Aki Day 11 Recap – Mayhem At The Top

Here we are, in the last leg of this wonderful basho. The yusho race is getting hot. Tochinoshin’s kadoban is not clear yet. Some rikishi are teetering on the edge of make-koshi. Let’s dive in!

tochinoshin-carrying-kakuryu
What morozashi?

Kotoyuki determined not to roll today. He and Ryuden clash heads at the tachiai, and Kotoyuki continues with some strong tsuppari. It could be that Ryuden is a little dizzy from that clash, but I have a feeling he has his foot slightly off the accelerator now that he is kachi-koshi.

In the match of the dew-gatherers, Kakuryu’s tsuyuharai, Nishikigi, faces Hakuho’s Ishiura, who has seven losses and can’t afford another one. Ishiura has the faster tachiai and slips in his arms. It takes him about a second to secure a grip – but Nishikigi already has him at the edge, and makes sure he is no longer a dew-gatherer as of next basho (only Makuuchi wrestler participate in a Yokozuna dohyo-iri).

Takanosho, the newcomer, faces Okinoumi, with the NHK broadcast team (Japanese) making much of the fact that Okinoumi has sanyaku experience. Takanosho cares about none of that – goes low and upwards at the tachiai, applies “hazu” to Okinoumi’s armpits, and quickly drives him out. Takanosho has a good chance of achieving kachi-koshi in the next few days.

The next bout features the man who would have been the natural replacement for Ishiura in Hakuho’s dohyo-iri. Alas, Kyokutaisei has gone kyujo again. Damage to the meniscus in the right knee. Chiyomaru gets the fusensho, and Kyokutaisei will join Ishiura in Juryo next basho.

Chiyoshoma starts his bout with Sadanoumi with a kachiage, but has no follow-up, and Sadanoumi uses his right elbow to push the Mongolian to the edge rather quickly. Then he slides his arms around Chiyoshoma and drives him out… or so he thinks. Chiyoshoma does some of his acrobatics, and turns the tables with a throw. Pay attention to how Chiyoshoma works to keep his tiptoe planted on the dohyo until the very moment Sadanoumi touches ground. Thus, no monoii, and it’s Chiyoshoma’s win.

Daieisho overwhelmes Yoshikaze with some windmill tsuppari. A few thrusts, then a hazu to direct Yoshikaze around towards the nearest bales, then some more thrusts. Yoshikaze tries to land a grip, but can’t get through the barrage, and ends up landing on Futagoyama oyakata.

Takanoiwa and Kotoshogiku are kenka-yotsu – meaning that they prefer opposite grips. This normally means that whoever manages to land his favorite grip has the advantage. In this bout, it’s Kotoshogiku who gets his hidari-yotsu. But Takanoiwa is unfazed, secures a strong grip on both sides, and pulls Kotoshogiku up, occasionally even lifting him off the ground a bit. This completely neutralizes Kotoshogiku’s ability to chug, because a gaburi-yori is less about the pelvis, and all about the traction your feet have transferring power into aforesaid pelvis. Not touching the ground, he can’t do that, and when he gets a start, Takanoiwa finishes him with a shitatenage. Takanoiwa well deserves the spot in the yusho arasoi where he finds himself at the moment.

Hokutofuji is getting tired of seeing his kachi-koshi slipping away time and time again. This time he sticks to his guns. And although Shohozan throws his own guns and the kitchen sink at him, he just patiently continues with that tsuppari, his right hand forming large circles, each pushing Shohozan further. Oshi-dashi and kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama and Onosho start their match with the expected exchange of thrusts. Aoiyama probably realizes that Onosho plans to pull at some point and let him drop, so he envelopes him in his big arms. Onosho, with his inferior reach, can’t do much against that, and the bout ends with a yori-kiri and a make-koshi for Onosho, who will have to spend some time in the nether regions of Makuuchi before regaining his Prince Tadpole status.

Asanoyama falls for Daishomaru‘s henka, hook, line and sinker. His hand touches the ground before the gyoji even completes his “hakki-yoi”. For some reason, Daishomaru looks disappointed.

Takarafuji can’t recreate his magic from yesterday. He tries to circle around the dohyo until he gets his grip, but Myogiryu makes sure he leaves orbit. Oshidashi. Takarafuji 5-6, Myagiryu nearing his kachi-koshi.

Tochiozan slams into Chiyonokuni. Kuni doesn’t really have much power in him this basho, and soon finds himself outside – and make-koshi.

Endo has a good tachiai vs. Kagayaki, but Kagayaki has the better reach and, really, Endo doesn’t have much power in him. At the edge he tries to sidestep and start his own attack. Kagayaki rallies, and Endo runs out of gas. It seems to me that whatever mystery disease was plaguing Yoshikaze in the previous basho has taken Endo in this one. He simply can’t produce any power. But while everybody was very gentle with Yoshikaze, nobody is giving Endo any breaks. Must be all those kensho envelopes.

Abi and Chiyotairyu start a tsuki-oshi match, which suddenly comes to a halt as Abi holds Chiyotairyu at arms length. Abi, however, shows the same lack of patience he has shown yesterday, miscalculates his footing, and tries to restart the attack, promptly falling on his face. Chiyotairyu doesn’t say no to free gifts.

Takakeisho slams into Ikioi, knocking the air out of him, then sidesteps, and lets the taller man find his way to the opposite side. By the time Ikioi turns back, the tadpole is there to give him that final farewell. Given the joi carnage this basho, Takakeisho is doing rather well with a 5-6. Ikiyoyo is 1-10.

Yutakayama still has nothing to offer having returned from kyujo. He lands a classic tsuppari on Tamawashi‘s chest. Tamawashi, unimpressed, gives him one big shove for his trouble, which seems to land him on Kaisei. See, Tamawashi is very considerate about Yutakayama’s health (less so about Kaisei’s).

I don’t know what posessed Mitakeumi to try that little henka, but Kaisei sees through it. He gets all over Mitakeumi and hands him what must be his most humiliating loss so far. Mitakeumi is 6-5, and kisses his Ozeki run goodbye. Although some media people still hope that he can do something if he wins out (giving him 10-5, thus 32 wins over three basho), Shibatayama oyakata says “not with this sumo”, rather emphatically.

Goeido continues his generally good performance this basho. Slams into Shodai, and starts pushing him. Shodai can only pride himself on surviving more than the one second it usually gets to reach one side, as he causes Goeido’s circle to be larger than usual. That’s all.

And then Kakuryu meets Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin.

Really, Kakuryu has been absolutely wonderful this basho. He went through those wins day after day. Straight forward and with power. But Tochinoshin is both desperate and, apparently, on the mend.

Kakuryu starts with his usual tachiai this basho, which looks like he is dropping head first into his rival’s chest. And he gets not just a grip – he gets a tight morozashi. Now, in that situation, most rikishi start saying their prayers and wondering which shimpan they are about to hit. But not Tochinoshin. His weapon against morozashi is a soto-yotsu grip, which means both arms outside. With the height difference between him and the yokozuna, he gets a very good one. And then it starts to look like a crane game in one of the ubiquitous Japanese arcades. Lift once… drop… lift again… and you got your prize toy. The kadoban is not clear yet – one more win needed – but the Incredible Hulk (red version) is back, and tomorrow’s bout between him and Hakuho is going to be a doozy.

Moving on to the next Yokozuna match, Kisenosato, and his much celebrated kachi-koshi, faces up the near make-koshi Ichinojo. Now, although he lost to Hakuho yesterday (and got that annoying extra push), Ichinojo already looked better in that match than he did most of this basho. So my guess is that his back stopped hurting. Ichinojo has a good-boy tachiai – both fists on the ground waiting for his rival’s initiative – so there is nothing the gyoji can do to help the ailing yokozuna this time. Ichinojo straightens, and hands Kisenosato three servings of kaiju nodowa. The Yokozuna doesn’t get to lift a finger, he is blown away that fast. And he is very very unhappy about that. He has to sit down for the last bout as make-nokori, and his face is more clouded than the Tokyo sky.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho faces Takayasu, who is just one behind at this point. Win, and given Kakuryu’s loss, Takayasu would be in the leader group for the yusho. Lose, and he drops behind the chasers.

Takayasu stands up too early. Matta. Bad, bad mistake. This pisses off Hakuho, who reacts by stepping over the shikiri-sen and giving Takayasu a penetrating death stare.

Now, the Yokozuna is trying to get Takayasu to lay both fists on the ground like a good boy. Takayasu lays just one fist down, as does the Yokozuna. Hakuho doesn’t like the fact that Takayasu is not committing himself, and straightens up. It’s a second matta.

Now, the third time that Takayasu tries a tachiai without committing himself, Hakuho  throws hinkaku to the wind. He doesn’t care what they say – he shoots at Takayasu who still doesn’t have his fists on the ground, hands him a slap from the right side, and a kachiage aimed at the nose from the other. Let tongues wag. That… wasn’t really sumo. And yes, there was another dame-oshi there.

hakuho-takayasu-blink-of-an-eye

Mere mortal, don’t try playing mind games with a kitsune. The Dai-yokozuna is now the sole leader of the yusho arasoi – although Tochinoshin may change things come tomorrow.

Yusho arasoi Day 11

11-0Y1WHakuho
10-1Y2EKakuryu
9-2O1EGoeido
O2ETakayasu
M13WTakanoiwa

yokozunameter-2018-aki-day-11

Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 6 and 7

Let’s proceed with the past two days, which were full of events in the lower divisions. You have already seen Ura and Wakaichiro. Here are some others.

happy-terutsuyoshi
Four men are leading Juryo. This is one of them. (Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Midorifuji, his tsukebito for this basho)

Day 6

Tsukahara has won the Jonokuchi and the Jonidan yusho when he started out in Hatsu 2018 (Mae-zumo in 2017). But he got a little stuck in his next two basho. He is going for the Sandanme Yusho this time. In this bout he faces Seigo from Shikoroyama beya:

He also had a bout on day 7, and is currently 4-0.

Now we turn to the princes. First, the Duke of Tatsunami, Hoshoryu. Here facing Sasakiyama. At this point both are 2-0. Note that the torikumi committee regularly matches people with the same record – this helps separate the wheat from the chaff quickly and efficiently.

Sasakiyama returned after a long kyujo and went 6-1 in Jonidan and 7-0 in Sandanme (Jun-Yusho, with Kagamio winning the yusho).

Sasakiyama is not happy. But at least that kotenage left him in one piece.

The next is the Prince of Otake, scion of Taiho (and Takatoriki). He is already 1-1 at this point, and faces Sakigake with the same score.

Bad mistake there, and he finds himself facing outwards, and is respectfully led out. Serious setback, two losses in a row for a man with so many hopes pinned on him. If he doesn’t get a kachi-koshi, it’s back to Sandanme, as he is at the very bottom of Makushita.

I am not going to go through the entire Juryo, but I want you to watch two special bouts. The first is a mixed bout. Toyonoshima in Makushita is scheduled for a Juryo match. So he gets to wear an oicho-mage and throw some salt, which he hasn’t done for a while. It’s a bit unusual to be scheduled for the fourth time in six days, but hey, if he wants to be a sekitori, he has to be able to wrestle every day, right?

He is matched with Jokoryu – a former Sekiwake against a former komusubi. One striving to return to sekitori status, one just now having achieved that.

Since Toyonoshima is at Makushita #1, if he wins this bout, he is kachi-koshi and virtually ensures his return to Juryo for Kyushu.

With both falling about the same time, there is, of course a monoii. And a torinaoshi. Toyonoshima is full of fire. The second time around ends in a hearty uwatenage. Toyonoshima returns to Juryo.

toyonoshima-crying
After two years, Toyonoshima will finally be able to provide for his family

The next interesting day 6 bout is not quite as emotional, but still brilliant. Enho – who else – meets Tokushoryu.

Enho goes for the Hakuho slap-and-grab. The grab doesn’t quite work, but Enho is unfazed. He finds Tokushoryu’s mae-mitsu, and at the same time secures a hold on Tokushoryu’s mawashi knot. The kimarite is shitatenage. But if you look at the replays, you’ll see that enho actually throws him with both arms – he needs a lot of leverage on that hefty guy. With this, Enho is level again, 3-3. His game is much improved over his first Juryo visit.

Oh, and there was something very odd going on in the Day 6 Juryo dohyo-iri. Take a look:

Three wrestlers are missing from the dohyo-iri, and come running in just in time to delay Aminishiki, who looks rather outraged. Perhaps because one of the delinquents is his own ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined at a later date) – Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Tsurugisho and Daishoho. I’m pretty sure Aminishiki had a little talk with Terutsuyoshi after that.

The gyoji-announcer, however, smoothly adds the names of the three late joiners without pause.

Interestingly, despite being late for the dohyo-iri, Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (Midorifuji, in the top picture) seems to have retained all of his teeth. I guess there are ways of dealing with one’s own tardiness without spilling the blood of one’s subordinates.

(Yeah, I am referring to the Bakayoshitoshi incident).

Anyway, here is the day 6 full Juryo digest for your pleasure:

Day 7

Jonokuchi

How can we pass up a Hattorizakura bout? Here vs. Kogitora:

In the previous basho it seemed that Hattorizakura has made a step forward, and started working on his staying power. Alas, this basho none of that seems to have remained. His stablemaster promised him a new shikona should he make kachi-koshi. I guess he likes “Hattorizakura”.

Let’s look at another Jonokuchi bout for a change. Here is one of the new recruits for Naruto beya, Oju, vs. Toya. Oju’s first basho in Jonokuchi has been a disaster, but take a look at this bout:

Oju looks pretty drained after the bout, but still goes over to try and help his opponent up (which Toya refuses). So he is a nice guy. But besides that, it was a good bout, and he kept his stance lower than his opponent and used his opening. He is now 2-2.

Jonidan

Tsushida, who was the Jonokuchi yusho winner in Nagoya, suffered a setback on day 6. So probably no Jonidan yusho. But can he come back? Here he is faced with Sakabayashi. Again, the torikumi masters match wrestlers with the same score:

So maybe no yusho, but Tsushida is still going strong.

Now, on day 1 I said Satonofuji looked tired and spent, and speculated that he may retire soon. But in fact he is having a lovely basho. And, oh, feast your eyes on this bout vs. Chiyotaiko:

In my opinion, that tachiai should have been a matta. But it wasn’t called, and Satonofuji finds himself in an awkward position. But if you think that the 41-years-old Isegahama man just accidentally came up with a clever kimarite, think again. This Izori is his 15th. The man has 36 distinct kimarite under his belt.

Sandanme

I still follow Torakio, but the man is starting to have a really disastrous basho, despite not being seriously injured this time. Take a look at this match vs. Yokoe. Both 1-2 coming into this match:

A lot of effort, but the Musashigawa man manages to unbalance the Bulgarian and Torakio is 1-3, very close to a make-koshi, and it’s not nakabi, yet!

Makushita

At the bottom, the struggling Naya meets Shosei. Both 1-2 coming into the match. Shosei is a veteran and Makushita regular.

Naya recovers from his two losses and is now 2-2.

Now here is a familiar face we haven’t seen in a while. Yet another one trying to make a return to sekitori status, Chiyootori. Here he faces Koba from Kise beya, both 2-1 coming into this match.

Despite that huge brace on his leg, Chiyootori seems full of genki. Bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce until the tachiai, and a yorikiri soon after. Chiyootori is now 3-1, and at Makushita 25, still has a way to go before he can start throwing salt again.

Finally, here is Sokokurai, who wants the yusho very badly, facing Gokushindo, who wants it quite as much (and there are other people in Makushita aiming for it):

This kind of bout is the reason why they invented tsuppari. Guys, stop circling around and tring to find an opening that doesn’t exist. Show some initiative. Sokokurai is very careful, tries not to expose himself in any way. This could go on forever, but Sokokurai makes the first mistake and loses his chance of a yusho.

Juryo

 

  • Chiyonoumi is having a real hard time this basho. His tsuppari attack is effective at first, but still, Hakuyozan is bigger and not easily moved by mere thrusts, and it’s the Kokonoe man who finds himself outside.
  • Akua with his back to the wall. His bouts in the past few days are very fierce, even desparate. Tokushoryu is the winner and Akua is 2-5.
  • Mitoryu started the basho strong, but weakened a bit as the days passed. Azumaryu wants to find his way back up.
  • Jokoryu manages to turn Tobizaru around, but the monkey somehow gets back around and they both fall outside. There is a monoii, but the decision holds – Jokoryu “nokotteori” – he still has a leg inside.
  • Enho tries to get inside, doesn’t find a way, but Seiro – back from kyujo – can’t unbalance the little pixie. Eventually, Enho achieves a straight oshi-dashi. This is the first time he manages two consecutive wins in Juryo.
  • Gagamaru lifts Tsurugisho easily over the bales.
  • Takekaze slams into Shimanoumi, but that doesn’t seem to impress his opponent much. He is soon sent out.
  • Terutsuyoshi – half henka, gets inside Hidenoumi’s belly, and sends him out. 5-2 for the Isegahama pixie.
  • Wakatakakage suffers a serious weight disadvantage in his bout with Takagenji. That was one fierce oshidashi.
  • Kotoeko requires some time before he succeeds in forcing Chiyonoo out.
  • Nice battle between Yago and Daishoho, which goes back and forth between the two. Daishoho tries a hatakikomi, but is driven out before Yago finds himself on his knees.
  • Akiseyama once again switches mawashi color to stop his losing streak. Alas, this time it doesn’t work. Meisei somehow manages to keep in the black, while Akiseyama is 1-6.
  • Kyokushuho doesn’t leave any opening for Uncle Sumo’s wiles. Aminishiki flies to the fourth row before the fans finish their first “Aminishiki” shout. Two consecutive losses for the Isegahama veteran, and he is now 4-3.
  • Finally, once again, Arawashi grabs the mawashi and throws at the edge. Daiamami is down before Arawashi’s legs leave ground.

Juryo is crazy this basho. It seems the level is very very even. No one is 7-0. No one is even 6-1. And there are four men with 5-2:

  1. J4E Daiamami
  2. J8W Terutsuyoshi
  3. J11E Tokushoryu
  4. J13E Azumaryu

If Terutsuyoshi, the pixie with the sodium fixation, who only secured his kachi-koshi in the previos basho in the last day, is in the Yusho arasoi in this one, then as far as Juryo is concerned, we are in a Wacky Aki.

Day 6 – Tanabata Wish Fulfilled

chiyotairyu-got-money
Remember Chiyotairyu’s “I need money” Tanabata wish?

Day 6 of the Aki basho, opening the second act, continued the excellent action we had in the first five days. We start the day with seven rikishi at 5-0. How many will finish it with 6-0?

Ishiura attempts to do straight sumo vs. Takanosho, the newcomer, but he can’t get inside for a grip on the front of his mawashi. He tries to pull back for a hatakikomi, but Takanosho is stable enough, and the pull puts Ishiura at a disadvantage, which Takanosho is quick to exploit. Yorikiri, and unless Ishiura seriously upgrades his sumo, Hakuho will need to look for a new dew-gatherer for Kyushu.

In the matta parade that this basho is turning out to be, Ryuden‘s premature slam into Yoshikaze must be one of the most eye-popping ones. Although Yoshikaze seems to maintain his cool, and starts a tsuppari attack after the real tachiai, he is quickly swept off with a hatakikomi. There goes the first perfect record. Yoshikaze 5-1 (and somewhat surprisingly, so is Ryuden).

Kotoyuki seemed to do much better in his pale cyan mawashi, but today he faced Takanoiwa, who seems to have gotten over his little lapse of sumo from days 3 and 4. Takanoiwa unfazed by the Kotoyuki’s thrusts, circles a bit and lets the man do his usual Neymar roll into the suna-kaburi (the rows of spectators right next to the dohyo).

Chiyoshoma tries a henka against Nishikigi. Against Nishikigi? You need a henka against Nishikigi, Mr. Wile. E. Throwing-Technician? Nishikigi doesn’t have patience for nonesense this basho. He sees through that henka even without his glasses, and chases Chiyoshoma out of the dohyo. Oshidashi.

Chiyomaru starts his bout with a morotezuki straight to Sadanoumi‘s throat. He follows that with a couple more thrusts, then stops and pulls, causing Sadanoumi to lose his balance. Tsukidashi, and Chiyomaru secures his second win this basho.

Okinoumi launches quickly into the tachiai vs. Daishomaru. He is all over the Oitekaze man and dispatches him within seconds.

The other Oitekaze man, Daieisho, faces Takarafuji. The latter tries again and again to land his favorite grip but his injured left elbow seems to be a serious hindrance. He circles around again and again as Daieisho leads him to the tawara, and eventually manages a kotenage and sends Daieisho out.

Aoiyama finally starts a match with his signature rain of fierce tsuppari. Kotoshogiku, who had a good first few days, is overwhelmed. He never gets even close to landing his own signature attack or even laying hands on Aoiyama. Tsukidashi and first win for the Bulgarian, and Kotoshogiku drops to 3-3.

Hokutofuji, when he waited for his bout in the shitaku-beya, heard of Yoshikaze’s first loss. Being the only other rank-and-filer with a perfect record, he said he ascended the dohyo today rather nervous. Yet another matta ensued. In the actual bout, he leads once again with his right hand, a couple of thrusts, and grabs Tochiozan‘s mawashi momentarily. Tochiozan shakes him off. Hokutofuji fends off Tochiozan’s own attempts to get at his mawashi, and as they go back and forth, Tochiozan loses his balance and Hokutofuji follows up. Hatakikomi, and Hokutofuji stays perfect.

As Shohozan and Asanoyama clash, it’s Shohozan who gets his right hand inside first. However, Asanoyama bars it on the left, applies an ottsuke on the right and promptly forces the muscular Nishonoseki man out with a kimedashi. This was a fine display of technique despite its short duration.

What is up with Onosho? His tachiai vs. Chiyonokuni seems to be rather weak, and the Kokonoe man blasts him out of the ring in no time. A very frustrated Onosho mounts the dohyo again to give his bow. Onosho merely 2-4 so far.

Abi faces a very tall rikishi today – Kagayaki. He knows that his reach is no greater than his opponent. So his game plan today is not his windmill tsuppari, but rather – after the obligatory morotezuki – he takes a step to the right, grabs Kagayaki’s belt and neck and throws him smartly outside. Abi may look like a gangly, happy-go-lucky boy who just happened to find himself in a silk mawashi by sheer accident, but those arms are really strong and the skill is there. All he needs is to balance his tsuki-oshi “one weird trick” (OK, two weird tricks, because that throw is also something he uses from time to time) with some belt work, and he will really be a pleasure to behold (though I’m sure the NSK officials will cringe when he finishes his Ozeki acceptance speech with a “wara!” [“LOL!”]).

Take Myogiryu, for example. He is famous enough for his tsuki-oshi sumo, that the illustration under the definition of “oshi-zumo” in my sumo dictionary is a drawing of Myogiryu. But today he launches himself at Endo, and goes chest to chest for a lightning fast yoritaoshi. Keep your skill set wide, and your rivals will never know what’s coming.

And today Ichinojo definitely woke up with his back acting up again. He simply let Takakeisho attack. Didn’t try anything, and as soon as he got to the bales, just went obediently outside. Lose that extra weight, sekiwake. It’s painful to watch you when you are like that.

Takayasu delivers his usual kachiage, but the hefty Kaisei is rather unimpressed by it. But the Ozeki adds a half-hearted harizashi – half-hearted in that the harite was very weak, and the grip itself is not very strong. He then proceeds to propel Kaisei towards the edge, and loses the grip. Kaisei tries a desperate kotenage. The Ozeki stays on his feet, and soon finishes the Brazilian off. Kaisei is only 2-4, but that’s still a good record for this basho’s Maegashira 1-3 wrestlers.

The next bout is the highlight of the day. The unbeaten Mitakeumi in his second Ozeki bout, this time against a healthy Goeido. Goeido starts with a harizashi. Although it’s not exactly a harizashi as his left hand did not go inside (“harizashi” is a combination of “harite” – a slap – and “sashi” – an insertion of the hand under the opponent’s arm) but rather outside. So I guess the expression “slap and grab” works better here. So Mitakeumi has his right hand inside, and strives to “sashi” the other one as well for a morozashi (that’s the same “sashi” – a double-sided insertion of hands). But Goeido is not easily pierced. He locks his right armpit and moves forward with that unstoppable force that we wish he would show more consistently. By the time Mitakeumi has both arms inside, it does him no good whatsoever – he is already stepping on straw. Yet another one of the perfect records broken, and the Sekiwake misses an opportunity for a “quality win” for his Ozeki run. The King of Practice beats the King of Why-Practice.

Ikioi goes through his pre-bout routine with precision. Actually, it’s not his. He mimics Hakuho’s pre-bout routine to the last detail. The crouch with hands open palms up on his knees, the trot towards the towel. Every single point. And this is why it seems comical to me to see Tochinoshin – whose eye looks like a train wreck – flatten Ikioi on his face within half a second – which is mostly the time it took for them to complete the tachiai, rather than the time it took him to perform the tsukiotoshi. You can copy Hakuho’s external mannerisms all the way to the supporter on his right elbow, but once it comes down to Sumo, Ikioi is Ikioi (or as Bruce coined him, Ikiyoyo, because once again he is going to drop in rank after a barren visit to the joi), and Hakuho is… Hakuho.

However, today Hakuho seemed to be a bit of Ikioi instead of Hakuho. Hakuho knows he should make use of his much superior tachiai when faced with Shodai, and he does slam very quickly into the rank-and-filer. He tries to get a grip on Shodai’s mawashi with his left, but instead, it’s Shodai who gets a firm hold on the Yokozuna’s mawashi. Furthermore, Shodai manages a quick makikae with his left arm and gets a morozashi on Hakuho. Of course, at this point he is at the edge of the dohyo, but he knows how to use a morozashi, and attempts a throw which sees the Yokozuna flying in the air. Not something he would expect from anybody who is still an active rikishi.

Both men fall out. The gyoji points towards Shodai. Hakuho looks shocked. But a monoii is called. There is a question about Shodai’s heel – did it touch outside? And if not, who is the winner and who is the loser? After the conference, the shimpan reverse the gyoji’s decision – it’s Hakuho’s win. “正代のかかとが先に出ており” – “Shodai’s heel went out first”.

If you watch the replay, take a look at how Hakuho strives to keep the tip of his toe touching inside the dohyo, like a snooker player. As long as that toe is inside, it’s his win. He knew the toe was lost at some point there, and if it wasn’t for Shodai’s heel, which went out while Hakuho’s toe was still in, it would have been the same situation as Chiyonokuni vs. Asanoyama the day before.

Hakuho picks the prize money, but looks far from happy. He is still 6-0, but… right?

Kakuryu clashes heads with Tamawashi (why are you wrecking that fine brain, Yokozuna?), then proceeds with a tsuki-oshi attack – Tamawashi’s own weapon. Kakuryu simply looks great this basho. His only slightly icky bout was that little pull – day 2, was it? – but since then he has been formidable. If he keeps that up, we are going to have an awesome senshuraku.

Chiyotairyu, who so far didn’t look too good against any of the upper ranks, and went into this bout 0-5, faced Kisenosato in the musubi-no-ichiban. Rows on rows of flags pass by. Tachiai. Great clash. I think again their heads met. Chiyotairyu lands a couple of tsuppari, then pulls and lets the Yokozuna’s mass do the rest. In all the bouts so far, Kisenosato had an opportunity to come up with plans B and C. But Chiyotairyu leaves him no time to do anything before he gives him that last little push over the edge. First gold star of the tournament, and the Kokonoe man, whose Tanabata wish was “I need money”, not only got a hefty stack of kensho envelopes, but a nice extra income every basho from now until he drops below Juryo or retires.

Leaders (6-0): Kakuryu, Hakuho, Takayasu, Hokutofuji. (5-1): Kisenosato, Goeido, Mitakeumi, Asanoyama, Ryuden, Yoshikaze.

yokozunameter-2018-aki-day-6

Day 5 – Bouts from the lower divisions

toyonoshima
Toyonoshima – one win away from reclaiming his silk mawashi

Jonokuchi

Hattorizakura had yet another bout today, against Shishimaru. How did he do?

I recall that in the past, one of the members of the Tachiai team wondered if people were given instructions to be gentle with poor Hattorizakura before their bouts. Well, if so, Shishimaru didn’t get the memo. Applying a nodowa to Hattorizakura? Oh, the humanity!

Chiyotaiyo also had his third bout today, vs. Onagaya:

(Bonus bout: Shachinofuji vs. Tanaka)

This time, our string bean wasn’t as successful as in his first two matches. Nevertheless, it was a good effort, with a good belt grip and two attempts to throw his bigger rival. I think his Tachiai wasn’t as good as yesterday’s, though.

Jonidan

Here we have the oldest rikishi in the sumo world, 48 years old Hanakaze, facing the 33 years younger toddler, Wakamatsunaga. Hanakaze entered the sumo world at about the same time I entered university. That was when Chiyonofuji was at the height of his career, and Kitanoumi was not yet a Yokozuna. This was a long, long time ago.

Well, he can still do sumo, even if he can’t lift his leg for a decent shiko.

Sandanme

I have to bow before the penetrating analysis Bakanofuji delivered of Torakio’s sumo in the previous installment. Here he is, hurting himself again:

Out of curiousity, I decided to watch the bout of his stablemate, Sumidagawa, who has advanced to Sandanme in this basho. Take a look at his bout with Kotomyozan:

It seems that – although he wins this bout – he suffers from some of the same weak points that Bakanofuji mentioned w.r.t. Torakio: bending at the waist instead of the knees. Having an ineffective Tachiai. Which now raises the question: could it be Kotooshu’s fault?

Makushita

Wakamotoharu, of the Onami brother, faced Ryuko today:

Tomisakae, the bouncy Isegahama man, continues to do well:

Tomisakae seems to have some bunny genes. His interpretation of gaburi-yori is a hop-hop-hop forward. He is now 3-0.

Sokokurai continues his careful sumo in an attempt to extend his number of wins as much as possible and get his sekitori status back quickly. Here he is matched with Kagamio.

Kagamio is the Sandanme Yusho winner from the previous basho. This come-from-behind win for Sokokurai seems to piss him off tremendously. He goes off the dohyo without a bow. When called back, he makes the most cursory of nods. The previous time those two met was in Makuuchi, by the way, in hatsu 2015.

Here is Nakazono vs. Gokushindo:

Gokushindo has a really nice, balanced stance.

Finally, the bout that made it to Kintamayama’s video today: Toyonoshima vs. Tomokaze (here from the opposite angle):

Toyonoshima is now just one win away from regaining his akeni, kesho mawashi and shimekomi. And the ability to provide for his family. Although only sekitori are allowed to get married, nobody forces them to divorce when they fall to the lower divisions. However, it’s quite a difficult situation, when you do not receive a salary, and are techically not allowed to live outside the heya.

Juryo

Here is today’s Juryo digest:

  • Enho can’t seem to win in the day after a henka. Akua is really fighting for his life there. It’s not clear from this angle, but at some point in the bout – which started off pretty much the way Enho wants it to – Akua has his head in a vice, and he struggles and frees it. But this of course disrupts the entire attack, and he gets thrown unceremoniously  to one side.
  • Azumaryu is the bee’s knees this basho. Gagamaru seems on his way either to Makushita or retirement. He is past his due date.
  • Tokushoryu’s victory over Mitoryu eliminates the last Juryo man with a clean winning record. No zensho-yusho this basho.
  • Tobizaru continues his bounce back. Alas, at the expense of my Chiyonoumi, who will have to work hard to secure a kachi-koshi this basho.
  • Terutsuyoshi back to winning after two losses. Straight sumo, no fancy stuff.
  • That seemed to have been quite a mistake on Takekaze’s part. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t call it an Isamiashi or something.
  • Wakatakakage with a second loss in a row.
  • Kotoeko, just back from Makuuchi, is having a miserable basho. He will drop further down, I predict.
  • Yago goes for a belt fight with a Mongolian. And wins.
  • What a bout by Aminishiki! First he starts with a hearty tsuki-oshi. Then switches to the belt. Attempts a trip, perseveres against Akiseyama’s defenses, and eventually Yori-kiris him.

 

Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 3 and 4

Yesterday all my YouTube sources dried up all of a sudden, so I decided to collect the little material that I had from two days. This doesn’t matter much in the divisions below Juryo, as mostly the wrestlers have bouts on alternating days. But it does mean that I’ll have to concentrate on today’s Juryo rather than yesterday’s.

enho-hassotobi
Behold, a flying pixie

Day 3

What I have from day 3 are mostly Makushita bouts from the top of the division.

Here is the hottest thing in Isegahama, the back-flipping Tomisakae, vs. Wakamotoharu – that’s Wakatakakage’s slightly older brother (the oldest is Wakatakamoto).

After a matta, Tomisakae drives straight forward and quickly dispatches of the Arashio man. Note that he is then called over by the one of the shimpan and scolded for something. I’m not sure what that would be. Maybe that little jump of glee at the end?

Then we have Sokokurai, who means business. And in this case, it’s a very long business transaction:

Sokokurai has Tokushinho in a morozashi, but Tokushinho is bigger than Sokokurai and gets a soto-yotsu (both hands outside) grip. First he only gets the outer layer of Sokokurai’s mawashi, but then manages to get a hold of the lower layer with his right hand. Sokokurai releases one hand and tries a throw, but it doesn’t work. Tokushino starts forward, but Sokokurai rallies and reasserts his morozashi. Tokushinho, however, starts marching forward again, and Sokokurai is running out of stamina. But he is not the only one. Eventually a little shift and Tokushinho drops to the floor. It’s called a shitatenage, but it was more like an underarm release than an underarm throw.

Here is Tomokaze, facing another rather hot name, Irodori:

Irodori starts the attack, but then Tomokaze changes the direction and puts Iridori between himself and the closest line of bales, where he goes ahead and pushes him. Tomokaze is 2-0 at the moment.

Finally, we have Toyonoshima vs. Toyohibiki:

Those two go back a long way. Most of their past 14 meetings were in Makuuchi.

Toyohibiki goes for the attack, but Toyonoshima does a little dance around and reverses the fates. The ancient one is now 2-0.

Here is the Juryo digest for day three, for those who do not want to miss a single bout, but I am leaving it uncommented:

Day 4

We start the action in Day 4 with two Jonokuchi bouts. First, we cannot do without Hattorizakura.

Here he meets Takanoryu again. Takanoryu has only ever beaten two other rikishi. One of them twice before. Can you guess who that is?

Hattorizakura tries to stick it on the bales, but his heel goes lower and lower and eventually the shimpan signals to the gyoji that the bout is actually over.

Next up is a bout with a little more talent. It’s my favorite stick insect, the underfed Chiyotaiyo, vs. Hayasaka:

(Extra bout – Akatsuki vs. Kyonosato)

Chiyotaiyo seems to be very popular – gets a lot of calls from the spectators. He launches himself at Hayasaka, grabs an arm, and wins by tottari. My guess is that this time he is not staying in Jonokuchi. 2-0 for the Kokonoe string bean. Feed him, Chiyotaikai!

Up we go to Jonidan, where we have a bout between Tsushida – the Jonokuchi yusho winner from Nagoya, and an expected contender for the Jonidan yusho in Aki – facing the now famous Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito, and current yumi-tori performer.

34 years old Kasugaryu is certainly giving Tsushida a run for his money. Nice legwork, and it’s amazing how he manages to survive most of this bout on one foot. But eventually this causes him be turned around and Tsushida shows him the lovely view at the bottom of the dohyo.

Moving up to Sandanme, we have Torakio meeting Matsuda.

Now, this looks completely different than Torakio’s first bout. So I suppose that one should be attributed to ring rust? We’ll see over the coming 10 days. He patiently works his way to Matsuda’s mawashi, and then picks him and leads him to the edge. That really looked like mature sumo.

Now, we move up to Makushita. And we concentrate on its lower part this time. First, what is Naya up to? Here is his bout with Hitachigo:

He suffers a similar kind of setback to that suffered by Ura in his second bout. Now he has virtually lost his chance of a Yusho (well, there have been yusho which were won with 6-1 in Makushita, but it’s relatively rare). No yusho means no shortcuts up the banzuke. If Hoshoryu manages a 7-0, let alone a yusho, he will leave Taiho’s grandson way behind him.

Speaking of Hoshoryu, here is his bout vs. Sadanosato:

Hoshoryu’s style is usually going for the mawashi and attempting a throw – a typical style for Mongolians (Tamawashi a well-known exception). But in this particular bout he chooses to switch to tsuki-oshi. It’s not really forced on him by his opponent. This is a surprising flexibility from someone not yet 20.

OK, we now move up to Juryo, and here is your digest for the day:

Due to Seiro’s kyujo, a rikishi from Makushita is called up to do a Juryo torikumi. It’s the yo-yo, Kizenryu, facing Akua in his retina-damaging shimekomi. This turns out to be a protracted battle, in which both sides are doing their best to deny access to their mawashi. But Akua is again left winless, with nothing to show for his great effort. He is probably going back to Makushita yet again.

Now, if you have watched Kintamayama today, you will have seen that Enho’s bout with Gagamaru came after two very strange mattas. Enho explains:

“I was seriously scared. When we had the matta, my opponent’s face went boiling red. Well, his head was very low, so it was clear that I should go to the right. That was so strong on my mind that before I knew it I found myself flying. It’s the first time in my life I have flown”.

Personally, I was not too enthusiastic about that Hassotobi, having seen its sister being performed over and over again in the Jungyo by Enho’s stablemate, Ishiura. It’s not good sumo and I’m sure Hakuho is not going to proudly tweet about it. But the spectators at the Kokugikan loved it, and Enho made it to the kanto-seishin (the crowd fighting-spirit favorites list). What is he going to do when he gets to Makuuchi and has to face the likes of Chiyomaru, Chiyotairyu and Kaisei?

  • Azumaryu suffers his first loss with some serious pressure from Tokushoryu.
  • Chiyonoumi started his comeback after his first loss yesterday. Today he faced Jokoryu (who is the first one I see daring to wear a brown mawashi), and aims some massive thrusts at him. Go, go, Kochi-man.
  • Tobizaru is also on the mend from his disastrous first two days. He changed his shimekomi, by the way, to something that looks like banana-milk or Badam-milk color.
  • Mitoryu faces Shimanoumi. Some fierce nodowa and Shimanoumi is pushed away. Mitoryu continues to dominate with 4-0.
  • Terutsuyoshi, however, had excellent first two days, but has now followed them with two consecutive losses. This time he doesn’t manage to keep his grip as he did in the first day.
  • Wakatakakage suffers his first loss at the hands of the rebounding Tsurugisho.
  • Takekaze is doing the push-me-pull-you, and ends up luckily inside the ring.
  • The Hidenoumi-Takagenji bout seemed pretty simultaneous to me. I expected a torinaoshi, but it went to Hidenoumi. I’m not complaining, mind you.
  • The Kyokushuho-Meisei bout was fine, but I don’t really get how Meisei made it into the kanto-seishin list.
  • Yago made the same mistake twice in the same bout. In both cases he tried to pull and failed. He is much better moving forward. He loses too much ground when pulling.
  • Akiseyama secures a grip and tries to trip the tripper, Arawashi. He also tries to lift him and take him aside. Arawashi shows what he is made of – and keeps his balance perfectly. The way he uses his feet to change his center of gravity is superb.
  • Aminishiki’s bout was a very short version of “Crime and Punishment”. Daishoho saw his henka and raised him a hatakikomi.

That’s it for day 4. By now, day 5 action has already started in the lower divisions. Hope you enjoyed this collection!