Readers know I tend to go on about Takarafuji’s unique sumo technique. Today it was used to great effect, and I have to wonder how he develops it. Does he show up at the keikoba at like 6 AM, and have all of the rikishi just try to knock him down for the next 6 hours while he stands there and reads the morning paper? Is he constantly being attacked by his children when he gets home later as they try to push him down or trip him over? The man has an uncanny sense of balance and stability while under attack, and I just need to call out how unique and useful it is in the right scenario. It’s especially effective against a pusher-thruster, as it was today.
As you may have guessed, Daieisho took his first loss today. He’s still one win ahead of Shodai, so he’s still the one to beat for the yusho. But it’s conceivable that maybe someone else may put dirt on him before the end of day 15. Now its up to Shodai to keep winning. Meanwhile, there is an enormous herd of 10 rikishi at 6-3, 2 losses behind Daieisho. This could get interesting later this week.
Yutakayama defeats Shohozan – Sadly, Shohozan just does not have the mojo to really offer a challenge against a healthy rikishi in the top division. It’s been a great run, “Big Guns”. Some interesting improvised sumo in this match, but Yutakayama improves to 6-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi attempts a mini-henka, and Hoshoryu speeds past and just stops in time. Terutsuyoshi attacks vigorously, pushing Hoshoryu back, lining him up for a loss. A quick move at the edge by Hoshoryu saves the match for him, and its Terutsuyoshi who steps out instead. The whole match was dictated by rikishi evading an opponents attack. Hoshoryu improves to 4-5, and is not quite ready for the barge to Juryo yet.
Kotoeko defeats Midorifuji – The hits were fast and spicy today with these two smaller rikishi. A failed Kotoeko pull attempt set up the final combo that consisted of Kotoeko rushing forward, propelling Midorifuji over the bales. Kotoeko improves to 3-6.
Aoiyama defeats Akiseyama – Wow! Big Dan shows amazing strength by toppling Akiseyama with a one hand mighty shove. Next time a construction crew makes a mistake and needs a office block moved a few inches to one side, call Aoiyama….
Shimanoumi defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi opened with a solid hit, but that was the extent of offense he could muster. Shimanoumi got under Sadanoumi’s arm pits, and took control of the match. Shimanoumi improves to 6-3.
Kotonowaka defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu controlled 90% of the match, but it was that last 10% cost him the win. He had a double inside grip and had this match in hand, but a strong left hand shove from Kotonowaka broke Myogiryu’s grip and carried him over the bales. Kotonowaka joins the group at 6-3.
Ichinojo defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama decided to go chest to chest with Ichinojo. Bold move that seemed to stalemate the Boulder for a few while. But as the seconds ticked by, Kiribayama came to understand that it was not that he had a hold of a giant, but that he could not let go. When he’s healthy, Ichinojo battle-hugs all manner of things for fun, ponies, delivery trucks, teppo poles, and the occasional rikishi. The seconds continued to tick by, and Kiribayama’s stamina faded. Ichinojo walked forward and advanced to 6-3.
Tobizaru defeats Akua – A greatly diminished Akua hits the clay for his 8th loss, and is make-koshi for January. I have to wonder how much of what we are seeing from him are lingering effects of COVID-19. Given that another group of rikishi were sick with it just before the basho (look at the depleted Juryo ranks), this disease may not always be fatal to a rikishi, but it may be a career ender. Tobizaru improves to 4-5.
Okinoumi defeats Tokushoryu – Okinoumi’ early attempt to grab Tokushoryu’s mawashi could not navigate around his belly, and he had to take hold of Tokushoryu around the chest. Tokushoryu used mass and power to drive Okinoumi back to the tawara, and Okinoumi pivoted out of the way, and allowed Issac Newton to do the rest. Okinoumi improves to 5-4.
Tochinoshin defeats Meisei – I am kind of amazed at Tochinoshin’s ability to conduct oshi-zumo with some good results. Almost exclusively a mawashi grappler, his injured knee precludes him doing too much of that. He picks up a much needed 3rd win with a destabilizing reach around Meisei to grab his mawashi knot, sending him to the clay. Another of the 2 loss group drop off the leader board.
Onosho defeats Kotoshoho – Nine days in, and Kotoshoho has still yet to find his first win. Kotoshoho put a lot of effort into the tachiai, and had briefly had control of the match. But Onosho squared his body and drove forward with tadpole strength. The win adds him to the growing 6-3 group. This matters a fair measure because…
Takarafuji defeats Daieisho – To be certain, Daieisho once again tries to overpower his opponents with thrusting force to center mass. But Takarafuji is stable, calm and unflappable. A fantastic example of Takarafuji’s defend and extend technique at work. After the 3rd Daieisho had little effect, I think Daieisho decided to lunge into his thrust to add extra force. Takarafuji reads it well and steps aside to send Daieisho to the clay. Daieisho drops to 8-1 while Takarafuji improves to 5-4.
Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji continues his drive towards the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo. He can’t seem to move Mitakeumi today, who improves to 4-5 with today’s win.
Kagayaki defeats Takanosho – A last minute throw from his left arm saves the match for Kagayaki. Takanosho was driving for the win when he found himself in flight thanks to Kagayaki’s kotenage. Was Kagayaki’s out first? Looked like maybe so. But the shimpan decided not to review. Kagayaki improves to 4-5, and Takanosho fails to join the 6-3 crowd.
Terunofuji defeats Ryuden – I like the level of effort that Ryuden put into today’s match, he gave Terunofuji a solid fight. But it’s great to see Terunofuji being careful, efficient and patient in this situation. What a change from his sumo of a few years ago. He methodically dismantles Ryuden and forces him out. Terunofuji joins the 6-3 club, and I would not be surprised to see him play a spoiler role in the yusho race.
Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Man, that was a fine example of Shodai’s defensive sumo today. If you are not looking closely, it may appear that it’s all Tamawashi. But in sumo you have to know how to take the attacks and stay in the match. As Takarafuji demonstrates, that is frequently more important than being able to overwhelm your opponent. So Shodai takes a bit of a pounding, but his footwork is remarkable – he is causing Tamawashi to move to a spot that leaves him open for a big shove out. Shodai improves to 7-2, and remains 1 behind Daieisho.
Endo defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho did not have enough thrusting power to keep Endo off balance, and found himself too far forward when Endo stepped out of the way. Takakeisho picks up his 7th loss, and these matches are really troubling to watch. Endo improves to 5-4 with some really solid footwork and balance.
Asanoyama defeats Takayasu – Takayasu, yet again, is all over the place. His balance and stance never stay set for more than a second, while Asanoyama gets set up and goes to work. If you look at old footage of Takayasu, he used to do that too. Somehow he decided that turning himself into a wild, flailing dancing bear what his ultimate form of sumo. This is the result. Asanoyama improves to 6-3, and stays one win behind Shodai. I think that will matter later this week.