Natsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 7

Alright. Since Kazekeno has win #7 and the Jonokuchi yusho locked-up, let’s move right into the exciting Joni–

What’s that you say? Yamato isn’t a puffcake? Well, I know that but as forcefully as he was blown away in his last match, surely Kazekeno has this in the bag. No? Exactly. That’s why they play the game. Yamato was not going to go down without a fight, that’s for sure.

The leg grab had been working for Yamato in his early bouts, so why not go back to it? In those bouts his opponents, like Hitoshi, were so freaked out that they practically ran away. This time, Yamato got his ashitori win. At the tachiai, Kazekeno appeared to miss with his thrust down attempt and that was a critical mistake. Yamato got a lock on Kazekeno’s right leg, turned with his opponent, and drove forward sending Kazekeno off the dohyo to his first loss.

This means we will get a thrilling four-way playoff on senshuraku for the Jonokuchi yusho. With Yamato’s win this brings Tanji and Arise back into the yusho picture. For those intimidated with their Japanese studies, this tweet below may bolster your confidence because you can probably read the whole thing. If nothing else, it should give a good lesson in the use of “の”. Usually, that’s a possessive character so just think apostrophe S. The rest are pretty much proper nouns.

“Jonokuchi’s 6 wins, 1 loss, Dewanoumi beya’s Yamato, Arashio beya’s Tanji, Tokitsukaze beya’s Arise, Oshiogawa beya’s Kazekeno Yusho playoff (lit. deciding battle) on senshuraku.” You already know pretty much all of that vocab. Remembering the characters is definitely difficult, though.

OK. Back to the sumo. The Jonidan yusho will also be determined in a ketteisen (決定戦), or play-off, but that was already known. Coming into Match Day 7 there were four undefeated wrestlers. This meant that the winners of Hanafusa/Toseiryu and Kototebakari/Daiseizan would get fight on senshuraku. Toseiryu had handed Yamato his first loss the other day, could he avenge his Jonokuchi loss and beat Hanafusa?

Toseiryu gave it a valiant effort but Hanafusa’s sumo fundamentals are solid. Hanafusa kept his feet firm beneath his mass and swatted away Toseiryu’s slaps. Then, by moving forward (imagine that!) Hanafusa corralled his opponent and sent him over the edge.

Kototebakari came into this tournament “the-man-to-watch.” As the Jonokuchi yusho holder and the younger brother of Kotoshoho, he’s clearly the favorite. Would there be another lower division upset?

Nope. Kototebakari doesn’t just have the solid fundamentals. He’s clearly working on more advanced curriculum. At the tachiai he met Daiseizan head on, but stayed low and pushed Daiseizan upwards. At the same time, watch that right leg snake inside Daiseizan’s left. With Daiseizan pulling Kototebakari to the same side, he basically sealed his own fate and Kototebakari won by sotogake.

There you have it, Kototebakari will go into senshuraku the heavy favorite to claim his second consecutive lower division yusho against Hanafusa. And then in Jonokuchi we’ll get three bouts as Kazekeno, Yamato, Arise, and Tanji will fight in a single elimination round-robin. The last man standing will walk away with his first yusho…while the others plot their revenge in Nagoya. Anyway, if you’re getting tired of Ozeki losing, at least there’s light in the lower divisions.

Natsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 6

And just like that, we’re down to one. Kazekeno won his bout against Hitoshi in impressive fashion. Both men understood the stakes at the outset. The tension before the tachiai is palpable. Kazekeno made sure to slide back a few feet from the shikirisen (white lines). Then, he bunny-hopped back six inches farther, which raised Hitoshi’s eyebrows. Hitoshi adjusted his own position while Kazekeno bounced around, settling in for the charge.

When the two men launch out at each other, Kazekeno’s extra distance required him to take two full steps forward. That running start was significant. When he met Hitoshi, his pushed strongly upward, and that extra momentum forced his opponent backward. Hitoshi’s right foot met the tawara but he seemed to miss with his left foot, and stepped out. Kazekeno is undefeated heading into the final match day.

Further up the torikumi in Jonidan, Yamato was pitted against Toseiryu. I’ll give you a little more of an introduction to Toseiryu next. In his previous bouts, Yamato dove straight for his opponents’ legs and was able to score quick, acrobatic wins. However, Toseiryu was a challenge too far. Weighing 50kg more than Yamato, and with considerably more speed and power than any of Yamato’s previous opponents, he blasted the poor youngster into the cushions behind the waiting wrestlers.

Toseiryu is a strong lad who made his debut last tournament against Kototebakari. Further losses in Osaka against Sokokurai’s nephew, Daiseizan, and Nishonoseki recruit Hanafusa, meant that his 4-3 record was really nothing to sneeze at. In fact, with this win over Yamato, these four men comprise the Jonidan yusho race. They will pair off on Day 13 and the two winners should meet in a thrilling playoff on senshuraku.


Natsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 5

Our Jonokuchi yusho race whittled down to two men today. Undefeated veteran Hitoshi took on the dynamic Yamato while ex-Takekaze’s young recruit, Kazekeno, took on Daikinryu. At the tachiai, Yamato was all over Hitoshi’s leg like an over-eager beagle. One of these days his opponent will be prepared enough to bring some rolled up newspaper, and swat him on the head. “I said, down!” In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy watching as the unsuspecting opponents scramble to free themselves. Hitoshi’s escape route, for example, took him clear off the dohyo today.

In our other yusho-race bout, Kazekeno displayed formidable strength as uprooted Daikinryu with well-purposed thrusts about the shoulders and neck. Due to an odd number of undefeated wrestlers in Sandanme, our two leaders will likely only meet on senshuraku. Kazekeno will probably face another 1-loss rikishi while Yamato would spend a day in Jonidan fighting Toseiryu.

Lastly, I did want to share an awesome rare kimarite delivered by a young recruit. Technically, these one-loss wrestlers still have a leg in the yusho race. Should both of our leaders lose in their final two matches, the 1-loss cohort may find themselves in a thrilling play-off. If that does happen, I hope Tanaka still be up there. His slam here demonstrated quite a bit of sumo knowledge and skill beyond the straight-forward oshi and yotsu usually on display. Wakasa, himself, has been a very spirited young wrestler. It should be interesting to watch both develop.


Natsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 3 + 4

Match Day 3

Kazekeno is Takekaze’s recruit, doing quite well in Jonokuchi and aspires to become sekitori like heyamate, Yago. Don’t get caught out by the romaji transliteration of his shikona. It’s pronounced KAZE-KEN-Ō, not KAZE-KE-NO. For those who read hiragana, it’s かぜけんおう. English speakers are not the only ones who stumble over these unfamiliar shikona, so the Kyokai’s use of hiragana on their profile pages is very helpful.

His Match Day 3 opponent was Arise from Tokitsukaze beya. He used his 50kg weigh advantage and an effective nodowa to force Arise back to the straw bales. Arise’s center of balance was far too forward, so rather than attempt to drive forward, Kazekeno pulled Arise down.

80kg Yamato charged out low and forcefully to attempt to wrangle Sato. After their solid tachiai, Yamato dove low, trying to wrap of Sato’s leg…probably going for a Ura-like ashitori. Sato established his grip on Yamato’s belt and dropped back, the combined momentum forcing both out at the same time. Naruto oyakata and the other shimpan decided they needed a re-do. This time, Yamato heaved Sato up onto his shoulders, jerked back, and dropped Sato for a wild tasukizori.

I’ve got the video of both bouts here, followed by the Day 4 match-up of both winners, described below.

Match Day 4

Kazekeno’s nakabi opponent is Watanabe, one of several solid recruits in Nishonoseki beya, along with the twins, Hayashiryu and Rinko, as well as Sato. On Day 3, Watanabe had quickly bounced the smaller Wakasa over the tawara but faced a much stiffer challenge here. However, he swiftly dispatched Watanabe with a strong oshidashi win.

Afterwards, Yamato faced Tanaka from Sakaigawa-beya. Tanaka demonstrated excellent strength and technique against a larger opponent in Wakamiyabi. That straight-forward yorikiri was anything but easy. In a reverse of roles, though, he had the size advantage against Yamato but that doesn’t make the challenge any less intense. Both fought fiercely but Yamato’s skills are undeniable. He won with oshitaoshi.

With victories by Yamato and Kazekeno, I hope we’ll see the two matched up together on Tuesday.