The Kisenosato Effect


It’s been a few days since our last scan of Japanese sumo articles. Today, we turn again to Mainichi since the Nikkei seems quite satisfied to take a break in coverage during the interbasho timeframe. I’m hesitant to use Yahoo! and other aggregators but will expand my crawl in the coming days. I bring this up because today’s headline is a bit…premature, so I think they’re kind of reaching for content. It would be nice if they covered the Jungyo.

稀勢の里効果に期待も…増えない高校生力士

Today’s headline is about the “Kisenosato effect,” an expectation for an increase in high schoolers turning toward sumo, which has apparently not materialized. Come on, Chris. It’s been two basho. There are a lot of trend driven Japanese but no one in their right mind would drop out of cram school, scrap plans for university and quash their dreams of becoming salarymen by suddenly devouring chanko and choosing the grueling life of a rikishi based purely on Kisenosato’s win, no matter how many times articles refer to his gekiteki (“dramatic” via lesson 1) championship.
Continue reading

Kisenosato Restarts Training with Pectoral Injury


There’s more bad news on Kisenosato. His stable revealed new details of the extent of his injuries which include a previously undisclosed injury to his left major pectoral muscle. He also restarted training on April 3. We can only wonder why he’s begun training again but I hope his injury is allowed to heal completely. Maybe he’s being allowed to throw a ball against the wall to stave off boredom?

This news comes via Nikkei. The headline we’ll discuss today is below:

稀勢の里、新たに左大胸筋損傷が判明 非公開で稽古再開

By now, we know the kanji for Kisenosato’s shikona, so we all know who we’re talking about. So let’s move on and parse the six kanji characters in the middle, right before the hiragana “GA.” This is usually the subject. These six go together as, “left (左) major (大) pectoral (胸) muscle (筋) injury (損傷).”

Going back to the kanji and two hiragana characters after the comma, we’ve also previously seen the kanji for “new”. With the hiragana -tani, we get the adverbial form, so this yields, “newly.” Japanese usually puts the verb at the end of the phrase. In this case we get, hanmei, or reveal (判明) right before the break in the headline. So, we basically have “a newly revealed left pectoral muscle injury.”

非公開で稽古再開

It’s this last bit which is the startling revelation, in my book. Let’s start at the end. The last two characters (再開) mean restart. Immediately before that, we see what he restarted. Keiko (稽古) means “training.” Hikōkai (非公開) means “private,” and with the hiragana -de, we can take that as “privately.” So, all together, Kisenosato has privately restarted training with a previously undisclosed left pectoral injury. Surely the big guy was not going to sit on the couch watching Cowboy Bebop all day. And he has pulled out of the Spring Jungyo exhibition tour. They are taking his injury seriously and I hope he will be healed and ready in May.

Lastly, I thought I’d show the translations we get from our three translation engines. Google didn’t do too poorly but the use of the word “unpublished” rather than “private” does change the meaning of the headline pretty significantly. Rather than saying he has already restarted, that would seem to imply it may start again at a future date. Excite takes the other tack of making it explicit that “practice resumes.” Yahoo’s regurgitated brekkie sausage (wonderful term, Dana!) brings to mind those fancy restaurants that smear sugar, cocoa and honey on a plate, calling it a “deconstructed S’more.” Completely unintelligible.

According to Google Translate: “Rare village, newly revealed left major pectoral muscle damage Unpublished training restart”
According to Yahoo! Japan: “Revelation is closed and takes a lesson, and, Kisenosato, the left pectoralis major muscle damage reopens newly”
According to Excite: “The left greater pectoral muscle damage is revealing closure again, and a practice resumes Sato of rare momentum.”

Kisenosato’s Left Shoulder / Arm Injury


Kise-Arm

Recovery Time: 1 Month

One of the biggest elements to the grand story of the Haru basho was Yokozuna Kisenosato’s unlikely and, to some, unbelievable win following a significant injury on day 13 in his match against Yokozuna Harumafuji. Harumafuji has a couple of very fierce match templates. One of them is to pack overwhelming force into a huge tachiai, blasting his opponent at least off balance and possibly clean off the dohyo.

Harumafuji has been nursing injuries himself for the past year, and decided “Atomic Tachiai” would be his approach to Kisenosato. It worked, and in a tragic misfortune, Kisenosato fell badly and damaged his left upper body. The sumo press, his coach, his stable and everyone were very tight lipped about the nature of his injury, and the severity. Speculation was amplified by the silence, and there was serious talk of his withdrawing from the basho. However he found the tenacity to appear for his day 14 match against Yokozuna Kakuryu. It was clear that he had no strength, and was in a great deal of pain.

Now word comes that Kisenosato will require at least one month to recover from damage to the muscles in his left upper arm and chest. It should be noted that reports still don’t discuss the nature or extent of his injury, only that he will be recovering for month, and will not participate in the spring sumo PR tour know as Jungyo.

The Osaka tournament champion was quoted as saying: “I’m not really in any pain now, so I think I should be able to join the tour (Jungyo) as soon as my doctor allows it”. His stable master was also quoted as saying “It’s important for him to rest now. The Yokozuna (Kisenosato) wants to go on the tour, but his injury must be completely healed. I won’t give permission without an exam to confirm it”.

Kisenosato Gambarized. He “walks the walk” of a Yokozuna


I chose today’s headline to highlight a word Bruce has written about before: 頑張る. Along with signs with wrestlers’ shikona, many supporters hold up signs with this word or its imperitive version, 頑張って. So, today’s headline comes from the Yomiuri newspaper which is another major Japanese newspaper. They also have their own English language publication. So, today’s headline:

痛みに耐えて頑張った!稀勢の里が歩む名横綱の道


Continue reading

Kisenosato Wins Osaka


It’s tough to fathom, and a bit tougher to believe. On day 15, Kisenosato won his scheduled match against Ozeki Terunofuji. The match was precluded by yet another matta when Terunofuji false-started. After day 14, I am sure Kisenosato was buying none of it. At the tachiai, he employed Harumafuji’s mini-henka to deflect a portion of Terunofuji’s charge, which took him immediately off balance. Terunofuji recovered and locked up chest to chest with the shin-Yokozuna, but Kisenosato was able to maneuver him out for the win.

As the two leaders were now tied, there was a playoff once Harumafuji and Kakuryu fought to end regular matches. Once again Terunofuji jumped in early, resulting in yet another matta. Almost immediately, Kisenosato had Terunofuji pinned by the arm using his right arm (the one that is not injured) and was able to throw Terunofuji using kotenage. The fact that Kisenosato won using his non-favored side was a complete surprise, as Kisenosato is left side dominant.

Needless to say, the fans in the stadium, and indeed across Japan erupted in celebration that the Shin-Yokozuna was able to pull out a come from behind victory in spite of some significant performance limiting injuries. In regards to Terunofuji, he has a great future ahead of him, and his time (probably several) to hoist the emperor’s cup will come again.

I had quite a laugh at the end of the video, as they delayed the 6:00 PM news to cover the end of the basho.  This almost never happens, as there seems to be some kind of code that the 6:00 PM news must not be delayed.

A great write up on the tournament and the changing times in sumo can be found here. It’s a great time to be a fan.

Haru Day 14 Preview


Kise-kak-14

Kisenosato Will Compete Day 14

The results from day 13 were catastrophic for the Japanese sumo industry. Their home-grown Yokozuna was hurt in a bout, many would say needlessly. Some my wonder why I label this a catastrophe, it’s because Kisenosato’s ascension led to a huge uptick in sumo’s popularity and cultural prominence. Any long term injury could lead to some very hard feelings between the Japanese public and some of sumo’s top performers. This would be an utter disaster for the sport.

As of the moment this is being written (and one of the reasons it’s so late), Kisenosato has decided he is going to show up and face Kakuryu on day 14. I fear that he is not at 100%, and may in fact risk a grave injury. But Kisenosato is so proud to be a Yokozuna now, he wants to show Japan that he is going to be there, no matter how much it hurts.

In other news from day 13 (most of you will have watched video by now). Terunofuji defeated Kakuryu in a fairly amazing bout. I am not sure what happened to bring “classic” kaiju mode Terunofuji back, but I think everyone (including myself) figured he was gone for good. Now he is back, and he is tied for the lead in the yusho race with an injured Kisenosato.

Takayasu continued his typical out of gas / collapse on day 13, losing to Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze is now kachi-koshi, which delights me, but I was hoping to see Takayasu set his defeat aside and charge ahead. Kotoshogiku also managed a win over Shodai, a convincing one, to keep his return to Ozeki status alive by the narrowest of margins.

Yusho Race – It’s either Terunofuji or Kisenosato. God help us, but they will face off on day 15.

Key Matches Day 14

Kisenosato vs Kakuryu – How injured is the Shin-Yokozuna? Time to find out. I doubt Kakuryu is going to give him any quarter. Kisenosato tends to beat Kakuryu, their career record is Kisenosato 31, Kakuryu 17. But this is going to be a tough match with Kisenosato’s left arm hurt. It’s also a must-win for Kakuryu, who only has 8 wins so far.

Kotoshogiku vs Terunofuji – Well, it’s been nice knowing you Kotoshogiku. Terunofuji seems only to be increasing in strength and intensity, where it’s clear the past few days the Kotoshogiku is on fumes. Terunofuji has gladly granted his opponents a double-inside “death grip” the past few days, and then proceeded to make them suffer. Given that Kotoshogiku will try for that same grip to start his hug-n-chug, the results could be ugly. Kotoshogiku must win all remaining bouts to return to his Ozeki rank.

Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu may be convincing himself that things are tougher than they should be. He needs to break above 10 to help his Ozeki push, and he needs to be able to recover from a disappointing loss like day 11 if he is to excel at sumo’s higher ranks. Takarafuji is fighting well this basho, so this is not an easy match.

Expected Day 15 Matches

  • Kakuryu vs Harumafuji
  • Kisenosato vs Terunofuji
  • Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze
  • Takayasu vs Tamawashi

Yokozuna Kisenosato Injured In First Loss


Kise-13

Shoulder Wounded Falling From Dohyo

There were a lot of developments in the basho over night, but the most significant is Harumafuji’s defeat of Kisenosato in the final match of the day. The match was a rapid brawl with Harumafuji taking control from the tachiai, driving him backwards on launching him off the dohyo.

While a loss for the undefeated Yokozuna was a major development, the crowd was stunned when Kisenosato did not mount the dohyo to complete the match, but instead collapsed in pain, clutching his left shoulder. Later it was reported:

Kisenosato was transported to an Osaka hospital after his bout in an ambulance. His right arm was in a sling; he apparently also has some sort of chest injury to go along with his shoulder injury. The dislocated shoulder was reportedly affixed [Sankei] but Kisenosato told the reporter (referring to his arm): ” 動かない。痛みがあって動かすのが怖い ” (Close enough translation: “I’m not moving it. It hurts and I’m too scared to move it.”)

Kisenosato’s sumo depends on his strong left hand grip, and the chances are very good that he as at least dislocated his left shoulder, and possibly suffered a more significant injury. Fans should expect that he will by kyujo for the remainder of the Haru basho, forfeiting a solid chance at yusho in his first tournament as Yokozuna.

Fans should note, if Kisenosato withdraws from Haru (as I expect), the yusho winner would be Terunofuji. With 2 matches left there is likely no way anyone can catch him. Terunofuji’s day 14 opponent is scheduled to be Kotoshogiku.