“Practice?”

Your not-so-humble correspondent cannot process the word practice (or the Japanese word keiko) without thinking of Allen Iverson. In the clip below, I skipped past most of his infamous rant on the topic, which begins around the 7:21 mark. I skipped forward to where he says, “How the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?” (Gaa! The embed is not queuing it up the way I want. The quote is at 8:53.)

Enter today’s reporting from Herouth via Twitter. The ban on practice outside the stable will continue until the basho. In between tournaments, and especially in the lead-up to a tournament, top-ranking wrestlers travel to other stables to take on their would-be opponents. I’m taking liberties here with the point behind Iverson’s quote since the issue here is that a wrestler will ONLY be able to wrestle with their stablemates. But I do wonder how effective these degeiko trips are and am very eager to see how the first few days play out.

As she points out, Tamawashi and Ichinojo will not be able to face off against other sekitori until they climb onto the dohyo. I also want to point out that this means no sanyaku will be able to warm up against other sanyaku. While Daieisho has Endo, Takakeisho has Takanosho and Shodai has Yutakayama as peers in the same heya, this restriction against degeiko could mean there will be considerable ring-rust during “Act I” of the Tokyo Basho. To get a quick sense of how this will impact our top wrestlers, I again offer up the Heya visualization I created a few weeks ago (though the ranks have NOT been updated for the new banzuke).

Despite my inability to get the new ranks updated for everyone in time for this article the promotions and demotions will not, for the most part, be of a totally different class. For Arashio stable, Wakatakakage and his brothers will not be able to get pointers from other makuuchi wrestlers. Will this limit his ability to compete with the likes of Takayasu, Terunofuji, and Great Wall of Sadogatake?

In the past, the news that trickled out of these degeiko sessions has not always been a reliable indicator of a top wrestler’s fitness or ability to hold his own for a week of competition, much less two. I’m not looking at you, Tagonoura-beya — or perhaps I am? Takayasu’s top competition, aside from picking on the retired old geezers (I jest), will be Sandanme-ranked Akashifuji. Without the PR trips to take on Sadogatake or Isegahama powerhouses, will we be left with a more realistic picture of his prospects?

So, with much love to The Answer*, I lean toward agreeing with Herouth. Ichinojo’s in much the same boat as Takayasu. I’m not entirely convinced Shodai is going to have a huge advantage, or if Ikioi and Nishikigi will regain their sanyaku form, but it will be very interesting to see if Sadogatake comes out of this without needing an industrial case of Rustoleum.

* The Glove is Gary Payton as Todd pointed out. Allen Iverson was “The Answer.” The Answer to the question of, “Practice?”

11 thoughts on ““Practice?”

  1. Note that it’s not a final decision. It was more the trend of opinions than an official decision.

  2. Have you seen NHK’s new Newsline in Depth segment on the stay at home life of the rikishi? Kotoshogiku’s 3-year-old son being taught the ring entering ceremony is adorable, and Tamawashi can make some fine looking dumplings. First sumo content I’ve seen on NHK in weeks.

  3. I made a list of all Makuuchi wrestlers and looked for Sumotori in their heya within resonable equal rank.
    (I arbitrarily cut off at Makushita 20.)

    Number of practice partners above Ms20 in stable

    Sanyaku
    3 Hakuho (Y)
    1 Kakuryu (Y)
    3 Takakeisho (O)
    2 Asanoyama (O)
    3 Shodai (S)
    1 Mitakeumi (S)
    6 Daiesho (K)
    4 Okinoumi (K)

    Most
    11 Tokushoryu (M7)
    11 Shimonoumi (M11)
    7 Chiyotairyu (M8)
    7 Chiyomaru (M15)
    6 Daiesho (K)
    6 Endo (M1)
    6 Kotonowaka (M13)
    6 Kotoshogiku (M14)
    6 Kotoshoho (M15)
    6 Kotoeko (M16)
    6 Kotoyuki (M17)

    Least
    0 Onosho (M2)
    0 Tamawashi (M9)
    0 Shohozan (M12)
    0 Takayasu (M13)
    1 Kakuryu (Y)
    1 Mitakeumi (S)
    1 Kiribayama (M3)
    1 Abi (M5)
    1 Ikioi (M9)
    1 Nishikigi (M16)

    The rest has between 2 and 4 practice partners to spar with.

    • That’s a great list! I’ll try to see if I can emmulate it and track whether those with the most see any benefits.

    • If you want to be realistic about it, you should cut off at Makushita 5. That’s the normal range of promotion to Juryo without a yusho.

  4. Very interesting points – and an interesting basho we will enjoy in a few weeks. “The Glove”, though, was Gary Payton of Seattle, not Iverson :)

  5. This tableau filter is really cool. It’s the kind of thing I was hoping that sumodb could eventually implement. It’s really handy to be able to filter with one click where each stable’s rikishi are ranked without having to rerun a query and then skip to the end of all of that stable’s thousands of results (i get that you can filter on their query page, which adds additional clicks).

    It might be worth having this tool as a standalone tool that can be accessed from the navigation bar. Especially if there’s a way to build it in here where the map can be a lot bigger, so that you can see all of Japan in a decent amount of detail.

    Anyway, I love it

    • Great idea so I put it under “Data Tools”, which is a tab under “About”. It’s the “Banzuke Dashboard” but probably needs a better name. I think I’ll bring “Data Tools” out from under the “About” section and make it into its own section. I need to update the other two dashboards in there.

    • The sumodb does do that, sort of. If you are looking at the full banzuke there is a simple filter for heya to the side and it will list the rikishi for that heya for that banzuke only.

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