Goeido (豪栄道) Cancels Personal Appearance In Nara


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Possible Major Right Ankle Injury.

News and details of injuries to sumotori are always hard to come by. For a variety of reasons the actual physical condition of sumo’s top stars are a closely guarded secret. But now word comes that Ozeki mainstay, and Aki Zensho champion Goeido may be facing a significant injury, suffered on Hatsu day 12 in his bout against Endo.

In the web article published here (in Kanji), it would seem to indicate that Goeido will miss a scheduled public appearance February 3rd at the Kasuga Shrine in the city of Nara. As Goeido is a “hometown boy” from that region, his appearance is a significant event, and his withdrawal is noteworthy.

The article also states he is continuing treatment to his right ankle, including screws to keep things in place. If true (and translated correctly by myself), this could indicate a significant injury that may limit his participation in the upcoming Osaka tournament, or worse yet end his career.

Tachiai wishes Goeido good fortune in recovery, and we dearly hope to see his Aki fighting form back again soon.

Hatsu Basho Re-Analysis


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Why So Many Maegashira Wins?

A hallmark of the Hatsu 2017 basho were the fantastic scores racked up by mid and lower level Maegashira / rank and file rikishi. To followers of sumo, this immediately looks strange, as typically there are 2-3 (at most) stand outs, and the rest is a brutal blood-bath of demotion and make-koshi.

We had 6 rikishi (outside of Yokozuna and Ozeki) who had double digit wins, which is frankly unusual. What happened?

Devastation at the top end of the banzuke. During the second half of the tournament, there was only one functioning Yokozuna and one functioning Ozeki. While two other Ozeki remained in rotation, both were fighting well below Ozeki level, and were not presenting much challenge to anyone.

Not to detract from Kisenosato’s yusho and imminent promotion to Yokozuna, but this basho was perhaps the easiest possible configuration for his victory. The Yokozuna and Ozeki are there to cull the Maegashira and test the San’yaku, and in Hatsu they failed. The result was run-away score inflation by some young, healthy and talented men.

This underscores some important facts about sumo:

  • Sumo is a combat sport. Unlike what most Americans are used to in terms of wrestling on television, these men are really battling to win, each and every time. When you weigh in excess of 300 pounds and someone throws you off of a 4 foot high clay platform, you may get hurt. Over time these injuries, if not healed or treated, will degrade your performance.
  • The upper ranks are past their prime on average. Due to the nature of sumo as a combat sport, it is rare that a rikishi can remain truly competitive past age 30. Takekaze is a wonderful and noted exception. The upper 2 ranks (Ozeki and Yokozuna) have been largely static for several years, as the men in the ranks have been exceptional performers, and have dominated the sport in ways unseen in the modern age. For those of us (such as myself) who dearly love to see them perform, the time is coming to say goodbye as the retire and move to coaching and fostering the sport they love
  • The current sumo year leaves not time for recovery, rest, recuperation or proper medical treatment. With the exception of the Yokozuna, there are no breaks in sumo. You show up and compete every tournament or you face some fairly brutal demotions (for example, Osunaarashi). This means that talented rikishi such as Okinoumi, Terunofuji, Kotoshogiku and possibly many others much continue to compete with injuries that may have been simple to treat at first. But lack of prompt and thorough therapy translated them into performance limiting and eventually career ending problems.

As of the end of Hatsu, we have Yokozuna Kakuryu and Harumafuji, and Ozeki Goeido, Terunofuji and Kotoshogiku injured. The start of the Osaka basho is about 6 weeks away, and the chances that any of the men above will be back to full potential is close to zero.

Sadly, we are looking at what may become a changing of the guard, as high-skill rikishi are forced out by their failing bodies, and a younger, healthier crop of wrestlers step forward to fill the gap.

Yokozuna Hakuho Recovery Progressing


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Spotted at Narita, En-Route To Mongolia

Earlier, 69th Yokozuna Hakuho was spotted at Tokyo’s Narita airport. In an article in Nikkan Sports, the boss was looking thinner, in good spirits and looking forward to his time in Mongolia.

It appears that during Aki, he intentionally dropped weight (about 10kg) via fasting (at least 3 days), as part of his planned recovery process. The article also seems to confirm that the left knee injury involves the MCL, which is an injury that may impact his performance long term.

His remarks included is reaction to watching the Aki basho, and eager anticipation of returning to the dohyo in November.

Tachiai notes that The Boss looks to be in good spirits, and in good form.  We are hoping his health supports his return to sumo soon.

As with all of my Kanji translated articles, I apologize if I am mostly or completely wrong!

Hakuho Recovery Update


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The Yokozuna Back To Making Public Appearances

While the sumo world was focused on the excitement at the Kokugikan in Tokyo, Yokozuna Hakuho underwent surgery to repair damage to his right big toe and repair ligaments in his left knee. In a earlier article, we copied a recovery picture showing his foot and knee from the hospital. Several days later, a photo appeared on twitter showing Hokuho resuming training. It should be noted that he was (in the photo) working his upper body, and it should be expected that he will only lightly load his knees for several weeks, allowing the surgical repairs to heal.

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Now comes a new series of photos on Twitter, showing Hakuho is well enough to resume limited public appearances. For sumo fans everywhere this is great news, thought I would urge caution. At present everyone assumes he will return for the November basho in Fukuoka. While I am sure Hakuho wants very much to return to the doyho, is healing may require a longer departure from sumo. Given his long term goals, and the delicate nature of his knee repair, he would be wise to default to health over competition for as long as he can.

Osunaarashi – They May Have To Carry Him Out Soon


Osunaarashi (Juryo 1) remains steadfast in his conviction to compete, no matter what the cost to his body. Below we see his bout on day 10 against Azumaryu (Juryo 3). The Egyptian Osunaarashi is clearly massively hurt, with muscle injuries to his hips, knees and lord knows what else. But the man gets on the dohyo and gives it his all.

Notice at the end, Osunaarashi tries for a throw, but simply cannot execute due to the state of his damaged body.

If he ends up being carried out of the Kokugikan on a stretcher, will it finally be time to bring back Kōshō Seido? – recuperative / injury periods for rikishi, which were eliminated in the early 2000’s.

Hakuho (白鵬) Recovery Progressing – Resumes Training


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The greatest Yokozuna in recorded history, Hakuho, missed the September sumo tournament to undergo surgery to remove bone fragments from his right big toe, and repair some damage to his left knee.

Word this morning via twitter that The Boss is back on his feet and working to regain strength and muscle tone. No quotes from Hokuho yet that I can find, but everyone at Tachiai is very happy to see him progressing well and working towards the next basho.

Rough translation “Although his feet are still sore, Hakuho applies himself to rehabilitation and training”

I note with some delight that behind him, in his training area, is a picture of Michael Jordan…