Natsu Day 6 Highlghts


Hakuho

It Feels Like An Old Fashioned Basho.

Remember last year when every tournament was a contest between Hakuho and Harumafuji to see which one could go without losing a single bout? Those were heady days when to two Mongolian super-sumotori ruled the dohyo, and nobody could really do much to them.

Then there were injuries, hospitalization, recuperation, and problems galore. For fans of these two great Yokozuna, it’s quite enjoyable to see them dominant once more. Each has a powerful and distinctive style of sumo that will be sorely missed once they retire (which is coming sooner than any of us want).

Items of note

Takayasu lost his first match today to fellow Sekiwake Tamawashi. This match was lost at the tachiai, which was sloppy for Takayasu. He slipped to 5-1

Goeido seems to be running the 2.0 software again, which I really like. I have had fears over the stability of his injured ankle, but it would seem that he is back to something close to his Aki form, which is excellent Ozeki class sumo.

Also working hard to ensure we never get to No-Zeki is Terunofuji. Today he looked like a cat toying with a grasshopper. Even the gyoji caught a piece of the action.

Select Matches

Onosho defeats Kotoyuki – Onosho continues to impress. Today he exploded into the tachiai and the momentum just carried Kotoyuki out.

Ura defeats Ichinojo – Simple, Ichinojo let Ura dictate the form of the match. Ura went low, stayed low, Ichinojo tried to follow and Ura was in control. Done.

Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – A festival of pushing, shoving, slapping and bashing until Takakeisho lost his balance and fell. The pushme-pullyous seems to be running sumo now. Did everyone forget the rest of the kimarate list?

Takanoiwa defeats Shodai – Shodai is still too high at the tachiai, and never got his footing.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – Tamawashi won this one on the line. Takayasu was off balance from the start, and Tamawashi made him pay for it.

Yoshikaze defeats Kotoshogiku – Good bye Kotoshogiku, you were one of the good ones, and you will be sorely missed, as you are a real character. But you have nothing left, please take your kabu and become a great leader of young rikishi. Also, Yoshikaze is really running well this basho.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Like a ping pong match with 300 pound plus big men. And to be honest, it was all Terunofuji. Sadly the Gyoji got in the way at some point and got hit with Chiyonokuni being tossed around like a hacky-sack. It’s strange to say, but it looks like both Ozeki are running well this basho, and its so very very welcome.

Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Aggressive, adaptive, committed. Goeido 2.0 was on the dohyo today, and he provided Mitakeumi with a valuable lesson. No plan survives first contact, and Goeido got inside his decision loop and shut him down.

Kisenosato defeats Daieisho – Kisenosato got the easy match today. Poor Daieisho is far out of his element. He will be back, but we hope he is not damaged by this tournament ranked much higher than he should be right now.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Hakuho could have won this match in the first three seconds, but he was not going to let Endo off easily. He kept slapping and pushing, pushing and slapping. Demonstrating the match was going to last until he got tired. well, Endo decided he had enough and exiting the dohyo after a solid push to give him cover.

Harumafuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama is known for landing hay-makers, so what did Harumafuji do? Grabbed two handfuls of flabby breast meat and started shoving. Aoiyama was really unable to move his arms, or land any blows. Kind of disgusting, but effective.

Natsu Day 4 Results


Day 3

Apologies For a Lack Of Preview!

As feared, connectivity in Japan has been hit-or-miss, and it has greatly impacted my ability to post, upload photos and video and a host of other things. But fear not, dear readers! The day 5 results from the Kokugikan are here!

It seems today was “Salaryman Day” or something of the sort. A few minutes before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, a few thousand salarymen began streaming into the upper deck stadium seats at the Kokugikan. I am sure it’s perfectly normal, but to this sumo fan, it seemed a bit surreal. They were followed by ushers carrying huge flats of beer cans, which were passed around the crowd of business men.

There was some massive, raucous action on day 4, so I strongly encourage all to watch the matches on NHK, or better yet, Jason’s all sumo channel.

Selected Highlights

Onosho defeats Myogiryu – There was a huge amount of effort in this bout, and it featured competing throw attempts that ended at the edge. It was a great way to start Makuuchi.

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Kaisei won – yes, by moving forward. He has the bulk and the leg strength, but it seems he needs to put away the pulling technique and take a page from Kisenosato’s book – 蜻蛉 (Tonbo)

Tochinoshin defeats Ura – There were so many things wrong in this bout, it took a rather lengthy monoii to try and put a fig leaf on it. First of all, there should have been a matta at the start, but sure, whatever. Then there was an excellent raging battle between size and strength vs speed. It ended with some fantastic acrobatics at the tawara, and it looked to me like the Gyoji said “screw it” and pointed his gumbai in a random direction. Without the benefit or replay, I can only go by what my eyes saw, but it seemed Ura’s win.

Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Slow motion sumo match. I left 30 minutes after the final bout, and Ichinojo had yet to reach the clay.

Ikioi defeats Tochiozan – Big ugly slap fest the Ikioi managed to win. I would expect Tochiozan’s hot streak to continue past today, even though Ikioi racked up a win.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Great strength match, polite of Takarafuji to take advantage of Shodai’s consistently sloppy tachiai.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Probably the match of the day, and they both put everything into it. Takayasu is displaying almost unthinkable strength and determination this week, and even a really aggressive highly motivated Mitakeumi could not defeat him. Takayasu now needs 6 wins, and certainly looks like Ozeki material

Kotoshogiku defeats Tamawashi – So happy that Kotoshogiku got a win and was able to deploy his hug-n-chug. He is headed towards a hard, brutal make-koshi, most likely. I am grateful I had a chance to see him operate when he was healthy.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Terunofuji looking somewhat better, I am staring to hope that he will put forth a strong effort this time and avoid more kadoban nonsense.

Goeido defeats Daieisho – Future Sekiwake Goeido pretzeled up Daieisho, who must be wondering what the hell happened an how he ended up in this living sumo hell, and why the schedulers hate him so much.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Harumafuji’s back! In person it was clear he was trying for Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and I was hoping to see the spin cycle today. Instead he had to settle for launching Chiyonokuni into a handy Shimpan landing zone.

Yoshikaze defeats Kakuryu – The Berserker is on fire right now, and it’s tough to stand up to him. Kakuryu is in deep ugly trouble now, his reactive sumo is not working this time, and he will have to endure calls for his retirement.

Endo defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato gives up his first kinboshi, he is clearly still hurt in a very performance limiting way. Hell, a left handed Yokozuna loses use of his left upper body, but still manages to win half his matches. I expect him to somehow swallow (for him) a bitter pill and go kyujo on the weekend.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – I honestly feel sorry for Okinoumi. Hakuho is clearly back in fighting form, and he’s just going to crumple and fold everyone for the next 11 days.

Natsu Day 1 Highlights


Title Card 3

Solid Start To Summer Tournament

Day one at the Kokugikan saw a capacity crowd, with fans eager to see who among their favorite rikishi were starting strong, and who they would worry about.

First some notes from Juryo: New entrant Takagengi won his debut match as a sekitori, many will see this as a good sign that the youngster can be competitive in the upper ranks. The match was acrobatic and could have gone either way, but it was good sumo!

Selected Matches

Ikioi defeats Hokutofuji – Ikioi exploded off the line and then overpowered Hokutofuji for a rather straight forward Okidashi

Takarafuji defeats Aoiyama – This match was all over the place, and for some reason Aoiyama trying to grab for Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji stayed mobile and took the punishment waiting for his chance, which came at the edge as Aoiyama tried a pull down, but failed.

Takayasu defeats Daiesho – This was horrifically one sided, with Takayasu in control from the tachiai. Takayasu’s slap down was loud and strong, with some fans gasping as it was unleashed. 9 more wins for a viable chance at Ozeki for Takayasu

Goeido defeats Okinoumi – First of all, I can almost swear that Goeido lost a considerable amount of mass. Secondly, he heavily protected his damaged right ankle, including a move at the edge of the ring that did not look easy or comfortable. I think Goeido has real problems.

Endo defeats Terunofuji – The big Mongolian Ozeki started strong, and went for his favored double outside shoulder grip, but somehow Endo countered or at least stayed away from the edge of the tawara. As Terunofuji went to put Endo away, Endo reached down to grabe Terunofujis (injured) knee. At that point Terunofuji eased up and Endo finished him.

Hakuho defeats Chiyonokuni – The Gyoji almost gave it to Chiyonokuni, but it was clear that Hakuho blasted him at the tachiai. Chiyonokuni as been progressing steadily in the past year, and made a good showing against Hokuho. I should not that Hakuho did not see to be hesitant, favoring any part of his body or injured in any way. It may be the case fans finally can see him in good form once more.

Mitakeumi defeats Kakuryu – Very strong work from Mitakeumi once more. Kakuryu’s reactive sumo left him out of room at the edge and off balance. Mitakeumi was able to finish him.

Yoshikaze defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato looked unsure and unsteady. As noted in prior posts, the kind of injury he suffered usually requires surgery if it can be repaired at all. As a Yoshikaze fan I appreciate his winning, but it’s worrisome to see sumo’s #1 ratings machine in trouble.

More tomorrow as it happens (if the 4G signal can behave) from the Kokugikan.

Takayasu Recovers, Defeats Takarafuji


Bout Included Mawashi Malfunction

On day 14, Takayasu racked up his 11th with, an important addition for his quest to win promotion to Ozeki. The match featured a solid display of yotsu-zumō, but was halted by the Gyoji, as Takarafuji’s mawashi threatened to come un-done mid battle. As shown in earlier posts, the Gyoji stops the match, throws his gumbai over his shoulder and re-ties the offending garment.

This 11th win matters a great deal for Takayasu, as it means that he was able to set his disappointment over his day 11 loss aside, and overcome whatever worries he has for his friend Kisenosato and focus on his sumo, which he did well today. Sadly this victory gave Takarafuji his make-koshi, and he will face a small rank demotion for May. Takayasu will need at least 11 wins in May to secure Ozeki, and we think that if he stays focused and healthy, that goal is in reach.

Video thanks to Jason’s All Sumo Channel on YouTube, which is a Tachiai mainstay. Feel free to hit his tip jar, too!

Kyushu Day 8 News And Boos


kakuryu-tamawashi

The Other Fukuoka Sinkhole

I have made my displeasure with some of the outcomes of day 8 abundantly clear. The rest of the day was kind of a sorry mess as well, with a few nice highlights. But after breakfast and some tea, it’s time to post commentary on the action in Kyushu.

The group with chances of taking the tournament yusho narrowed, with Goeido’s loss pushing him out of reasonable contention. At the same time, Kakuryu’s very sloppy win gives him a secured kachi-koshi. Kakuryu’s win showed a lot of weakness, Hakuho has confirmed (in my eyes) that he is still struggling to regain his former potency. Harumafuji is starting to get boring, and hopefully some of those crazed shimpan will discuss his two-dimensional approach with him. Harumafuji is much better than what he is showing us this tournament.

In Juryo – Osunaarashi, Ura and Sato all won again today, while Yamaguchi. There may be some welcome Makuuchi promotions going into the January basho in Tokyo.

We have one week left in Kyushu

Leaderboard

  • Undefeated: Kakuryu
  • Chasers: Harumafuji, Hakuho, Goeido, Ishiura
  • Hunt Group: Goeido, Kisenosato, Terunofuji, Shodai, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Arawashi

7 matches remain

Day 8 Notable

Ichinojo defeats Gagamaru – After a slow start, the giant sumo robot from the future seems to be getting his software and hardware back in order.

Ishiura defeats Kyokushuho – Not much of a contest, really. I expect the schedulers are going to give Ishiura some tough matches this coming week.

Ikioi defeats Chiyonokuni – pretty sure Ikioi broke a tooth on that tachiai, when Chiyonokuni’s skull impacted his lower jaw. Ikioi kept pressing the attack, and shortly afterwards Chiyonokuni lost his balance.

Endo defeats Sadanoumi – Endo continues to look good, though today was an easy match for him. Sadanoumi took a fast tour of the salt basket and various west side sumo accessories on his trip over the edge of the dohyo.

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Really terrible outcome. First match was a clear Tochinoshin win as Shodai was on the clay while Tochinoshin was in the air. There is an expression in sumo – if you know you are falling, touch last. Many matches see both rikishi on the process of falling at the end, and the one who touches the ground first is the one who loses. This was not even close. The shimpan decided as Tochinoshin’s body was in the air but outside the ring, he lost. Baloney. Monoii was called, in the rematch Shodai won. Really bad show, judges. For a few minutes, this was the worst call in recent sumo. But they applied themselves and went for worse

Tochiozan defeats Takayasu – Takayasu is a mess right now. I am not sure what has him off his sumo, but this guy is really a serious force for the future. Kitamayama declared in a round table prior to the tournament that Takayasu would end up maki-kochi. I assumed he was joking. I fear that could in fact happen. Note about Takayasu and low win scores – he is under consideration for promotion to Ozeki, but he has to rack up 33 wins across 3 tournaments to earn it.

Okinoumi defeats Goeido – Okinoumi is a great sumotori, and although he is struggling this basho, I predict great things for him. I also feel very sorry for him today, as the weight of a bad call must surely rest on his mind. In what is likely to be the most controversial call for some time, the gyoji’s decision was reversed by monoii, and Okinoumi was declared the winner. To be completely fair, Goeido’s sumo was a mess today, worse than any of his prior days this basho, there was little chance he was going to prevail over the Yokozuna next week. The call in question is exactly where Goeido’s heel was on the tawara as Okinoumi hit the dirt. Even Okinoumi thought he lost.

Terunofuji defeats Kotoshogiku – If there was a bright spot in the sanyaku matches, it was Terunofuji masterfully containing Kotoshogiku, and dispatching him from the ring with relative ease. Kotoshogiku was never able to establish a grip or start his bulldozer technique. Wonderful sumo from Terunofuji, in spite of the pain, in spite of the injury. Nicely done.

Harumafuji defeats Yoshikaze – These guys really have a lot of animosity for each other, and it shows. The match featured the Harumafuji nodowa (Darth Vader) move that is really tiresome now, and Yoshikaze moving to pull an inside leg trip. He missed, and was off balance. Game over. Yoshikaze is having a miserable tournament.

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – Komusubi is the toughest job in sumo, and Mitakeumi is taking his lumps. As Andy pointed out, it’s where perfectly good sumotori go to get beat up. We saw a bit more mobility out of Hakuho, but it’s clear is is not his normal self. His technique remains outstanding – during his drive against Mitakeumi, his stance was fantastic, his feet very heavy and his hips low the entire time. But the speed and power were clearly not what they were early this year, and after the match, he walked stiffly. To hide it, he has increased his swagger, but it’s plain to see that he’s still nursing lower body injuries. As a bonus, he had a new elbow wrap on today.

Kakuryu defeats Tamawashi – Kakuryu looked really bad – reactive, out of control and moving backwards. In contrast Tamawashi was in control of the match and executing his sumo plan. Tamawashi made a critical mistake by over-extending himself, and Kakuryu moved to finish him. Tamawashi is maintaining a winning record as Komusubi, a difficult thing to do.