Aki Day 2 Highlights

I would like to proclaim today “center mass” day. There were a larger than normal number of matches where the winner was able to overpower his opponent by getting his hands placed well, and pushing with tremendous force. Rikishi can use this general strategy in any number of ways, but its most effective when both hands are on their opponent’s torso. For a first rate demonstration, watch the Oho vs Yutakayama match from today.

I think that Terunofuji is note quite at 100% right now, I worry he is not quite at 80% right now either. His actual condition is a closely guarded secret, as the perceived power of the Yokozuna is a potent weapon in the battle before the match. But I would say that barring some miracle, we may not get that much more out of Terunofuji. Don’t get the scissors ready yet, but you can clearly see a slow progression at this point.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Mitoryu – It took Chiyomaru a couple of cycles to get Mitoryu off balance enough to thrust him down, but he kept working his preferred strategy with good effect. I do give points to Mitoryu for withstanding it for a above average length of time. Chiyomaru improves to 2-0.

Hiradoumi defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho put too much faith in what he was doing with his left hand. A face slap and an immediate grab for the mawashi. The slap was fleeting and delicate, and the left hand could not find a hold. By the time he had finished that, Hiradoumi had him off balance, hand a right hand inside and was driving him back. Oops. With Tsurugisho’s chest wide open, Hiradoumi focused force center-mass, and Tsurugisho went out. Hiradoumi now 2-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Fast initial attack by Chiyoshoma shut down whatever Terutsuyoshi had in mind low and inside. With both hands on Terutsuyoshi’s shoulders, Chiyoshoma froze him in place. Nice counter move by Terutsuyoshi to put both hands inside and on Chiyoshoma’s mawashi, but Chiyoshoma was already on the move, and Terutsuyoshi could not get his foot placement in before he was stepping back. Both end the day 1-1.

Oho defeats Yutakayama – Say it with me – Center-mass, Center-mass, Center-mass. Oho gives some defense to get his hands inside, and puts maximum force against Yutakayama’s chest. Try as he could, Yutakayama could find no way to overcome that forward pressure. Oho unbeaten at 2-0.

Okinoumi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Again, it’s Center-mass time. Okinoumi weathers Ichiyamamoto’s long arm thrusting attack to get his hands inside and against Ichiyamamoto’s chest. From there it’s time to dial up the power, and he breaks Ichiyamamoto’s stance, and them thrusts him out. Ichiyamamoto’s attempt to pull once his stance broke did a lot to end the match. Okinoumi improves to 1-1.

Ryuden defeats Chiyotairyu – Ryuden took Chiyotairyu’s big tachiai, and traded the impact for a forward right hand mawashi grip. That was the key to this match, as Chiyotairyu could not break Ryuden’s hold. With a left hand on Chiyotairyu’s shoulder, Ryuden moved Chiyotairyu back and out. Both end the day 1-1. Excellent sumo mechanics from Ryuden today, very clean and efficient.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoshoho – Color me disappointed in Kotoshoho today. He had a fair chance to win this fight, but his endurance could not match Nishikifuji. After the tachiai they locked up and stalemated at the center of the dohyo, making this a contest of stamina. In spite of a tenuous grip on Kotoshoho’s loose mawashi, Nishikifuji was able to lift and toss Kotoshoho out for a yorikiri win to stay unbeaten at 2-0.

Takanosho defeats Kotoeko – Takanosho this far south on the banzuke is going to wreck a lot of people’s chances at kachi-koshi. Here it is again where he thumps Kotoeko, in spite of Kotoeko’s excellent fighting spirit. I loved his left hand mawashi grab, but to get there he had to raise himself up and reach across Takanosho’s back. Big loss of connection to the earth, and Takanosho rushed forward to drive Kotoeko out of the ring. Takanosho unbeaten at 2-0.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Stalemate tachiai that left both men looking for a way to attack. For Myogiryu, it was a right hand nodowa. Tochinoshin tried to reach back and grab a handful of mawashi, but as with Kotoeko, he had to reach far enough that he unweighted his feet, and Myogiryu drove forward. A last minute throw attempt from Tochinoshin collapsed, and Myogiryu prevailed. Both are now 1-1.

Hokutofuji defeats Onosho – Brilliant match, the fans loved it and so did I. Hokutofuji had a brutal nodowa thanks to his “handshake tachiai”, and it was only by a bit of luck that Onosho was able to break that hold and establish some balance. They were locked together and pushing evenly for a time, but for a brief moment Onosho lost traction, and that was all that Hokutofuji needed to turn on the forward thrust and take Onosho out. Superb effort from both. Hokutofuji now 2-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Aoiyama – Wakamotoharu continues his dominance over Aoiyama with today’s oshidashi. Aoiyama’s left knee seems to really be doing poorly, as Wakamotoharu should not have been able to stampede “Big Dan” back like that. Wakamotoharu joins the crowd at 2-0.

Sadanoumi defeats Endo – There are times when Endo’s patience is a virtue, but he took far too long to get any kind of offense going today, and let Sadanoumi control this match. When Sadanoumi powered up to forward, Endo really did not have anything other than his body and his foot placement to try and counter. Not enough today. Sadanoumi improves to 1-1.

Nishikigi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji, that should disappoint you sir. Nishikigi gave you everything you needed to win that match, but you could not quite put the pieces together in time. I will say that Nishikigi’s 2-0 start, and his generally good form are conjuring up memories of his “magical mystery tour” in July of 2019 that saw him score his first and only kinboshi. I admit, I would not complain if he can do t again, he is 2-0.

Ura defeats Takayasu – Oh Takayasu, were you the only one who did not guess that something like that was coming? I do love Ura’s gall at trying that, and that leg pick was spectacular. His execution is so fluid, that I am going to guess he goes into a McDonalds in Sumida-ku and grapples the fry cook for his snack at least three times a day. Both are now 1-1.

Meisei defeats Wakatakakage – Hey, Wakatakakage – get it together sir! We need you to be a bright beacon of sumo’s future. So far this Aki you have not looked at all well. Meisei disrupted you completely, and just pushed you about until you agreed to step out. 1-1 now for Meisei, Wakatakakage with a cold 0-2 start.

Tamawashi defeats Daieisho – Tamawashi is looking really sharp this September. Both of them open strong with solid pushing attacks, but Tamawashi gets a well placed glancing blow to Daieisho’s head, and that breaks his balance. Tamawashi closes in and finishes him before he can recover, and Tamawashi is no 2-0.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka allowed Hoshoryu to get a left hand outside grip, and that was the tool he used to win the match. With his left hand in firm control, he had a failed sotogake leg trip attempt, but it succeeded in putting Kotonowaka off balance, and Hoshoryu used what he had to bring Kotonowaka down. Both are now 1-1.

Takakeisho defeats Midorifuji – Somewhat better sumo today from Takakeisho, but we really only saw one opening volley and then a pull down. Midorifuji does not have the mass, experience of balance right now to survive that, and was soon enjoying a detailed look at the clay. Takakeisho picks up his first win and is now 1-1.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Center-mass again. Ichinojo really has little defense against Mitakeumi’s relentless drive to get both hands against Ichinojo’s chest. He eventually connects, and then it’s three steps to take the Mongolian behemoth out. Mitakeumi with a 2-0 start to Aki.

Kiribayama defeats Shodai – Shodai got a taste of cartoon sumo himself today, as Kiribayama channels Speedy Gonzales, who was always uncatchable. This wild, chaotic match had both men flailing across the dohyo, and Kiribayama doing much better for it. Better luck next time, Shodai. Both are now 1-1.

Tobizaru defeats Terunofuji – Tobizaru’s high agility sumo kept him from being captured by Terunofuji, and eventually Terunofuji decided rather than wait Tobizaru out, he would go on the attack. One poor move by the Yokozuna, and Tobizaru had his hand placement, and then pivoted against Terunofuji’s worst knee. If that was on purpose, nicely done. If that was a happy accident for Tobizaru, then he’s a lucky fellow. Tobizaru now 1-1.

11 thoughts on “Aki Day 2 Highlights

  1. Why the heck did Terunofuji not at least try to start a pushing/thrusting match against a foe he clearly outclassed and out-massed? Instead, he stuck with trying to get a belt grip and forgot all other techniques. That was not Yokozuna-level thinking there.

    The top dog wasn’t the only disappointing effort. Too many rikishi tried early pulls and lost, namely multiple offender Aoiyama. Takayasu, too, was not employing any forethought by blowing through his tachiai knowing that Ura loves to move sideways and low. Kotonowaka also failed to find his first ever win against Hoshoryu, letting the smaller man dictate the match.

    But the bad was outweighed by the good. Shodai brought out deluxe-grade cartoon sumo today but lost. And the bout I most wanted to see delivered: Hokutofuji and Onosho got a well-deserved huge round of applause for their bout. The Ozeki corp at least looks ready to muster a challenge worthy of their rank this time out.

  2. Since I was expecting another Terunofuji grab, lean on and wear down, and push out, I was pretty impressed by what I assumed Tobizaru’s strategy – stay out of the Yokozuna’s grip and wear him down for a change. The match had me thinking Terunofuji could be in trouble if more employ that strategy, but as you say it’s also his injury status that’s a concern.

    And in Makushita, Asanoyama had an easy time yet was a split second from losing in his bout, landing on a very inferior opponent but placing his hands down fractions of a second after this opponent landed himself. It feels like he’s taking it easy on his opponents, and that doesn’t always end well. Terunofuji himself didn’t make it back up without losing a match here or there in the lower divisions.

    • When it comes to Kaiju, He uses a very slow Sumo style, Very Patient. Tobi basically played his game perfectly. He Frustrated the Yokozuna into making a hasty move, which was a mistake and allowed Tobi to get inside and push.

      • Reminded me a little of Terunofuji’s final defeat by Hakuho. Same deal – keep him away and then frustrate him (in Hakuho’s case by slapping) so he loses patience. Patience is one of Terunofuji’s most valuable weapons.

  3. Really impressed with Chiyoshoma today. Quality, motivated sumo today. I was hoping for a double henka, though.

    I agree that something’s up with Big Dan’s legs. No brakes once he started going backwards. Yikes.

    Watatakakage’s issues are 100% mental. Zero confidence on the dohyo right now. I hope he sorts it out soon.

    Hoshoryu read Kotonowaka like a book today. His left leg started working on a throw block almost before his opponent set it up. Zero Plan B for Kotonowaka and you have to have one when facing Sanyaku opponents.

    While Ichinojo lost today, he didn’t mentally give up and he wasn’t a pushover. Very interesting to see that difference from him.

    Shodai gave up on his match and thought he had won. Ooops! Gotta finish the match, Buddy. Come on now.

    I’m surprised that Terunofuji let Tobizaru set the conditions of their match. Definitely an off-day for the Yokozuna. Amazing work by Tobizaru to get the kinboshi!

  4. As much as I do not like tobizaru, I have to admit He earned the victory today. Terunofuji looked like himself: strong and competent, but not agile. Tobizaru bounced around until He found the correct angle. I do not think that there is anything particularly wrong with Terenofuji. Obviously, He is not 100%. No wonder, just look at those knee braces.. but He never was the agile one. Tobizaru did a good job, just like other difficult customers do at times with Terunofuji. He is not Hakuho, but still does a pretty good job at being the favorite in every tournament. Even better: I use to hope for Hakuho to lose, as He was always just too much for everyone (but Asashoryu). It took me a while, but I finally realize that I like having a Yokozuna I can root for and support. Do not count Him off yet. he said 10 Yusho before retirement and 10 it will be.

  5. Kiribayama!!! Such incredible natural balance and athleticism to pull those escapes off.
    I feel like the moral for Shodai is something like: those who live by the capricious gods of cartoon sumo can also die by the capricious gods of cartoon sumo.
    2 great days of sumo so far…

  6. The Tamawashi strategy of beating up on a few high ranking rikishi out of the gate just to show he still can and then mysteriously losing his sense of balance and flailing around like a dying fish mid tournament when his opponents really need a key win is pretty funny, but I’d like to see him get one more basho before he retires—unlikely I know, but he deserves it.

    • Looked to me like Midorifuji lunged forward and completely unbalanced; Takakeisho helped him down but he probably would have ended up on the dirt unassisted.

  7. We’ve known from the jump that the yokozuna doesn’t move well and also that he will give up a kinboshi here and there – so it’s not too much of a surprise. When be does cough up a kinboshi it’s almost always to a pusher-thruster or in an oshi bout. Like I said in the podcast, Tobizaru or Midorifuji might spring a shock result here or there en route to a bunch of losses and that’s more or less looking like what will happen. I was actually a little surprised that Tobizaru didn’t move even more as he’s one of those guys who likes to “run around the dohyo,” but they seemed to be watching each other for opportunities.

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