Day 4 seems to have been a slap down / pull down festival, with many matches being decided with this class of kimarite, and many more being decided by failed attempts at the same. Even lone Yokozuna Terunofuji go in on the trend, dispatching Hokutofuji with an energetic hikiotoshi.
Off the dohyo, there was worrisome news that Tsurugisho had withdrawn from the tournament with a fever, and was undergoing COVID testing. Given the virility and transmissibility of COVID Delta, a rikishi competing with an active infection could sicken quite a few in the top division. Sumo fans everywhere hope this is not the case, and that Tsurugisho recovers quickly.
For the first time this September, both Ozeki won. But I note that gyoji Kimura Tamajiro called Hoshoryu back following the match, unsatisfied with his bow to conclude the contest. Seriously guys? What does it cost you to show proper manners? If you want to see how it’s done properly, just watch Hokutofuji.
Kyokutaisei defeats Chiyonoo – Juryo visitor Kyokutaisei locked in at the tachiai, and never surrendered his grip. Chiyonoo tried a few things to get free, but after a mostly static match, Kyokutaisei consolidated his position and walked forward to push Chiyonoo out. Thats a first win for Kyokutaisei who goes back to Juryo 1-3.
Kaisei defeats Tokushoryu – Twice Tokushoryu tried to release forward pressure and lure Kaisei off balance, probably hoping for his trademark side step/slap down combo. But Kaisei kept his feet and his focus, and steadily moved Tokushoryu out a piece at a time to improve to 2-2.
Yutakayama defeats Ichiyamamoto – It was a balanced and even exchange of thrusts to each other’s neck and faces until the moment Ichiyamamoto decided to try to pull. That moment cost him the ability to move forward and set up the retreat that saw Ichiyamamoto stumble from the dohyo and out into the crowd. Ichiyamamoto looked unsteady returning to the dohyo, and we hope he is ok. Yutakayama improves to 2-2.
Endo defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki set the tone with the opening combo of thrust to Endo’s neck and chest, taking control and moving forward. Endo missed his attempt at a mawashi grip at the tachiai, and was forced to give ground. But he stepped to the side at the third step back, pulling Kagayaki forward to send him from the dohyo. Endo improves to 3-3.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – After 14 straight losses, Kotoeko has now won 2 in a row. Kotoeko took this one due to frequency of his thrusting attacks, keeping Chiyomaru from getting his offense running. I am still working to think through what seems like a narrow difference between win and lose for Kotoeko, and what separates the two.
Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Myogiryu remains in the undefeated group at 4-0 with his 9th consecutive win over Tochinoshin, finding Tochinoshin slow and weak pivoting to his right, on that bandaged knee. Myogiryu opened with a left hand outside grip, and Tochinoshin’s move to evade set up the oshidashi that won the match. Tochinoshin with just a single win at 1-3 so far.
Aoiyama defeats Chiyotairyu – Aoiyama finally gets his first win against fellow super-heavy, Chiyotairyu, using “his brand” of sumo. Chiyotairyu chose to keep his hands low at the tachiai, presenting Aoiyama with a clear route to push high and hard at the tachiai. Both end the day at 1-3.
Okinoumi defeats Hidenoumi – Okinoumi takes this first ever match up between the two veterans, able to find a moment when Hidenoumi moved to set up a throw, and collapse it upon him. Hidenoumi made his move as Okinoumi moved to consolidate his grip, but Hidenoumi lacked a stable stance to execute the transition. I love seeing these moments of brilliant sumo instincts and training from long serving vets like Okinoumi. He ends the day at 3-1.
Shimanoumi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru picks up his first loss of Aki. He fought well, but you could see Shimanoumi working to set up that throw repeatedly. Tobizaru kept what I am sure he thought was enough separation to prevent Shimanoumi from rotating, but Shimanoumi is versitile enough that he managed to swing his right shoulder back and put Tobizaru in motion. Shimanoumi improves to 2-2.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Onosho – Onosho, too, takes his first loss of Aki. He was early enough off the line that the first attempt was called a matta, and to my eye the second one should have been as well. This may have been part of Terutsuyoshi’s plan, as the poorly timed initial merge left Onosho in a far too common position: his weight and velocity well forward of his toes. This was a ripe opportunity for a slap down that Terutsuyoshi did not discard. He improves to 2-2.
Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura picks up his first win of September. He had not lost to Chiyoshoma in any of their 4 prior matches, and he clearly decided that Aki day 4 was not going to change that pattern. Chiyoshoma launched early twice, as clearly he was trying to keep Ura from evading the tachiai. But when the match finally started on the third attempt, a Chiyoshoma pull attempt discarded his fighting position, and put Ura in control. 1-3 for Ura at the end of the match.
Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – Daieisho seems to have recovered some of his pushing strength, and he was able to break through Takarafuji’s defenses 4 times, moving him around the dohyo, but never getting him out. A gamble to follow a push with a slap down payed off, and sent Takarafuji to the clay. Daieisho improves to 1-3.
Wakatakakage defeats Tamawashi – Very smooth transition from full contact tachiai to pull down by Wakatakakage in today’s match. He had won it before the third step, and caught Tamawashi completely unprepared for that move. Wakatakakage improves to 3-1.
Kiribayama defeats Ichinojo – Kiribayama wins again to join the 4-0 crowd, and is off to an excellent start to Aki.
The two quickly went chest to chest, which I would have thought would have given Ichinojo a distinct advantage, but it was Kiribayama who mounted an attack at least four times, without anything more than a token response from Ichinojo. At this point it looked like Ichinojo’s only response was to stay immobile and be massive (the “Boulder” defense), so Kiribayama put forth the effort to move him out.
Mitakeumi defeats Takayasu – Takayasu can’t seem to buy a win with two stacks of kensho (not that he has seen any). He is able to hold back Mitakeumi’s charge forward, but a combination of hikiotoshi and maybe slippiotoshi brought his hands down to the clay, and Mitakeumi took the win to improve to 3-1.
Meisei defeats Kotonowaka – Meisei seems to be breaking through the ring-rust, and looking more like a Sekiwake now. He faced strong sumo from Kotonowaka. The two went chest to chest early, and Kotonowaka was looking strong. It was Meisei who put the effort into improving his grip, and managed to work Kotonowaka out, over Kotonowaka’s strong defense. Both end the day at 2-2.
Shodai defeats Takanosho – Shodai again today with the soft tachiai, and he was immediately in trouble from Takanosho’s strong opening combo. But Shodai robs Takanosho with some impressive flexibility at the edge, pivoting and converting Takanosho’s finishing push into the force needed to drop him to the clay. Shodai improves to 3-1. But all of that twist went straight into Takanosho’s knee.
Takakeisho defeats Hoshoryu – Takakeisho tried for an earlier slap down, and I was certain that was going to be the end for this his chances this match. But Hoshoryu made no move to exploit that, but instead opted for a right hand mawashi grip, that he could not maintain. In most cases that’s Takakeisho done, but the Ozeki managed to break contact and escape. But again Hoshoryu could not convert an advantage to a win. Takakeisho gets his first win to improve to 1-3, but looked really poor getting there.
Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – I liked how Hokutofuji kept swapping between hazu and nodowa attacks, not letting Terunofuji settle into either an offensive or defensive pattern. But Hokutofuji was focused on swapping his offense around, and seems to have neglect his footing, and the Yokozuna gave him a hearty toss face first onto the dohyo. Terunofuji 4-0, and will be leading the race into the middle weekend.