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.
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.