Its still early days in the Haru basho, but there seems to be very little in the way of ring rust right among the top division. Asanoyama, Shodai, and Hakuho are off to good starts, but we continue to worry that Hakuho has damaged a foot, and his now struggling to transmit power to ground. Yes, the atmospherics of the tournament are creepy as can be, but it’s sumo, and we get to watch it. I do like that we can have an audio perspective on things that are normally covered by crowd noise. Once the initial discomfort of the empty hall wears off, you can get a nice perspective on what is happening by the sound of the rikishi’s movements. Normally you only get to hear this during practice sessions. In fact, as one of our fine commenters (redfern) posted – the whole silent basho does seem to lend an air that this is just an extra fancy degeiko session.
Meisei defeats Kotonowaka – Meisei had the better position at the tachiai, getting inside and staying lower as Kotonowaka tried for a left hand outside grip on the mawashi. From there it was all Meisei, as Kotonowaka found himself blocked and disrupted at every turn. Both move to 1-1. I did like that shoulder swing down! (katasukashi).
Shimanoumi defeats Daiamami – Shimanoumi got the better of the tachai, and quickly converted Daiamami’s poor body position into a thrust down. Shimanoumi improves to 2-0.
Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho sacrificed body position to get grip, and Azumaryu kept his hips low, and every time Tsurugisho raised up to tighten his grip, Azumaryu inched lower and pulled closer. Interesting techique, and it worked. It also helps that Tsurugisho is fairly poor physical shape right now.
Chiyomaru defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi drove inside to get chest to chest with the bulbous one. But given Chiyomaru’s enormous round belly, Nishikigi found himself struggling for balance. Chiyomaru stood him up, and pulled him down. Nice 2-0 start for Chiyomaru.
Kotoshogiku defeats Kaisei – Kotoshogiku continues his winning streak over the Brazilian. Both of these veterans are walking orthopedic patients, but it seems that Kotoshogiku can still generate explosive power early in the basho, but only for very short periods of time. It’s kind of a wonder to see him adapt what he can still execute into winning sumo.
Aoiyama defeats Ikioi – Ikioi, try as he could, was unable to close the distance to Aoiyama and get inside his bludgeon range. Big Dan kept the pressure up on Ikioi upper chest, with some of the better form we have seen from him in a while. As Ikioi became frustrated, his weight shifted forward and he was an easy mark for the slap down.
Ishiura defeats Sadanoumi – Really good tachiai from Ishiura set up his inside position to capitalize on Sadanoumi’s ill considered decision to release forward pressure and attempt to pull Ishiura down. With no fans on the zabuton, Ishiura takes a stroll up to the box seats in celebration of his 2-0 start to Haru.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Terutsuyoshi brings in his “hop an dive” tachiai, but Tochiozan seems to be completely moribund right now, failing to generate much in the way of offense or defense. Hopefully he can shed his ring-rust soon.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tochinoshin – Its heartbreaking to watch former Ozeki Tochinoshin to continue to try and compete. It’s clear from his performance at Hatsu and continuing into Haru that his right knee can’t support much if any force. This has robbed him of his strength-based sumo, which has been so effective in the past.
Takanosho defeats Shohozan – I am calling it as Shohozan losing traction. Takanosho was surprised to see Shohozan on all fours immediately following the tachiai.
Kiribayama defeats Tamawashi – After a matta, Tamawashi’s timing was disrupted, and it seems his tachiai was a half step behind. Kiribayama’s hit and shift worked brilliantly, and Tamawashi stumbled for a loss.
Takarafuji defeats Myogiryu – Takarafuji’s lower back problems have appear to have cut down his mobility, but today’s win over Myogiryu was a model of minimized body motion. Takarafuji picks up his first win.
Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had the better tachiai, but expended his advantage trying to immediately disrupt Onosho’s balance (not a bad gambit). But it failed and Kagayaki found himself too high and too far forward. Onosho kept him off balance and falling forward as he circled away and pulled him forward. Sloppy, but effective sumo from Onosho today.
Enho defeats Ryuden – Ryuden let Enho get his left hand inside, with his head buried in Ryuden’s belly, a favorite attack format for the pixie. I counted 4 trip attempts before Ryuden finally hit the clay. Enho gets his first win.
Mitakeumi defeats Abi – Abi-zumo has yet to really get rolling in Osaka, as Mitakeumi shuts him down early and stampedes him over the bales. Any time Mitakeumi can his feet set properly out of the tachiai, he can generate enormous forward pressure. He improves to 2-0.
Endo defeats Yutakayama – More very strong sumo from Yutakayama today, but Endo really had his lower body working well today, and kept the pressure on. Go watch Endo’s feet, look at how wide his stance gets once he goes on the attack, and how heavy his feet become. That guy can employ some really great sumo when he’s in the groove.
Asanoyama defeats Tokushoryu – It’s after midnight, Tokushoryu, and your glorious carriage has returned to pumpkin form. Sumo fans will always remember that January where you were Cinderella, but its back to the grind now, sir. Asanoyama off to a 2-0 start.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – Clearly, Takayasu is still a complete hodgepodge of malfunctioning sumo technique, which as a fan of his is a complete disappointment. Shodai shows more evidence that maybe his sumo has evolved, and he’s going to be a force. His grapple and sukuinage combo was really solid today. I am starting to like Shodai 3.0.
Okinoumi defeats Takakeisho – Okinoumi won this one at the tachiai where he was able to get chest to chest with Takakeisho. Unable to generate his typical offense, the Ozeki was off balance, one one foot and in danger almost at once. Takakeisho attempted a throw after recovering his stance, but his comically short arms had no leverage to move Okinoumi. My prediction is already regrettable.
Hakuho defeats Daieisho – There’s that foot again. I know some of our readers were not convinced, but maybe today? Compliments to Daieisho who showed outstanding defensive foot placement today, and really made Hakuho struggle.
Hokutofuji defeats Kakuryu – Kakuryu’s reactive sumo failed him today, and he found himself out matched by Hokutofuji. A miss step put Hokutofuji behind him, and there was really no recovery from that. Kakuryu picks up his first loss.