Many times, day 3 is when we start to see the unusual and unexpected. Everyone has their opening day nerves out of the way, and are starting to settle into the tournament groove. We can have mawashi mean going for a pushing attack, and thrusters grabbing a handful of silk and trying their hand at yotsu-zumo. For today, if there was a theme, it was that some veterans took losses at the hands of the younger set. Oho continues to look really very solid, Wakamotoharu had a surprisingly easy match and even Takanosho seemed to rally at just the right time.
But to me, the big surprise was that Ura did not take a concussion kyujo, but rather showed up and put in quite an effort against Ozeki Takakeisho. I have no doubt that Ura is one tough, focused and tenacious human being. He has battled back twice after crippling injuries to land in the joi-jin to menace the named ranks with his unique approach to sumo. But a head injury is never something to trifle with. I do dearly hope that we don’t see him suffer some delayed effect in the next two weeks.
Kotoeko defeats Kaisei – Maybe Kotoeko is not quite ready for the scrapyard yet. He get chest to chest with Kaisei, even letting Kaisei set up a solid and preferred grip. But a well timed move to his left as Kaisei moved to take him out grabbed Kotoeko his second win at the moment of defeat, putting Kaisei on the clay. Any way you can sir! Kotoeko advances to 2-1.
Oho defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho really wanted a mawashi fight, and even had solid control of the match at first. But he found he could not power forward against Oho’s defense. Oho broke contact, and started a thrusting attack, which Tsurugisho could not repel. The loss came when Tsurugisho tried a pull, and surrendered all forward pressure to Oho, who now has a 3-0 start to Hatsu. Golly!
Wakamotoharu defeats Tochinoshin – Ugh, Tochinoshin tries a pull immediately in the tachiai, and gives up any hope of power sumo. I guess if you know your body won’t support any real forward pressure or offensive sumo, this is what you have to try. In response Wakamotoharu blasts him back out of the west side, leaving him stumbling into the crowd. Wakamotoharu improves to 2-1.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Aoiyama – Two thrusters locked in am mawashi fight? Must be day 3… They struggle into a stalemate with neither man being able to overpower the other. But Ichiyamamoto gets a hand in Aoiyama’s arm pit (a natural leverage point) and is able to raise Big Dan up and move him. Ichiyamamoto improves to 2-1 with solid, if unexpected, fundamentals.
Yutakayama defeats Kotonowaka – Just around the time I worry Yutakayama is no longer taking himself or his sumo seriously, we get a good fight out of him. Kotonowaka locks him up and they are chest to chest. Not Yutakayama’s strong point, but he fights through it well. Yutakayama kept his hips lower, and at no point did Kotonowaka have a fighting advantage. The yorikiri win is Yutakayama’s first ever win over Kotonowaka in 5 attempts, and improves him to 2-1.
Chiyomaru defeats Ishiura – Ishiura had a statistical advantage going into this match, but none of that mattered as Chiyomaru connected well at the tachiai. It looked to me that he had borrowed Takakeisho’s wave-action machine, as two mighty double arm pushes was all it took to send the smaller Ishiura stumbling back over the salt basket. Chiyomaru improves to 2-1.
Sadanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – Sadanoumi’s right hand frontal grip missed at the tachiai, and it was Chiyotairyu’s match for just a moment. But Sadanoumi’s superior speed helped him move to the side of the onrushing Chiyotairyu, and set up the push from behind for an okuridashi win. Chiyotairyu still winless as Sadanoumi improves to 2-1.
Myogiryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi was far too low at the tachiai, and his attempt at a leg grab seems to have been expected. Myogiryu wrapped his upper body, and applied a firm 45° twist. At this point Terutsuyoshi is completely off balance, no defensive stance, and is little more than baggage. Myogiryu gives him a shove and sends him sailing into the crowd to remain perfect at 3-0.
Shimanoumi defeats Akua – Battle of the winless rikishi, and it was Shimanoumi who proved the stronger. Akua aimed high at Shimanoumi’s face, and Shimanoumi aimed center mass. We all know which one works best, yes? Shimanoumi gets Akua on the move and out in short order for his first win, advancing to 1-2.
Takarafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Glorious example of Takarafuji’s sumo. Chiyonokuni is on offense, but nothing he delivers to Takarafuji’s body is really doing very much, and as Chiyonokuni recovers from each thrust, Takarafuji takes a small step forward, removing a foot or two of dohyo from Chiyonokuni’s area of control. With this pattern, Takarafuji gradually walks Chiyonokuni to the edge and with a final, tiny push, takes the match. Brilliant! Takarafuji improves to 2-1.
Abi defeats Tobizaru – The Abi train keeps rolling along, thought I did like Tobizaru’s opening combo. He was able to get inside Abi’s defensive flailing and connect solidly to center-mass. But in his enthusiasm, he ended a volley off balance, and Abi delivered a lateral push above the waterline to send Tobizaru sideways and down. Abi remains unbeaten at 3-0.
Hoshoryu defeats Hokutofuji – Solid fight from Hokutofuji today. He was low, inside and pushing with strength. He had Hoshoryu locked in for a loss until Hoshoryu hit an escape move and in passing applied a thrust to Hokutofuji’s shoulder, sending him down to the clay as Hoshoryu stepped away. Hoshoryu improves to 2-1 in a very nice reversal at the edge.
Chiyoshoma defeats Okinoumi – Maybe Okinoumi was expecting a henka? Okinoumi with a soft tachiai that sees him stand up, directly into Chiyoshoma’s stiff arm nodowa attack. At this point, all of Okinoumi’s amazing lexicon of sumo is somewhat worthless. He is standing upright, his feet are not planted and he has no defense. He walks back with Chiyoshoma pushing at every step, and takes the loss. First win for Chiyoshoma, improving to 1-2.
Onosho defeats Endo – Endo attempted a bit of a grab at the tachiai, but he left his chest wide open for Onosho’s opening attack. Onosho, when his balance is working as it seems to be this January, can delivery overwhelming power with every touch. Endo’s balance was broken, and three steps later was over the tawara. Onosho remains undefeated at 3-0.
Meisei defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo had a great start, but found himself struggling to catch Meisei. This was never going to work as Meisei is too agile to be where Ichinojo is predicting to find him next. Ichinojo just seems to give up and adopts his “Boulder” stance and waits for Meisei to come to him. He does, and by then he has Ichinojo right where he needs him, and it’s a quick trot out for the Boulder. Meisei improves to 2-1.
Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – In a grand example of youth over experience, Takanosho keeps up the fight in the face of greater power from Tamawashi. As Tamawashi presses forward to end the match, Takanosho steps aside and applies the tsukiotoshi to hand Tamawashi his first loss of January, and improve to 2-1. I keep seeing moments where Takanosho shows excellent ring sense and timing. I wonder how that can be refined and brought out more frequently.
Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – Excellent choice of opening move by Wakatakakage, he lands a left hand mawashi grip and tries to pivot. Mitakeumi reads the situation in less than a second and follows Wakatakakage’s roll left, and lands a right hand inside. From here, the original tadpole has the advantage in mass, power and body position, and grinds Wakatakakage out for his 3rd consecutive win of Hatsu. Nice reaction there, Mitakeumi.
Daieisho defeats Shodai – If ever there was a moment for Shodai to bring out the “Wall of Daikon” it was in the opening moments of today’s match. Instead, he let Daieisho get the drop on him, and blast away at center mass, more or less at will. Daieisho, happy in his moment, just dials up the power until the Ozeki gives ground. Three steps later, Daieisho has his first win, and Shodai his first loss.
Ura defeats Takakeisho – The previously concussed Ura shows up today, and gives Takakeisho a run through WTF land in a double header of sumo madness. First bout was traditional grab and tug sumo from Ura, and Takakeisho quickly figured it out, and dialed back the thrust frequency, leaving him more or less a big, round target. Ura takes a left hand shallow grip and its trouble for the Ozeki. Takakeisho goes out, Ura falls and it’s monoii time! Hell, the shimpan can’t figure this one out, make ’em fight again. Second match, Ura makes contact, takes a leap to the side and propels Takakeisho to the clay with a mighty shove. Yep, that’s about what was needed here. Takakeisho hits the clay, and Ura picks up his first win of the tournament by collecting an Ozeki scalp.
Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – Much better form today from Terunofuji. Straight ahead sumo with force and power. Kiribayama had a moment to break free for just a moment, but it was not to be as he could not break to Yokozuna’s iron grip. Terunofuji dumps him in a heap over the west side of the dohyo and strides back for the kensho stack. Terunofuji improves to 3-0.