As a fan of Takayasu, I really do enjoy a day when he shows us good sumo, as was the case today. In fact, his sumo has been pretty solid this basho, which is reflected in his 6 wins since coming back from a 2 day kyujo to start the tournament. What is different? His sumo is less wild and chaotic. That chaos is reflected in big shoulder-strikes at the tachiai that frequently leave him off balance and dancing about like hippy at Stonehenge at mid-summer. Instead we have seen him apply more of his nearly inhuman stamina, and take his time to wear his opponents down, and them put them on the clay. This is a winning formula for Takayasu, and is in fact how he became Ozeki. For reasons only he understands, he quickly discarded that approach after reaching sumo’s second highest rank, and had a rough time turning in consistent scores. I can only hope that he’s re-connected with this approach, and can use it reliably to become a better rikishi.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyonoo – After so many tournaments of Yutakayama looking poorly, it’s quite refreshing to have him genki again. At one point he was the strongest rikishi out of the group that included Asanoyama, and I still have high expectations for Yutakayama’s sumo. Chiyonoo comes on strong but cannot stay in control when Yutakayama disrupts his somewhat low speed charge via hatakikomi. Yutakayama improves to 9-1 and will be rejoining the top division in September.
Ura defeats Chiyonokuni – A good measure of Ura’s entertainment value is watching rikishi try to prevent whatever kind of opening salvo he might employ. Chiyonokuni goes for the zero velocity tachiai, and tries to keep Ura away from any kind of grip on anything. In the process he backs up all the way to the bales and is removed from the match by one single final shove. Not much sumo today from Chiyonokuni, I was hoping the would at least clock Ura once. Ura improves to 6-4 and is almost out of the funnel.
Ishiura defeats Tochinoshin – Ishiura did in fact read the playbook, and attacked left against Tochinoshin’s injured right site. A bit of a spin, a bit of a lean in and a moment to consolidate his grip was all it took to setup the yorikiri that brought Ishiura his 7th win. Tochinoshin is just trying to find a way to survive day by day now.
Kaisei defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki focused everything he could muster center mass against Kaisei, but with only limited effect. There is just quite an awful lot of Kaisei to try to move when he has his feet set. Kagayaki may have been a fan of the Shamen’s “Move Any Mountain”, because he just kept pushing. Kaisei grabbed left and pulled, swinging Kagayaki to the clay, and accidentally sitting on him at the same time. If your bingo card had “Teabagged by Kaisei” please mark your cards now.
Kotonowaka defeats Ichiyamamoto – The battle of the 7-2 rikishi went to Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka initiated a left hand inside hold, and Ichiyamamoto found he could not hold back Kotonowaka’s forward pressure. Kotonowaka improves to 8-2 and is kachi-koshi.
Tamawashi defeats Tokushoryu – Tamawashi focuses high against Tokushoryu, putting all of his force into his face and neck. Tokushoryu counters with a wide right hand slap that turns him a bit too much, letting Tamawashi get to the side, and help continue his turn. Now behind Tokushoryu, Tamawashi applies the pressure and runs him out of the ring. Tamawashi improves to 7-3 and continues to have a good basho. Tokushoryu runs out into the crowd and collides with pretty-obaasan. I do hope she is ok.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Daiamami – Maybe Terutsuyoshi has his sumo in good enough working condition that he may make a go of it to get to 8 wins. Today he leapt to the side against Daiamami, and grabbed a leg at the tachiai. At this point, whatever Daiamami had planned was out the window, and he was largely along for the ride. Terutsuyoshi improves to 5-5.
Takarafuji defeats Tsurugisho – Rather than mount an energy draining defense, Takarafuji clamped down the ottsuke, and advanced following the tachiai. Tsurugisho could not hold him back, tried a pull at the last minute and stepped out. We don’t usually get to see this kind of sumo from Takarafuji, and it was a nice change. Both end the day at 6-4.
Chiyomaru defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama rushes in at the tachiai, looking to go chest to chest against Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru rotates to his right, swinging Aoiyama around and rotating him down to the clay, when Aoiyama can’t keep his feet. Both end the day 4-6.
Hidenoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu gets a solid position out of the tachiai, but can’t maintain the hold as Hidenoumi sweeps his hands away and switches to attack. Myogiryu responds by dialing up the thrust and Hidenoumi attempts to pull him down. They exit the ring and fall together, and the match was decided by a monoii, giving the win to Hidenoumi, who improves to 5-5. Myogiryu falls to 208, and is make-koshi.
Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – Straight recipe sumo from Chiyoshoma today, he gets a quick opening combo in against Shimanoumi who can’t manage to keep his feet under the rotational force delivered by that first attack. Chiyoshoma improves to 6-4.
Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Yet again Kotoeko fights with a lot of energy and vigor, but can’t overcome his opponent. Its as if he has all the pieces, but can’t quite put them together properly. Kiribayama dispatches him to make-koshi with an uwatenage while increasing his score to 7-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Onosho – I cracked a smile when I saw Onosho use Hokutofuji’s own “Handshake tachiai” against him in the opening of today’s match. It nearly worked, too. But as we have written on these pages before, Onosho was not the first rikishi to defeat Hokutofuji’s upper body in a fair fight, just to have his lower body stay in the match and carry the day. I swear Hokutofuji is the human embodiment of the 1990s era Chicago bears, with his lower body featuring a strong measure of Mike Singletary. Hokuto-singletary improves to 5-5
Hoshoryu defeats Tobizaru – The sound of their collision at the tachiai echoed in the quiet arena, and it was clear that Tobizaru was actually going to fight this one out chest to chest. Deep left hand grip for Tobizaru, and he was in control of the match to start. Hoshoryu knew this, and attempt to change up his grip. It was at that moment that Tobizaru threw the match away, as he switched to a pull down just as Hoshoryu got his hand inside. Shame too, he had Hoshoryu at a disadvantage for a time. Hoshoryu improves to 7-3.
Ichinojo defeats Daieisho – Daieisho tried as much as he could muster to dominate this match, but its very difficult to thrust against Ichinojo if he gets his feet set, there is just too much of him. Daieisho does manage to move him about some, but a big slap back from “The Boulder” sends Daieisho tumbling to the clay. Ichinojo improves to 7-3.
Meisei defeats Takanosho – Meisei continues to dominate Takanosho, now 7-1. Takanosho starts strong, and gets in a few good combos against a retreating Meisei. But Meisei executes a really neat shift from the left to the right setting up the hatakikomi, bringing Takanosho down. Both end the day 5-5, squarely in the middle of the Darwin funnel.
Takayasu defeats Wakatakakage – Takayasu had excellent defensive footwork today. In general his feet have been much quieter and much heavier this basho than prior tournaments, and I think that is the key to his better score. Wakatakakage finds himself only partially successful with his pushing attack, and his balance is increasingly forward of his toes. Wakatakakage tries everything, including some grab and tug, but Takayasu seems to have reconnected with his defensive sumo, and he’s just absorbing everything that Wakatakakage puts up. Wakatakakage puts in a big forward charge, right into Takayasu’s side step, giving Takayasu his 6th win.
Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – I would rather Shodai picked up his wins moving forward, but I guess that given my desire to not have this lump of mayo kadoban in September, any win will do. Mitakeumi gets pulled down while pushing with everything he can deliver into Shodai’s broad and wobbly chest. Both end the day at 6-4.
Terunofuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu had a bad tachiai, and seemed to have been waiting for a matta call, which never came. Terunofuji placed both hands on Chiyotairyu’s mawashi and escorts him from the ring to reach 10-0.
Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi works to get a left hand inside, but by the time it finds the Yokozuna’s mawashi, there is nothing left for Okinoumi to do but step out. Hakuho keeps pace with Terunofuji at 10-0.