As my co-bloggers have published, Yokozuna Kakuryu has announced his retirement. My personal thanks for all of the great sumo. I see his career as a lesson in what might have been. His sumo “Reactive” style was unique, and when he was healthy, quite a interesting compliment to Harumafuji’s “blow your doors off” attack sumo. I am happy to note that Shodai seems to have picked up a few elements of Kakuryu’s sumo, which I think helped him become and Ozeki. OF course Kakuryu is not really going anywhere, he will train a new generation of rikishi, and I think that is going to be an interesting stable.
Speaking of Shodai, he did what I expected him to do, and put dirt on Takayasu. The yusho race opens up as a result, and I expect there will be a big jostling of burly, round men trying to see who can take the yusho. A reminder to readers, Takayasu would need to lose 2 of his last 4 matches to outright be guaranteed of losing the cup. He faces Hokutofuji on day 12. But he has faced all of the san’yaku, and beaten them all except Shodai. Maybe if we behave ourselves, lksumo may post one of his analyses in the next few days.
Hidenoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma struggled to produce much offensive power at the tachiai, and switched to a left hand outside mawashi grip. Not quite satisfied, he attempted a make-kai, and that’s when Hidenoumi turned on the power, and drove him from the ring. One more win, and Hidenoumi will have his first ever top division kachi-koshi in his 53 basho career.
Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – The days that Kaisei decides his brand of sumo only comes in the “Enormous” size are frequently the days that he wins. Terutsuyoshi dumped a lot of energy into this match, but could find no way to really move Kaisei. Both end the day 6-5.
Aoiyama defeats Yutakayama – That is Aoiyama’s 3rd win in a row, as he moves Yutakayama ever close to the nearly inevitable make-koshi mark. Yutakayama put a lot of work into defense today, but Aoiyama kept ramping up the pressure, and eventually defeated Yutakayama by pushing on his face. Ouch.
Tsurugisho defeats Akiseyama – Akiseyama’s tachiai was off speed, and it met with a surprisingly agile Tsurugisho shifting to the left. With Tsurugisho’s left hand at the back of Akiseyama’s mawashi, there was trouble from the start. Tsurugisho never gave him a chance to square his shoulders or his hips, and marched him quickly out for his 6th win of March.
Daiamami defeats Chiyonokuni – I am a little sad that Chiyonokuni is fading into week 2. But I am confident he will get at least 8 wins, and be back strong for May. If he can keep his body in good working condition, I think he will return to being a joi-jin regular. Today’s loss came when Chiyonokuni stepped out early, giving the win to Daiamami who improves to 6-5.
Tobizaru defeats Kotoeko – These two were even at the tachiai, and battled for hand grip, initiative, or even any advantage for a fair amount of time. Even after they went chest to chest, neither one could do more than counter the other. Kotoeko at last found footing to drive forward, but Tobizaru’s pivot at the bales took the win. He improves to 8-3 and is kachi-koshi.
Ryuden defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka really seems to be completely off his sumo. Ryuden took control at the tachiai, and Kotonowaka could only offer token resistance as Ryuden back him up, then out to advance to 5-6. Thats Kotonowaka’s 8th loss and he is make-koshi for Haru.
Kagayaki defeats Midorifuji – Kagayaki had his hands low at the moment of tachiai, and found a clear inside route. He ended up with both hands on Midorifuji’s shoulders, and a firm press downward completely unbalanced the smaller Midorifuji, sending him face-first into the clay. Both end the day 4-7 and are one loss away from make-koshi.
Tochinoshin defeats Chiyotairyu – A pair of big clashes as the two engaged in a slapping battle. But as is sometimes the case, Chiyotairyu kept his weight forward of this toes, and Tochinoshin slapped him down to improve to 4-7, and stave off make-koshi.
Hoshoryu defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi showed his experience and skill, he kept his hands and body calm and was rewarded with a good left hand inside grip. As Okinoumi marched Hoshoryu to the edge, Hoshoryu used his youth, power and flexibility to pivot into a sukuinage at the tawara to improve to 7-4.
Meisei defeats Ichinojo – It seems that one route to beating Ichinojo is to never let him lower his center of gravity, and keep him moving. Meisei’s right hand grip amidships was the key to him controlling this match, and improving to 7-4.
Wakatakakage defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi gave him a fair beating as Wakatakakage kept low and tried to find any route to attack. With Tamawashi attacking high, Wakatakakage found a route low, and got both hands on the front of Tamawashi’s belt. That was the winning formula, and Wakatakakage improves to 7-4.
Takarafuji defeats Shimanoumi – I am very glad to see Takarafuji pick up his second win. I was concerned that he was more or less in a free fall at this point. To me it looked like Shimanoumi was trying to run the same battle plan he used against Terunofuji on day 10, but it had a starkly different outcome today. That’s loss number 8 for Shimanoumi, and he is make-koshi.
Daieisho defeats Onosho – Onosho’s balance is back to being all over the map, and he’s an easy mark for Daieisho’s re-focused sumo. That’s now 5 in a row for Daieisho, who needs just 2 more wins to secure a kachi-koshi after a 1-5 start to March.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – The Mitakeumi week 2 fade seems to be in full effect, and if he can’t correct the slide, he is going to find himself pushed down the banzuke, and out of san’yaku for the first time in a year. Hokutofuji continues to do well, and faces Takayasu on day 12.
Terunofuji defeats Takanosho – Kaiju back in form. He is kachi-koshi and needs to win 2 of the last 4 to punch his Ozeki ticket and complete the ultimate sumo comeback story. Terunofuji’s opening gambit payed off with a left hand at the back of Takanosho’s mawashi, and a lock on Takanosho’s right arm. I would call this the “Bouncer Grip” as I have seen it used to eject unruly patrons in the past. Terunofuji racks his 8th win.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – Shodai continues to be Takayasu’s bane, tacking his 8th straight match from the former Ozeki. Takayasu put all of his chips on that left hand grip, and drove like made to get that hand on Shodai’s mawashi. Shodai was ready for that, and as Takayasu counterbalanced his left side thrust, Shodai had consolidated his shoulder grip and swung Takayasu to the right, rolling him to the clay. Surprisingly, that is only Shodai’s 6th win of this basho, but there are now 11 rikishi within 2 wins of Takayasu, who remains in sole lead of the yusho race.
Takakeisho defeats Kiribayama – One more win for the Grand Tadpole to clear kadoban. The two traded tsuppari for a moment, but then Kiribayama decided to try to pull Takakeisho down. That release of forward pressure resulted in a strong move forward for the Ozeki, and a loss for Kiribayama, who drops to 4-7.
Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu – Ozeki Asanoyama showed up today. Once he was able to get his favorite left hand outside grip against Myogiryu, it was fast work to put him out. Thats the 8th win for Asanoyama, and he is kachi-koshi for Haru. All 3 Ozeki won today, for (I think) the first time this basho.