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.
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.