My initial reaction to day 12 was, “Where to start with this?”. It was a day of intense and pivotal sumo, full of good matches with some surprising results. I think it has to start with the last match of the day, where Meisei surprised the Yokozuna with a blistering tachiai and converted it to a shitatenage on the third step. With that loss, the yusho race expands once again, with 4 rikishi finishing the day 1 win behind the Yokozuna. I still expect Terunofuji to take the cup home on day 15, but the score will be no higher than 13-2.
But earlier in the torikumi, we saw Tochinoshin take on Chiyonokuni in a oshi-zumo battle, and batter the daylights out of the arch pugilist with enough power to knock a filling loose. We don’t see Tochinoshin engage in this kind of sumo much if at all, but that looked like it hurt.
While I am pretty sure the funnel project was set aside earlier, we now have 8 rikishi that go into the final three days with 6-6 records. This could make for a healthy crop of Darwin matches on day 15, but we have to get them (and maybe a few others) to 7-7 two days from now.
Lastly, poor Takayasu literally busted his ass. He is kyujo with an injury to his right side gluteus maximus, and will be out for the rest of the basho. Tamawashi picked up the fusensho and has a 5-7 score at the end of day 12. We hope that Takayasu can find a comfortable position to rest with that one. Man, it must hurt.
Daiamami defeats Chiyonoo – Juryo visitor Daiamami has the better hand and body position, and overpowers Chiyonoo for his 8th loss, rendering him make-koshi for September. Chiyonoo has lost 5 of the last 6 matches, and joins the crowd eligible for demotion back to Juryo.
Tochinoshin defeats Chiyonokuni – I do think that Tochinoshin may have found a new form of sumo to enjoy today. Chiyonokuni started with his normal wide, powerful slapping swings, battering Tochinoshin around mercilessly. And then, maybe, the former Ozeki connected with his 12 year old self battling with a sibling back in Georgia, and opened up his own smack-attack. As much upper body strength as Tochinoshin still has, that had to have really been effective. By the 5th volley, Chiyonokuni was clearly feeling it in his head and face, and Tochinoshin made fast work of shoving him out. Tochinoshin improves to 6-6.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyotairyu – Four in a row now for Kotoeko. His fight against Chiyonokuni on day 8 must have snapped whatever was damaged back into place, because he has won every match since after a long streak of losses. Chiyotairyu dictated that the match go chest to chest, which is a bit surprising. Kotoeko was able to mount a strong defense, and worked to get a double inside grip, which he converted to a win moments later. Kotoeko improves to 6-6.
Kagayaki defeats Myogiryu – This may have been intended to a straightforward win for Myogiryu to stay one behind Terunofuji, but Kagayaki got his hands inside, and hammered away against center-mass. Myogiryu could not hold his footing, and Kagayaki pressed forward to thrust Myogiryu out, improving to 6-6.
Yutakayama defeats Aoiyama – Yutakayama was able to get chest to chest with Aoiyama, who seemed to not really have a good formula for shutting down Yutakayama’s advance. Yutakayama made fast work of the match, with a tentative right hand inside position, he moved Aoiyama back and out to improve to 7-5.
Tsurugisho defeats Hidenoumi – Tsurugisho was not quite ready for make-koshi yet. He gets a right hand inside and marched Hidenoumi directly out. It was too slow to be denshamichi, but I think it was quite a good match from a man fighting through the pain on his right leg. Both end the day at 5-7.
Tobizaru defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu was very eager off the line, causing a matta, and then rushing in fast on the second attempt. Tobizaru seemed wary of some kind of mischief from Tokushoryu, who had superior body position, But Tobizaru’s left hand inside and shoulders set up for a kubinage, which came through just as both men crashed across the bales. Tobizaru improves to 5-7.
Shimanoumi defeats Kaisei – Shimanoumi gave Kaisei a welcome start to the match, going chest to chest and keeping the lateral movement to a minimum. After setting up then struggling for hand placement, Shimanoumi established a hazuoshi (armpit attack) and pushed Kaisei across the tawara. Shimanoumi improves to 5-7, Kaisei hits loss #8 and is make-koshi.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Terutsuyoshi – I had expected Terutsuyoshi to dominate this match, but Ichiyamamoto was able to set up a two hand thrust on Terutsuyoshi’s shoulders before the tachiai was complete. Terutsuyoshi never found a way to defend or escape the attack stream, and was quickly thrust out of the ring. Ichiyamamoto improves to 4-8.
Chiyomaru defeats Ura – Ura gets under Chiyomaru’s initial attack, which went high and over Ura’s shoulder. But it put Chiyomaru’s hands in a perfect position for a pull down, and he launched Ura forward to tumble out of the ring. Chiyomaru improves to 7-5.
Wakatakakage defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma was off balance at the second step, and that robbed him of both offense and defense at a critical moment of the fight. Wakatakakage took control and responded with a thrusting combo that caught Chiyoshoma wide open, and unable to compensate. Wakatakakage improves to 6-6.
Okinoumi defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama fails to reach his 8th win yet again, and his hoped for posting to san’yaku is starting to look a bit more questionable. He put up a hell of a defense against Okinoumi, who was able to get superior body and hand placement, and at once point was pressing against Kiribayama’s chin with everything he could muster. But Okinoumi has enough sumo for any occasion, and sends Kiribayama out with an uwatenage, improving to 9-3.
Daieisho defeats Hoshoryu – Nice to see Daieisho back to his traditional form of sumo. Explosive tachiai, direct connect with maximum power thrust, and follow up with overpowering forward momentum. Hoshoryu had no chance to do anything other than go along for the ride. Daieisho improves to 7-5.
Endo defeats Takanosho – Takanosho had all of the offense in this match, but hit the clay thanks to a last moment hatakikomi from Endo as he was falling out of the ring. I expected a monoii, but I am going to guess the judges had a clear enough view that none was required. Endo improves to 9-3.
Onosho defeats Mitakeumi – When the schedulers put two tadpoles on the dohyo to fight each other, you know there will be sparks. Onosho, when he can be certain that there is enough mass to hold his pressure, can deliver a massive opening volley. He used it today to put Mitakeumi on his heels, and 2 steps later to shove him across the tawara to improve to 9-3.
Ichinojo defeats Shodai – It was a matta fest, as Ichinojo could not get his low speed launch quite right. To be fair, its a bit like launching a JAL 777 headed for Los Angeles. I saw Shodai trying the “big body” wall of daikon technique, and Ichinojo was having none of it. From his great altitude, a slap down is always just a moment away. With Shodai reaching forward to press the attack, Ichinojo reached forward and sent him down to the clay. Ichinojo improves to 6-6. Even Isegahama seemed frustrated.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – I have no idea where Takakeisho found the guts to grind out 8 wins this month after losing the first 3 in a row. It was clear he was not 100%, but he was going to make it work through sheer force of will if necessary. This is why he’s an Ozeki. Takarafuji, to his credit, presents an excellent, stable defense, but can’t stay in with the amount of power Takakeisho is suppling. Takakeisho clears kadoban, retains his Ozeki rank with his 8th win, and his kachi-koshi for Aki.
Meisei defeats Terunofuji – Meisei shook off a poor record going into today to surprise the Yokozuna with a lightning fast tachiai, putting all of his force into a double arm thrust against Terunofuji’s neck, and immediately drove low to put a right hand deep inside. With his right hand on Terunofuji’s mawashi knot, Meisei had advantage, and he did not give Terunofuji any time to defend, rolling into a throw and sending the Yokozuna across the bales. Meisei improves to 5-7.