Nagoya Day 4 Highlights

Toyonoshima bulldozed Kaisei to start the makuuchi bouts. At the tachiai he scoops Kaisei, low, and gets a double inside grip and drives Kaisei back to the tawara. Kaisei resisted, briefly, tried to side-step, tried to make a throw but Toyonoshima’s girth and persistence paid off. On the third shove, Toyonoshima succeeded in pushing Kaisei out, yorikiri. Both stand at 1-3. Kaisei’s arm is clearly still hurting. Rather than cleaning up at this low level, he’ll be lucky to survive in makuuchi.

Enho tried to go low against Terutsuyoshi but against a fellow pixie who’s not keen to yield a quick belt grip, that’s rather impossible. Terutsuyoshi forced Enho back and off the edge. The gyoji called out, “matta” since Enho didn’t have his hands down, so they did it again. The second attempt didn’t help Enho as Terutsuyoshi’s nodowa-aided drive overpowered Enho and Hakuho’s deshi crumpled off the dohyo in a replay of the matta from a few moments before. The call was oshitaoshi. Enho’s first loss of the tournament while Terutsuyoshi, according to Herouth, is going for the zensho yusho. Personally, I think Hakuho would take his revenge for the beat down Enho received today.

Chiyomaru was looking to play games against Yago before the tachiai, but Yago wasn’t having any of it, forcing both to reset. They finally met with a strong tachiai, Yago driving Chiyomaru back but Chiyomaru resisted on the edge where both wrestlers settled into a left-inside grip. A lot of leaning and Chiyomaru showed the initiative, surprisingly driving Yago back, but Yago used the tawara to resist and drive back toward center. Chiyomaru drove again but Yago countered quickly. Chiyomaru gave up the belt and started to try to slap his way out but it was way too late and Yago forced Chiyomaru out, yorikiri.

Kotoyoki is not happy if a wrestler doesn’t end up sitting among the fans. Sadanoumi opted for trying to meet Kotoyuki’s thrusts head-on which was not a good idea. Kotoyuki continued to thrust, getting a few decent nodowa in there before eventually Sadanoumi took his seat in the second row of spectators. Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between an oshidashi and tsukidashi. Kotoyuki made it unmistakeably tsuki, “To the Moon, Alice.” Both are level, 2-2 for the tournament.

Kagayaki met Nishikigi head on. The strong tachiai gave Nishikigi a strong position at the center of the dohyo but Kagayaki used his leverage to begin driving his opponent back. Nishikigi was able to pivot and throw Kagayaki to his left for a kotenage win. Again, both level, 2-2 for the tournament.

Tochiozan endured a fierce tsuppari hail storm named Takagenji, interspersed with lightning strike headbutts. Takagenji may have worn himself out as late in the bout he decided to go for Tochiozan’s belt. That’s when Tochiozan pivoted on the edge and drove the young rookie down for his first loss. Takagenji had a clear upper hand for most of the very aggressive, action-filled bout but he picked up his first loss to tsukiotoshi. Tochiozan improves to 2-2 while Takagenji sits at a very respectable 3-1.

Kotoeko put an unfortunate premature end to what promised to be a good slapfest by slipping. The abbreviated bout was nonetheless action-packed. After the vigorous trading of slaps, Shohozan twisted, forcing Kotoeko to lose his grip and balance, flopping into the splits in the center of the dohyo. Hatakikomi, both sit 2-2.

Daishoho drove Okinoumi backward but Okinoumi was able to resist, forcing both wrestlers back to the center. Okinoumi pushed back but Daishoho’s thrusts were too much, and he forced Okinoumi to sit in the corner and think about what he’d done. Both are now 1-3.

Onosho allowed Myogiryu to drive the pair back to the edge, then Onosho resisted and let Myogiryu’s momentum flip himself over while Onosho fell out. On review, both were judged to fall out (or be dead) at the same time so the shimpan ordered a torinaoshi, redo. Myogiryu tried the same forward drive and Onosho tried the same sidestep on the edge but on the second attempt Onosho clearly stepped out. Myogiryu gets the oshitaoshi force out win and improves to 3-1 while Onosho slips to 1-3.

Tomokaze forced Shimanoumi straight back with strong thrusts to the chin and upper body, oshidashi. Tomokaze has yet to lose to Shimanoumi in three attempts…and has yet to lose this tournament. He improves to 4-0 while Shimanoumi is having another rough start. Last tournament he started off losing four of his first six, going on a tear in the second week to finish 10-5.

After the news break, Kotoshogiku and Chiyotairyu started the second half of makuuchi action. Chiyotairyu committed to a strong tachiai but quickly got his hand to the back of Giku’s head, sidestepped, and flipped Giku over for a hatakikomi win. Both are having good starts this tournament, standing at 3-1. The force down is called tsukiotoshi rathe than hatakikomi.

Ichinojo’s powerful face slaps drew oohs from the crowd and Takarafuji tried to resist for a while but eventually decided to just retreat. Ichinojo pursued as if Takarafuji had stolen his lunch money and Ichinojo wanted it back. Uncle Takara seemed happy to escape with his head still attached. This Ichinojo is 3-1 and looks strong. Takarafuji is 1-3.

Aoiyama’s slaps kept Meisei away from his belt for a while but Meisei was determined, eventually securing a belt grip. Belt hold not withstanding, Aoiyama was able to force Meisei down at the edge for the tsukiotoshi win. Aoiyama moves to 3-1 and Meisei is still searching for that first win.

Mitakeumi forced out Shodai easily. Each portion of shoulder was paired with robust thrusts to the face and upper body, driving Shodai back and out for the oshidashi win. Shodai is now level at 2-2 while Mitakeumi improves to 3-1.

Tamawashi looked to finally find his sumo but Endo showed some life, and frankly more persistence than I’ve seen from the golden boy in a while. Endo chased Tamawashi, searching for a grip. When he got a fistful of mawashi with the left hand, it was only a few more seconds before he forced Tamawashi back to his fourth straight loss. Yorikiri. Endo is 2-2.

Tochinoshin looks like he should have followed Takakeisho’s example and sat out this tournament. Daieisho was more than happy for their bout to be an oshi battle. As Tochinoshin thrust back, Daieisho stepped to the side and the Georgian ozeki couldn’t recover. Tochinoshin is winless and well on his way to another kadoban tournament. It was after a winless 4 days that he elected to sit out the rest of Hatsu and try for a winning record in Osaka. Will he continue, or pull out now? Daieisho is 2-2 and looking to face a desperate Tamawashi tomorrow.

Takayasu prevailed against Asanoyama, he was perhaps a bit too focused on securing a belt grip. As his right arm fished around, looking to gain purchase on the cloth, Asanoyama managed to get him spun sideways. The ozeki kept his balance, however, and once he secured that belt grip, executed a shitatedashinage throw. Takayasu improves to 5-1…oops, sorry, 3-1 while Asanoyama is at a respectable 1-3, midway through a rough first week.

Goeido slow rolls everybody. Hokutofuji got called on two false starts before Goeido decided to oblige and start the action. From there, Goeido didn’t have his mind made up whether he wanted to move forward (good) or retreat (bad). So he did both. He bulled forward, then pulled back to the tawara…again and again. Each time, Hokutofuji stayed with him. The forward drives weren’t forceful enough to drive him out and the change of direction in retreat wasn’t fooling anyone. Eventually, Goeido ended up sidestepping himself, and flopped down on his belly.

Kakuryu has no respect for Abi’s pushing. While the tsuppari comes fast and furious, around the Yokozuna’s face and shoulders, there appears to be little power in them since Kakuryu just pushed through, bouncing Abi out for a tsukidashi win. Kakuryu is 4-0 while Abi falls to 1-3.

Musubi-no-ichiban. While fans of the pixies likely circled the Enho/Terutsuyoshi bout as their highlight bout, the final bout of Hakuho vs Ryuden promised to be a thriller. Ryuden has more than held his own these first few days, picking up two crucial wins against ozeki. Hakuho locked in quickly with a right hand outside grip on Ryuden’s mawashi. From there, Ryuden was along for the ride, offering some resistance at the edge but the Yokozuna was in full control, ushering the upstart out, yorikiri. Hakuho is 4-0 and looking in yusho shape. Ryuden is certainly no slouch at 2-2 but he has much to learn.

Decisions, decisions…

At the risk of having a post that’s more controversial than anything the president of the USA is going to do in the Kokugikan two days from now… I happen to disagree with Bruce’s opinion regarding the Tochinoshin/Asanoyama decision.

Possible, but inconclusive, touch

It’s true that Onomatsu oyakata is a well-known butcher of kyogi explanations. But is he a well-known butcher of actual decisions?

Before we go, let’s mention that no single frame can be proof that there was no touch. Take a look at the photo posted that Bruce posted earlier:

Here it’s clearly not touching

But this frame could have been taken just before or just after the critical moment. If you have a touching frame, it proves a touch. But if you have a not-touching frame, it doesn’t prove that there was no touch. Take a look at the video:

So, was that a touch? Was that just a shadow? Not even the luckiest photographer can conclude that there is no touch at all. The frame I posted could be a touch, or it could be shadow filling in the pixels. The cameras are not right next to the dohyo, and the resolution is not all that good.

An article at Asahi Shimbun (paywalled, but a good soul on Twitter took screenshots) reveals to us what happened during the monoii and the kyogi (conference) that followed it.

The monoii was raised by Hanaregoma oyakata, who was the one sitting closest to where tochinoshin’s foot was hanging over the tawara. He saw it touch, and raised his hand to mark a monoii.

The judges needed to make a call about it. Point one: the call cannot be a torinaoshi. Torinaoshi may only be called in cases where both rikishi touch ground at the same time (“dotai”). This wasn’t the case here. Either Tochinoshin touched out, in which case Asanoyama was still in and wins, or he didn’t touch out, in which case Tochinoshin is alive and wins.

The judges then called the video room. Unfortunately, the video room told them they cannot see a touch or a janome disturbance.

Point two: that doesn’t mean there was no touch. It just means that the videos they had were not conclusive. As I said, the frame I posted above could mean he touched, or it could just be shadow that fills the pixels.

Point three: a light enough touch would not leave a discernible mark on the janome. That is, discernible by the same video cameras. Yes, Tochinoshin is a heavy guy. But his huge muscles were working hard at keeping that heel from touching ground. If it did, it didn’t do so with all of his weight on it.

So at this point, the referees start to discuss the matter, because they have to reach a decision. All they have to go on is what they saw, and the only one who saw it up close is Hanaregoma. People in the crowd shout for a redo, but again, that’s impossible. Hanaregoma suggests a vote. But Onomatsu oyakata decides that Hanaregoma should call it, because he was the one who saw it and the other’s haven’t. Hanaregoma says there was a very light touch, and that’s the decision.

When a monoii is called, the ultimate decision is the judges’, and theirs alone. If there is a conclusive video that shows the monoii is wrong, it’s fine. But the video is there to help the judges – it’s never the decider.

Now, I’ve seen references to football or other sports. Those do not apply here. In sumo, the gyoji has to make a call at the end of each bout, no matter if he is sure or not. He has to call it even if there is a dotai. So the ultimate decision is not his, it’s the judges. One of my followers complained “if there is no conclusive evidence, it’s ridiculous to reverse the gyoji’s gunbai”. But the gunbai is not holy. It’s not “right by default”. A judge sat half a meter from the dohyo, was looking at the tawara, and saw something that the referee didn’t see from his side.

The shimpan don’t watch the bouts for entertainment value like we do. They concentrate on contact points and centers of gravity. While we may be admiring somebody’s kotenage, they will be watching the boring feet.

Were they right? Was Tochinoshin out? Well, it’s hard to tell. Because the video is inconclusive – even the good footage that is available to the video room, which is better than the footage that’s currently circulating through social media, most of which is taken with a smartphone from a TV screen (probably including the footage I included above).

Only one man saw the alleged touch. He may have been wrong. But was the decision making process bad? I think not. In particular, I don’t think Onomatsu oyakata’s decision to let the only man who saw it decide is unreasonable. The others didn’t see it, so they only act on hearsay. He has to have a decision by the end. It’s a tough call, but that’s what he had to work with.

But yes, he butchered the explanation again.

BruceThanks all for reading and commenting on this post. At this time I am going to end the ability to add further comments to this post. The call and the win / loss are recorded, and the tally has been settled. Endless thanks to Herouth for wading into a hot button subject and taking the time to explain.

There are 2 days left in the basho, and we will see if Tochinoshin can make his 10th.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 19

🌐 Location: Takasaki, Gunma prefecture

Unlike our previous location, which boasted a local sekitori, a local tsukebito, and a semi-local former Yokozuna’s nephew, Gunma prefecture is really short on famous or high-ranked local boys.

The local organizers gave Hikarifuji and Kayatoiwa their due glory, but their real pride and joy is not regularly a part of the jungyo anymore. He was brought in specifically for this event.

That, of course, is 42 years old Satonofuji, the grand master of the bow, who hails from Gunma prefecture. And while all the other low-ranked rikishi were working on the dohyo, Satonofuji was working with the struggling new performer, Shohoryu, giving him a master class.

This was just one of the various outdoor activities today. The weather was deemed warm enough to have the handshaking sessions outside:

Though the sky looks pretty gray, if you ask me. Not all the rikishi just stand for handshakes. Some famous veterans sit in a separate corners, and fans can go and have a photo taken with them:

But actual practice takes place inside the venue. The first sekitori arrive and pull their taping kits:

Asanoyama, get, set, tape!

Others start stretching:

Some squatting and suri-ashi are in order:

Takarafuji is showing us his his good side.

Wakamotoharu works on his upper body:

But then he and Mitakeumi decide to gang up on poor Enho:

The Yokozuna synchronize:

But then each goes his own way. Kakuryu manages an exercise that doesn’t look ridiculous:

While Hakuho is doing suri-ashi in the hana-michi, and interacts with the spectators:

Near the wall, a group of lower-ranked rikishi prove to us that titty obsession is not just a Tamawashi thing:

What are you doing, guys?

Up on the dohyo, Ichinojo is giving butsukari:

While Terutsuyoshi seems to have… a toothache?

By now, you should know who it is who makes Takakeisho smile this wide:

Takayasu finishes stretching, has a bout with Mitakeumi, and butsukari with Onosho.

Some more practice bouts: Daieisho-Takakeisho, Myogiryu-Ichinojo, Kiribayama-Takanofuji:

Practice over. Lower-ranked rikishi get their hair done and go about their chores:

Some sekitori go out and enjoy the food stalls outside the venue. Namely, Terutsuyoshi, Chiyotairyu and Enho. Enho starts well with some yaki manju:

But seems to pick up something that doesn’t suit his dainty palate:

Or maybe it’s the camera crew that affect his apetite.

Terutsuyoshi and Chiyotairyu enjoy some yakisoba:

With everybody fed and in good order, it’s time for the afternoon part of the day. We begin with a Jonidan bout, because of course we don’t want to miss Satonofuji:

Nice throw. Next up, we have the Juryo dohyo-iri, or as Gagamaru calls it, “cheeky time”:

The cheeks in question being Takanosho’s of course.

Azumaryu and Akiseyama have a less painful way to enjoy the wait:

Next up, the Juryo bouts, and we have Aminishiki vs. Hidenoumi for you:

Nice effort from old Uncle there, but to no avail.

Chiyomaru makes short work of Daiamami:

And we are up in Makuuchi. And the dohyo-iri there is not free of sin, either:

No, no, you have to wait for the Ozeki!

For some reason, Chiyotairyu decides that facing the spectators is just too much for him and turns around in the middle of the dohyo-iri. Abi tries to argue with him.

Takakeisho, by now getting used to all the “shin-ozeki” stuff, receives gifts of local produce – rice, meat, etc.:

The bouts start, and Yoshikaze has a wardrobe malfunction:

Is it me or does Toyonoshima surreptitiously improve his mawashi hold during this matta? Zurui… he won this bout.

Next up, Terutsuyoshi throws his usual bucket load of salt… and seems to hit his own eye:

Typical Terutsuyoshi sumo. Sorry, Yago, maybe next time!

Next up, Ichinojo vs. Endo:

Ichinojo is not sleeping.

Kaisei is pitted with Nishikigi, and doesn’t let the green mawashi man set up any sort of defense:

Last before the san-yaku, Hokutofuji vs. Mitakeumi:

Takakeisho is up next vs. Tamawashi:

No rolling into the crowd today. The last bout whose footage I got is Goeido vs Tochinoshin:

And after Kakuryu beats Takayasu (sorry, no video), comes the part everybody has been waiting for – good old Satonofuji’s yumi-tori shiki. Watch it, then go back to previous reports and compare with Kasugaryu, never mind poor Shohoryu. This is the work of a true master:

Our pin-up of the day is Wakamotoharu. Adieu!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 18

🌐 Location: Kashiwa, Chiba prefercture

Another lengthy one today. Make some coffee, feed the baby, here we go:

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