Haru Day 5 Results


Hakuho-5

Hakuho Kyujo, Kisenosato Undefeated

The first act of Haru is complete. At this point all rikishi should be warmed up, on their sumo and in the optimum form. During the middle third of the basho is when we find out who will have a chance at yusho, and who is been competing hurt.

This big news from day 5 is that Hakuho withdrew from competition on day 5, citing an injury to the big toe of his right foot. This is the same foot that was the subject of surgery in September of 2016, and it’s re-injury is an ominous sign for the Boss’s long-term viability. It was clear that something was wrong form day 2, but like most rikishi, Hakuho was trying to continue in spite of the pain and discomfort. This gave Mitakeumi a fusen win.

The rest of the Yokozuna corps won their matches, with Ikioi putting in a nice effort against Kisenosato, who is looking amazingly untouchable. The same cannot be said for Goeido who is on the Kadoban express after Takekaze dropped him.

Shodai offered little against Takayasu, who has clearly benefited from the non-stop “fight club” with Kisenosato since January. Both Tagonoura rikishi are unbeaten, and every match is smooth, confident, strong and in-control. Then there is Terunofuji, who is fighting like he really means it this time. We have not seen this aspect of him in a while. His matches are like some vengeful hero turned loose to reclaim his stolen valor.

The Kotoshogiku revival train missed a stop today, when Tamawashi was able to resist the one good leg power attack. It’s possible that now we have entered the middle act of Haru, everyone is warmed up, they have been watching the tapes, and they know how to circumvent Kotoshogiku’s modified attack forms.

Takarafuji will not be stopped, at least not any time soon. This is the best performance from Harumafuji’s stable mate that I can recall watching, and he is certainly cleaning up against any and all opponents. The same can be said about Tochiozan, who has had a string of lack-luster tournaments. Today Tochiozan dealt Chiyoshoma his first loss, and looked very much in control for the brief time the match lasted.

Endo handily defeated Ichinojo, who has been on a hot streak since the first of the year. Endo had Ichinojo’s excess height and weight to overcome, but his skill and technique carried the day. Endo has a lot of promise still, but his consistency has suffered greatly.

If you want to watch two rikishi really go after each other today, catch the Daieisho win over Takakeisho.

Late word from the NSK seems to indicate that we will see Kaisei return in the next few days, hopefully in working order and ready for battle. Readers will recall that his injury came in a practice bout with Hakuho, who is now himself out with injury.

Haru Basho Day 4 Summary (*Updated)


Ikioi

Yokozuna Bloodbath Continues

Firstly, apologies for not posting any previews on Tuesday. Hopefully no more cross country marathon road trips for a while.

Overnight in Osaka, the Haru basho continued pulverizing the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks. The concerns we raised prior to the basho seem to be panning out, as today Hakuho, Kakuryu and Goeido all lost their bouts. At the end of day four, only Kisenosato remains undefeated in the upper two ranks. Kisenosato easily won over Sokokurai today. I would once again call attention to how wide Kisenosato’s stance is throughout almost the entire match. In finishing he once again presents his mie pose.

Ikioi was winless going into today’s match with Hakuho, but he came off the line hard and just pushed with everything he had. A monoii ensued, but Ikioi’s victory was upheld. A fantastic kinboshi win for a popular rikishi. Hakuho looked stunned (as was I).

Likewise, the Kotoshogiku revival train gained a bit more steam today when the demoted Ozeki was able to overpower Kakuryu. Kotoshogiku attempted his preferred hug-n-chug, but did not have the leg strength to take the Yokozuna out, but executed a rather clumsy throw (sukuinage) to finish him. It was ugly and all over the map, but Kotoshogiku got it done.

In other news of top rikishi back from the grave, Terunofuji easily dispatched Yoshikaze. Going into day 5, Terunofuji is undefeated! However in the walking dead camp, Goeido was defeated by Takanoiwa. It almost seemed that Goeido was unaware he was already over the tawara, and kept trying to thrust Takanoiwa down after the match was over.

In a battle of the giants, there was some excellent strength sumo between Takayasu and Mitakeumi (this was my favorite match of the day). Takayasu prevailed but Mitakeumi is clearly demonstrating skill and strength to maintain a high rank. Takarafuji has been showing us some fantastic sumo this basho, and in his match against Hokutofuji, he was able to get Hokutofuji turned around and pushed out. Given that Hokutofuji has yet to finish a tournament with a losing record, his current 1-3 record should worry him.

Lower down the torikumi, the hapless Tochinoshin fell to the undefeated Chiyoshoma in a battle that ranged back and forth for a good amount of time. Chiyoshoma was in control the whole time, but Tochinoshin repulsed attempts at throws, slap downs and trips to remain upright and in the fight. In the end Chiyoshoma was able to force him out.

Ichinojo as also been excelling this basho, looking greatly renewed and invigorated. Today he faced Kagayaki, and marched him directly off the dohyo with little fuss or resistance.

Ishiura executed a really nice throw in his win over Sadanoumi, and I am beginning to hope that he is getting his poise and confidence back after his drubbing during Hatsubasho. Ishiura has a lot of promise and potential, so it’s great to see him back into his sumo.

Lastly, Ura is at it again, and was able to keep upright during yet another super-low tachiai. His opponent, Daieisho, seemed perplexed and was unsure what to do. This is typical of Ura matches and he usually will win in the moments his adversary is trying to reorganize their thoughts, and come to grip with what just happened.

All in all a great day of sumo, and I will gamberize and be back on my regular posting schedule.

UpdatedVideo from Jason’s all sumo channel (from the full NHK feed) of the Hakuho vs Ikioi match, showing the cause of the monii, and the controversy about the call. From the angle shown, it would seem to indicate that Hakuho probably deserved a rematch. By the way, this same ruling in similar conditions was used to remove a victory from Goeido in Kyushu.

Haru Basho Day 3 Summary


Sokokurai

Harumafuji Gifts a Kinboshi to Sokokurai

A few brief notes before I return to nursing what is a terrible cold. Day 3 action offered some really nice action, do make a point of checking them out on Kintamayama’s  youtube channel or Jason’s All Sumo Channel. Both are friends of the Tachiai team, and without them, overseas (from Japan) sumo fans would have to get by on the NHK summaries alone.

Ishiura looked strong and in control today in his win over Daieisho, you can definitely see some of the moves he has learned from Hakuho in today’s bout.

Ura lost his match against Tochiozan. Ura came in low, and Tochiozan kept him low and off balance. Isaac Newton took care of the rest. Tochinoshin (his first of the year) finally won one against the new winless Sadanoumi.

Okinoumi put in a great effort to overcome Kagayaki, who is yet to score a victory this basho. Chiyoshoma defeated Kotoyuki to remain at 3-0. So maybe Chiyoshoma is on a bit of a hot streak. Likewise Takarafuji is at 3-0 after he found no challenge from Endo.

Ichinojo? He’s doing real sumo these days. He looks like he could turn into a serious guy too. With his size and strength he could do a lot. He dominated Hokotofuji today.

Among the San’yaku battle fleet, Mitakeumi won convincingly over Tamawashi. Mitakeumi established a strong mawashi grip about 10 seconds in, and then had total control over Tamawashi. This is much to be learned here – Mitakeumi use to be a straight pusher/thruster. This worked great for him until he found there were limits to that technique, so he added mawashi sumo into the mix, and deploys it with skill. The result is that he is now a much better rikishi.

As expected, Takayasu contained Kotoshogiku and put him on the clay. The former Ozeki cold not get any power going against the Sekiwake, and appeared out of options when Takayasu took him down.

Terunofuji had no trouble with Shohozan, and is fighting much better than expected. I do hope that he has his body healed up, and we can see a lot of his sumo this tournament.

Goeido fell far too easily to Shodai today. It was clear that Goeido 1.0 was on the clay, and Shodai rolled him down and out. I have real concerns about that right ankle, as he was keeping pressure off of it today.

Takekaze gave Hakuho a honest, vigorous fight today. It was a beautiful thing to watch. But as is Hakuho’s style he took his time andwaited for his opportunity. That extra shove at the end is classic “old school” Hakuho. Surprised it showed up today. Maybe the Boss is getting frustrated.

Takanoiwa has yet to win a match this basho, but he is fighting well. Today against Kisenosato, he gave the shin-Yokozuna a decent challenge. At least twice Kiseonsato was off balanced, but recovered with remarkable speed for a man of his size, once again striking his Mae pose right at the end.

The Harumafuji match – The horse really looks out of his element now. His balance seems to be off, and he seems sluggish. I don’t know if he is taking pain meds to overcome his injuries or what, but I think that Sokokurai winning by a hatakikomi comes as a surprise to many fans.

Haru Basho Day 2 Results


Harumafuji-2

A Shimpan Monoii Parade

Just a brief run down of some of the action today in Osaka. Your humble author is humbled by a raging cold!

Day two returned to a more expected form, with all 4 Yokozunas winning their matches, though the match between Harumafuji and Ikioi resulted in a monii. Frankly at this point I fear Harumafuji is still impacted by the tear in his thigh muscle sustained in Hatsu. Like any top athlete, he expects to be able to overcome this problem, but it may instead lead to further injury.

Shodai gave Kisenosato a worthy bout, but the shin-Yokozuna stayed in form after a brief flurry of attack by Shodai. I direct readers to watch Kisenosato’s lower body positioning and posture as he counter attacks and pushes Shodai out. When the “Great Pumpkin” gets in this pose, you may as well throw yourself to the clay, as he has already won.

Neither the Hakuho vs Sokokurai or the Takekaze vs Kakuryu had too much mojo today. I do think I begin to see that many sumo fans discount Kakuryu, perhaps because they don’t understand his sumo. In many cases, he is almost purely reactionary. He lets his opponent get fired up on attack, then exploits the first weakness or off balance moment that appears. Usually with brilliant results. But to get there he has to often throw or push from a precarious stance. This may be the source of his frequent physical problems.

Terunofuji beat Tamawashi, and gave him a little extra “shove”. Terunofuji must be feeling his oats. Elsewhere in Ozkei-land, Takayasu dismantled Goeido with a pretty good show of strength. The two grappled furiously, and Takayasu was able to get Goeido off balance and slap him down. Takayasu seems to be running in good form early this basho.

Kotoshogiku is now 2-0, and may start to have hopes at 10. He is looking strong, and whatever knee and back problems he has, he is fighting through the pain. Takanoiwa suffered a brutal hug-n-chug attack that ended the way they almost always do.

Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze were both in “Humanioid Typhoon” mode today, and completely blasted their opponents out of the ring.

The other monoii of the day came in the Kotoyuki vs Okinoumi bout, where a re-match was declared. Okinoumi seems to be in tough shape, watching him shiko before the bout, he can barely lift his leg at all. I would guess his painful injury is to blame.

Ishiura decisively beat Tochinoshin, who is fading fast due to injuries. This bout, Ishiura was more like the rikishi we saw in Kyushu – fast, strong determined and seemingly everywhere at once. I am looking forward to Ishiura vs Ura coming in the next few days.

Daishomaru bested Ura in a fast and furious match. Ura fans take heart, it is going to take him a few basho to get comfortable fighting Makuuchi class sumotori. Points for attempting his space-time defying back bend once again, but Daishomaru persisted through the sorcery and won.

Haru Basho Day 1 Results


Day-1

Up And Coming Sanyaku Causing Trouble Early

A great opening day for the Haru basho in Osaka, with plenty of great sumo to enjoy. If you are new to enjoying sumo, keep in mind that the first few days of any basho may seem a bit odd, as the riskishi sometimes have to struggle to get into their competition “groove” and employ their best sumo.

The theme that we suspected was going to be prominent – one of the up and coming next generation challenging the established senior rikishi – played out on day one across multiple ranks of the banzuke.

Notable Matches

Ura defeats Sadanoumi – Low tachiai from Ura with a quick pivot to eject Sadanoumi across the bales. Ura made it look easy.

Ichinojo defeats Aoiyama – Ichinojo closed out Hatsu with an impressive 11-4 record, there were some indications that he was getting his sumo to a higher state, and his bout with Aoiyama today only furthers that theory. Ichinojo showed good balance and kept the pressure forward. A solid win for an up and coming giant.

Endo defeats Arawashi – Quite impressive sumo from Endo today. Arawashi attempted to set up and execute multiple throws, but Endo kept low and kept his feet wide, and persisted in moving Arawashi every close to the bales. Endo looked very good today.

Takayasu defeats Shohozan – Shohozan had Takayasu well out of his comfort zone, and struggling to win. Normally “Big T” likes to lock up and opponent and wear them down, in today’s bout, it was Shohozan in command for most of the match, breaking Takayasu’s hold several times. In the end Takayasu was able to get a good mawashi grip and marched Shohozan out.

Tamawashi defeats Takanoiwa – Tamawashi appears solid as Sekiwake, his match today against Takanoiwa had a strong Tachiai, but Takanoiwa lost his balance and hit the dohyo early.

Terunofuji defeats Sokokurai – Terunofuji got a strong mawashi grip early and lifted Sokokurai over the tawara. To me Terunofuji looked very cautious and somewhat tender, even though he managed a clear win.

Goeido defeats Ikioi – Well, that was Goeido 2.0! Ikioi got blasted in a blink of an eye. I would love to see another Goeido 2.0 basho. Thank goodness his ankle held up today.

Kotoshogiku defeats Harumafuji – Even a long, steep path like the one Kotoshogiku must walk begins with a single step, and he took that step today. He got Harumafuji high on the tachiai and kept moving forward with relentless power from his lower body. I guess the real question is about Harumafuji coming out of today. The crowd loved it.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Kakuryu can be a very tough rikishi to defeat. His style is to wait for his opponent to over-commit and then exploit their momentum for his gain. Mitakeumi had Kakuryu wrapped up, moving backwards and in trouble. But that was just Kakuryu letting Mitakeumi do the hard work of moving all that mass to the edge of the ring. Faster than he could react, Kakuryu pivoted and directed Mitakeumi out.

Shodai defeats Hakuho – This match surprised me. Shodai was in command from the start, with Hakuho putting himself off balance when he tried a thrust-down against Shodai, who instead turned the tables and pushed the Yokozuna to the clay. Nice reaction, nice technique.

Haru Day 1 Preview


Day 1 Preview

Let’s Get Started!

At long last your Tachiai crew is back in Basho mode. The NSK schedulers gave us a great first day to prep us for what could be a pivotal basho as the old guard fights to remain in the face of a powerful new generation of rikishi.

There are many unanswered questions about the health of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps that may only reveal themselves by day 7 or so. The Yokozuna and Ozeki have an “easy” first week fighting the lower San’yaku and upper Maegashira. In fact during the Hatsu basho, we saw a new side of Hakuho where he barely moved during the tachiai in the first week. He stood up and waited for his practice rikishi to come to him for folding and ejection from the Doyho.

But this time is different, but the San’yaku hopefuls and the upper Maegashira smell blood in the water, and even without the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps to face in the first week, they want to best each other jockey for as many as 4 possible Ozeki slots this year. It’s going to be a San’yaku bloodbath, and if the injured upper ranks are not careful, their they may get seriously hurt.

To folks who are recent to Sumo tournaments, a few pointers. Most westerners like myself naturally like to divide things into halves and quarters. Even numbers are happy and comfortable. A basho is 15 days long and does not split evenly. In fact it was never meant to. A basho actually tends to happen in 3 five day acts, each one drives priority and placement in the daily torikumi or match schedule.

The first third is all about warming up your stars, you Ozeki and Yokozuna. Preferably by crushing the daylights out of the Komusubi and Sekiwake along with a few upstart Maegashira. The more of them with make-koshi the better. And you see who seems to be on a “hot” run.

The middle third is all about grooming a leader group, the rikishi who are clearly going to be among the handful that will take the yusho, and ensuring that the “right” group emerges. This is also where you start to see sumotori withdraw due to injury.

The final third is where dreams and crushed, and the champion emerges.

With that being said, let’s get down to business

Day 1 Matches We Like

Takakeisho vs. Daishomaru – There is a strange theme in the lower part of Makuuchi for day one, the ranks seem to be facing off. Here Maegashira 13e faces 13w. There only prior meeting saw Takakeisho win by pushing Daishomaru out from behind (okuridashi)

Sadanoumi vs. Ura – In this one the Maegashira 12s go head to head. If this makes the NHK World highlight real, this may be many US fan’s first chance to see a broadcast of Ura in action. Their only prior bout was in Juryo where Ura won by sukuinage, which is actually a really trick Judo throw.

Ishiura vs Tochiozan – Ishiura starts his climb back where he faces Tochiozan for the first time. Tochiozan has been struggling of late, so there may not be much to this match, but it will provide us an early look to see if Ishiura is getting more comfortable in his sumo at this level.

Ichinojo vs. Aoiyama – Battle of the giants! Ichinojo is one of the few rikishi who might not notice when Aoiyama lands one of his amazing slaps. I will be certain that both men will be flailing away with reckless abandon, and frankly I give a slight edge to Aoiyama this time, although Inchinojo leads there career record 5-2.

Endo vs. Arawashi – Arawashi had a farily bad record coming out of January, and Endo had a losing record as well. They have only matched 3 times prior, with Endo taking 2. If Endo can land a grip within the first few seconds, it’s all Endo. if Arawashi can keep him away at first, he will likely prevail.

Shohozan vs. Takayasu – Another fine scheduling idea – let’s have Kisenosato’s retainers fight each other the first day. Because you know they both want to know who is better. So send the sword-bearer and dew-sweeper in to sort it out like Sumotori do. in their prior 9 matches, Takayasu holds a very slight 5-4 edge. But by all accounts in the press, Takayasu has been training in “Beast Mode” in Kisenosato’s fight-club dungeon in Osaka. So this will be an early show of his current mode of sumo.

Tamawashi vs. Takanoiwa – Dont’ let his Maegashira 2 rank fool you, I call him “Demon Hunter Takanoiwa” for a reason. When he gets going his sumo if fast and effective, and even the Yokozuna are never safe. Tamawashi holds a 3-2 edge from their prior meetings, but it will be interesting to see if Tamawashi can deploy his Sekiwake moves. If Takanoiwa can set up for a throw, it’s all over, so keep you feed low and your stance wide, Tamawashi.

Sokokurai vs. Terunofuji – Time to see just how damaged Terunofuji is, and Sokokurai drew the reconnaissance mission. All indications is that Terunofuji is still hurt, not very well tuned up and in demotion condition. Keep in mind Sokokurai has never won against Terunofuji, but there is always a first.

Goeido vs. Ikioi – Ikioi has been steadily improving all through 2016. Now he will test Goeido’s bolt-on ankle repair kit. Ikioi has only won once in their prior 14 matches, but he has more than enough mojo to handle Goeido 1.0 if he is still only partially recovered. If Goeido 2.0 takes the doyho, Ikioi may need a doctor standing by.

Harumafuji vs Kotoshogiku – Demoted Ozeki against one of the strongest pure offenses in sumo. I hope and pray that none of these men do Kotoshogiku any favors, and that they honor him by giving him their full measure. This being Kotoshogiku, he will try to lock up Harumafuji for the hug-n-chug. I am hoping for a death-spin instead. But we are more likely to see the mini-henka or worse yet the old “Darth Vader”.

Mitakeumi vs Kakuryu – I think this will be the match of the day. Mitakeumi, if he stays healthy, is an important rikishi for many years to come. He had a chance to advance his cause with the most reactive and dynamic people in Sumo. I am convinced that Kakuryu has not pre-set plan, and waits for his opponent to open up, then concocts a series of countering moves that leaves that rikishi in increasingly bad positions, until Kakuryu just pushes them out or down. Kakuryu has won 2 of their 3 lifetime matches, so Mitakeumi has a chance to draw his mark early.

Special Wakaichiro Note

Tachiai favorite, Texas Sumotori Wakaichiro, fights his first bout in Jonokuchi early Sunday. He faces Jonokuchi 6 Shunpo, who has been strugging to escape Jonokuchi for 5 basho. Shunpo is only 16 years old and weighs about 213 pounds (97 kg). As always, we will post news and video as we can find it.