One line summary: a fantastic day of sumo, with high energy matches across the board.
At the start of day 4, the press reported that Ozeki Takakeisho had withdrawn from the Hatsu basho, as lksumo posted last night to Tachiai. I think the primary beneficiary of this unfortunate event is none other than Mitakeumi, who has a blazing 4-0 start to the tournament, and is really looking to run up the score as part of building the case for elevation to Ozeki. Mitakeumi has a strong record against Takakeisho, but hey, one less Ozeki to try to defeat.
In the named ranks, I continue to marvel at some of the fundamentals we see daily from Yokozuna Terunofuji. He had a real complex problem in today’s match against Ura, who’s high mobility and unorthodox combos can entangle even the strongest opponent. Ura kept his hips low throughout that match, and it really prevented Terunofuji from applying the force needed to outright defeat him, and it nearly cost him the match. But look at the Yokozuna’s foot placement and how much effort he puts into keeping his shoulders square to Ura’s line of force. I have to wonder what could have been if Terunofuji’s knees had remained intact.
Aoiyama defeats Oho – Color me relieved that Aoiyama was able to find enough power to limit Oho’s offense and eventually push him out. It was clear that Oho had the stronger position, and Aoiyama is still unable to really press ahead with too much force, but Big Dan got it done. Oho picks up his first loss to go to 3-1 as Aoiyama advances to 2-2.
Kotoeko defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho’s opening surge was not enough to put Kotoeko over the bales, and Tsurugisho quickly found himself on the receiving end of a surprisingly forceful yorikiri. Under normal conditions, there is no way Kotoeko should have been able to move Tsurugisho back like that. But the big Oitekaze man seems to be hurt. Kotoeko improves to 3-1 while Tsurugisho remains winless at 0-4.
Kaisei defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got his preferred left hand outside grip, but it was against Kaisei. Even thought he has, in the past, lifted the big Brazilian, there is no way his body is healthy enough for that now. So both men spent a fair number of moments bearing down, lifting the other, with Kaisei getting the clear advantage. He walked Tochinoshin back one step at a time, and moved him out for the win. Kaisei improves to 2-2.
Kotonowaka defeats Wakamotoharu – While I had been hoping for a Wakamotoharu win, he spent precious seconds adjusting his grip. It eventually worked, but by then he was close to the bales, a bit too high, and Kotonowaka had latched in as driving him out. Kotonowaka improves to 3-1.
Chiyomaru defeats Ichiyamamoto – Chiyomaru, for a giant round fellow, is surprisingly agile. I am sure Ichiyamamoto was thinking to himself, “What the hell does it take to beat this guy”, as Chiyomaru spent most of the match fighting in reverse. Eventually he caught Ichiyamamoto off balance, and slapped him down. Chiyomaru improves to 3-1.
Yutakayama defeats Ishiura – Impressive combo from Yutakayama at the tachiai. It caught Ishiura between steps, with Yutakauama applying downward pressure on Ishiura’s shoulders just as Yutakayama stepped to the side. Classic hatakikomi, and Yutakayama improves to 3-1.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu was actually able to generate a bit of forward pressure today against Terutsuyoshi, but could not keep it running for long, settling to stalemate head to head in the center of the dohyo. The problem being that he was too low to maintain that position with any stability, opening the door wide for Terutsuyoshi’s to thrust him down. Terutsuyoshi improves to 2-2 while Chiyotairyu remains winless.
Myogiryu defeats Akua – Akua had a strong start, getting his hands in Myogiryu’s armpits and moving well. Myogiryu broke contact before he got in too much trouble, and re-engaged with a left hand inside position. Akua tried to throw, but yet again his opponent collapsed the pivot and sent Akua to the clay. Myogiryu improves to 4-0, while Akua has yet to find his firs win.
Shimanoumi defeats Sadanoumi – Shimanoumi may have broken free of whatever ring rust was hampering him today. Solid sumo against Sadanoumi, finishing with a well executed uwatedashinage. Shimanoumi captured Sadanoumi early, removing Sadanoumi’s advantage of speed and mobility and reducing the match to power vs power, which favors Shimanoumi. Both end the day 2-2.
Takarafuji defeats Tobizaru – What a surprising and delightful match. We saw Takarafuji quickly settle into his calm “defend and extend” mode of sumo, with Tobizaru reacting as expected by bouncing around and attacking from any angle he pleased. But a close call at the edge switched Takarafuji into “attack” mode (seldom seen) and he proceeded to shut down Tobizaru’s monkey sumo en route to tossing him across the bales. Takarafuji improves to 3-1.
Abi defeats Chiyonokuni – Abi-zumo again for 4 straight wins. I swear, Chiyonokuni can actually execute quality sumo, folks. I just don’t know where he put it this January. But yeah, the Abi train looks to be unstoppable right now. Hopefully they rotate him in to fight the named ranks, as I would like to see how far he can take his 4-0 record against the top men of sumo.
Onosho defeats Hoshoryu – Onosho achieved first contact, but was unable to really produce much offense against Hoshoryu at first. Clearly Onosho was delivering more force, and Hoshoryu struggled to keep his hips and shoulders squared against his opponent. When Hoshoryu finally was able to get a low grade but workable grip, Onosho turned up the forward pressure and moved to finish the match. A list moment throw attempt collapsed, improving Onosho to 4-0 with a mighty yoritaoshi.
Hokutofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s flying henka attempt missed its mark, as Hokutofuji was ready, and Chiyoshoma could not connect with Hokutofuji’s mawashi. The two lock up chest to chest, with Hokutofuji eventually swinging him to the clay, improving to 2-2.
Tamawashi defeats Okinoumi – Tamawashi won this one chest to chest, which we don’t get to see often enough. Okinoumi is clearly not at 100%, but put up more than token resistance to Tamawashi’s yorikiri drive. But it’s Tamawashi taking the win to improve to 3-1.
Ichinojo defeats Daieisho – Ichinojo was nearly upright at the tachiai, and caught the first two Daieisho volleys full in the chest. But poor timing cost Daieisho the inside position, and Ichinojo replied with his own thrusting combo. Granted, Ichinojo’s body position was poor, but when you are that big and strong, you just have to connect with someone Daieisho’s size, and it will work. Ichinojo improves to 2-2.
Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – A real car crash of a match, Mitakeumi hits strong at the tachiai, but Meisei’s sumo clicks in and drives Mitakeumi back. With both men headed out in a hurry, Meisei loads a throw, but it may have been a moment too late. The replay shows Mitakeumi airborne with Meisei’s foot headed out. There is really only one choice, fight it again. The second run, it was all tadpole power as Mitakeumi blasts Meisei out in a hurry, to remain perfect at 4-0.
Endo defeats Takanosho – Endo had a good tachiai today, and was able to get a left hand deep. Takanosho knew he had trouble by the second step, and spent the rest of the match trying to either use Endo’s left arm to execute a throw, or break Endo’s balance. Endo, like a master fisherman, kept Takanosho on the hook and just kept reeling him in until Takanosho had no room left to fight. Both end the day with 2-2.
Shodai defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage overpowers Shodai, simply put. But Wakatakakage could not keep his feet inside the ring, and threw away a perfectly good win against an Ozeki. Shodai, sir, please rally soon. I know your score says 3-1 as of today, but your sumo says “Maegashira Shodai”, and it’s a shame.
Terunofuji defeats Ura – Ah, Ura. No opponent is too mighty or too fearsome for you to give anything less than a full measure. What more could the world ask of any man? Terunofuji wrapped Ura up early, and never really get much of his offense deployed. Nice rally by the man in pink, but it set up Terunofuji’s win, as we once again see that kaiju strength come from nowhere and another Terunofuji opponent go flying with what might look like the smallest of shoves. Terunofuji unbeaten at 4-0.