasu.” I hope I just misheard because that’s baffling if commentators are just ignoring his left arm injury.

      • of course you win this bet
        hiro and a yankee (ross? or maybe a new guy)

        unlistenable
        credit hiro for dependable unremitting positivity and enthusiasm, no matter what

        we even learned that kotoshogiku was briefly an ozeki, back in the day
        mesei and tsurigisho must be puzzling too, i guess

  4. what an incredible development within few months.

    tochinoshin lines into the kotoshogiku-„former ozeki“-body-in-ruins-memorial-way-down saddening sympathy.
    takayasu follows one step behind tochinoshin, with a left-arm-in-ruins-drama breaking his career.
    goeido follows one steps behind takayasu, with an ankle-in-ruins-drama breaking his career.

    three ozeki, with some 1-2 yokozuna potentials, diminish within few months into sumo history.

    and a bunch of 8-10 rikishi establish a new top-level-potential, with the ozeki/yokozuna-outcome yet to be decided …

    wow.
    both saddening and exiting times!!

  5. Shikimori Inosuke handed in his resignation as a result of his sashi-chigae in the musubi-no-ichiban. The NSK, as usual, rejected it, but told him to pull himself together. He should really pray that not many more tawara-dancers will be scheduled for his end of the show, because eventually it will end in a suspension.

  6. I’ve never been a big Shodai fan, what with his weak tachiai, but this basho he is laser-focused and intense. He reminds me a bit of, dare I say it, Terunofuji. Shodai needs to keep up his cartoon physics and newfound tenacity to truly ascend to the heights his earlier career pointed to. As long as he remains the Cartoon Kaiju, Shodai will be a force to be reckoned with.

    As an aside, poor Shimanoumi is still the only non-kyujo top division guy who’s yet to have a match shown on the NHK World highlights show each day. Maybe tomorrow, finally.

  7. With respect; what we’re seeing this Basho is barely average Sumo. Sorry, without the Yoko, and the last 3 to 5 Basho Ozeki, it shows how weak the remaining talent is. I’m seeing Sumo as a ‘sport’ that’s really become so wrapped in it’s tradition that they fail to see or want to adapt to a reality that is, dare I say it – modern.
    The way Sumo literally punishes the injured from handling the injured, to demoting their rank which makes them continue on to further injuries is insane in today’s sport world. It shows an absolute lack of respect to true tradition and the wrestlers that are stabled to perform.
    Get with it Sumo gods before you completely flush it.

    • But how is it any different then the previous decades?

      I think the real issue is that the rickshi keep getting heavier and heavier and are getting to the point where it’s untenable for long term health.

  8. The Hokutofuji-Takayasu bout was almost unbearably intense, exciting and uncertain to the very end. When the bout ended I realised that I had forgotten something. Put the milk bottles out? Feed the cat? Turn off the oven? Oh that’s it! BREATHE!

    As to the basho as a whole, it’s a case of welcome to the new normal. The gap in ability between the top and bottom of makuuchi is narrower than ever. No one looks likely to dominate in the short or medium term but you never know. Maybe, as the late, great Neil Peart suggested, a champion named By-Tor will appear to herald a new era. “By-Tor” sounds vaguely Mongolian to me.

    • Lol I also failed to take a breath wen Pooh-bear wuz at the bales as he continued to dig deep but ya hokotofuji earned that win

  9. I REALLY don’t like how Aoiyama is fighting lately.

    Ikioi, bro, just go Kyojo for once and heal up properly.

    Terunofuji is on a tear down in Juryo.

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