Nagoya Day 6 Highlights

Normally during a sumo tournament, Hakuho is at full competition force by the start of the second act. But to me, he seems to be struggling a bit more each day. This is not unexpected given he had major knee surgery less than 4 months ago, and I am sure its all he can do to mount the dohyo and fight each of the last 5 days. Given the parameters of the ultimatum around his entry into this basho, he’s got to stick it out for another 9 days. His iron will will drive him to make that happen at all costs, but it may come with a heavy price. But this Hakuho, and I its clear that with only partial use of his right leg, he is still a most formidable man on the dohyo. I still hope for a day 15 battle against Terunofuji for the cup, but I am not quite sure what condition the great Yokozuna will be in once we reach the end of this basho.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Shohozan – Shohozan continues to fade, picking up his 6th loss in 6 matches. Ishiura was surprisingly fast at the tachiai, and was able to get his hands inside and against Shohozan’s face before Shohozan could begin his swatting attack. The match was lost when Shohozan tried to pull Ishiura’s head and found his opponent behind him and pushing strongly from behind. Ishiura improves to 3-3.

Daiamami defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru has his hands up to strike Daiamami early in the tachiai, but Daiamami endures this to get his right hand on Chiyomaru’s mawashi. The grip does not last, but as the two work to hold the other, Daiamami ends up with morozashi for just a moment, which was all it took to put Daiamami in control. The match was won when Daiamami lifted and advanced, taking the bulky Chiyomaru over the bales. Both men end the day 2-4.

Ura defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto’s plan for this match seems to have fallen flat when Ura came in very low, as usual, and Ichiyamamoto decided that he was so close to the clay, he may as well try to finish the job and pull him down. That release for forward pressure allowed Ura to rapidly drive Ichiyamamoto back and out, advancing him to 3-3 by oshidashi.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyonokuni – Maybe Tochinoshin is not quite ready for the scrap heap just yet. He gave Chiyonokuni a solid fight today, and beat him moving forward. Chiyonokuni went to an arm grab in the tachiai, and somehow ended up turned with Tochinoshin inside, low and thrusting against center mass. It only took 3 steps and Chiyonokuni was out, and Tochinoshin improved to 2-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – For the first time in 4 attempts Tsurugisho was able to beat Kagayaki. As Kagayaki worked to get his hands past Tsurugisho’s defenses at the tachiai, Tsurugisho got a deep left hand grip, and immediately used it to swing Kagayaki around and hurl him to the clay. Tsurugisho improves to 4-2.

Kotonowaka defeats Tokushoryu – I am starting to have hope that Kotonowaka does in fact have his sumo together, after 2 straight losing tournaments. I love that he used Tokushoryu’s trademark tsukiotoshi to put him on the clay today. Not as fluid as Tokushoryu does it, but the point was made. Kotonowaka improves to 5-1.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tamawashi – This match was very odd, and after watching it a few times, I am still not entirely sure what happened. Two matta, then a Terutsuyoshi hit and shift sent Tamawashi tumbling for a loss. The kimarite is listed as hikiotoshi, but I am still trying to piece it together. Terutsuyoshi picks up a much needed second win.

Kaisei defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi lets himself get captured by Kaisei and into a yotsu battle. I admire his enthusiasm, but there is just so much of Kaisei to try and wrangle in this kind of fight. Like trying to place a 20 ton chunk of decorative stone, to some extent it’s going to go where it wants to go, and you either hang on for the ride or get out of the way. Both end the day 3-3.

Shimanoumi defeats Chiyonoo – Shimanoumi locked into his battle plan first, and while Chiyonoo kept working to set himself up, Shimanoumi took control and drove him out of the ring. He improves to 3-3.

Aoiyama defeats Myogiryu – This was a most unusual win for Aoiyama, as the majority of the fight was spent chest to chest with Myogiryu, rather than fighting it out blow by blow in a thrusting match. Myogiryu had superior position from the tachiai, but lacked the power to stop Aoiyama from advancing. They broke contact once, and quickly went back to yotsu. Aoiyama improves to 3-3, and Myogiryu drops to 1-5.

Takarafuji defeats Onosho – Onosho attacks first against Takarafuji’s armpits, but is unable to do more than move him back a single step. As Onosho works to improve his position, Takarafuji gets him off balance (big surprise, right?) and brings him down to the clay. Takarafuji improves to 4-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Hoshoryu – Chiyoshoma’s opening move was to crank Hoshoryu’s head under his left arm and try to drop his via thrust down, but Hoshoryu was able to escape and counter attack. Points to Chiyoshoma for nullifying the counter attack and stalemating Hoshoryu and holding the center of the dohyo. Realizing he had nothing to work with, Hoshoryu moved to reach inside, and that set up Chiyoshoma’s throw. Nicely done by Chiyoshoma, and he improves to 3-3.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kiribayama – I have complained for the past few days about Chiyotairyu’s predictable, somewhat stale sumo. I have remarked about how everyone knows its coming, and it seldom works. Today, it worked. He hit hard at the tachiai, raising up Kiribayama and then pulling him down. Chiyotairyu improves to 2-4, picking up a much needed second win.

Tobizaru defeats Okinoumi – Tobizaru possesses admirable tenacity, and it was evident today as he picked his spot, and drove everything against Okinoumi’s chest. Even when Okinoumi got a deep left hand inside grip, he kept working to overcome. Even when Okinoumi consolidated his grip and drove forward to take Tobizaru out, he was still working offense. With Okinoumi one step away from victory, Tobizaru unleashed the throw with remarkable agility, planking Okinoumi as he engaged in a celebratory dash down the hanamichi. Nicely done, and both end day 6 with 3-3.

Takanosho defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage bounced to his left at the tachiai, in an attempt to get a left hand deep and set up a throw. Takanosho was having none of this and hand a clear path to Wakatakakage’s chest, and drove hard to move him back, and two steps later out. Takanosho improves to 2-4, and is finally looking more like Sekiwake Takanosho.

Takayasu defeats Daieisho – A big tachiai followed by a thrusting battle, that was always going to favor Takayasu’s greater mass. It lasted for 4 volleys before Daieisho lost footing and ended up on all 4 for the loss. Takayasu improves to 3-3.

Meisei defeats Mitakeumi – Meisei aimed high and Mitakeumi aimed low at the tachiai, and the result was Mitakeumi in control, strongly pushing Meisei back and marching forward. But as Mitakeumi continued to shove Meisei back, he allowed himself to get too far forward, and was ripe for a shift and push attack, which came as Meisei circled away from a final Mitakeumi surge forward. Meisei improves to 3-3.

Shodai defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko found himself unable to move Shodai, who finally had some reasonable defensive foot placement today. These wins where Shodai more or less just crowds his opponent out with his bulky body are not that exciting to watch, but at this point Shodai is just looking for wins. He is now 3-3.

Terunofuji defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo had precisely nothing to bring to today’s match. Terunofuji gave him a solid hit at the tachiai and just moved him bodily out in 3 easy steps. Terunofuji remains perfect at 6-0.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – I am sure I will catch heat for this, but I am not sure today’s performance from Hakuho was quite Yokozuna grade sumo. I counted at least 3 rapid pull moves against Hokutofuji’s neck while moving backward and pawing like mad. It keeps Hakuho unbeaten, but it gives me worry that his knee is not going to be able to hold together long enough to keep him in this tournament for much longer. Hakuho at 6-0, matching Terunofuji.

11 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 6 Highlights

  1. Chiyotairyu’s game plan often works when he actually puts some effort into it. I hope Kiribayama wasn’t planning on using his face for anything important.

    Ichinojo not offering much of a fight there…

    Hakuho showing us late-stage-Aminishiki style sumo as performed by a dai-yokozuna.

    • The Ichinojo comment should be annotated “(in Murray Johnson wink-and-nod voice)” but I used angle brackets which the comment system cleans out as potential HTML injection.

  2. I don’t think Hakuho really cares about “Yokozuna quality sumo” right now. More likely his only concern is winning at any cost. If he can get enough wins it’ll buy him more time. More time to rest or make up his mind on what he’s going to do post-sumo. I don’t think he’s deluding himself, you can see it after every match with his (rather funny) facial expressions. Hakuho knows he’s getting one over on people based entirely on his IQ and reputation; someone like Ichinojo was beaten before the match even began.

    If Hakuho can prove he’s still the best (or second best behind Terunofuji) it’ll allow him to rest up for a few more tournaments before making one or two more serious attempts at getting another cup. Right now it’s a victory for Hakuho if he can get 10+ wins and make the entire tournament.

  3. To me, it appeared that Terutsuyoshi swatted down hard with both his arms on Tamawashi’s extended arms, sending Tamawashi tumbling forward.

    I’m enjoying Abi’s efforts in Juryo; this edition of Abi is fighting with much better foot placement, balance, and stability.

  4. I don’t know that I would say it wasn’t Yokozuna grade sumo but apart from the tachiai it felt more like Kakuryu to me. First plan of attack doesn’t work, switch to pulling (and that worked for Kakuryu in tournaments where he won yusho, even if we don’t associate that with Hakuho).

    I don’t disagree that he’s clearly not close to 100%, but as we’ve always said his 70% is most often still going to be enough to win.

    As another commenter remarked the other day, it’s just clearer than ever he’s tailoring his tactics to his opponent which isn’t new for him, he’s been doing that for some time now. I think he’s just seen Hokutofuji come in a bit wild and gone “I think I can end this quickly” and it’s worked out for him – but it very well could have ended up with him getting pushed out. I do worry that if he does get pushed out heavily and lands awkwardly on that knee it could be a bad one.

    The tachiai is still lightning fast though even if less effective. He only needs to win 4 or 5 out of 9 at this point to “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” and stave off the voices of doom, and I think he still looks the best challenger to Terunofuji who basically got a rest day on Day 6. Terunofuji will have had tougher keiko against an injured Midorifuji.

  5. If we have a Terunofuji vs. Hakuho bout, it looks like a Terunofuji win would be his first kinboshi. When reviewing Hokutofuji and Terunofuji yesterday on the Kyokai’s site, I was surpised to see that Hokutofuji has 7 and Teru has none. Go figure…

      • Right — they’re only awarded to maegashira, which explains why Hokutofuji has more than Terunofuji — Hokutofuji has spent less time ranked komusubi or better and so has just had many more chances for them. Hokutofuji has spent around 15 basho in the joi as a maegashira and sports records of 2 out of 11 against Hakuho, 3 out of 8 against Kakuryu, 1 out of 2 against Harumafuji, and 2 out of 3 against Kisenosato, with his earliest gold star coming in 2017 against a fading cadre of yokozuna. Terunofuji has spent 3 basho in the joi as a maegashira (Aki 2020 doesn’t count since Hakuho was the sole yokozuna and he was kyujo for the whole thing); all his chances were in 2014 or 2015 and he went 0 for 3 against Hakuho and 0 for 3 against Kakuryu. (He never fought Harumafuji in a basho because they’re both from Isegahama-beya.)

  6. I think Hakuho is using every trick he’s amassed in his book to keep his knee as safe as possible. He’s not really gone right in or been pushed to use that knee much. He’s scrambled, danced, slipped, pulled, pushed so far. I’m going to bank on we see a Hakuho Henka at some point ( and my fear is it gets pulled against Terunofuji at the end ). This is not the Hakuho we use to know, this is a man who knows time is gaining on him.

    I feel Hakuho is out for 1 thing and 1 thing alone. One last ride to the end, to go out on a positive note. Likely seeing how Kisenosato injured and unable to perform and more or less embarrassing himself by handing out Gold Stars in 9 straight losses. Kakuryu, where his last match was basically him defeating himself with a lig kick and getting injured from it, and unable to come back so that match being the match people will remember. Asashoryu and Harumafuji both forced to retire due to scandal. IT hasn’t been the best leaving parade for Yaokozuna and I don’t think Hakuho wants to add to that list of less then stellar retirements.

    Also Hakuho has 1 Bucket list item left. The Olympics. We all know he wants to do his Dohyo-ri at the Olympics opening. Fighting in this Basho makes sure he’ll get that chance. He cannot do anything that suggests retiring or pulling out until he has that under his White rope belt. I honestly believe Hakuho would of retired last year if the Olympics didn’t get postponed. He has nothing left to prove, and I think he wants to retire while he still has his Aura about him of being almost invincible.

    Regardless of what happens this Basho, I think Hakuho will retire after it. He wants to get out while he’s still in good shape and people have a good vision of him as compared to those that retired before him. Also I think he wants to move to the next part of his Sumo Career, he wants to teach, he wants his own stable. So in short, he’s going to hold on as long as it takes to make sure he can open the Olympics, After that, He’ll step down to let the up and coming generations try to fill some very big foot prints.

    • If you look at the history for retirements of recent yokozuna Kakuryu and Kisenosato look pretty typical. Yokozuna are supposed to keep fighting until they can’t win anymore which means that it’s not uncommon for them to go intai on a loss or a streak of losses, often after one or more tournaments sat out due to injury. Only Akebono went out on a series of strong performances capped by a yusho but he was particularly injury-prone and his retirement was in fact prompted by an injury. (Well, Futahaguro went out on a strong 13-2 jun-yusho but that was no normal retirement.) If Hakuho bucked that trend by getting a yusho or jun-yusho and then just declaring himself done that would be a bit unusual in the history of sumo, but not inconceivable I suppose given the injuries he’s carrying.

      • Yea, but Hakuho isn’t your typical Yokozuna. He’s almost a living mythical figure at this point in sumo. I don’t think he wants to be seen as falling apart and unable to fight anymore. I really feel he’d rather go out on top then be seen fading and unable to fight anymore.


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