Some nice sumo today, the Asanoyama vs Mitakeumi match did not disappoint, Takakeisho boxed Enho in and gave him nothing to grab, and Tokushoryu showed us some great sumo, breaking Yokozuna Kakuryu’s left hand grip.
As we head into the middle weekend of this basho, we are going to start tracking the leader board, but we can tell you now, Yokozuna Hakuho is the man to catch for any rikishi who wants to try to take the cup.
Chiyomaru defeats Kotonowaka – Chiyomaru bounces back from 2 consecutive losses. He was able to get the inside position at the tachiai, and was relentless driving blows against Kotonowaka’s chest. Simple but very effective sumo. Chiyomaru improves to 4-2.
Kaisei defeats Azumaryu – Kaisei seems to have found his sumo again, and is fighting like he means it now. Azumaryu got the better of the tachiai, and set up for offense, but quickly found out that there is just too much to Kaisei to move forward. With his stance wide, and his hips low, Kaisei powered forward and made short work of Azumaryu. Both end the match at 3-3.
Nishikigi defeats Shimanoumi – Nishikigi finally gets his first win, escaping the quarantine group. Nishikigi’s tachiai had no forward motion, he simply received Shimanoumi charge. That’s not to say it was poorly executed, Nishikigi sacrificed forward motion to have his feet set for defense, and his hands ready to attack. Immediately, Shimanoumi realized his mistake, and struggled to block Nishikigi’s drive to get a left hand inside grip. He managed to shut that down, but at the cost of letting Nishikigi drive forward and force him from the ring.
Kotoshogiku defeats Daiamami – Very happy to see Kotoshogiku rack up another win, and doing it using “his brand of sumo”. Impressed to see Daiamami work up a rescue throw at the bales, but the Kyushu Bulldozer was not going to be denied.
Aoiyama defeats Meisei – If anything, Big Dan Aoiyama is becoming more potent and more aggressive as this tournament grinds toward the middle weekend. In picking up his 6th consecutive win of the tournament, he seemed content to just continue bludgeoning hapless Meisei into a pulp, but Meisei lost his footing and hit the clay.
Ikioi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi, planning a henka, started with a matta, which probably tipped his hand. The henka went off correctly, but Ikioi maintained his footing, and stopped short of the tawara. Terutsuyoshi lunged with poor body and foot placement, and Ikioi took him to school. I found the resulting sukuinage most satisfying.
Chiyotairyu defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyotairyu continues to dominate, regardless of whatever he did to his ankle a few days ago. Sadanoumi’s speed and low hips were no help today, Chiyotairyu was just too strong and too on his game. He improves to 5-1.
Takanosho defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan is now the last competing rikishi with zero wins. I am going to continue to believe that its down to some injury. Takanosho made fairly quick work of him today, and we saw Tochiozan unable to push back against Takanosho’s forward rush for more than just a moment. Takanosho now at 5-1.
Ishiura defeats Tochinoshin – Beautifully executed henka today for Ishiura. He sold it for full price, and Tochinoshin bought that lemon, no questions asked.
Kiribayama defeats Shohozan – Shohozan continues to struggle, as Kiribayama ignores Shohozan’s face slap, his better body position and his energetic forward advance to lift and swing him out with an uwatenage. Now at 1-5, Shohozan is officially having a dud of a tournament.
Kagayaki defeats Myogiryu – At the tachiai, Myogiryu went for Kagayaki’s throat, and Kagayaki attacked his opponents armpits. While I am sure it was uncomfortable to endure that neck grip, the hazu-oshi payed Kagayaki handsomely. Unable to phase Mr Fundamentals, Myogiryu found himself off balance thanks to the hazu-oshi, then slapped around, then shoved out. Kagayaki improves to 4-2.
Ryuden defeats Tamawashi – Joining Shohozan in “high energy veteran having a crummy basho” group is Tamawashi. That’s not to say that Tamawashi has suddenly become a push over, he gave Ryuden a vigorous fight. But for whatever reason, Tamawashi is just not generating that much forward pressure.
Takarafuji defeats Onosho – A master class on the extend and defend approach to sumo today. Time and again Onosho rushed ahead to clash with Takarafuji, and Takarafuji gave ground carefully and deliberately. It was a good bet that Onosho would soon over-commit an fall flat on his face, but Onosho seems to have greatly improved his balance since January. Eventually laying hands on Onosho, it was still fairly easy to take him off balance and trigger a forward fall, giving Takarafuji the win. Both leave the match with 4-2 records.
Okinoumi defeats Abi – Okinoumi once again shows off his recipe for blunting the effects of Abi-zumo. Keep thrusting upwards at his elbows to disrupt his frontal force transfer, and lean into it just a bit. Abi quickly runs out of stamina, grab his body and just toss him about until his sumo crumbles.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s sumo is typically quite frantic, and on good day’s, Endo’s is calm and controlled. Today was a great clash of styles, as we could see Hokutofuji throwing a lot of energy into Endo’s body, and Endo carefully working to get grip, position and finally leverage to carry the match. Where Hokutofuji was focusing his effort side to side, Endo was focusing his force center-mass.
Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – What a match! Asanoyama worked hard to get his preferred body position and grip. Rather than worry about preventing that, Mitakeumi just blasted forward, putting maximum force into Asanoyama’s chest. Mitakeumi was rewarded with a double inside grip, and Asanoyama knew he was in trouble. Very impressed by Asanoyama’s rally to nearly unleash a rescue uwatenage, but Mitakeumi was too close, his sumo too heavy and his grip was unrelenting. This match really deserved to have a roaring crowd of rabid Nagoya Mitakeumi fans.
Daieisho defeats Shodai – Daieisho completely dominated this match. Shodai has lost 3 of his last 4, and is sometimes the case, once he starts losing, his confidence erodes, and he gets into a losing streak. Shame, too – he had a strong start.
Takakeisho defeats Enho – Points to the Ozeki for keeping Enho away from his mawashi, and preventing the power pixie from grabbing a firm hold on an arm or hand. While Takakeisho made a point of controlling the form of the match, he let Enho set the tempo. The result was pauses and gaps in the fighting. Typically Enho uses these gaps to rapidly make unexpected moves that turn the match to his advantage. In contrast, it was great to see Takakeisho let him pause, wait him out, and re-engage. It shut down one of Enho’s best techniques.
Hakuho defeats Yutakayama – Yokozuna Hakuho was fast, efficient and ruthless. I had to watch it a few times to recognize just how little motion he expended in his rapid win over Yutakayama. Hakuho remains undefeated, and is the man to beat if you want to contend for the Emperors Cup.
Tokushoryu defeats Kakuryu – In the surprise conclusion of day 6, the Hatsu yusho winner surprised Yokozuna Kakuryu with a really nice combination move to put Big K against the bales. Considering his options, Kakuryu gave up the kinboshi in exchange for risking injury in a bad fall. The key was the moment that Tokushoryu broke the Yokozuna’s deep left hand grip, and pivoted to attempt a throw. Really nice sumo today from Tokushoryu.