With the Kyushu basho just around the corner, it’s time to check in with the latest soon-to-be-obsolete-somewhat-abridged edition of the Tachiai Heya Power Rankings. If you’re a keen follower of this series, apologies for the tardiness: I had some trouble in the calculations until I worked out that (like many others it sometimes seems!) I had failed to adequately credit Goeido with the points he deserved for his Jun-Yusho in the previous tournament!
I debated how to handle the current iteration of these rankings, as it is the last edition of the rankings to feature the now-defunct Takanohana-beya. As the Kyushu honbasho will be the first grand sumo tournament where Takakeisho, Takanoiwa and Takagenji compete under the Chiganoura flag, I decided to keep Takanohana on the charts for one last run. This means that the end-year ranks that we will publish following the basho will – depending on performance – provide a boost to a stable which had previously only counted Takanosho as a recent sekitori.
And with that preamble out of the way, let’s crack on with the list:
… and here’s that chart organised into Top 20 format:
(+7) Miyagino. 104 points (+64)
(+1) Sakaigawa. 85 points (+27)
(-1) Tagonoura. 80 points (+15)
(+1) Kasugano. 56 points (+11)
(+5) Izutsu. 45 points (+10)
(+-) Oitekaze. 43 points (-1)
(+-) Kokonoe. 41 points (-1)
(+1) Takanohana. 35 points (-2)
(**) Kise. 28 points (+19)
(-9) Dewanoumi. 25 points (-70)
(+1) Minato. 25 points (even)
(+4) Hakkaku. 23 points (+3)
(+1) Takadagawa. 22 points (+2)
(-1) Isenoumi. 20 points (-3)
(-4) Tomozuna. 17 points (-11)
(+3) Oguruma. 17 points (+1)
(-13) Tokitsukaze. 15 points (-43)
(-3) Kataonami. 15 points (-5)
(**) Sadogatake. 15 points (even)
(-2) Isegahama. 14 points (-4)
(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, tiebreaker 1: higher position in the previous chart, tiebreaker 2: highest ranked rikishi on the banzuke)
First of all, there were very few wild moves on this edition of the chart. This is because no sansho (special prizes) were awarded, which generally give non-yusho winning rikishi (and subsequently their stables) a big boost up our chart. So in the absence of that, and due to the fact that finally all of the Ozeki and Yokozuna participated fully last time out, all of the “big” stables made modest gains.
Miyagino replaces Dewanoumi at the top owing to Hakuho’s return to dominance, and Mitakeumi scratching across a kachi-koshi instead of turning in the kind of performance that would have sealed an Ozeki promotion and granted him some additional prizes along the way. Sakaigawa mounts their best ever tally on these charts owing to resurgent Goeido’s Jun-Yusho.
Further down the ranking, Takanohana-beya will make its last ever placing on this chart at #8 with a solid effort from its sekitori, before certainly being replaced on the listing by non-charting Chiganoura-beya next time out. That stable should immediately find itself firmly in or around the top 10 should Takakeisho, Takanoiwa and Takanosho continue their good form. Kise-beya, meanwhile, joins the top 10 this time out off the back of Tokushoryu’s unlikely Juryo-yusho, but will need to show more consistency and better performances from their myriad of sekitori at Kyushu, as the last couple of basho have otherwise been disappointing for comeback star Ura’s stable.
The bottom of the chart is much of a muchness, the only other two notable positions being Tokitsukaze’s precipitous fall owing to Yutakayama’s previous Jun-Yusho turning into a 3 win thrashing in the Joi-Jin. The stable might see a little bit of a bounce next time, should Yutakayama return to form at a lower rank and returning vet Toyonoshima give some youngin’s the business down in Juryo. And at the very bottom, somehow clinging on to the ranks, is former powerhouse stable Isegahama.
Next time out, Oguruma‘s Tomokaze may well add to that stable’s total, as he makes his professional bow next week in Fukuoka and I have hotly tipped him for a kachi-koshi. And there will certainly be change at the top: Hakuho’s kyujo announcement earlier today means that some other stable will claim the Tachiai crown next time out. Who will it be?
Izutsu Oyakata announced today that his deshi, Yokozuna Kakuryu, is going to be kyujo from the Kyushu 2018 basho.
This announcement shortly follows Hakuho’s similar announcement. As a result, Kisenosato is going to be sole Yokozuna for the first time in his career.
Kakuryu has been complaining for a few weeks now about his old right ankle injury, which caused him to absent himself from the 2017 Nagoya tournament. Until recently, that old injury has been manageable, in the sense that any swelling following extended activity soon settled, and the Yokozuna could function as normally as any veteran rikishi with cumulative damage can.
However, since the middle of the most recent Jungyo, the swelling would just not go away. Although the Yokozuna participated in daily practice with other sekitori, and seems to be able to do high-level sumo, his stablemaster notes that he cannot stomp shiko with force, and that the doctor said that the type of action he is supposed to face in the second half of the basho might be too harsh.
Tachiai wishes Kakuryu good health, and hopes that he takes appropriate steps to heal himself. We also wish Kisenosato much success handling sole Yokozuna duties in the coming basho.
Miyagino oyakata, Hakuho’s stablemaster, announced today that the Yokozuna will be absent from the Kyushu basho due to the condition of his knee.
This announcement should come as no surprise to our readers. On October 12, the Yokozuna left the Jungyo and returned to Tokyo, after it turned out that a bone fragment, a remainder from his injury during the Nagoya basho, is loose in his knee and gives him debilitating pain.
The Yokozuna underwent double endoscopic surgery on October 18th. He had the bone fragment removed from his knee, and at the same time had floating pieces of cartilage removed from his ankle on the same side.
Following that operation and the required rest, the Yokozuna has not had actual training bouts in over a month, and even his basic workouts have been severely limited and far between.
We at Tachiai wish the Yokozuna to return healthy and in good shape in the Hatsu basho.
Here it is, the final chapter of this Jungyo series. I hope you have a lot of free time this weekend, because I stumbled across a treasure trove of raw footage. Usually I give you short bouts or scenes from the side lines. But this person has what seems like the entire event uploaded to YouTube, and that is bound to give you a whole different perspective of what going to a Jungyo event must be like.
I’m skipping the videos that show the venue from outside, the sekitori arriving and the concession stands. Also the handshake part. Let’s start with some still photos from the side lines instead. Here are Chiyonoumi, Hokutofuji and Tomokaze. All graduates of the Nippon Sports Science University. Which, apparently, has its own not-so-secret hand gesture. Demonstration:
And that’s the only wholesome sidelines picture you’ll see today. Because the Tamawashi bug seems to have taken in everybody. Here is Gokushindo with Dewanojo:
But Gokushindo himself does not escape abuse. From our university graduate, Tomokaze, both front:
Kagayaki is lifting his tsukebito as a form of weight. And that’s no problem. But what is Wakatakakage looking at?
OK, OK, better get on with those videos, shall I?
There aren’t any sekitori from Yamaguchi prefercture at the moment. So attention was focused on the lower-ranking wrestlers from that prefecture. This video starts with Harada, who is one of those Yamaguchi wrestlers, receiving butsukari. The chest is offered by none other than Enho.
The video then moves on to some moshi-ai among the Jonidan and Sandanme wrestlers.
I must say seeing Enho as the dominant in butsukari is rather comical. Harada is taller than him, and although light, Enho doesn’t seem to offer much of a stamina challenge for him.
No wonder, then, that the exercise is soon over. Moving on to the moshi-ai session. Remember, moshi-ai is a series of bouts in which the winner gets to stick around and chooses his next opponent. Therefore, the wrestlers who want to get some exercise vie for the winner’s attention as soon as the match is decided.
I didn’t like the first winner (sorry, at this level, I really can’t recall names from faces. If you know, please let me know) too much. He is prone to dame-oshi. The second one sticks around for quite a while – but you see his stamina seeping out with every bout until at last he is ousted.
I didn’t think that Mr. Huge there would be called by anybody, but I guess some rikishi like a challenge. So he was.
The attention wars are also quite amazing. Wrestlers are not shy of hanging on to the winner’s neck or poking his cheek or whatever it takes.
And all the while, Aoiyama and Tochiozan stand on the sides and do their shiko.
In the following video, the Sandanme-and-below moshi-ai continues, when sekitori start mounting the dohyo, and give short butsukari sessions to the low-ranking rikishi. You’ll see Akiseyama, Jokoryu, Enho (again) and Abi.
When no sekitori offers, the lower ranking wrestlers just continue on their own. Each butsukari session ends with a tap on the dominant’s chest and, answered with a throw for a korogari (roll).
In the next video, we start with some yobidashi activity on the dohyo – pouring new sand, watering, and sweeping. Then the moshi-ai starts again, with Makushita and some more rikishi joining in. You can see Kyokusoten and Musashikuni.
Kyokusoten is doing the typical Mongolian mawashi sumo. And despite winning, he just gives the right-of-way to a new pair and rests. Musashikuni’s koshi-daka is still unresolved and he isn’t likely to get a second chance quickly.
Apart from what’s going on on the dohyo, though, it’s interesting to watch the opposite corner where a little Mongolian clique is gathered to do some stretches, and apparently, joke around: Kyokushuho, Chiyoshoma and Azumaryu. Also, watch the lower left part of the screen for Tamawashi. Shodai shows something on his smartphone. Smartphone? In keiko? Anyway, that exchange of course evolves into Tamawashi slapping Shodai around.
Next vid. The moshi-ai continues, and then, once again, sekitori mount the dohyo, and we get a series of butsukari: Yago, Kotoshogiku, Jokoryu, Yoshikaze, Ichinojo, You can see how Ichinojo’s submissive actually asks him to do it. Some guys like challenges, as I said.
And now it’s time for the sekitori to start their own practice. The moshi-ai is more relaxed at this point. There are three men on the dohyo and when one of the two wrestlers loses, the third goes in.
We start with Meisei-Tochiozan-Takanosho. In the background you can see Kisenosato doing his wobble exercise, and various rikishi coming to hand him some water. I assure you, in this ladle there is not even a single grain of salt. Nobody is suicidal.
Kisenosato switches to Shiko. On the opposite side you can see Goeido doing the same. Takayasu is not far away from his Yokozuna. From time to time the wrestlers on the dohyo take a towel break.
It’s nice to see Aoiyama and Ryuden move to save Meisei from a bad fall.
After Tochiozan leaves the field and only Meisei and Takanosho are left, again, as if by magic, other sekitori get on the dohyo and a sequence of butsukari follows. If you notice, the first session is always with the winner of the last moshi-ai. Endo lends his chest to Takanosho. Then Aoiyama-Tochiozan, and finally, Ryuden takes Meisei.
The next video continues in the same pattern. This time we have four men on the dohyo – Aoiyama, Ryuden, Daieisho and Myogiryu. This means the two “free” wrestlers have to vie for the winner’s favors.
This session, too, ends with a series of butsukari, though curiously, the first two are between the same four wrestlers. We then switch to Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai.
I’m going to skip the next sequence, which is just a continuation of that trio, and go to the next one, which shows you a san-ban session. Goeido engages Shodai. Reminder: san-ban is a series of bouts between the same two wrestlers, who do as many bouts as the higher-ranked one wants.
As the session progresses, you can see the increasing frustration on Shodai’s face and in his body language. Goeido is relentless, and Shodai can’t stay in the ring for more than two seconds, let alone win.
Note how every time the Ozeki wants a rest he has his two tsukebito hurry up with a ladle of water and a couple of towels to service him. Shodai has to settle for Nishikigi-mama, who keeps handing him his towel, then folding it back neatly.
Eventually, after 16 minutes of this Goeido love, Shodai is saved by Tochinoshin. Again, the proper way to finish a session is with some butsukari, so poor Shodai, who is already out of juice, has to also push an ozeki for a while for his trouble. Tochinoshin doesn’t make a full-fledged kawaigari of this, though. So the nightmare is soon over.
What follows is reverse butsukari. Nishikigi offers his chest, Goeido pushes. But of course, Nishikigi runs around so as not to waste the Ozeki’s precious time, and there is no rolling in the mud. Finally, a short one between Onosho and Daieisho. Apparently, the etiquette here is that all participators in the moshi-ai or san-ban session (Remember this started with Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai) get to do some butsukari.
This next one starts with a san-ban session between Asanoyama and Mitakeumi. Not as lengthy as the one between Goeido and Shodai, though. Then Asanoyama goes out and Tochinoshin engages Mitakeumi.
Earlier, in that butsukari session with Shodai, Tochinoshin only had taping on his knee. Now that he is about to engage in san-ban, he puts on his brace.
Of course, being Ozeki, he also gets serviced by his tsukebito. One for ladle, one for towels.
A few minutes later he switches to Asanoyama.
The session, of course, ends with butsukari. Reverse ones this time. Tochinoshin pushes Mitakeumi, and Mitakeumi pushes Tochiozan. Then, not to leave the third man out, Aoiyama takes Asanoyama.
In the background you can see Mitakeumi thanking Tochinoshin for his attention by offering him a ladle of chikara-mizu.
I’m going to skip the lower-ranks bouts, the Jinku, drum demo and shokkiri, and skip right to the Juryo bouts. By the way, here are Yago and Wakatakakage, waiting for their dohyo-iri. Yago seems to also be a man who loves to keep his hands on other people’s bodies:
But at least there doesn’t seem to be much fondling going on. So let’s see how these guys (and the rest of the rather miserable division) did in the bouts:
Enho is fast!
Watch out for the faces Tobizaru makes at Gagamaru. 🙂
Note how the “fillers” from Makushita don’t have their rank called out. The gyoji announcer describes each Juryo wrestler by shikona, rank, shushin and heya. But the “fillers” only get shikona, shushin and heya.
Next we have Kisenosato’s rope tying demonstration, and then the rest of the Juryo bouts:
Ah, the look of frustration on Yago’s face.
In the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, of course we have the continuing Mitakeumi-Tamawashi saga:
Skipping the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, the Yokozuna dohyo-iri and the mayor’s speech video, we move straight to the Makuuchi bouts.
The first bout is missing a few seconds.
Takanosho gets a fast morozashi there, and Ryuden can’t make the makikae.
Daieisho rains tsuppari on Nishikigi. Nishikigi doesn’t lose his cool – saves himself at the edge with a nice utchari. Speaking of Nishikigi, where are his glasses today?
Apparently, right on Shohozan’s nose.
Onosho steals Aminishiki’s tokkurinage (“sake bottle throw”). But hey, Aminishiki does that in honbasho.
Continuing right from Abi’s shiko:
Chiyonokuni goes on a shiko match with Abi. He is a little shaky on the left side, but still pulls it off, much to the appreciation of the crowd. He also gives Abi a serious stare-down. All is well and good – but Abi finishes him off within half a second.
Kaisei yori-kiris Takakeisho, but has an inertia problem. Takakeisho flies off the dohyo straight onto Tomozuna oyakata (ouch), but then Kaisei falls on top of both of them. That’s… well, a real-life drop-bear (hi, Australians). He helps Takakeisho up, and poor Tomozuna oyakata also asks for a hand up. Everybody is still in one (albeit squashed) piece.
Finally, we have the last four Makuuchi bouts. This includes Tamawashi vs. Ichinojo. And of course, Goeido still has his tsukebito heckling Tamawashi:
Kakuryu doesn’t seem to approve. So what did Tamawashi (and Goeido, and Kakuryu) do?
Now, Tochinoshin’s leg has neither taping nor brace.
Tomozuna oyakata gets hit again! Luckily, Ichinojo’s brakes are better than Kaisei’s, so he didn’t get hit by yet another drop bear. And that is Ichinojo’s killer nodowa making an appearance again.
I have a feeling of déjà vu about Mitakeumi’s bout with Tochinoshin. Haven’t we seen this bout a few days ago? First Mitakeumi attacks, tries a couple of gaburi, then Tochinoshin takes over and forklifts him out?
Takayasu seems pretty amused about how his match turned out.
And Kakuryu’s left foot is once again doing circles in mid-air. I thought his problem was his right foot.
Here is a link to the complete YouTube playlist from which these clips were taken. It’s a bit of a mess, so if you want to watch in order, pay attention to the numbers.
And your final pin-up boy for this Jungyo, I give you Asanoyama:
Going inside, first I would like to set your mind at ease. Remember Minatoryu’s bruised throat yesterday, after Ichinojo practiced his nodowa on him? Well, here he is the day after:
No permanent damage, it seems. He smiles because the lady who took this photo is the same one who took the ones yesterday, and she specifically asked him if he was alright after yesterday’s tough practice. “I’m alright!” he beamed.
Let’s stroll around the arena to see what the rikishi are doing.
Asanoyama is stretching.
Not bad. Not Chiyonokuni or Abi level, but not bad.
Yutakayama uses Wakatakakage as a Teppo pole:
Wakatakakage looks like he is resigned to suffering.
Takekaze is… posing for cute photos? Is this actually Takekaze?
Here is Ichinojo doing (ouch!) Seiza again. He also does some fan service, but he doesn’t seem to be too concentrated on that. What is he looking at?
Apparently, he has been staring constantly at Wakatakakage, who was doing shiko next to him:
Ah. That makes sense. I’d be ogling him too if I were there.
Chiyonokuni is having a bout with a mini-rikishi, complete with a plastic chon-mage:
Nice throw there. And a very energetic bout overall.
Time for Juryo bouts. And of course, time for the oldest prank in the book. Salt in the ladle. By the way, the other day somebody tried to pull that on Kagayaki. Kagayaki cooly took the ladle and emptied it directly into the spittoon. If they are breaking rules because it’s Jungyo, so can he. I guess that’s why you don’t see Kagayaki in any of the goofy pictures. He is just not the type to mess with.
But I wonder why nobody else realizes they don’t actually have to drink the stuff:
Bravo, Gagamaru. Very original. And Wakatakakage… don’t put this photo on your resumé.
Seriously, Enho, this trick is getting old. Even if you pull it on a newcomer like Gokushindo.
Not much material in the bouts today. We can only guess who is winning this one:
That’s Daiamami vs. Takekaze, by the way.
The only sekitori bout I have for you today is Takakeisho vs. Ichinojo: