Yokozuna Hakuho Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho Sho has successfully undergone endoscopic surgery to remove bone fragments from his injured right knee. Hakuho, winner of this Septembers Aki Basho, has stated to the press that the injury to his knee is not a recent one, and it has been causing him considerable pain since the August jungyo tour. “The pains were there all the time. Winning the yusho was nothing short of a miracle. Even in jungyo, every dohyo-iri, I thought my heart would explode” stated the Yokozuna, whose record extending fourteenth Zensho-Yusho becomes even more impressive given the considerable pain he was going through.

Despite the successful surgery, Hakuho’s participation in the Kyushu Basho is still up in the air, and it is doubtful that the ever health conscious Yokozuna will rush back to the Dohyo before he is ready. We at Tachia wish Hakuho a speedy recovery.

Tochinoshin Kyujo

NHK Sports is reporting that Tochinoshin will not compete on Day 7. Shodai will get the fusen win. Obviously, we will try the best we can to get information on the severity, and whether he will return this tournament. We’ll remember Endo returned after going kyujo last tournament and did not win any bouts after a 3 day break. As Ozeki, Tochinoshin now has a serious advantage. If it turns out this is a serious injury, he could stand to go kadoban and plan to come back in September. If it is even more serious, he could stand to go back down to ozekiwake in November, win 10 and come retain his Ozeki rank to start the year. But, this being sumo, he’ll likely be back by Monday.

We now have no Yokozuna and two Ozeki. As things stand, we’re looking at Goeido/Takayasu showdown on the final day. Woo. This basho is melting…melting…

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Update: Tochinoshin’s medical certificate is for “Damage to the collateral ligament of the MTP joint of the great toe. Requires about 1 month of rest and may require further treatment”. (Source: Nikkan Sports – Herouth)

Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo

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On day 2, the Yokozuna slipped when he was in the shitaku-beya. In his attempt to right himself, he re-injured himself “at the same place as I did in my bout with Endo two years ago”, the Yokozuna commented as he returned to his heya’s lodgings from the hospital.

The official doctor’s report is: “Damage to right-side patellar tendon, suspicion of avulsion fracture of the right tibial tuberosity. Requires two weeks of rest”.

Tachiai wishes the yokozuna good health and will continue to update if information turns up.

Source: Sponichi, Nikkan Sports

On Flexibility And Health

We saw a brilliant match today between Takayasu and Chiyonokuni, in which the latter survived after doing the splits and won the day.

Nagoya Day 3 Highlight

Well, this time he accepted the victory (and Takayasu’s fat wad of kensho envelopes) squatting on his own feet. It ended differently in Nagoya 2013:

Although he won, he got seriously injured, went kyujo for the rest of that tournament, dropped down to Juryo, and had a hard time recovering (followed by additional injuries that threw him all the way to Sandanme) (Hat tip to Twitter user Vikram Hegde for the history lesson).

Rikishi often find themselves with their legs placed in very awkward positions. Unlike impact injuries, pulled tendons can often be avoided by diligently doing this:

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Don’t let interaction with fans come between you and your splits:

While I don’t have evidence that prior to Nagoya 2013 Chiyonokuni has been lax about his flexibility drills, it is clear that he is now very diligent about them (The video is from 2017, the pictures from April 2018). And today it paid off.

Kisenosato – Is The End Near?

Kisenosato-Attacks

Perpetually injured Yokozuna Kisenosato has now missed all or part of the last 7 tournaments, tying the record held by the mercurial Takanohano for the longest period of excused absence for a Yokozuna. Kisenosato suffers from a damaged left pectoral muscle, suffered during the final days of the 2017 Osaka basho, a tournament that saw him take his second consecutive Yusho, and his first as a Yokozuna.

Since that unfortunate day in Osaka, Kisenosato has been living on borrowed time. In the critical period immediately following his injury, he decided to try and “heal naturally” rather thank the the only proven cure – surgery to repair the torn muscle. As the weeks passed, the chances that surgery could actually correct the problem drifted towards zero, as the torn tissue scarred and was left useless. As he rested in hopes of recovery, his other muscles de-conditioned, and he lost the ability to execute sumo at the Yokozuna or perhaps even the San’yaku level.

Now left without his primary offensive weapon, his left hand, Kisenosato is nearly out of time. The YDC has declared both the the next basho he enters he must compete the full 15 days, and that they are willing to grant him an unprecedented 8th consecutive kyujo. Sadly for the only current Japanese born Yokozuna, a dozen kyujo cannot help him now, and the question is what form of exit will he take?

  1. Continue To Play For Time – The YDC has signaled they are ready to grant Kisenosato more time. Not that it is likely that more time could have any meaningful outcome for his sumo or his body. The damage is done, and the tear is likely permanent. The only think that would happen would be to move the date that he declares he is done.
  2. Go Out Guns Blazing – I consider this the most likely option. Kisenosato was renowned for never missing a day of practice or of competition. He would perform sumo no matter want, and nothing would stop him. The year+ hiatus probably bothers him terribly, and I suspect he and Takayasu are working out as best they can this June. Either at Nagoya or Aki, Kisenosato would enter and compete, knowing that his body is unlikely to be ready, but he would go out fighting.
  3. Pray For a Miracle – Maybe there is some exotic sports medicine protocol I have not read of that can repair a torn pectoral muscle this long after the original injury, and Kisenosato will negotiate a year off with the YDC, head to some high end clinic and get repaired. But I think this his highly unlikely.

I personally feel deeply sorry for Kisenosato, but after over a year of kyujo, he is likely going to be asked to retire soon, unless he can produce a 10+ win basho either at Nagoya or Aki. I know that he takes sumo with the utmost seriousness, and an unprecedented 8th kyujo would be deeply embarrassing to him. But for those worried for his future, Kisenosato holds Elder stock in the sumo association, and will likely go on to run a stable in the coming years. His future in his post-rikishi life is secure. Whichever path he choses to close out his impressive career, we wish him well, and will be following with great interest.