Aki Day 6 Highlights

It was a tumultuous day on the clay at the Kokugikan, which left us with a sole undefeated leader – journeyman veteran Okinoumi. The favored rikishi in multiple matches went out, went down, and handed the white star to the other guy. How bad was it? You will know once you watch the video feed. It was the kind of day that makes sumo fans frustrated. There were multiple “non-kimarite” finishes, and the crowning achievement was Yokozuna Kakuryu’s second kinboshi in 2 days. I am going to say the lone surviving Yokozuna may be hurt now, and we may be headed to a “nokazuna” tournament shortly.

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Yutakayama – Juryo visitor and Juryo yusho co-leader puts the doom on Yutakayama with an overwhelming thrusting attack. This is Yutakayama’s forte, but Takanosho just attacks with no quarter.

Ishiura defeats Tochiozan – Ishiura seems to have found a nice “groove”, which looks similar to Enho’s, but is more maneuver / evade based. It’s working well, and today it pushed grizzled veteran Tochiozan back down to 3-3.

Takagenji defeats Toyonoshima – I am happy to see Takagenji get it together enough to win another one. Folks love Toyonoshima, but I am starting to worry he may have reached the end of his run in the top division. Takagenji went left hand inside, and was able to resist Toyonoshima’s considerable forward pressure.

Nishikigi defeats Azumaryu – Nishikigi once again employs that double-arm bar hold that takes his opponents upper body out of the fight. Most rikishi (like Azumaryu) immediately shrug hard to try and break their arms free. It also raises their center of gravity and gives Nishikigi the win.

Tsurugisho defeats Shohozan – Tsurugisho kept trying to pull, but eventually decided to just face Shohozan, who looked uncharacteristically disrupted today.

Onosho defeats Daishoho – Onosho continues to look rough, but he is piecing together enough wins to keep true on a kachi-koshi trajectory. Hapless Daishoho has yet to win a single match.

Enho defeats Kagayaki – I give a lot of credit to Kagayaki, who seems to have tuned his attack to Enho. He shifts his thrusting about 12 cm lower, and manages to put a lot of pressure on the fire-pixie. But Enho calibrates and adjusts rapidly, breaking contact and coming back lower still. He repeats this 2 more times, each time grabbing for a leg, and Kagayaki stops trying to attack and starts trying to get away. Now off balance, Enho picks him off with no trouble. Wow.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Sadanoumi – Terutsuyoshi has had a rough start, but he was on his sumo today. He found Sadanoumi’s unprotected belly at the tachiai, and kept thrusting.

Meisei defeats Kotoyuki – After a strong start, Kotoyuki has gone back to being a bit silly. Granted he was against Meisei, who is fighting well, but any time I see a post-bout jogging tour of the zabuton section, I have to wonder.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku sets up the hug-n-chug straight out of the tachiai, but Takarafuji know Kotoshogiku’s horizontal hold is poor, and twists at the tawara to send the Kyushu Bulldozer over the edge in a heap.

Okinoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Really straightforward match that gave Okinoumi his 6th consecutive win, and by the end of the day, sole position atop the leaderboard. Shimanoumi got a left hand inside position at the tachiai, but Okinoumi had control of this match from the start.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – I have not seen the wall-buster, canon-ball tachiai from Chiyotairyu yet this basho, and as a result he is 1-5. His balance is always poor, and with a lack of forward energy, its easy for Myogiryu bring him down.

Kotoeko defeats Ryuden – It’s time for the first WTF match! We have Kotoeko fighting well, and a moment of Ryuden’s hand on Kotoeko’s mage, but hey, they keep fighting. Kotoeko gets morozashi, but Ryuden man-handles the smaller Kotoeko out. Everyone gathers to conclude with bow, but Kotoekgo gets the envelopes? Yeah, seems Ryuden put a toe out. Kimarite is listed as isamiashi, which is ancient Yayoi for “Stink Foot”.

Tomokaze defeats Shodai – By the end of this match, fans might conclude that the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan was really hitting the cat nip. Again we see Tomokaze bring the weak sumo with “all pulls all the time”, but he manages to get Shodai in flight before he can try any of his cartoon sumo. But you have Tomokaze taking a good solid wrench during the final pull on Shodai’s mage as well. So we get a monoii, but its gumbai-dori. I give up, these guys should have tried again as this bout was a slop fest.

Abi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama continues to struggle, and today its against Abi. Aoiyama is soft at the tachiai, and Abi more or less toys with him for a second before stepping aside and letting the Aoiyama sail past. Excuse me, sir? A bit more sumo please.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai once again fails to find its mark, and leaves his center-mass wide open for Mitakeumi to attack. Attack he does, and Hokutofuji finds his narrow window for any offense quickly taken away, and a heartbeat later he is over the tawara.

Endo defeats Takakeisho – Endo had the upper hand on this one, as he closed in on Takakeisho and went to work while Takakeisho seemed to try a desperate pull down. But the important element of this match is in fact the kimarite: tsukihiza. As Endo was working to set up a throw, Takakeisho’s knee (the bad one) collapsed out from under him. Maybe he stepped on the gyoji’s sandal? Any way you slice it, more slop.

Asanoyama defeats Goeido – But the Great Sumo Cat was not done, oh no indeed. Asanoyama shows us his Yusho performance was a prelude to the future of sumo, as he grapples Goeido, shuts down his offense and extends his career record over the Ozeki to 3-1. As the match raged, the Gyoji took a dive over the East side, with the Tate Gyoji desperately rising to take over the match but slipping and falling down himself. Goeido looks to have Asanoyama pinned to the edge but in fact Asanoyama has Goeido locked for a throw. Ignore the gyoji antics and watch some first class yotsu-zumo from these two today.

Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s hurt, and is getting no chance to set up his lift-and-shift sumo any more. With Tamawashi you are in for an oshi-battle, and at first it looks like Tochinoshin had secured his much needed 3rd win. But once again the Great Sumo Cat, now bombed out of his mind on sumo and cat nip, summons the monoii, who identify that Tochinoshin likewise has a case of “stink foot” and awards the match to Tamawashi. Dead body? Stink foot? Corn clog in port 7? This match has it all.

Daieisho defeats Kakuryu – Anyone who has cats knows, they can be jerks. When mine gets in a mood, he will start knocking things off of shelves just to watch them break. I am going to assume this was the general disposition of that mystical kami I call “The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan” today. Kakuryu had control over this match, until a poorly considered attempt to pull left his chest open, and Daieisho attacked with precision and vigor. This is 2 kinboshi dropped by Kakuryu in 2 days. He has in the past gotten mentally off of his sumo when he starts to lose, so lets see if he can get it back under control.

Aki Day 1 Highlights

Welcome all to the start of the fall tournament. The first few days of any tournament will typically feature a few shaky starts by some rikishi, as they work to get into tournament form. Some sumo fans refer to this as “ring rust”, and it can take a few days before some rikishi can shake off its effects.

The Freshmen (Asanoyama, Yutakayama, Abi, Hokutofuji) really had an excellent day today, and I am happy with the future of sumo featuring them in years to come. Sadly the same cannot be said about the Tadpoles, who struggled quite a bit today. But one should never count out the tadpoles…

Day 1 featured some solid sumo action, and those of you who were watching NHK World in the middle of the (USA) night time were treated to some solid matches. Let’s get started.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Takagenji – Takagenji comes out of the tachiai strong, but I was surprised that Chiyomaru did a much better job than normal keeping his weight centered over the arches of his feet, and used that stability to overpower Takagenji’s vigorous attack. The result was a sort of half throw / half tsukiotoshi that was uncharacteristically agile for Chiyomaru.

Yutakayama defeats Tochiozan – Yutakayama continues to battle his way back from injury, and a trip to Juryo, with some solid sumo today. Yutakayama took an inside route at the tachiai, but nearly all of this match was the two of them fighting for grip, while pushing as hard to the front as they could manage. Tochiozan had better footwork, but Yutakayama had more strength. Welcome back Yutakayama, the future has been waiting.

Azumaryu defeats Ishiura – Azumaryu deftly deploys a uwatehineri while the two grappled for position at the center of the dohyo.

Tsurugisho defeats Toyonoshima – Tsurugisho’s early try for a pull down nearly cost him the match, but he was able to rally well as Toyonoshima tried the same thing and blew his early advantage.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – Neither man gets a solid tachiai. But Kagayaki inexplicably focuses on some kind of face-hold, leaving Nishikigi a solid path to center-mass. Kagayaki realizes that he’s thrown away an opening, but he found Nishikigi effectively able to turn his hips and deflect Kagayaki’s forward pressure.

Shohozan defeats Daishoho – Not the typical Shohozan mobility-based sumo, as Daishoho traps him in a double arm-bar. Shohozan gets stalemated for a while, but keeps raising Daishoho and backing him up until he can finish him with shitatenage (it was 2 for 1 shitatenage day).

Enho defeats Onosho – Big news for me, Onosho has the red mawashi back. Yes, he lost this one to Enho, who uncorked some really gob-smack amazing sumo today, but that red mawashi was (at least at one point) home to a potent kami that powered Onosho’s early rise. To my eye, Onosho had this one boxed up and ready to ship before Enho produced some hard to explain, Ura level space-time distortion and threw Onosho to the clay.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – With that injured right knee, Sadanoumi lacks a good amount of his expected maneuverability, and Meisei expertly stays in motion until he can get Sadanoumi off balance and rolls him to the clay with a katasukashi. Nice kimarite!

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki has yet to take a single match from Terutsuyoshi, and we get a showcase of how that works today. Terutsuyoshi used some really fantastic ring sense to continue to give ground, forcing Kotoyuki to stay in motion and keep turning. When you are about as wide as you are tall (as Kotoyuki is), it’s a short amount of time before you find yourself off balance and in the wrong end of town. Terutsuyoshi chose his moment, and made it work. Great sumo from Terutsuyoshi today.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoeko – As always, journeyman sumo from Takarafuji, who absorbs everything Kotoeko can dish out. Takarafuji as Maegashira 8? Middle of the pack? This is the right spot for Takarafuji, and I am hoping he has a good basho this September.

Okinoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – The fun thing about Kotoshogiku these days is that he is frequently on fire the first week, before the strain on his injuries slows him down. Hugely energetic, high attack value sumo from him today, including an excellent throw at the end. Except that he stepped out quite some time before it got to that point, and the most exciting part of the match (Okinoumi was fighting well, too) was all for naught.

Myogiryu defeats Shimanoumi – When you watch this one, pay close attention to Myogiryu’s foot placement and stance. This is some class-A attention to detail in the middle of a match trying to constrain and contain a raging youngster who had the edge in speed and agility. Shimanoumi gets the advantage twice, but that fantastic defensive setup that Myogiryu had today carried the match.

Ryuden defeats Chiyotairyu – If Ryuden is genki, Maegashira 5 might be a bit low on the banzuke for him. He gets a left hand on Chiyotairyu’s mawashi, which puts him in the driver’s seat and takes away Chiyotairyu’s primary offensive technique. I was surprised that Chiyotairyu let him grab him and did not stay mobile.

Tamawashi defeats Shodai – Shodai looked a mess today, but if you want to see why Shodai can actually keep close to a winning record most basho, look at his multiple well-executed escapes from Tamawashi’s blistering attacks. If we could get that man a tachiai graft from ex-Kisenosato…

Tomokaze defeats Abi – Abi launches his traditional Abi-zumo opening, and Tomokaze is having none of it. Attempting a hatakikomi against Abi is a dangerous move, but Tomokaze makes it work. This guy needs to stay un-injured and fighting strong.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – I am not quite sure how Takakeisho recovered from that near-face-plant, but he threw everything including the kitchen sink at Daieisho, who was likewise dialed up to 11. The wave-action system does not seem to be quite up to battle-spec just yet, and I am going to assume that our tadpole has a lot of ring rust to overcome. But he’s on his march to 10, and sumo fans around the world are going to be riveted to his journey this September.

Asanoyama defeats Mitakeumi – This whole match came down to Asanoyama getting a shallow left hand grip at the tachiai, and never letting go. Mitakeumi then chose to rotate left and attempt a hatakikomi, and in the move to pull down Asanoyama, he more or less conceded the match. Asanoyama was too latched on to Mitakeumi to go down.

Ichinojo defeats Tochinoshin – I had a tough time watching both the match and the replays. It’s 100% clear now, from direct observation, that it’s never a good idea to make your crippled strong-man fight a giant. Tochinoshin does not look well enough to compete, and that knee is more or less done for. Grim.

Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Whatever injuries Goeido is nursing right now, he has contained. His blistering tachiai and all out center-mass attack against Aoiyama left the man-mountain nowhere to go. I recall with hopeful anticipation that for some reason Aki is always the time when we see Goeido shine.

Hokutofuji defeats Hakuho – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, what have you done? This match had all of Hokutofuji’s best elements stitched together in a lightning fast, seat of the pants battle. Hakuho loves to deliver a face slap at the tachiai, and many times it effectively disrupts an opponents attack. Today if left him wide open for Hokutofuji’s brutal handshake tachiai. Oh, how long have I been waiting to see someone make Hakuho pay for that move. Today was payday on that desire. With the nodowa in place, it forced Hakuho to waste precious time clearing it out before he could start an attack, and just like that Hokutofuji is calling the terms of the match. Hokutofuji lands a mawashi grip, and I think the speed and strength of that move surprised the Yokozuna. Hakuho gives ground and attempts to load a throw, but with absolute perfect timing, Hokutofuji catches the Yokozuna shifting his weight and lunges ahead. That’s all that it took, and The Boss gives up a well earned kinboshi. I am going to be looping through this match all day. Just fantastic. Hokutofuji doesn’t need to win another match this basho to be proud of his efforts.

Kakuryu defeats Endo – Endo is a master technician, and I am sure he had a solid, well constructed attack plan against the Nagoya yusho winner. None of that mattered as Kakuryu did not give him a chance to unpack any of it. A little dodgy winning with a hatakikomi, but he needed to shut Endo down quickly before the man in gold could get started.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview

Hey, Shin-Ikioi… Get Ready

We are only up to day 4, and we already have some very interesting developments in the basho. Ryuden is up today vs The Boss, and while I don’t expect him to beat Hakuho, I am curious to see how much of a challenge he presents. His sumo has taken on some great techniques that I think are going to cause all kinds of havoc in his lower ranking week 2 matches.

We also seem to have a switch in Takayasu’s sumo to a more deliberate, powerful style. I suspect this was forged in endless practice sessions with Araiso Oyakata, and it seems to still be settling in. We might see some very nice results in September, and better still in November if he can stick with it, and make it work.

Tomokaze is showing fantastic sumo, and I think he has a lot of potential. As we have been communicating at Tachiai, we are in an evolving transitional period in sumo, and it’s starting to become clear who some of the stars of the next era of sumo are likely to be, and I think Tomokaze could be a star.

Last but certainly not least, even though he comes to the dohyo heavily bandaged each day, Enho is a force in sumo at this rank. The question remains open as to what happens to him once he is placed higher up the banzuke. He is so amazingly fast, and never ever gives up. The crowd loves him, and so does Team Tachiai.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Toyonoshima vs Kaisei – Kaisei is finally done with those pesky short guys and their hyper-speed sumo. That right arm looks like it is a constant bother, so we know he is competing at less than genki levels. Toyonoshima needs a win in a bad way, and he holds a 6-2 career advantage over Kaisei, though their last head to head match was 2016!

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – Pixie fight! This should be a giant pile of ultra awesome early in the top division day. I expect a lot of action, a lot of changes in who is dictating the match, and possible a few “did you see that” moves.

Chiyomaru vs Yago – While I have confidence that Chiyomaru can get his sumo in gear by the middle weekend and still end up with 7 or 8 wins, it seems something has broken lose in Yago-land, and his sumo is suffering. The guy has all of the tools needed to dominate this low in the banzuke, so I am going to assume its mostly some undisclosed injury.

Kotoyuki vs Sadanoumi – Kotoyuki went back to the shitaku-beya following his match, feeling like something was missing. Yes, he was unable to great the fine people who had made it to the venue to watch sumo. He had not been able to land his large, sweaty form in the middle of well connected ladies and high ranking corporate executives, and this left him feeling down. Today will be the day, Kotoyuki let your dreams take flight!

Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – I am sorry, but this match has me really interested. Nishikigi has been strong but slow since May, and Kagayaki was a dumpster fire for all of Natsu. Now Kagayaki seems to gotten most of his sumo back, and is ready to fight with limited gusto. I am sure Nishikigi will hug the nearest blurry object, and pin their arms to his body, then walk forward. I want to see Kagayaki do something unexpected here.

Tochiozan vs Takagenji – As Tochiozan ages out, his “hot” streaks are fewer and further between. Takagenji seems to be on a hot streak of his own right now. and his sumo looks better than I have recalled seeing it in over a year.

Shohozan vs Kotoeko – A’slappin and a’poundin and a’smackin and a’shovin. This match has all of the goodies one hopes to see on a day at “The Sumo”. Shohozan is eventually going to get it in gear. Maybe today is the day.

Daishoho vs Okinoumi – Also in the “aging out” group we find Okinoumi. This is his first ever match against the winless Daishoho. I would expect that the man who put Shimane-ken in the sumo lexicon will dominate over the hapless Mongolian.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – Career favors Onosho 3-1, but Onosho can’t keep his weight centered since his knee injury. Unless he gets his balance down, its going to be face plant after face plant. Oh, and bring back that red mawashi. Whatever kami was in that thing was a real fighter.

Tomokaze vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has yet to take one from Tomokaze, who I am thinking will be a force for the future. Hell, Shimanoumi might be too, but he needs a bit of seasoning.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Oh goodie, this one is lopsided for the Kyushu Bulldozer, as Kotoshogiku leads the career series 13-1. Not that Chiyotairyu lacks any power or fighting spirit, but Kotoshogiku seems very dialed in right now.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Bruce want monster-Ichinojo to pick up puny Takarafuji and take him home to meet the pony. (11-2 carer favors Ichinojo)

Aoiyama vs Meisei – I was not expecting Meisei to open Nagoya 0-3 (I am sure neither was he). Save for the one match with Goeido, Aoiyama has looked in form and powerful. I don’t expect Meisei to correct the slide today.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Readers of Tachiai know how I feel about Shodai. He’s nearly as annoying as Endo in the breaks he gets, but without the good looks or technical sumo chops. But he does tend to blow Mitakeumi up. I am sure this really annoys Mitakeumi, too.

Endo vs Tamawashi – I think this is the match where Tamawashi overcomes his extensive, explosive and crippling ring-rust. 0-3? Come on! Go smack Endo the Golden around, I am sure he does not want another interview this basho, so help him get a make-koshi, if you would.

Daieisho vs Tochinoshin – A sumo fan using the wonderful sumodb might assume that the schedulers had given Tochinoshin a lovely cupcake with his match today against Daieisho. But I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s injuries are performance limiting enough that this is more or less a bit of a “decider”. If you can’t overcome Daieisho, maybe you need to go kyujo. Let’s see if Tochinoshin can rally.

Asanoyama vs Takayasu – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, than you for blessing your humble sumo fans with this match. We hope that it involves two burly men grabbing each other bodily and trying to toss the other one around. Grant us our pleas that we might see yet another Takayasu rematch, and an endless shimpan parade.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – Both of these men like to blast off the line with the subtlety of a bowling ball to the crotch. What he hell happens at a quantum level where these two guys slam into each other? I do expect that yet again, Hokutofuji will fight brilliantly, but lose. This seems to be the stage he is in right now with his sumo career.

Kakuryu vs Abi – Kakuryu is looking really good right now, and I am eager to see him play with Abi before he puts him into the clay. But you have to love Abi, the guy really gets pumped when it’s time for his match, and it’s really clear that he has a lot of fun with the sport.

Ryuden vs Hakuho – Oh good heavens! This has the potential to be quite the battle. Hakuho seems to only be about 80% genki, and that may be degraded enough that Ryuden can put him in that pain-pose that he has been using for the last dozen or so matches. Of course we have all seen Hakuho use it in the past, so I am hoping he has some special magical moves to counter it with a flourish and a thud.

Tachiai Aki Coverage Notes

Tachiai banner worried guy

A word to all of our readers, whom we deeply appreciate. Through good fortune and good friends, I am on my way to Tokyo to watch days 13/14/15 of Aki. While I am enjoying being in the Kokugikan, you will see a bit of a change up from our regular authors, and our normal posting format. We have several great contributors here at Tachiai, and they will be filling in for any of the basho news slots I might miss. Never fear, all is well (better than well!), and Tachiai will continue to be your source for all of the sumo you can wrap your hands around, each and every day.