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Tachiai Team


You’ll find me on Twitter @Tachiai_blog. Click here for articles I’ve written. IRL, you’ll usually find me avoiding DC.

The Tachiai Team became a team when Bruce came on board. He’s on Twitter @LordBermondsey. He’s the driving force behind so much of the basho coverage and the podcasts. Click here for articles Bruce has written.

Click here for Leonid’s articles.

A music industry person in California who can be found on Twitter @jsklfc. Tends to look for more obscure stories and focuses on stats, lower division updates, and occasionally, food.
Click here for Josh’s articles.

A software developer from Israel, and a sumo obasan in her free time. Twitter handle is @SumoFollower.
Click here for Herouth’s articles.

Click here for Liam’s articles.

Nicola administers the Official Tachiai Instagram account. Follow us there and check out the bad-ass pictures!

Hi there! I’m a civil servant from France, a chess player, and, obviously, a big sumo fan. You may follow me on @tznieh.


James Melinson is a Mitakeumi enthusiast masquerading as a sumo journalist. You might know him in some sumo circles as Reyson or Akagi, and the archenemy of Goeido. Find him on Twitter @waterMELINSON_.

About the Blog

The Tachiai is the initial charge of two sumo wrestlers at the beginning of a bout. This blog is intended to be my way of sharing my enjoyment of sumo – as well as my way of reaching out to an international community of sumo fans.

Sumo is the greatest sport in the world. I enjoy it for its simplicity, competitiveness, power, speed, tactics, sportsmanship and symbolism. Unfortunately, the world sees it as a bunch of fat guys trying to topple one another. There is some truth in the “immovable object” stereotype, as champions like Akebono and Musashimaru are prime examples. However, many champions like Chiyonofuji, Asashoryu and recently, Hakuho, were decidedly athletic. Their success was due to a combination of agility, strength, and guile as well as size.

I want to do my part to promote the sport because it is very difficult to find resources and there’s not much of a visible fan community in the US – where everything is football, football, football. There are some great similarities between the two sports…I see down linemen as very sumo-like. The snap is very similar to the tachiai. I’ve always been a fan of a strong running game built around a powerful offensive line. What I find frustrating is the way football treats holding as illegal, since fair enforcement is impossible. There’s holding on every play. What matters it what get’s called, and too often in our popular sports, it’s the refs’ calls that end up being the storylines.

American football, Aussie rules, and rugby, then, are like team versions of sumo where they’ve added a ball. But those sports are hobbled by all the complicated rules and unbalanced enforcement. Anyway, of these sports, my preference is for Aussie rules since it seems to be a much simpler, honest game, and I’ll probably have a blog about Aussie rules at some point. For now, I want to engage the sumo world.


24 thoughts on “About

  1. To add to your description, sumo is also a sport of having strong mind. All wrestlers have power and skill, they can defeat anybody anytime. Hence, concentration and nerves are two big factors that separates the elite wrestlers from the rest.

  2. I’ve been watching Sumo for a few years with the help of Jason, Moti, Reddit and several more. It took me a while to get decent sumo “network” to be able to watch it in a reasonable time. I’ve never seen you before yesterday. Maybe the problem is that Sumo is so visual and I mostly looked for films on Youtube (would be nice to see you there too) You’re the one stop shop! what the hell… Why isn’t your blog advertised on billboards on the highway? I like your tone, your point of view. You’ve got a fan. Good job

    • ;) Definitely. It also took me 20 years to make it so you’re only really about 4 years late. Then again, so was everyone else. Now the party can start.

  3. We (my wife and I) started watching sumo when UK Channel 4 started having edited basho coverage in the late 80s, culminating in our attending a basho in London (they flew everyone and everything, including the clay for the dohyo, from Japan. I bought a yukata) in 1991 as part of the London Matsuri (which is still going, sadly ‘sans’ sumo). That was shortly after Chiyonofuji (RIP) retired, although he came out onto the dohyo to a standing ovation. Not long after that, Ch4 and NHK had a contract dispute (NHK wanted more money since sumo was increasing in popularity in the UK) and Ch4 decided not to renew, so coverage ceased. The Internet was nothing like as developed then, so it was more-or-less impossible to see any sumo in the UK, and our interest waned. Then we went to Japan on holiday last year (go if you can, it’s a brilliant place!) while the Fukuoka basho was on, and watched it in our hotel room(s), when we could, which has reawakened our interest. We now watch the (sadly short) English language coverage on NHK online, with great pleasure. We’re really pleased to see Tochinoshin win his first basho and wish him well, although the omens are not good. Thank Ghod for the Internet, eh?

  4. Dear Tachiai Blog Team:

    Greetings from Mumbai, India.

    My name is Sachin Kalbag, and I am the executive editor of Hindustan Times, India’s second-largest newspaper.

    I tried to get in touch with Andy via Twitter, but there was no response. Hence this message here.

    I am a passionate Sumo fan, and I have been following your blog for the past three years, along with Jason Harris, Kintamayama, etc for everything on the great sport.

    I am writing a story on Sumo for my newspaper to coincide with next month’s honbasho, and I would like to interview you for that. I have sent a similar message to Jason Harris, Moti Dichne (Kintamayama) as well, and they have responded.

    Since Sumo is an almost unknown sport in India (the number of active followers seem to be less than 100 in a country of more than 1.2 billion people), the story will be a long-form feature on introducing the sport through Yokozuna Hakuho and his exploits. I will be touching upon how Sumo influences Japanese culture, its people, its morals, and how the purity of the sport is often equated with the purity of the nation. I expect the piece to be around 2000 words.

    I’d be glad if anyone from the Tachiai team could spend some time responding to my questions to strengthen my story. I know your schedule is busy, so I would really be grateful if you could send me your replies.

    1) What attracted you to Sumo? The quaint Japanese culture? The history of the sport? Its influence on Japanese society? Its wrestlers? A combination? Something else?
    2) Why is Sumo so important to Japan?
    3) What is Hakuho’s status in Japan? I know he is a demigod of sorts, but he being Mongolian, does it get in the way to getting “god” status?
    4) Sumo terminology is immensely complex for a sport that has practically no complicated rules of fighting. Yet, it is this terminology that forms part of the charm of the sport, isn’t it? Especially for non-Japanese people like us?
    5) In terms of greatness, how would you rank or objectively rate the following wrestlers (I understand that ranking people across generations may not be ideal, in which case you could give your opinion on each):
    a. Hakuho
    b. Chiyonofuji
    c. Takanohana (Koji)
    d. Asashoryu
    e. Akebono
    f. Futabayama
    g. Raiden
    h. Harumafuji
    i. Musashimaru
    j. Wakanohana
    k. Kaio (even though he never reached Yokozuna)
    l. Kashiwado
    m. Chiyonoyama
    n. Kakuryu
    o. Taiho (I know he should not be at the bottom of the list)
    p. And anyone I may have missed on the greatness scale
    6) Among the new (or relatively new) wrestlers, I find Takakeisho, Abi, Ichinojo, Onosho, exciting. Do you concur? Is there some new talent that we may have not seen but you have?
    7) Do Goeido and Takayasu have what it takes to be Yokozuna?
    8) There are some rigid rules in Sumo. They may anachronistic to outsiders. For instance, the recent incident where female paramedics were asked to leave the dohyo while they were helping a male mayor who had suffered a stroke. The JSA issued an apology, but the controversy created by the gyoji made it to international newspapers. Is it time to relook at some of the rules?
    9) Violence is a sporadic problem in Sumo. Trainees seem to be leaving their beyas, Harumafuji had to retire, and in the past, too there have been incidents that have brought the people (and sometimes, the sport) into disrepute. For a sport that is tied so much to the culture, the morals, the history of a country, what can be done or is being done to eradicate this?
    10) What does being a Yokozuna mean?
    11) What characteristics of a Yokozuna does Hakuho embody?

    Thank you, again, for reading my message. Like I said, I would be delighted if you could respond.

    Sachin Kalbag
    Executive Editor
    Hindustan Times
    @SachinKalbag on Twitter

  5. Hey Tachiai Team!

    I’m working on a piece about kimarite used in the Natsu basho. I don’t have a sumo blog or anything like that, because this blog is already my go-to sumo site. Would you be interested in hosting the piece on Tachiai? I think it might be a little bit of interesting post-basho content for some of your readers.

    If you’re interested I can send you a sample of it, just reach out to me at mklynass93@gmail.com or @mklynass on twitter. Thanks!

  6. Hi everyone. Im a huge sumo fan. I watch sumo for years but some details are still unclear to me. Like for example: 1) When they establish new heya theres a ceremony. Yokozuna and yobidashi with drums must be there I think. But its all I know. I want to know how to name it right and how it looks like (in details). 2) I remember situation when canadian Homarenishiki and his oponent felt on shinpan. They broke his leg. I always wanted to know if any rikishi got hurt like that while waiting for his bout. They sit close to the dohyo so you know... Its possible.

  7. Great blog guys! I’ve been into Sumo on and off since moving to Japan in 2002 but I’ve been getting more into it these past few years. Really glad I found this site as it’s full of great info and seems like a cool place to chat Sumo with fellow fans!

  8. Great site! In the interest of making sumo that much more accessible to beginners internationally, how about adding a glossary? Watching sumo and listening to announcers, it’s easy to quickly figure out the meaning of the most frequently used sumo terms, such as “basho,” but beyond that it is not so easy to follow. For example, what is senshuraki? Hope I remembered how to spell that in English.

  9. And I’ll add one more to Sumo’s characteristics – personality. To the comment “just a bunch of fat guys,” I tell them to just watch it – all matches – for one week. If they still don’t get it, fine. But often, by day 4 or 5 they start to say, “oh that’s the guy who stomps his feet,” or funny salt throw, look of boredom, whatever. They start to put the characters together. I’ve been watching it since Napoleon was a Pfc in the French army – i.e., Taiho v. Kashiwado. Missed some of the middle years (Chiyonofuji jidai), but my wife and I now reside in Korea and simply flip on the tv. And she has become quite tsu. As for the current bunch, I’m not much of a fan of the seemingly growing tsuppari brigade. Yes, Takakeisho’s arms are only a foot long so he has an excuse, but the others? This is a big tournament for the triplets separated at birth and, yes, Daieisho does look good, but I have to wonder about the coaching the rikishi get. A single, rather primitive technique and yet rarely do their opponents adjust their tachiai or defense to counter. As for your comparison with Gridiron, yes I have thought Takakeisho would make a good pulling guard, plus American football players are only a degree above the rikishi in terms of cardio fitness. And you think explaining sumo to the uninitiated is tough,
    try explain Rugby to the average American (which I am). “But you guys don’t wear any protection. Yes, we do. Really – what? A mouth guard.” At which point they’re really confused. So I’m involved in the two most esoteric sports in the world? Yes, and I love it….

    • I think cricket’s got rugby beat. Apparently there was a historic “test match” yesterday…but I’m utterly befuddled.

      • Don’t get an Indian (like me) started on the historic Test (T is always capitalized in this context) match between Australia and India in Brisbane. Around 1.3 billion Indians (and a few hundred million cricket fans around the world) stopped work just to watch India win.

  10. I used to follow rugby league and even wrote articles about the code for a few years. For a number of reasons, I gave up on the sport and instead found sumo.

    As part of my work, there’s the possibility of creating a niche travel guide for visitors to Japan who are there solely for the sumo. Any thoughts on if there’d be enough of a market for that etc? You can contact me via email if that’s more convenient for you.


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