Tachiai News Update (Video) – Yokozuna Hakuho’s Latest Knee Surgery

Yokozuna Hakuho went back into surgery during the March basho in an attempt to repair damage to his right knee. Prior to the tournament, he required fluid to be drained daily just to regain movement in that leg. His doctors have suggested knee replacement surgery – soon! He is already committed to being absent in May, with July his targeted “last stand”

Andy, Josh and Bruce talk about what could be the last stand for the most dominant rikishi ever in the world of sumo, and wonder if July is really going to be possible given the severity of his injuries. It’s another 15 minutes of video by Team Tachiai!

Tachiai News Update – Yokozuna Hakuho’s Knee Surgery

Andy, Josh and Bruce discuss Yokozuna Hakuho’s latest knee surgery, and look into how he has forever changed sumo. What does the future hold for him? Will he be able to return ready to fight in July? Can he keep his body together long enough to be a part of the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games?

Its another 15 minute block of Team Tachiai talking through the scenarios around what could be the final basho of the most dominant rikishi ever to mount the dohyo. Video version on YouTube to follow soon.

Haru Day 15 Highlights

Its a rare day indeed when one of my “Always regrettable” predictions comes to pass. I had picked Terunofuji for the cup prior to the tournament, and he delivered. This punctuates his climb back to Ozeki in absolutely grand fashion, and probably marks a “top” for his sumo career. I am very happy for him, and hope he gets a chance to savor it with all of his heya-mates who, I think, really did everything they could to help him get to this day of days. There are plenty of fans across the sumo world who are looking for Terunofuji to campaign for the rope. It would be a fascinating development. But we know that during this March tournament, Terunofuji re-injured at least one knee, and has been getting daily medical treatment to keep himself going. As Herouth pointed out when hits all began back in Jonidan. It’s clear that Terunofuji’s fighting spirit would carry on long after his knees has given up. We hope he can heal up and return healthy and strong for May. But for today, it’s celebration at Isegahama, and rightfully so. I hope that they make an exception to the COVID restrictions, and Shunba can attend the party.

Highlight Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Kotoshoho – Well, Kotoshoho did manage to get one win by coming back form kyujo. Also, Tokushoryu minimized his make-koshi to 7-8. The match was traditional Tokushoryu, giving way following the tachiai, and dumping his opponent at the edge. I guess Kotoshoho did not practice that one. Go get healed up, Kotoshoho.

Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – This is possibly some of the best sumo of the entire basho. Hidenoumi stayed calm, absorbed everything Hoshoryu tried, and just wore him down. Both are kachi-koshi, so complimented to them for a solid tournament and some great sumo.

Tobizaru defeats Kaisei – Well, mini-henka from Tobizarum gets him enough leverage to get control of Kaisei’s big body. Tobizaru gets a bit of a spin going and rolls Kaisei to the clay to improved to 10-5. Tobizaru has a fair amount of potential. He just needs to be careful with the gimmick sumo, as it can rob you of the fundamentals.

Daiamami defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka worked hard to make this an oshi-zumo match, but Daiamami would not follow suit. Under a series of Kotonowaka thrusts and hits, Daiamami kept working that right hand inside. That Daiamami right hand was the key to the win, and he improves to 9-6 to finish Haru.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kagayaki wrapped Kotoeko early, and then kept his feet wide, bracketing Kotoeko’s stance. With Kagayaki in solid sumo form, Kotoeko did not have many options, and was forced out. Kagayaki improves to 6-9 to end Haru.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tamawashi – Terutsuyoshi hops to the side at the tachiai, and engages laterally and low. Tamawashi has few defensive options, and not nearly enough room on the dohyo to implement them. It was a rapid trip to the tawara, as Terutsuyoshi picks up his kachi-koshi win on the final day.

Midorifuji defeats Okinoumi – When Okinoumi is hurt, he really can’t do much with his sumo. Today it was Midorifuji to show us some really good sumo, and put Okinoumi for a win. The oshidashi lifts Midorifuji to a final score 5-10.

Myogiryu defeats Ryuden – I look at Ryuden, and just hope he can get healed up and come back strong in May. Myogiryu was absolutely solid today, and lost no ground to Ryuden in spite of Ryuden’s repeated attacks. Myogiryu improves to 7-8.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Another traditional Chiyotairyu bout, strong opening blast with the cannonball tachiai, into an immediate slap down. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-9.

Meisei defeats Tsurugisho – Surprisingly good mawashi battle, which netted Meisei the kanto-sho (fighting spirit). Once Meisei got him upright, Tsurugisho could not apply much pressure to stop Meisei’s slow advance to the bales. Meisei ends March 10-5.

Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – Wakatakakage’s hit and shift sent Hokutofuji most of the distance to the west side bales, and a quick body shove followed up to send Hokutofuji out. Wakatakakage gets the gino-sho (technique), thought I did not think of much of today’s technique. He finishes March 10-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Onosho – Chiyoshoma did not get a Darwin match, even though he was eligible. Instead he got to fight a very poorly performing Onosho. As a long term sumo fan, I am not used to seeing this kind of sumo from Chiyoshoma. No tricks, no henka, just straight ahead sumo. With the win today he is kachi-koshi, and I am happy he could do it with good form.

Kiribayama defeats Takarafuji – I am certain that Takarafuji is delighted this basho has ended. He sometimes has real performance problems, and suffers double digit losses, such as this March. As the two were fighting, they became a tangle of arms and legs at the bales, and Takarafuji dropped backwards to the clay. Kimarite was reported as okurihikiotoshi, or the seldom seen “rear pull down”. Kiribayama improves to 7-8.

Daieisho defeats Akiseyama – The first Darwin match goes to Daieisho, who completes a pretty impressive recovery to kachi-koshi from a cold start of 1-5. Daieisho kachi-koshi, Akiseyama make-koshi.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Second Darwin match! Ichinojo goes soft as soon as Mitakeumi gets the advantage, and hands the Original Tadpole his 8th win for kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama defeats Takayasu – Takayasu finishes with a 1-4 record for act 3. He did, in essence, throw away the yusho. I have had some fans on Twitter and here on Tachiai suggest he just “choked”. I think we may come to find out that he re-injured either the elbow or the knee in the day 10 to 12 range. Aoiyama improves to 11-4, wins the kanto-sho (fighting spirit) prize, completes a very genki Haru.

Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Takanosho wins the final Darwin match, and all of the san’yaku who were “on the bubble” lock down their ranks on the final day. Tochinoshin got the better of the tachiai, but left his body wide open. Takanosho counter attacks straight at center-mass, and Tochinoshin is out 3 steps later. Takanosho improves to 8-7 and is kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin down to 7-8 and is make-koshi.

Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – The big match, it was Takakeisho who took the early advantage. Terunofuji looked to my eye to set up to take the first step back, in exchange for landing a hold anywhere on Takakeisho’s body. It was only successful for a moment, but it was enough to open Takakeisho’s body. Terunofuji attacked center mass and drove Takakeisho back, and on the second shove, out. Terunofuji finishes Haru 12-3, takes home the Emperor’s cup, wins the shukun-sho (outstanding performance) priz, and a promotion to Ozeki. Not sure what else they could award the man, but I am sure he deserved it. He finished the ultimate sumo comeback story strong, and was utterly victorious.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Oh, one last matter to conclude while Terunofuji has his hair re-built. It was Asanoyama’s job to send Shodai home kadoban, and he made it happen. Again we saw Asanoyama pass on 2 chances to dominate the match, as he was solely focused on getting his preferred grip. Once Asanoyama’s left hand was in place, he was in business. His finishing uwatenage sealed the deal for Shodai, and the tate-gyoji who took a fall. Asanoyama finishes Haru 10-5.

Thus ends our coverage of the Haru basho action. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing your time with us, reading our posts, and taking the time to comment. Team Tachiai does this for the love of the sport, and we appreciate you coming along with us for this March tournament.

Haru Day 14 Highlights

Day 14 was quite the gift to sumo fans. Just about everything that needed to happen to set up a chaotic and high-stakes final day came to pass. Terunofuji has sole possession of the lead, followed by 3 strong contenders. Should Terunofuji win his day 15 against Grand Tadpole Takakeisho, he takes home the cup. If he falls, there could be some kind of wild playoff. It is certain that the yusho winner will have no higher than a 12-3 record this March, and possibly a rare 11-4, should Terunofuji lose on the final day.

In addition to the yusho race drama to be settled in the latter half of the final day, there are 3 Darwin matches, where two 7-7 rikishi face off. The winner finishes kachi-koshi, and the loser make-koshi. There could have been 4, but the schedule just did not work out to set it up.

Yutakayama finally owned up to the severity of his arm injury and went kyujo. He will finish March 4-11, and be punted well down the banzuke deep into Juryo.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Akiseyama – Kotoeko barrows Kotoshogiku’s gaburi-yori to belly-bump Akiseyama over the bails, and send him to a day 15 Darwin match. Kotoeko improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi.

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Kaisei avoids the Darwin match by taking Chiyotairyu into a belt battle, and wearing him down. Chiyotairyu had superior hand and body position through most of the match, but there was just too much Kaisei to move. There are in fact times when being enormous is a valid sumo strategy. Kaisei improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi for March.

Chiyoshoma defeats Kotoshoho – Chiyoshoma kept his focus center mass, and kept moving forward. Save the first win, Kotoshoho has had no success with his return from kyujo. Chiyoshoma ends 7-7 and will be part of the Darwin match series.

Tsurugisho defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji was able to get a double inside grip, but is too hurt to do very much with it. Nothing Midorifuji tried, including a leg trip, had much of an effect. Tsurugisho’s win improves his score to 9-5

Daiamami defeats Hoshoryu – Daiamami avoids a Darwin match on Sunday. His left hand outside grip was the key to his win, as it shut down a number of Hoshoryu’s attack options. Both end the day 8-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi gave it his all, but was out powered by Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin had a solid right hand inside grip, but could not do too much with it, as his damaged right knee prevents him from pivoting with power to that side. He had to settle for a yorikiri, and improving to 7-7 to join the Darwin crew.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kagayaki – Terutsuyoshi joins the crowd eligible for a Darwin match with his win over flagging Kagayaki. Kagayaki opened strong, and had Terutsuyoshi on the run. But Terutsuyoshi was able to apply just enough torque at the edge to send Kakgayaki to the clay first.

Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Their thrusting battle fell apart when Tamawashi’s volley went wide, and Meisei was able to quickly duck behind and run Tamawashi to the tawara, escorting him out. Meisei improves to 9-5.

Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – Hokutofuji set up a strong right hand outside grip, and then used his body as a wall to incrementally reduce the ring for Ryuden, forcing him out step by step. Ryuden avoids Darwin by losing to Hokutofuji, and reaching make-koshi.

Aoiyama defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage came in strong, but ran face-first into Aoiyama’s thrusting attack. Wakatakakage attempted to respond, but found his right arm entangled as Aoiyama pivoted and brought him to the clay. Aoiyama improves to 10-4, and remains in the yusho race.

Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Takarafuji set up a right hand frontal grip early, and rather than “defend and extend” he chose to close early, taking Okinoumi immediately out by yorikiri. Both end the day with 3-11 records.

Onosho defeats Shimanoumi – Onosho was again balanced too far forward on the second step out of the tachiai, but Shimanoumi was holding him up in an attempt to move forward. Onosho responded with a solid thrusting attack, and sent Shimanoumi back and out in 4 steps. Both end the day 4-10.

Tobizaru defeats Takayasu – Takayasu continues to crumble, winning just 1 of his last 4. Much as his day 13 match against Wakatakakage, there were multiple spots where he failed to exploit a route to finishing Tobizaru. Takayasu lost when Tobizaru was able to twist just enough during Takayasu’s oshidashi to bring Takayasu down first. Takayasu, man, you could have just kept him in the center of the dohyo and worn his ass down until he begged you to let him drop.

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Kiribayama was able to take this match chest to chest, shutting down Daieisho’s thrusting attack. The results were a well timed uwatenage that sends Daieisho to 7-7, and into the Darwin crew for day 15.

Mitakeumi defeats Myogiryu – Mitakeumi set up an armpit attack at the tachiai, and it instantly cut at least half of Myogiryu forward power. Feeling a lack of return pressure, Mitakeumi went forward, taking Myogiryu out, improving to 7-7. Mitakeumi gets to join the Darwin match group for day 15.

Takanosho defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo, for reasons I am sure no one can explain, immediately tries to pull against Takanosho. Takanosho is Sekiwake for a reason, and reacts to the release of resistance, and rushes ahead, driving Ichinojo from the ring. Both end the day 7-7, and join the Darwin list.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Shodai, what the hell? He leaves his chest wide open, inviting Takakeisho to deliver maximum force. Of course, Takakeisho obliges, and the next thing you know, Shodai is tossed like a cork on a raging ocean and finds himself out and down. 7-7 record for Shodai, then. He does not get to join the Darwin group. As an Ozeki, he will determine his fate against Asanoyama on day 15. Good luck.

Terunofuji defeats Asanoyama – In the final match of the day, Terunofuji out-classes Ozeki Asanoyama to take sole possession of the yusho lead. This match beautifully demonstrates not only just how much Terunofuji’s sumo has evolved, but how Asanoyama is highly dependent on a narrow range of positions and grips. True, he is good at getting that set up most days. But Terunofuji overwhelms Asanoyama, and shows him out. With a win like that, there is zero chance they would not promote Terunofuji, he’s the strongest, most capable man in active competition right now.