Hatsu Day 9 Highlights

It was clear from the first two days that former Ozeki Takayasu would struggle to regain his rank by taking 10 wins. And on day 9 that campaign came to a close as Takayasu lost his 6th match. This marks the second Tagonoura headliner to suffer career destruction thanks to a treatable injury sustained in competition. As a Takayasu fan, I am outraged that his oyakata was not more proactive in seeking medical intervention for his injured elbow as soon as the day the injury took place in July oF last year. Furthermore, he was clearly in no shape to compete in September, yet his oyakata let him start the basho, possibly sealing his fate.

The shocking lack of sports medicine applied in sumo is nothing short of criminal. I get that Americans have fairly unique views of medicine that don’t apply anywhere else on planet earth. But franchise athletes, like Ozeki Takayasu are assets that need to be protected in order to insure not only that the brutal sport of sumo does not ruin his body for the rest of his life, but to protect the future of sumo. Yes, this is a very American attitude. It comes in stark contrast to the apparent approach of the Kyokai that these people are disposable, and that this is part of the natural evolution of sumo. Ok, your sport, your country, you make the rules. But I would urge the Sumo Kyokai to re-examine that concept. It’s not likely to be correct.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi runs into Issac Newton in discovering what happens when a 112 kg of rikishi attacks 190 kg worth of Kaisei. It did not take but a moment.

Ikioi defeats Kotoeko – Ikioi racks a much needed win on the back for completely moribund Kotoeko. Kotoeko attempted a hit and shift, but Ikioi captured him with ease and tossed him about like a bag of rice.

Kiribayama defeats Kotoshogiku – Kiribayama does effect a hit and shift on Kotoshogiku, and gets the former Ozeki’s right arm. Kiribayama spins and Kotoshogiku is out. Kotoshogiku looks quite disappointed at the end, as he falls for his 5th loss.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – Those that may have wondered about my proclamation on Tochiozan using “high efficiency” sumo, take a look at this match. The guy expends as little energy as possible, and that finishing move is a hallmark of that style. He simply gives Chiyomaru just enough force to start the process and patiently waits for nature to take its course.

Tokushoryu defeats Tsurugisho – “Cab Forward” Tokushoryu is kachi-koshi, and remains at the front of the yusho race. Second match in as many days where Tsurugisho’s opponent is remarkably gentle with him.

Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals keeps rolling, and he remains 1 off of the yusho pace. Damn amazing if you ask me, and I think he may be looking at double digits for Hatsu. He gets no press, and I think he likes it that way. A true craftsman.

Sadanoumi defeats Azumaryu – They lock up and dance around a bit, but the thing to watch is when Sadanoumi starts his advance. Watch is feet, and watch his speed. His feet barely leave the clay and he just seems to rocket forward. Amazing sumo skill, and this is why nobody wants to let a match with him go any more than a few seconds, as Sadanoumi will uncork this on you once you wear down just a bit.

Ryuden defeats Chiyotairyu – Ryuden with the “Armbreaker” kotenage that seems to take a toll on Chiyotairyu’s left arm. Every time someone pull this out, I get worried. It has shown itself to be a career ender.

Ishiura defeats Aoiyama – Ishiura henka, but to be honest, this is a very sound choice in this match. Aoiyama buys it cash up front, and finds the tawara early.

Yutakayama defeats Onosho – We previewed this as a big fight, and it did not disappoint. Onosho seems to finally be dialed into his sumo, but Yutakayama was not going to lose this one. Excellent defensive stability from both, but Yutakayama had all of the offense, pounded away at Onosho. They briefly went chest to chest so Yutakayama could hold Onosho still enough to force him out. I am quite happy with this match, as we need both of these rikishi to climb the banzuke and assume rank to serve as foils for Takakeisho and Asanoyama. I think that’s coming this year, and we could have some great, durable rivalries in this cohort.

Shohozan defeats Takanosho – Shohozan opened strong, but it was Takanosho who pressed the attack. In fact he pressed a bit too eagerly and fell into Shohozan’s hatakikomi.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – Hey, straight ahead sumo from Tochinoshin today. He was able to get his left hand outside grip, and produced some solid sumo. Very nice to see, and a much needed win for the former Ozeki.

Mitakeumi defeats Okinoumi – As is traditional in week 2, Mitakeumi looks very rough, but even when though he was over the dohyo, he got the job done today. Two attempts to pull down Okinoumi, and the second one took.

Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, and advanced strongly. Hokutofuji was able to deflect him at the tawara with a well timed hand to the back of Myogiryu’s neck. Great recovery from Hokutofuji.

Abi defeats Endo – Endo really got overwhelmed today, which is how it typically works when he faces Abi. If he can’t get a hand on Abi’s belt, Endo goes for a fast ride to the clay, or into the first row (as he did today).

Takarafuji defeats Takayasu – Takarafuji went straight to the defend and extend tactic, and focused his force on Takayasu’s weakened left side. Textbook, methodical and ultimately effective. Not only is any hope for a return to Ozeki gone, there is a real threat of a deep make-koshi now for Takayasu. Its going to be a tough 2020 for him, I fear.

Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Only the third time in 10 matches that Asanoyama has been able to win against Daieisho, and I think it really underscores improvements to Asanoyama’s sumo. Asanoyama lets Daieisho dictate a thrusting battle at the start of the match, and almost at once he is in trouble. But Asanoyama stayed in the fight, kept fairly calm and worked to get a hold. Once that left hand was inside, he was in control and seconds later took the match with a rolling uwatenage.

Enho defeats Goeido – Brilliant matta by Enho where he communicated an intention to henka left. At the actual tachiai he shifted right, and sent Goeido sailing on by like a Shinkansen headed to Osaka. Goeido is in real danger of make-koshi and being stripped of his Ozeki rank, too.

Shodai defeats Takakeisho – This is worth it just to see how happy Shodai gets after the match. He tries to keep himself stoic on the dohyo as he is handed a mountain of kensho to go with his kachi-koshi. But on the way back to the dressing room, he can’t help but let his joy come to the surface.

62 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 9 Highlights

  1. I’m just wondering …… there being no rope-wearers left, how is the ring opening handled?

    As for the “armbreaker” hold — it looked to me as though Tamawashi had one and intentionally gave it up, leading to his loss. Perhaps the earlier incident brought back bad memories?

    • I have seen Tamawashi release that kotenage 3 times since he destroyed Takayasu’s elbow. I think he has made a conscious decision its just not worth it any more.

      • thank you friend bruce, for ongoing standup against dumbass violence in sumoworld
        i continue praying that some of us live long enough to enjoy sumo sans armbreak holds, elbow to face, and the like

        fist to face doesn’t happen, and no problem
        c’mon old and stodgy self-important elder levermen; fix your frackin’ problem already


        • I noticed it too. Tochinoshin bent his arm to protect against it. With the weight and momentum of these guys, it’s a particularly dangerous technique to be on the end of. If the consequences of defeat weren’t so severe in sumo, I would say that the technique was fine.

      • This is why Ryuden is one of my least favorite rikishi, in addition to the constant matta, including the one that concussed Hokutofuji. He knew he had Chiyotairyu’s arm in a dangerous position, but kept going back to that hold.

    • If no Yokozuna are participating, the Yokozuna ring opening ceremony is performed by a wrestler from the sumo association chairman’s stable. In this basho, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of Okinoumi.

        • boy, do i know the feeling, bolt
          a backtrack button like at screwtube would save some of us from overly selfshaming

          fingers crossed, someday maybe
          i guess it’s time to start looking for a patreon link here at tachiai, or at least start buying some of the kool gear, to fund that kind of upgrade

          • No upgrade needed. Let me see what I can do. Y’all up for a contributor credential? I think that allows y’all to edit your comments.

            • thank you, andy
              yes, please

              many thanks too, for providing tachiai site and contributions as part of team tachiai
              call me crazy but sumo remains firstly and still a profoundly spiritual exercise, incomparable to other sporting endeavors (and despite the silly and dark side of sumo)

              in addition to sumo education and great fun, tachiai is a powerful spiritual medicament in a world gone so far off the rails
              smart heart efforts here with many, many enjoying the healing dividends

              long may she wave, or something like that
              newbies, heads up- the sumo gods are Real

              sister topic- if you come into any japanophiles obsessed with zataoichi, please share my email address
              the (likewise) profoundly spiritual series’ (film and telly both) is long overdue proper treatment

              if i outlast my old dog, by and by i’d like to assist friends in providing an authentic sister forum for the seriously infected
              our little old world can use a lot more ichi and ichinojo both

    • If no Yokozuna are present they just do the regular dohyo-iri for the east and west Meagashira, Komusubi, Sekiwake and Ozeki and then prepare for the matches.

  2. Another day, another exquisite tippy-toe spin – this time (somewhat unexpectedly) courtesy of attack-dog Shohozan.

    It is kind of touching to see Tokushoryo’s concern for Tsurugisho’s injury. But (as Bruce suggests) this was not a genuine sumo match. Tokushoryo just stood up at the tachiai and gently escorted Tsurugisho to the edge of the Dohyo.

    Endo tried a semi-henka aginast a semi-henka expert today and paid the price. I feel like Abi knew that Endo knew that in a straight-up fight, Abi’s two-handed oshi attack will blitz Endo’s subtler mawashi game most of the time (hence the 6-2 record, now 7-2, in Abi’s favour). So Abi could anticipate that the sideways shift was coming and easily adjust to keep his hand firmly on Endo’s throat. Game over.

    So great to see that Tochi can at least still occasionally rage against the dying of the light….

    • Shohozan is not just a bruiser – he has a huge variety of sumo which makes him one of my favourites to watch- 5 throw wins last basho! Wish he were more consistent.

  3. Bruce, is this (have these been) one of the latest batch of photos that you just shot? It is terrific.

    Re: sports medicine. I couldn’t agree more.

    Tochinoshin: so happy to see this. Looked like old times.

    Enho vs Goeido. Hmm, wily, I suppose.

    Shodai vs Takakeisho: That was really good Shodai sumo. From start to finish to prancing back the aisle with a big, fat stack of cash.

    • Thank you, this is from the Tachiai Photo Safari. Such pictures that are going to be useful over the course of multiple tournaments were the objective for the trip – so we can decorate posts with pictures without scavenging them on the internet. I think we have enough to last us for a bit, and it was great fun to make it happen.

  4. Agree re: the shocking lack of sports medicine in sumo. Sumo is fun but it’s becoming hard to watch and difficult to understand the value of not protecting your franchise players from both a business and human decency view.

    Understand that my Canadian values may not line up with those of the sumo world…so the decision to continue watch is on me.

    • thank you, arun
      your expressed values are deeply human and worth working for, including the sovereign responsibility for our own actions

      archaic sumo machine control is oh-so-slowly diminishing in the new reality
      if overlords continue fail regarding human decency, at least the mathematical force of business practices will eventually win the day for both fans and (please gods) battered rikishi

  5. Can someone please explain this detail from the Natto Sumo video on You Tube?

    When they post rikishi statistics there is a set of numbers immediately to the left of the Personal High Rank.

    In the case of Enho today these are 18/5, while Goeido has 90/73.

    On Day 1, the Enho number was 17/4.

    What are these about? Thank you

    • Those numbers show (number of total tournaments) / (number of tournaments at the top level) if I understand them correctly.

    • I went and asked him – there used to be a frame in the video with the legend. Turns out he links it from his pinned comment. But he promised to include it in the video from tomorrow.

      • Herouth, next time you talk to him, please forward my most sincere thanks.. Tachiai and NattoSumo are the two pillars supporting my sumo addiction. You guys are the best.

        • I didn’t use any private channel for it – just wrote a comment on his latest video, is all. I’m sure you can do the same.

          • My mistake. I misunderstood what you said, but yes, I know of this channel and I have used it. So I have spoken with him in already to express my gratitude for his hard work ;-)

  6. My impression is that Terutsuyoshi attempted a hit-and-shift, while at the same time trying to grab Kaisei’s right arm and sling him out of the ring. Unfortunately, the hit-and-shift didn’t go cleanly and he couldn’t get a firm grasp of Kaisei’s arm. Kaisei expended very little effort in nudging the pixie over the bales.

    After his bout yesterday, while seated beside the dohyo, Takakeisho was touching and flexing that left pectoral area that he injured last year. Today the Round Mound was rocked at the tachiai by Shodai, then failed in his attempt to blast Shodai out of the ring with his wave action. I’m hoping that our lone effective Ozeki hasn’t been reinjured.

    Seeing Shodai jog down the tunnel pumping his fist with that big silly grin on his face made my day. Is it time for him to have an appointment with Tokushoryu?

    • Not quite yet. Tokushoryu is still scheduled within his margin. I think they only start upscaling low-ranking yusho contenders in the last third of the basho.

  7. I interpreted Enho’s bout entirely differently. The matta doesn’t seem to have been planned, and he accidentally let Goeido see he was aiming for his right mawashi (Enho’s left). So now they have to redo the tachiai, and Enho has to come up with a solution. He improvised and went for a tottari, and to his surprise, instead of having to play tug-of-war with the Ozeki (which worked for Ura with Harumafuji, but Ura is heavier and Harumafuji lighter), Goeido just went right on ahead, and the pixie dropped the rope, sorry, arm, and just gave him the heave-ho.

    • Takakeisho is my favorite wrestler, but I can’t fault Shodai for a perfectly timed side-step. I also can’t fault Enho for not trying to go head to head with an ozeki who outweighs him by 60kg and is known for densha michi sumo.

    • I had to take another look at the Shodai bout as I couldn’t think of anything sneaky. And after watching it a second time, nope, six-seven seconds in, that’s just a good move.

  8. I notice a lot of insistence on Onosho and Yutakayama being rivals to Takakeisho and Asanoyama. Why is that? Do they have a history of beating their higher ranked fellows in lower divisions?

    • Onosho v Takakeisho: 2 – 2
      Onosho v Asanoyama: 2 – 4
      Yutakayama v Takakeisho: 0 – 1
      Yutakayama v Asanoyama: 3 – 1

    • Onosho and Takakeisho have been sumo rivals since middle school and came up through juryo at roughly the same time. Yutakayama and Asanoyama both started in the same basho as sandanme tsukedashi and came up through juryo at almost exactly the same time. Both Yutakayama and Onosho seem to have been hampered by injuries that have prevented them from keeping up though.

    • It’s because Yutakayama and Asanoyama look kind of similar and have similar names. And Takakeisho and Onosho I think started sumo at the same time and both went to the same school and/or trained together. I really hate when people bring up Onosho to Takakeisho’s level. I cringe every time Onosho is on and I hear ‘Takakeisho no rai-varu’ in the Japanese commentary. The guy can’t stay on his feet for 5 seconds and you call him a rival of an Ozeki? What a sick joke.

        • They both agreed in interviews that they were, in fact, old time rivals. At first it was Takakeisho chasing Onosho. After Onosho’s injury, the tables have turned. But he still wants to get up there and fight his matching potato.

    • Not long ago, they rose through the ranks together in more or less the same cohort. They were in fact rivals for a time, and it was most effective at advancing their sumo. Then both Yutakayama and Onosho were injured and dropped back, while Asanoyama and Takakeisho advanced. I would like to see these rivalries rekindled, as I think it would be a mechanism for better competition.

    • It actually goes beyond the lower divisions. Yutakayama and Asanoyama have a rivalry since their university day. Takakeisho and Onosho from high school.

    • Both Yutakayama and Asanoyama entered professional sumo in March of 2016 in Osaka and had pretty similar evolutions through the rankings. Yutakayama is only about 6 months older than Asanoyama, and they are quite similarly build. Yutakayama made his debut in the Makuuchi division in May 2017, but had a negative record and was demoted back to Juryo. He made it back, together with Asanoyama this time, in September 2017. In July 2017, in Nagoya, they both won the Fighting Spirit Prize from similar rankings, West Maegashira #9 for Yutakayama and West Maegashira # 13 for Asanoyama. So, at that time, they were seen as rivals in the making with very bright futures in sumo. Unfortunately, in September 2018 Yutakayama suffered an injury and, as it happens, dropped through the rankings, and in May 2019 was demoted to Juryo. He made it back to the top division in September 2019. So, everybody is very happy to see him finally recovered and fighting well. If he stays healthy, I am sure he will catch up with Asanoyama.

      Takakeisho’s and Onosho’s sumo paths are quite similar as well. First of all, they are both 23 years old, very similarly build and both are strong pusher-thrusters. Onosho made his professional sumo debut a bit earlier then Takakesiho, but they both made it to the Makuuchi division at almost the same time, Takakeisho in January 2017 and Onosho in May 2017. Both had very good performances during 2017, winning several special prizes between them. At that time, Onosho was considered to be stronger and probably more talented than Takakeisho. In November 2017 Onosho becomes Komusubi and registers a kachi-koshi. Takakeisho becomes komusubi in January 2018 and scores a make-koshi. At the time, they were definitely seen to be young, talented up-and-comers pusher-thruster rivals. Unfortunately, Onosho suffers a knee injury in January 2018 and begins his drop through the rankings. He is demoted to Juryo in May 2018, but takes the Juryo Yusho and comes back to the top division in July 2018. His injury has taken a big toll on his sumo, especially when it comes to balance, but maybe he is finally getting close to his pre injury form. I would love to see him catch up with Takakeisho.

      I hope this little history of the two pairs helped :-).

  9. I completely agree about sports medicine, Bruce. If we need a great example of how taking care of injuries helps rejuvenate a sumo career, all I need to do is point at Terunofuji.

    If anyone wants to get upset at a rikishi in the Enho/Goeido match, they should be grumpy with Goeido. Never, ever expect a small rikishi to not go for a side-step or a henka. Also, good call of a Tottari, Bruce. There’s a large difference between Ishiura’s “OLE!” henka against Aoiyama and Enho’s “slide, grab, and yank” henka in my opinion. Enho is much closer to Haramafuji’s HNH today than a jump that seeks to completely dodge an opponent.

    Endo got completely outclassed today. An awful performance from him and it shows he literally has no answer for Abi. Where has the thrower of Hakuho gone? He has completely vanished.

    If Tochinoshin is starting to climb into the boat towards a haircut, then I unfortunately believe that Takaysu is only a step or two behind him. Incredibly sad to watch and infuriating that he is even in this terrible situation.

    • I have some sympathy for Endo. I too have tried to deploy the perfect counter to an attack I knew was coming only to find that I was beaten to the punch anyway. If he’d intercepted that hand before it landed it would have been a very different match.

  10. Wait, what? Today there were at least 3-4 henkas, and only 1 get mentioned properly. Enho’s one was looking really bad against veteran like Goeido who is kadoban at the moment… very disrespectful.

    • Can’t get more direct and to the point than this, “ Ishiura defeats Aoiyama – Ishiura henka,..” From the re-cap above.

  11. You want to talk Sports medicine and an issue? Take a look at the Mitakeumi match. Yes he tends to fade in the second weeks however he wasn’t even really strong in the first week. Why? I think I know. This last match, watch him closely. Right after he wins and he goes to return to his side.. he is limping… remember that knee he hurt sometime back and never got treated or even let heal? When he even competed with said knee not only to save his rank but also joined a special event where he could barely walk? Yea, that knee is still bothering him and I’m willing to bet he’s making it worse and worse. No brace, no doctors.. nothing. Mitakeumi is headed for a Tochinochin deal with a several bad knee that’s goign to cause his career to implode at this rate.

  12. I don’t spend a lot of time admiring other men’s bottoms but the rear view of Takarafuji today was quite startling. He looks as though he could bench press 400lbs using only his buttocks.

    • Takarafuji is famous for those buns. There was even a feature on them on TV some years back. Yes, of course that’s Japanese TV. IMO Takarafuji and Chiyomaru are the kings of the bakery.


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