A Little About Georgia

Welcome to Georgia, shusshin (birthplace) of Tochinoshin, Gagamaru, and wine. Yes, that bacchanalian beverage, perfected in the hills of France, was domesticated in the Caucasus. Georgian wines are a favorite among my Russian and Eastern European friends. I believe that is why it is such a prize for Vladimir Putin (as well as the resorts Crimea). The Russian Olympic venue at Sochi was a stone’s throw from Georgia. A quick visit to the website for the National Tourism Administration shows several pictures of cultural treasures and amazing vistas.

Mtskheta, Georgia

Tochinoshin is from Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site was put on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009 but removed from that list in 2016, noting work done and the commitment by the State Party to the preservation of the site. This month, a UNESCO monitoring mission is headed to Mtskheta to “assess current conditins at the property.” Tachiai will report on findings.

I must admit, the description from the tourism company, VisitGeorgia.GE is enticing: “Situated at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers, Mtskheta has been a site of human settlement since at least the second millennium BC. The town is named after Mtskhetos, son of Kartlos – the legendary progenitor of the Georgian people. Already a town of some significance in pagan times, it gained importance as the site of the first Christian church in Georgia. Today it is no longer the capital of the country, but it is still the spiritual capital and home to two of Georgia’s greatest churches – Svetitskhoveli and Jvari.

While I was growing up, Georgia was a part of the Soviet Union. When the Communist block dissolved, Georgia declared independence. However, that independence has been fraught with conflict as Russian loyalists, primarily in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, continue to try to break away with Russian help. The breakout of heavy fighting and war in 2008 has yielded to an uneasy peace as Western war correspondents have embedded themselves in other Russian proxy battles from Crimea to Syria. It’s difficult to get a sense of the status quo in Tblisi. The most recent article I could find was this from Politico: “Vladimir Putin’s mysterious moving border.”

Jungyo Newsreel – December 8th

🌐 Location: Miyazaki, Miyazaki

Today the Jungyo landed at Miyazaki city, where 3000 spectators thronged the entrances.

ichinojo-kiddies
Planet Ichinojo attracts two new satellites to its orbit

Hakuho participated in morning practice for the first time. On previous days, he settled for stretches and workouts below the dohyo. Today he named Shodai – ever popular with top-rankers – for sanban. This involved 8 bouts, all of which Hakuho won.

hakuho-shodai

These bouts involved various throws and force-outs. “I was testing my dohyo sense”, commented the Dai-Yokozuna to the press.

Today I have lots of bouts for you. But as a warm up, first enjoy Abi’s shiko, which is considered one of the best ones. Up and straight. Even Hakuho can’t do that…

OK, so let’s start with Gagamaru vs. Yago. Here is a loooooong nodowa. Oshidashi.

And here is Terutsuyoshi in a tsuri-dashi. Too bad he is going to drop to Makushita at Hatsu.

Amakaze invents a new style of gaburi-yori. More like kangaroo-yori.

Aminishiki vs. Kaisei. Aminishiki gets a lot of support, and gambarizes.

And the musubi-no-ichiban. Note how the crowd applauds as Satonofuji bows in from the hana-michi.

Hakuho 3 – Kakuryu 2.

So, speaking about Satonofuji, here is one of your last chances to see his yumi-tori shiki:

Jungyo Newsreel – December 7th

🌐 Location: Usa, Oita

Today the Jungyo arrived at the city of Usa, which happens to be the birth place of the one Yokozuna Hakuho is still looking up to – Futabayama Sadaji.

This, of course, meant that many rikishi were fiercely working their smartphones to get a pic with the most awesome Yokozuna in the world:

gaga-sokokurai-futabayama
One awesome Yokozuna, one Georgian patriot, and one Juryo Yusho winner

2300 spectators flocked to the venue despite the cold weather. Once again, Harumafuji goods were sold out as soon as they were offered.

Yoshikaze was the main man of the day, hailing from close-by Saiki. He entertained the crowd in the kiddie sumo:

girl-sumo

Yes, from time to time you’ll see a girl sumo enthusiast. They get to wear something modest in addition to the mawashi. Alas, they cannot dream of growing up to be rikishi.

But although Yoshikaze drew a lot of spectator attention, when Hakuho decided to step up the dohyo and do some kiddie sumo, the crowd blew up.

hakuho-kiddie

Yokozuna and Ozeki don’t normally do the kiddie sumo duty. In the previous Jungyo, Goeido chose to participate when the Jungyo passed through his home territory. Hakuho also chose one stop to play with the kids. So the crowd was delighted that the Yokozuna chose their town this time.

Back to Yoshikaze, when time came for the torikumi, the warm local support caused him to go for spectacular sumo, and he ended up with a tsuri-dashi win over Mitakeumi. Shohozan, who studied in a local high school, won against Takakeisho by okuridashi. Hakuho was less fortunate today, and got yori-kiried by Kakuryu. 2:2.

As you can see in that video, there is a new Shokkiri team. I feel a bit sorry for Baraki for losing his Shokkiri status so quickly. He seems to be the perfect fit for the job. I guess with Akua being promoted to sekitori, it couldn’t be helped.

Here is the full Shokkiri performance by the new duo:

Did someone from the crowd throw back some salt to the dohyo?

 

41st One Day Tournament Results

41st-one-day-tournament

Thanks to the kind folks at sumoforum.net, Tachiai has been able to create a graphical chart showing all of the competitors and rounds of this past weekend’s 41st single day sumo tournament.

Some interesting notes from the event, Harumafuji, Goeido and Tochinoshin were absent. As stated earlier, there is some worry that these three have sustained serious injuries. Of course, as we all know, Kisenosato won and looked fairly good doing it.  There was some great effort put fort by Gagamaru, Shohozan, Takanoiwa and Tochiozan.

This is a fun / for charity event that does not effect standings, and many of the rikishi are not putting in an overwhelming effort, in part because no one wants to get hurt during this tournament.

For a more detailed PDF, click on the image above or you can find it here.

Kyushu Day 12 Preview

soken-kise

You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain
Book of Five Rings

The Kyushu basho has been a mixed bag, much more so than the other sumo tournaments this year. With day 11, the head has been turned to boil, and 5 rikishi all have solid chances of contending for the championship. Strangest among them is newcomer Ishiura, who has an impressive 10-1 record heading into day 12. His matches are likely to get progressively tougher for the final 4 days of Kyushu, as the Sumo Kyokai test his skill and resilience. At the bottom of Makuuchi, he faced some decent opponents, but he will be tested against upper level wrestlers. It’s quite important they not promote him too quickly, and risk injury, when much of Japan is going Ishiura crazy.

That leaves us with 4 – All 3 Yokozuna and the real wildcard this basho, Kisenosato. I have no idea how much more amazing sumo Kisenosato can produce this tournament. Frankly he has already exceeded expectations. Everything from here on out is just gravy.

Hakuho is still very good, but I continue to think he is nursing his injuries, and we won’t see him at full strength until January in Tokyo. But he is one of the most inventive, wily sumotori in recent history. If given the opportunity, he will find a way to win.

Kakuryu is about to face the real test of his fitness to win the yusho – the other Yokozuna. He has been largely defensive this basho, even against much lower ranked opponents. But up until yesterday, it has worked for him.

Which brings us to Harumafuji. He only has 1 loss, and frankly I think he has been the best of the three Yokozuna this basho, and I like his chances of once again walking away the Emperor’s Cup.

While the yusho race is the headline grabber, most of the rikishi are pushing to try and secure a winning record and stave off demotion. Right now its all about kachi-koshi further down the banzuke.

Notable Matches

Chiyoshoma vs Gagamaru – Chiyoshoma could pick up his kachi-koshi today. Gagamaru is really hit or miss, and slightly more miss than hit. These two have only met twice, with Chiyoshoma winning both times.

Sokokurai vs Arawashi – Sokokurai also striving to overcome the blazing offense of Arawashi to reach his kachi-koshi. Sokokurai has been doing very well this basho, and if he does not overcome Arawashi, I have great confidence that Sokokurai will get this done. On top of that, Sokokurai has won their prior matches 7-4

Ishiura vs Ikioi – First of the headline matches of the day. After day 11, I am sure he is ready for another match. This time its against the new start of sumo, Ishiura. Ishiura has been employing a mini-henka at the tachiai. I am hoping that Ikioi recognizes this is coming, stands his ground and delivers him a solid match. This is the first time these two rikishi have met.

Ichinojo vs Tochinoshin – I am looking for the big Georgian to send the giant sumo robot (Ichinojo) into reboot mode. His next win will put him in positive territory with a kachi-koshi. His record against Inchinojo is 7-2, so Tochinoshin has the leading edge in their series.

Takayasu vs Yoshikaze – Both of these sumotori are really struggling this basho. Both of them are among my favorites. I have tegata from both men on my wall. Takayasu took a nasty header into the tawara on day 10, and I wonder if he was seriously hurt. Yoshikaze’s sumo is all about move and strike, as we saw against Endo. Takayasu is all about strength and power, which he was not able to deploy against Hakuho. Takayasu leads their career match ups 8-6

Goeido vs Endo – This should be an easy pick up for Goeido. The past two days he has reverted back to his “good” mode and has been a real joy to watch. Endo is in danger of going make-koshi if he is not careful, but he won’t likely pick up a win today.

Kotoshogiku vs Kakuryu – Kotoshogiku is already back to kadoban status, and I doubt he will do much to Kakuryu, as Kotoshogiku has been injured the entire tournament. I would really rather that Kotoshogiku just declare himself kyujo, and start recovering now. But I think the Ozeki’s pride won’t allow that, and he will face a formidable Kakuryu.

Harumafuji vs Kisenosato – Most likely the match of the day. Kisenosato has been 2 Yokozuna in the past two days, and he faces Harumafuji on day 12. While I have confidence that Kisenosato is really in fine form this tournament, Harumafuji tends to win their match ups. Harumafuji deployed minimal effort in the first week, but has shown his fantastic Yokozuna chops in the past few days. I expect that it will be a short bout with Harumafuji the winner.

Hakuho vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji needs one more win for kachi-koshi, and to clear his kadoban status. I don’t think he will get it from Hakuho, who while not at full capability, is probably more than enough to defeat Terunofuji. Terunofuji has been fighting well in spite of ongoing knee problems.

Hakuho, Kaisei lead; A 3rd Kinboshi from Harumafuji!

The leadership ranks continue to narrow as Kyokushuho loses to Takayasu, handing Takayasu his kachi-koshi. Now, only Hakuho and Kaisei remain in the lead with one loss. Hakuho has not lost since the opening day shocker against Ichinojo.

Kisenosato and Terunofuji remain in contention, tied at 8-2 with rank-and-filers Takayasu, Kyokushuho, and Okinoumi. Kaisei’s victory over Amuru means the Russian needs to try again tomorrow for his all important 8th win. It won’t be easy as he’ll face Takayasu.

After yesterday’s careless kinboshi loss to Tamawashi, Harumafuji gives up another one and falls further off the yusho pace. This time Gagamaru benefits from Harumafuji’s generosity. In 8 bouts against maegashira wrestlers, this is now the third kinboshi. Tomorrow, Harumafuji faces Goeido.

I’ve updated my post about the kinboshi rates to account for the 3 new ones (so far) this tournament.
Let’s hope this is the last update of that page for a while. I like Harumafuji and I want him to be in contention for yusho but it won’t happen if he keeps bleeding gold stars.

Georgian Battle 2015

The build-up during the tachiai was certainly more dramatic than the actual bout. Tochinoshin dominated early, going for a quick throw which was rebuffed. But the momentum was clearly against Gagamaru. Once Tochinoshin had Gagamaru on the edge, he displayed his prodigious strength by lifting his 200 kilo compatriot over the straw bales. It’s always painful to watch him do this against Ichinojo but he’s certainly capable with those massive thighs. With this critical win securing a winning record he’ll probably jump a spot or two to M1 or M2 next tournament. Much hay was made of Robert Myers’ massive quads during the NFL combine but those writers have never seen the likes of Tochinoshin or Kotoshogiku.

Tochinoshin Gives Me a 2nd-Hand Hernia
Tochinoshin Gives Me a 2nd-Hand Hernia

This loss for Gagamaru ended a four-bout winning streak which began with an impressive win over Osunaarashi and continued through Ikioi, Kaisei, and Kyokutenho – certainly not cream puffs. I’m glad to see Gagamaru back and on form. He’ll be back in the mid-maegashira next tournament. As he’ll be battling more upper-maegashira and even sanyaku wrestlers, he’ll likely not get double-digit wins but he’s back where he belongs. In the meantime, he’ll be joined by Osunaarashi and Chiyootori who also had excellent tournaments…but will face stark reality in May.