JOINT PRACTICE!

“No Kensho…no Jungyo…no degeiko…no…”

This song has been playing on a loop inside my head since March, as events and gatherings that I had taken for granted were ripped away.

 

Slowly, activities are coming back in our own lives. And today, the sumo world took another step back to normalizing as several heavyweights gathered for the first joint practice session in half a year. No name is bigger than Hakuho, obviously. Kakuryu was not there, but stablemate Kiribayama was, along with Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, and yusho holder, Shodai.

Hakuho didn’t just sit on the sidelines, hamming for the camera, either. He got in a little action, here doing butsukari with Shodai and practicing his tachiai with Ikioi. It’s great to see the Boss back in a mawashi, offering his chest and a few pointers to up-and-comers. But now that he’s gotten a few pictures in it, hopefully he folded it neatly and left it in a corner to gather dust for a few more weeks. There’s no need to push it.

Shikihide Stable Scarpering Scandal

Nine wrestlers from Shikihide Stable have left the heya, appealing to the Kyokai for help from moral harassment. The wrestlers left claiming that the stable’s okamisan had imposed and enforced unacceptably strict rules in the absence of Shikihide-oyakata due to an unspecified illness.

There are nineteen total wrestlers at Shikihide stable. The identities of the wrestlers involved have not been disclosed. The nature of Shikihide’s illness has not been disclosed, either, but he has been kyujo from tournaments this year. He usually manages the jungyo tours which have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Tachiai wishes him well and hopefully he will recover soon and hopefully some arrangement and solution can be found for the stable.

I would like to note the close timing with the friction between Nakagawa Oyakata and a group of wrestlers, Abi’s Cabaret Club visit with another unnamed wrestler, and Tagonoura oyakata’s own dinner out where he was caught intoxicated on social media. Apologies for the massive run-on sentence but there has been almost as much drama off the dohyo as on it.

Sadly, we may have lost Abi. If he’s out, surely one must wonder about the lower-ranked wrestler who went with him…and now almost half of Shikihide beya? The heya life has become exceedingly difficult under COVID restrictions. Wrestlers have been virtually cloistered for months. It is understandable and perhaps predictable that tensions are high and tempers have flared. I hope these little fires can be contained, perhaps by loosening of these restrictions on movement and social media before it’s too late.

Let’s Meet Chiganoura Beya

Chiganoura-beya

Over on Twitter, Chiganoura-oyakata, pictured here in his traveling salesman days, had the brilliant idea to introduce all of his deshi and the staff of his stable. OK, let’s get going, we don’t want to keep him waiting any longer. Chop, chop!

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Keiko Peers

A few days ago I posted a visualization about Heya. I gave it the “Banzuke Dashboard” slot under the Data Tools menu above. I will also embed it at the end of this post but I wanted to play around with an idea reader Bbbut had in the comments section. This visualization digs further into the issue Herouth raised about worthy practice opponents for the heya-gashira (部屋頭), or top-ranked rikishi of a stable.

I set two baselines, one at approximate Juryo level, the other at approximately the Makuuchi level. A few interesting things come out. While Sadogatake stable doesn’t have any sanyaku wrestlers and seems to have faded a bit with the decline of Kotoshogiku and the yo-yo rise and fall of Kotoeko and Kotoyuki, the stable has a slew of fairly even ranked wrestlers. Kokonoe stable is also duking it out with Sadogatake and Oitekaze for “The Dawg Pound” moniker as the dog-eat-dog internal competition for status must be fierce.

With the default setting I used for the visualization, Ishiura is a peer of Hakuho and Hoshoryu is a peer of Meisei. In the latter case, we get a sense of the difference in quality from Herouth’s tweet below. Use the slider feature at the bottom to tighten or relax that “peer buffer.”

This is also useful to look into competition at stables with no sekitori, like Otake, Shibatayama and Naruto. I’m interested in what feedback you all may have for how to tweak the buffer. Looking at Sakaigawa, for example, I got the idea for a “veteran boost” calculation. Toyohibiki has been in makushita division for a while now but he has serious sekitori experience, having won three Juryo titles and spending nearly a decade in the top ranks. Despite the injuries and lack of mobility, he will still have a wealth of technique pointers to offer many of the youngsters. Myogiryu is a grizzled vet himself, though.

I have not updated this for the Natsu banzuke or with the various retirements. Toyonoshima, for example, is still in my Tokitsukaze listing. Even in retirement, though, he will still have a lot of experience to offer Shodai and Yutakayama.