Retrospective – The Cowboy Cup Tournament

On Saturday, June 11th, the Dallas Sumo Club held the first ever “Cowboy Cup” sumo tournament. Dallas Sumo oyakata Corey Morrison came up with the idea to hold an amateur sumo tournament in conjunction with FitCon the weekend of the 11th, in Ft. Worth Texas. What he could not have predicted at the time was how blasted hot it would be that day – more on that soon.

After seeing some amateur sumo tournaments struggle to put together a solid program, Corey was dedicated to doing the absolute best he could his first time out. The results were quite impressive. He gathered athletes from across the US to the DFW area, holding competition in 4 divisions, including a women’s division. I think that every sumo club in the state was represented in some form or other, and everyone had a great time, in spite of a temperature that reached 108°F in the shade of the club’s enormous tent.

I had the honor of being part of the commentary team for the 4+ hour live stream, that seems to have gone off flawlessly. It featured a live feed of each match, the random comments of myself and Laurie from Sumo Kaboom, and some interviews with class winners and VIPs. If you want to check out the live stream, you can find it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_xHzuoKDFQ

Jake from Grand Sumo Breakdown joined up, and produced the actual brackets, announced the matches and the winners. There were a set of shimpan who recorded matches on their phones from the corners of the dohyo, and on the occasions where a monoii was required, the crew reviewed the phone camera video to see who had won.

The Women’s Division

This is the first amateur sumo tournament I have been a part of, and it was quite excellent. Sumo seems to have taken deep root in Texas, with clubs in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio at a minimum, and with each club gaining members as they go along. My congratulations to the US sumo community, the Dallas Sumo Club, and Corey Morrison for putting on a fantastic show.

If you live in Texas, and would like to give sumo a try, the clubs are quite welcoming to new joiners, I urge you to give it a shot.

This Weekend – Cowboy Cup Sumo Tournament

Saturday June 11th, at the Panther Island Pavilion in Ft Worth, the Dallas Sumo Club will be holding the “Cowboy Cup” amateur sumo event. Scheduled to run from noon to 4:00 PM, the tournament will feature rikishi from the local sumo club, Dark Circle in Austin, Mighty Eagle sumo from San Antonio, along with competitors from across the country.

Your truly will be part of the crew putting on the event, and you may even hear my voice on the live stream that is schedule to accompany the action at the Panther Island Pavilion. If you are in the greater DFW area, and wish to come watch, you can purchase tickets here – get tickets

If you wish to compete, this is the link for you – enter to compete

There will be a fair number of US sumo media people, including Jake from Grand Sumo Breakdown, Leslie from Sumo Kaboom, and of course my own self.

This should be a fun and interesting competition, it is taking place outdoors, in Texas, in June on a day when the temperature will be above 100°F (~38°C). If you come, bring some shade and be ready for red hot sumo!

Checking in on the Waseda Sumo Club

This week there’s been a flurry of activity on the Waseda Sumo Club’s blog. Most are authored by the club’s manager, a junior named Yoshimura.

They have set up a YouTube channel with a couple of short test videos featuring some practice bouts between Hashimoto (橋本) and Igarashi (五十嵐). One looks like a yorikiri win by Hashimoto and the other a hatakikomi win by Igarashi. If UNC (my alma mater) had a keiko-ba like this, I would have jumped at the chance to join. It looks like fun!

Seeing a woman with a mawashi reminds me of Lisa, my roommate’s girlfriend, and a few of her friends — not because she wore a mawashi but she was a gymnast, and I swear she would have destroyed me. I seem to remember she won more than a few sparring sessions against Matt in the living room, come to think of it. Sorry, these were in the days before YouTube so I do not have footage of those classic bouts. I did have a digital camera back then (I’ve always been an early adopter) but it had a floppy disk inside of it and the image quality wasn’t even anywhere near what you could get with one of those disposable cameras. And it definitely would not have handled video.

Waseda Chanko — 美味しそう!

Now that I’m in undergraduate-nostalgia-mode, I recall my diet in college was probably not optimal for competitive sumo. I think I would have had fewer pizzas, fried chicken tenders, fries, and pancakes if I had a sumo club. Instead, perhaps I would have eaten better chanko like what we see from the other posts this weekend. What we see here from Waseda’s post is a simple dish but would have been better than most cafeteria food and certainly better than what I would have been eating.

Yes, those pork buns are THAT good

The shimeji mushrooms strike me, in particular, because for like 25 years I thought I hated mushrooms — until I had one of these. I was at an izakaya called Yume (夢) in Hodogaya, close to the station. I think it’s along the highway 第一京浜 or close to the big intersection there. Or at least it was. It’s been ages. I got the mushrooms as one of those little dishes that they serve you before your meal (前菜), kinda like an appetizer. I used to go there for the buta kimchi (pork with kimchi) and to be polite I ate what was given to me, and they were fantastic. That’s actually how this “Southern Boy” had okra for the first time, too. I think the okra was served simply with sesame or something. Delicious.

Anyway, until that day I had thought all mushrooms were those terrible, bland “button” things they put on pizza and in salads here in the US. It turns out they’re not all the same. (I know, shocker, right?) I like shimeji while my wife is more of a fan of enoki. There are so many different kinds of mushrooms and some are absolutely amazing (others aren’t) but there’s so much variety. Why don’t we learn this stuff in elementary school? This is basic. Nowadays I’m actually jealous of makuuchi yusho winners getting that giant container of shiitake. Mmmmmmm….

Back on topic, the pork here was a gift from Waseda supporters, along with rice, nikuman (pork buns) and protein supplements, given by family and other supporters. This environment would foster a bit more community and more of the atmosphere I missed out on in college by choosing to double major in MarioKart and Bond.

With Ajigawa and Araiso’s new links to Waseda, in particular, it would be great to see more attention to University sumo in general. We also learn from Yoshimura’s post that the sumo club would have normally eaten with their supporters but these COVID times are weird for everyone. This is their way of showing what they did with it and showing appreciation. Another post from this past week brings us back to that Zoom Roundtable which featured Ajigawa and Demon Kakka. That would be an awesome Chanko-kai.

Freshman Wins Amateur Title

“I came to win. I came to win, and I won.”

Hanada Hidetora

The Japan Sumo Federation, not to be confused with the Japanese Sumo Association which governs professional sumo, hosted its 69th Annual All-Japan Sumo Championship. Hanada Hidetora took the yusho. Nitaidai has been a powerhouse, winning the yusho back in October. I think Hanada is the one holding the yusho pennant/banner in the picture in that article. But just to show how tight these competitions are, Yersin Baltagul did not make it to the final eight — and four of the eight were from Nitaidai, including Nakamura, who won last year’s university title. This elimination format is very different from the fortnight of fun we’re used to.

Young Hanada, no apparent relation to the infamous Hanada clan, hails from Wakayama Prefecture. In another coincidence, the last Freshman to win this sumo title was Kushima Keita (ex-Kushimaumi) who also came from Wakayama. However, Kushima was actually a repeat champion since he also won the title as a high school senior.

Above is the bracket for the final eight, elimination phase of the tournament. After beating Hadeyama from Toyo University, he faced off against his teammate, Matsuzono in the first bout below. Matsuzono had previously defeated Yersin Baltagul in the Sweet Sixteen. Hanada drove Matsuzono back to the bales, then pulled for the hikiotoshi win.

In the finals, the second clip from the embed below, Hanada beat Kinki University’s Yamaguchi. It seems like it was a mistake for Yamaguchi to try to go for the headlock. This meant Yamaguchi was too high and turned around, so Hanada drove straight through and pushed Yamaguchi off the dohyo.

I really encourage all sumo fans to try to learn some Japanese. Start off with the hiragana and katakana but definitely pick up some kanji as well. Give yourself a month to get that and you’ll find that a bit helpful when you’re watching sumo. For the next level, you’ll want to pick up vocabulary and some of the first kanji you’ll learn is 来る, to come, and 勝つ, to win. If you are diving into the grammar so you can try to really master it and read Japanese news articles, I found a part of the interview with Hanada very instructive on how to use ために.

The young man also contained his emotions when he won and did not celebrate. In Japan, they call such celebratory displays a “guts pose”. ガッツポーズ. I told you that katakana knowledge could be useful! He commented that Yokozuna and Ozeki do not do it, so he felt he should be able to contain his emotions, as well. Good job, and good luck next year!

*Note: For those who tried but quit trying to learn Japanese, I totally understand. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, you get a curve ball that makes you question what you’re doing with your life. You’re thinking, “Oh, that one’s easy. I recognize the name 山内. They just put a 小 in front of it, so it’s got to be Koyamauchi, right?”

Bahahahahaha! No, you fool! It’s Osanai!