Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 14

Hoshoryu means business

Although the yusho question has already been resolved below Juryo (save the Jonidan playoff), many wrestlers still fight for bigger promotions, smaller demotions, or for their kachi-koshi. The first example is from Sandanme. Prince Naya faces Takemasa. Both 4-2, so they are kachi-koshi, but they want to improve their banzuke position for Hatsu.

Naya gets a formidable-looking arm lock on Takemasa, but the smaller guy converts it to a shitatenage at the edge. Prince Debu keeps his minimal kachi-koshi. This should land him at the very bottom of Makushita in Hatsu.

Makushita

The other half of the princely duo, Hoshoryu, faces Takakento (Chiganoura, former Takanohana) who had an excellent basho, only losing to the jun-yusho wrestler. So both are 5-1 as they enter this day. And both mean business.

Hoshoryu faces some fierce thrusts there as he tries to get inside for his favorite grip. He defends well, and decides that instead of a throw he’ll go for a sotogake. Yes, the press actually interviewed him and asked him about that. How many non-yusho Makushita wrestlers get interviewed after a bout?

Hoshoryu is 6-1. This should land him around Makushita 20-23 for Hatsu (I’m not a banzuke genius – I just look for precedents at SumoDB), which means he’s probably not going to make it to Juryo even with a yusho next time, and will be wearing a kesho-mawashi no earlier than Natsu. Another man who is going to land around the same rank is Ura, so there is some likelihood of those two meeting each other in Hatsu. Yum.

The next bout involves Shiba and Akua. Akua is a popular rikishi from Tatsunami beya (the same as Asashoryu and Meisei) who has been in Juryo for five seconds. Shiba has yet to break through the purgatory. They are 3-3 into this bout, so this is for kachi-koshi for one, make-koshi for the other.

Akua reveals his henka card in the second matta. Has to think of a different tactic. Goes for a straight on, gets a grip, loses it, runs forward and kind of folds Shiba out. Not the prettiest sumo, but he is kachi-koshi. No chance of Juryo promotion, though.

Churanoumi and Seiro have years of sekitori experience between them. OK, averages are a lie, of course. Churanoumi only has one basho as a sekitori, while Seiro has spent a long time in his kesho-mawashi, even doing three rounds in Makuuchi in his day. But his day seems to be behind him.

And so, he uses that vast experience to henka. OK, so he is injured. Maybe that’s why he kind of botches that henka and has to resort to plan B, which is land a yotsu ond Churanoumi and gaburi him out. Chug-chug, and the Mongolian wins. Churanoumi make-koshi, Seiro kachi-koshi, but again, this will not be enough for him to unpack his white practice mawashi. In this case, it’s better for him to stay at 7 bouts per tournament with that injury, though.

Juryo

  • The schedulers bring in Tamaki from Makushita. Tamaki is 1-6 at this point, but he still manages to fiercely defeat the demoralized Gokushindo. I’m pretty sure Gokushindo just wants the nightmare to be over already. He just has tomorrow’s bout with Hidenoumi, and then it remains to be seen if he can rebound like Enho or remain in his black mawashi for a long while, like Akua.
  • Takekaze is trying to keep his make-koshi at a minimum, but all the tawara-dancingi is not working. It was a close call, though. Jokoryu staves off make-koshi for another day and may even be kachi-koshi, as he faces Ishiura – also 7-7 – tomorrow.
  • Tobizaru should never have allowed Kyokushuho to land that easy grip on him right off the tachiai. What was he thinking? The flying monkey flies again, and Kyokushuho keeps his losing score at a single digit for the time being.
  • Enho still not back to himself. Tsurugisho dispatches of him pretty quickly. Enho can be thankful that that devastating kimetaoshi he was given by Mitoryu only happened after he was kachi-koshi already. He’ll need to use the Jungyo to regroup and improve his tactics.
  • Chiyonoumi is still frustrated about his deepening make-koshi. He wanted to keep it at single-digits today, and went very aggressively after Akiseyama. Aggressively enough for some clear dame-oshi. That’s unlike you, Chiyonoumi. You are usually a gentleman. 🙁 Akiseyama is now make-koshi as well.
  • Ishiura gets a repeat of yesterday’s dive. He is 7-7 now and really needs that last bout tomorrow vs. Jokoryu. Tomokaze looks almost as if he didn’t notice there was another wrestler with him on the dohyo. That guy just got into Juryo?
  • Terutsuyoshi, as opposed to the other pixies in the division, bounces back from his losses and manages to secure his 10th win with an entertaining pull at Mitoryu’s arm followed by a press on his shoulder for a katasukashi. Terutsuyoshi is still in the yusho race, though it’s all up to Tomokaze at this point.
  • Shimanoumi gets Takagenji to the edge and applies a fearsome nodowa that seems about to break his neck, but the twin rallies and turns the tables on him. Amazingly, Takagenji succeeded in staying away from that 8th loss for three days in a row. We’ll see how he does against Mitoryu tomorrow.
  • Hidenoumi, who is in deep doo-doo, faces Chiyonoo, who is in even deeper doo-doo. Chiyonoo can’t seem to be able to produce any power this basho. Try as he may to stick at the tawara, Hidenoumi simply has a bit more muscle than he does. Chiyonoo is now 2-12, while Hidenoumi stays at a single-digit losing score.
  • Toyonoshima nearly falls prey to Kotoyuki’s powerful thrusts, when Kotoyuki finds himself slightly offside following a failed nodowa. As Toyonoshima spots this, he pounces and helps him along. Kotoyuki and Toyonoshima are both 10-4 and in the yusho race.
  • Tokushoryu tries tsuki-oshi, Azumaryu tries to land a grip. Neither is very successful, and the bout ends up with Azumaryu pulling back and Tokushoryu flat on his face. Azumaryu kachi-koshi, Tokushoryu make-koshi.
  • Aminishiki seems to be losing his dohyo sense. This bout was between Wakatakakage trying to push or get inside, and Aminishiki circling and trying to push him down. And he made it – but he was already out himself. Wakatakakage is kachi-koshi, Aminishiki make-koshi, and will be getting further away from Makuuchi.
  • This time it’s Yago who is using the Yu-Yu Hakusho attack. He seems to be thrusting with the tips of his fingers, and Kyokutaisei circles but can’t really keep himself inside. Kyokutaisei may still secure his kachi-koshi tomorrow, though he is up against the formidable Toyonoshima. Yago will be meeting Hakuyozan in the final bout of the day and trying to get double digits for a Makuuchi position further from the bottom.
  • The Hakuyozan-Kotoeko bout seems to follow in the footsteps of the previous bout between Yago and Kyokutaisei. Kotoeko finds himself outside, and Hakuyozan is kachi-koshi.

So, Tomokaze, the newcomer, leads the race with 11-3, and is chased by Kotoyuki, Terutsuyoshi and Toyonoshima with 10-4 apiece. The key bouts for senshuraku are:

  • Kotoyuki-Tomokaze
  • Terutsuyoshi-Chiyonoumi
  • Toyonoshima-Kyokutaisei

Kotoyuki is, of course, highly motivated to beat Tomokaze. If Tomokaze wins this bout (which is the latest of the three), the results in the others don’t mean anything. If he loses, however, he is tied with Kotoyuki, and possibly with Terutsuyoshi and/or Toyonoshima should they win theirs. So we may have a chance for a four-way playoff. I’m sure the NSK time keepers will be cheering for Tomokaze – but we will not, right?

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 11

Terutsuyoshi. Wants double digits.

Jonokuchi

We continue to report on the adventures of Hattorizakura in the land of futility. Today his lucky opponent was Toya, of Tomozuna beya.

Hattorizakura trying to lift his opponent! Then managing to stick to the bales for several whole seconds! This boy is going places!

By the way, Toya’s record so far is rather strange. He has participated in three honbasho before this one. In all three he had a 2-5 make-koshi. And yet, in each of them he advanced in rank! Jk35→Jk24→Jk23→Jk20. I guess this sort of thing can only happen in Jonokuchi.

Jonidan

We continue to follow Mitsuuchi, the Jonokuchi yusho winner who has more kyujo and banzuke-gai basho than active one on his record. He meets Sumanoumi, both with a clean record of 5-0.

Mitsuuchi really looks like he should be up a division or two at least. Our next Jonidan bout is also involved in the yusho race, with Tachiai favorite Kenho. He goes against Kotokume, both 5-0:

Kenho definitely not settling for “Be heavy” as a tactic. Poor Kotokume must have felt like he was being run over by a truck. The Jonidan yusho race is currently down to Mitsuuchi, Kenho, and Kotourasaki. Likely two of them will meet for the seventh match, which means either the winner of that match gets the yusho, or he has to face the third one for a playoff.

Sandanme

Torakio engages with Kotootori (It’s the same “otori” as in “Chiyootori” but not quite the same sumo). Both 3-2.

Torakio shows his best sumo so far in this tournament, and achieves his kachi-koshi.

Remember I introduced two Isegahama men, from the bottom of Sandanme, who are in the yusho race? I do not have Hikarifuji’s bout vs. Yokoe, but I do have Fukunofuji’s bout vs. Kotoozutsu. Again, they are 5-0 as they mount the dohyo:

Fukunofuji is Sandanme #98W. Kotoozutsu is #61E. I don’t see much of a level gap in this bout, though. Hikarifuji also won his bout against the higher-ranked Yokoe.

So four of the six who were 5-0 were in those bouts. This means the third yusho-race bout matched none other than Ura and Kototebakari. Also watch the second bout in this video, featuring Itadaki vs. Prince Naya.

We have followed Kototebakari through this tournament. He is no push-over. That is, unless his rival is Ura. Ura is starting to scare me. It seems all he needs to do is touch his opponent and the poor man is blown off the dohyo. Serious muscle power. And I love his low, low tachiai.

So the yusho race in Sandanme has three wrestlers left – Hikarifuji, Fukunofuji and Ura. Since the two Fujis are from Isegahama beya, they won’t face each other, so the slightly higher ranked Hikarifuji is probably going to be Ura’s next piñata. If Hikarifuji wins that bout it will be the sensation of this basho, as the only point on which he is on equal footing with Ura is height. Fukunofuji will be faced with someone else. If he wins, he’ll be in the playoff. Otherwise the yusho is decided in the aforesaid Ura match.

So on to that second match in the video. Itadaki is Nishikigi’s head tsukebito, and I get the impression that he is also the head Isenoumi chanko chef. If he looks foreign to you, it’s because he is half Canadian – but he was born and raised in Japan, and apparently, doesn’t speak English any better than the average Japanese. And I don’t need to introduce Naya to you.

Itadaki seems pretty aggressive, and nearly manages to steer Naya out for a second there. Naya recovers, but the bout ends with a slightly disappointing slippiotoshi. More than slightly, if you’re Itadaki. Naya is kachi-koshi.

Makushita

We start with an all-Mongolian pairing – Hoshoryu, nephew of Asashoryu, and Kyokusoten, the friendly, weight-challenged brother-in-law of Tamawashi. Both 4-1.

Well, the gap between these two is much the same as between Asashoryu and Tamawashi, only a few rungs of quality lower. Kyokusoten is quickly swept off the dohyo. However, Hoshoryu’s stance was just begging for a hatakikomi, and he is lucky he wasn’t faced with a somewhat more savvy opponent. Mada-mada, as they say in Japanese (“still a ways to go”).

Next we have Kirybayama – whose only loss was to Sokokurai – vs. Tsushimanada, who rallied back after his loss on day 3.

Although this bout is very short, it’s quite exciting. Kiribayama misses his harite on the tachiai by a mile, but still manages to grab Tsushimanada. Tsushimanada manages to break loose and tries to make this an oshi battle, but the oshidashi is on him.

Next we have a yusho-related bout. Sokokurai, who is very eager to return to Juryo, against Gochozan, who is not ranked high enough for that.

Ahem, Sokokurai, a henka? Lucky you are not in Tokyo, as you would have gotten a long hard stare from Muur oyakata for this when you returned to your heya, I’m sure.

Still doesn’t beat Tsurugisho’s henka vs. Chiyonoumi the other day, though.

We finish this round of Makushita bout with Wakamotoharu vs. Irodori. Irodori is within reach of sekitori heaven – but needs a kachi-koshi first. Both are 3-2.

By the way, Irodori is yet another one-kanji shikona with four syllables (like Akebono, Kagayaki, and Ikioi).

The bout? Dum-di-dum-di-dum. Another henka. Too bad the first start was a matta – it looked a lot more entertaining. Irodori still doesn’t have that kachi-koshi. In Juryo, Gokushindo and Chiyonoo will probably be relegated to Makushita. Jokoryu and/or Chiyonoumi may join. So assuming three open slots, Daiseido and Gagamaru have kachi-koshi and will likely advance. Sokokurai – if he wins the yusho – will join them. So even if Irodori has a 4-3 kachi-koshi, it may not be enough. All because of a henka.

Juryo

  • Gagamaru sure wants his silk shime-komi back! He attacks Gokushindo with all his might and mass. Gokushindo is make-koshi, and is heading for another trip through purgatory. This time, he won’t be participating in the Jungyo (unless assigned to someone other than Kakuryu), so plenty of time to practice, rest and regroup.
  • Chiyonoumi attacks Tomokaze with what looks like the enthusiasm of despair. But his feet don’t follow where his body goes – a common mistake in oshi zumo, where you do not lean on your opponent and need to have your feet balanced at all times. Tomokaze ensures his kachi-koshi and will be sticking around. Chiyonoumi, as they say in Japanese, “has no ‘later'”. If he doesn’t win out, he is make-koshi, though if he keeps it at a minimum he may survive, depending on his banzuke-luck.
  • Any wrestler who has to face Enho is probably running and re-running this bout’s video. Enho manages to get inside and lay his hands on Mitoryu’s mawashi. But Mitoryu succeeds in locking his arms, and Enho desparately tries to free his main weapon, thus seized, to no avail. Mitoryu secures his kachi-koshi, while Enho drops to the chaser group. Now, he can still win the Yusho, mathematically. But with only 12 wins or less, I doubt that it will be enough to bring him up to Makuuchi – which a 13-win yusho might have, with some luck.
  • Azumaryu and Jokoryu get a grip on one side, and fight for the hold on the other, when Azumaryu reverses his direction and drops Gokushindo with a nice kirikaeshi. Jokoryu is nearing the danger zone and needs to win out.
  • Toyonoshima wastes no time getting Chiyonoo into a morozashi, which he releases only at the bales. Toyonoshima kachi-koshi, will stick around in Juryo, and will probably continue to work hard in the remaining days to get himself as far up the banzuke as he can. This is Toyonoshima’s first kachi-koshi as a sekitori in 17 basho. Chiyonoo, on the other hand, is probably going to find himself in Makushita the next time around, with a make-koshi that threatens to go double-digits.
  • Both Takekaze and Shimanoumi are teetering at the moment and will probably not have a kachi-koshi or a make-koshi until the last possible moment. Takekaze tries to grab Shimanoumi by the nape of his neck, but Shimanoumi is too well balanced for this, and pulling just brings Takekaze to the edge and makes it easier for Shimanoumi to beat him.
  • Terutsuyoshi and Tobizaru engage in a no-nonsense belt battle. Tobizaru has had a bit of a slump since he dropped from the leader group. He starts energetically – as he does – but Terutsuyoshi has a strong hold and they settle into a short lean. Terutsuyoshi surprisingly relinquishes his left hand hold for a looser ichi-mai hold a little more forward, but manages to convert that into a forward motion and a yori-kiri. Simple sumo, works nicely, and Terutsuyoshi is now the sole leader of the Juryo yusho race – I’m not sure he believes it himself.
  • Tsurugisho opts to engage in a full-on mawashi battle today, probably figuring that the flagging Hidenoumi will be easy to move. It turns out to be a mistake, as Hidenoumi manages to turn the table away. Hidenoumi is still deeply make-koshi and will probably find himself a lot lower in the Juryo ranking next basho. Not a good day for the Iwasaki brothers.
  • Just as it seemed that Takagenji is recovering, he is once again into a series of losses. And we have ourselves another flagrant henka. Sheesh, Kyokushuho. I don’t like Takagenji, but still, I’d prefer to see him beaten with good sumo. I know, I know – at the verge of make-koshi one will resort to anything. Just… make it slightly less flagrant, will you? Both wrestlers are now 4-7.
  • As for Ishiura, at this point, I blame Tokushoryu for not expecting a henka. I just feel sorry for Ishiura’s kid, who’ll grow up and see these bouts on video. Not much to be proud about.
  • Hakuyozan had a good first week, but seems to have weakened as the days passed. Kotoyuki decisively goes for his kachi-koshi.
  • Yet another henka in the Aminishiki-Kyokutaisei bout, and surprisingly, the perpetrator is not old wily Uncle Sumo. What, did Tomozuna beya serve Henka Chanko today?
  • Wakatakakage tried some Enho-zumo today. Couldn’t quite get the correct grip, though. Daishoho starts sliding him back, realizes that there is no need to continue the stalemate, quickly switches to a nice bear hug, and forces the lightweight Wakatakakage out.
  • Kotoeko gets an early advantage over Akiseyama, with a morotezuki that lifts him up. But the big potato rallies and adjusts, and soon has a strong hold on Kotoeko – despite his grip being only ichimai on one side.

So, as the day ends, the Juryo yusho arasoi looks like this:

  • 9-2: Terutsuyoshi
  • 8-3: Kotoyuki, Enho, Mitoryu, Toyonoshima, Tomokaze

Terutsuyoshi will face Tomokaze today. This is going to be a difficult one, especially as Terutsuyoshi did not show up for keiko (in Japan it’s now morning) citing fatigue.

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 9

In the lower divisions, tension is rising as the yusho shortlists are getting, well, shorter. Every day there are fewer and fewer perfect scored rikishi.

And Juryo is not a walk in the park, either

Jonokuchi

But one rikishi reliably keeps a perfect record! Of course, it’s a perfect losing record, but still perfect!

Hattorizakura-Wakakosuge

Once again Hattorizakura gives us a glimpse of hope, somewhere there, that he might… just might… nope.

Jonidan

I keep following little Chiyotaiyo, but he is not doing well this basho. Coming into this bout, he and his rival, Tanji, are 1-3. And Tanji doesn’t look like he has that much of a weight advantage.

However, the stick insect from Kokonoe is taken down without much ceremony. He is now make-koshi.

On the other side of the scoreboard, we have Mitsuuchi vs. Akitoba, both coming in at 4-0. Mitsuuchi has a very strange sumo record. Joining in 2015 he had a string of 6-1 tournament, then a couple of make-koshi, then full-on kyujo for four consecutive tournaments, causing him to drop off the banzuke. He then has to do maezumo again, enters back and once again, has two good 5-2 and 6-1 tournaments. This is mid 2017. Then – lo and behold – he goes kyujo – five straight tournaments. Has to do maezumo again! And then he comes back in Aki 2018 and grabs the Jonokuchi yusho.

So it’s Mitsuuchi’s fifth win, and he is in the list of yusho hopefuls, which also includes Sumanoumi, Kotokume, Kenho, Tatsunoumi and Kotourasaki.

To close off the Jonidan list, since Bruce is a bit under the weather, I’ll cover Wakaichiro here. His opponent is Tainaka, about the same age and a similar record as out hero from Texas.

This was a very frustrating bout for the young Texan. He has it in control from the start, going forward – and then Tainaka snatches it from under his nose.

Despite the frustration, Wakaichiro gives the deepest bow to his opponent before descending the dohyo. Wakaichiro is now make-koshi and should rally and continue that forward motion to keep himself on the upper side of Jonidan.

Sandanme

All the bouts I have for you today are ones deciding the yusho race. I’ll start at the bottom, with two relatively anonymous youngsters from Isegahama beya. The first is Fukunofuji, who usually has a hard time in Sandanme, and was kyujo the previous basho. His opponent is Nakashima from Musashigawa, with a similar record, who was also kyujo last basho.

It’s nice to see a yotsu match at this level. The next Isegahama man is Hikarifuji, up against Takatenshu (one of the former Takanohana wrestlers). Hikarifuji is one of the Isegahama pixies at 173cm.

Hikarifuji kind of tries a henka, then realizes that the other guy is just too big for that to be effective. Nevertheless, Hikarifuji wins this Aminishiki-style, and finds himself in the Yusho run himself.

These two guys being from the same heya, they are probably going to be facing some tough competition very soon now. Case in point – hello Ura! How are you today?

Kurahashi, Ura’s victim opponent for today is not a tall guy. So Ura keeps himself low and very stable with his feet neatly arranged, one front, one back. He could give lessons. I suggested on Twitter that this video should be sent to Takayasu and Kisenosato for a refresher. Ura maintains his perfect record for this basho and is, of course, in the yusho race.

Another one we have been following for a while is Kototebakari. Here he is facing Hokutoshu.

No sweat. Kototebakari is still perfect.

The Sandanme Yusho arasoi currently consists of Kototebakari, Ura, Yokoe, Kotoozutsu, Hikarifuji and Fukunofuji. With two from Isegahama and two from Sadogatake, we might either be seeing a mismatch of ranks, or have Ura face Kototebakari in the next round, which should be a bout to watch for.

Makushita

The famous nephew (“Who is your favorite Yokozuna?”, “My Uncle!” – From Hoshoryu’s live Instagram. Silly question) was matched today against Kainoryu. Kaynoryu is not exactly Yokozuna material, having spent most of his career between Sandanme and Makushita.

I don’t know if it’s lapse of concentration on Hoshoryu’s part or what. He seems to lose this bout by starting it with tsuppari rather than going for his strong yotsu from the start. Hoshoryu is out of the yusho race, though I’m sure he’ll do his best to end at 6-1 and advance as far as he possibly can without a yusho.

By the way, Hoshoryu is serving as Meisei’s tsukebito again this basho.

We finish Makushita with Sokokurai vs. Kiribayama. So it’s Inner Mongolia vs. Sovereign Mongolia here:

Sokokurai is not letting this go anywhere except Inner Mongolia.

Only four men remain in the Makushita yusho race: Sokokurai, Gochozan, Takaryu, Kainoryu. All with five wins, meaning they only have two bouts to go. This means the yusho will be decided without playoff – unless any of them gets a Juryo bout.

Juryo

  • Somebody in the Torikumi committee thought it would be a hoot to bring in a 36 years old, 165cm tall Makushita man with three losses for a bout at Juryo. Of course, technically Sagatsukasa is Ms3 so he is fair game, but come on… Mitoryu gets this win on a platter.
  • Tobizaru has been relegated to the chaser list yesterday. He tries with all his monkey energy to keep himself there. Shimanoumi thinks differently. The flying monkey flies again.
  • Tomokaze looks like he has been born in Juryo. Low stance, strong thrusts, Azumaryu finds himself unable to do his sumo. Tomokaze needs only two wins in 6 days to ensure his stay in Juryo.
  • Two elderly men climb the dohyo – Takekaze, 39, and Toyonoshima, 35. I didn’t expect that double pirouette, though. Guys, it’s not Hanukkah, yet. Leave the dreidels off the dohyo.
  • In every basho, Tsurugisho has one big, fat, ugly henka that makes me want to strangle him. This time it’s Chiyonoumi who is doing somersaults off the tachiai. 😡😡 Chiyonoumi needs to start collecting some wins fast – I think some 3 wins might cushion him from dropping back to Makushita.
  • Gokushindo doing some tentative sumo again. His stance is good, and Kyokushuho can’t find a way inside, and ends up losing his own balance.
  • Hakuyozan has also been in the chaser group before this match. A leaning match develops into a fine yotsu struggle, and Jokoryu prevails, bringing himself closer to breaking even.
  • Yesterday, Kokonoe oyakata gave Chiyonoumi and Chiyonoo a pep-talk dinner. It didn’t work for Chiyonoumi (thank you Tsurugisho 😡), but it seems to have worked for Chiyonoo, who takes the initiative and evades make-koshi for another day. Kyokutaisei is 4-5 – not quite himself as yet.

Now, the Enho-Wakatakakage was the match of the day. Wakatakakage matched Enho’s sumo, and although Enho did get that famous grip on his mawashi, he just couldn’t get the angles he wanted. Wakatakakage managed to stick his head below Enho’s – not an easy task, and we had a long stalemate. Enho nearly had Wakatakakage there at the edge. But the youngest Onami kept his foot safe. Here is a tweet by TheSumoSoul, showing Wakatakakage’s foot:

And here is short footage showing the undisturbed janome (ring of fine dust around the ring of bales).

The call was right, and Enho drops to two losses. Moving on:

  • Once again, Kotoyuki manages to avoid rolling. I’m impressed.
  • Aminishiki is not happy with himself going backwards, but backwards he went – and performed the first kubinage in his career, bringing himself to 45 different kimarite, only one behind Kyokushuzan, who holds the record. A monoii is called because his foot seems to have gone outside, but the Gyoji’s decision is upheld.
  • Takagenji seems to be on a recovery course with three consecutive wins after his weak first week. This bout with Daishoho was one sided.
  • Terutsuyoshi – remember, he’s in the leader group – once again tries to do straight sumo, no tricks. And it’s a really good bout, where he gets to lift Kotoeko for a second, and fends off Kotoeko’s following attack. But then Kotoeko pulls and the pixie loses his balance.
  • Final pixie of the day, though really, for Ishiura that word just doesn’t ring right. No tricks this time, and Ishiura has an enjoyable exchange of thrusts with Yago. Ishiura survives a couple of waves of attack, but eventually the bigger man prevails. Not a good day for the small rikishi.

Or is it? As it turns out, everybody at the top lost. So the leaderboard looks like this:

  • 7-2: Terutsuyoshi, Enho
  • 6-3: Yago, Kotoyuki, Hakuyozan, Tobizaru, Mitoryu, Toyonoshima, Tomokaze

Tomokaze in the yusho race? Oh lord. Tomorrow, while Enho faces Gokushindo and should be careful not to let a relatively easy one drop, Terutsuyoshi is facing a very difficult Yago. I wonder when they’ll match Enho with Aminishiki (Terutsuyoshi won’t be, they are from the same heya, as are Ishiura and Enho).

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 8

Hoshoryu, kachi-koshi

Jonidan

The fates of scheduling brought together today two well-known Jonidan denizen. Satonofuji, the yumitori master emeritus, and Hanakaze, the oldest active wrestler, 48 years old.

Somewhat geriatric tachiai there. The youngster (Satonofuji is merely 41) prevails, and is now 2-2.

Continuing the “Most X rikishi” theme, we have Kenho again! Facing Kotomanabe, both are 3-0.

And now Kenho is kachi-koshi as well. What do you think – can he get the yusho?

Sandanme

Of course, we absolutely can’t do without this match. I give you Ura vs. Aoi. Both 3-0 coming into this match.

As Ura gains confidence, he is starting to show us some Ura-zumo. Yesterday he went for a leg, today he went for an arm. Aoi can only feel consoled in that he got treated the same as a Yokozuna. Ura is kachi-koshi, though I’m sure he is not going to rest on his laurels just yet.

Makushita

Yet another man who is on the shinkansen to Makuuchi Station is the man with the Uncle, Hoshoryu. Here matched with Tennozan.

No match, really. This bullet train is going-going-gone. Hoshoryu is kachi-koshi, and will also not be resting on any smelly leaves.

From the upper reaches of Makushita, the middle Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, vs. Kiribayama – yet another Mongolian who has a hard time gaining weight.

Could Kiribayama finally breach the sekitori barrier, after three years in the doldrums? He is 4-0. And the elder Onami brothers still can’t quite match their little brother.

Juuuuuuuuryo

Can you feel that I love this division? This was a fun day in Juryo. Let’s join in.

  • Quite a bout between Tomokaze and Toyonoshima. Toyonoshima has the better tachiai and has the beginnings of a sashi, when Tomokaze disengages and starts some tsuppari action. Toyonoshima is not easy to defeat, but defeated he is eventually.
  • Today’s Makushita representative is Tamaki from Takasago beya. He stands opposite Jokoryu, who is not doing too well this tournament. But he is doing well in this bout, picking and sweeping Tamaki easily.
  • Azumaryu seems to be getting over his initial struggles, with a third consecutive win. Shimanoumi needs to start worrying.
  • The next bout is between two of the three unlikely leaders of this division – Terutsuyoshi, Tobizaru and Enho. One is going to be relegated to the chaser group. Tobizaru (whose extra thick sagari make him look like he really is going to fly) knows exactly who he is facing, and works hard to fend Enho’s greedy arms from getting to his mawashi zone. Unfortunately for him, all Enho need is a sliver of an opening. As soon as his left hand is on the back of the monkey’s mawashi, the monkey flies indeed.
  • Chiyonoo knows he is getting to make-koshi land fast, and tries everything he can against Mitoryu. He nearly manages to throw him at the age – but not quite. He tries to pull him out of the leaning match – but doesn’t succeed. Eventually patient Mitoryu forces him out. Chiyonoo now 1-7, and it would surprise me if his score at the end will be a single-digit make-koshi.
  • Triple-breasted Gokushindo faces Tsurugisho. Both are not in a very good position at the moment, but Gokushindo is definitely heading back to Makushita for some remedial studying.
  • Chiyonoumi is in a similar straits as his heya-mate, Chiyonoo. Facing Hakuyozan, he throws everything and the kitchen sink at him, but Hakuyozan seems not to mind all the nodowa and tsuppari too much. I really hope my man from Kochi will not have to say goodbye to his collection of Bonito kesho-mawashi. Hakuyozan stays in the chaser group.
  • Takekaze finishes Akiseyama easily, first landing a nodowa, then pulling down for a katasukashi. The old man is not doing that badly at this stage.
  • Kyokushuho is not going to let yet another midget ruin his day. He batters Wakatakakage thoroughly and gets his third win.
  • Tokushoryu starts at Kyokutaisei quite energatically, and the man in orange is pushed back – but side steps and lets Tokushoryu’s bulk do the work for him.
  • Now here is our second highlight match today. Terutsuyoshi needs a win to keep himself abreast with Enho at the top of Mount Juryo. Let me tell you, he looked pretty tense today as he was about to make his final salt throw. So from out of nowhere he comes up with a nekodamashi (“I decided to do that yesterday, but didn’t rehearse it at all. I didn’t clap my hands all day!”), then dives for Daishoho’s leg. The surprised Daishoho finds himself sitting at the corner of the dohyo asking himself “what just happened”. For those of you who don’t know what a nekodamashi is – it’s clapping your hands right in front of your opponent’s face to briefly distract him. Previous to Hakuho’s famous double nekodamashi vs. Tochiozan, Mainoumi was known for using that trick. Terutsuyoshi very pleased, and keeps breathing the cold sweet air of the yusho race. He needs one win to kachi-koshi, and may not be far from serving as Hakuho’s next tsuyuharai. That is, if Enho doesn’t grab that yusho and gets there first (there are precedents for J10 yusho winners making it to Makuuchi).
  • Aminishiki goes for straightforward sumo today, but his opponent – Takagenji – is younger and stronger than he and quickly chases him out. Kudos to Takagenji for keeping Uncle from falling, though I am not sure Aminishiki appreciated being reminded of his age.
  • Hidenoumi has a three second illusion that he may dominate this match, when Yago takes over matters. Hidenoumi is desparately seeking wins.
  • Hey, what was that? Ishiura wins a bout with straight forward, no tricks sumo? Who knew he was capable of that? Kotoeko is 4-4.

Juryo leaderboard

7-1: Terutsuyoshi, Enho

6-2: Hakuyozan, Tobizaru

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 6

It should be easy to throw a small guy when you have this good a grip on him. It isn’t.

Jonidan

Here is little Chiyotaiyo again. Unfortunately, he demonstrates to us why he is likely to stick in Jonidan for a long while – maybe even a year – despite his talent. Here he is vs. Goketsuyama.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz-_Q44gYdg

By the way, I would say the length of his hair indicates a chon-mage by senshuraku. But maybe that’s just because of his proportions.

Sandanme

Bruce already brought you the Ura video. To that, I can add Torakio vs. Shoketsu:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFgjFlEnHNA

This is actually a very good bout. Starts with a tsuppari. Torakio gets a morozashi, then loses one hand, still tries to push Shoketsu out, but Shoketsu reverses him and pushes him out.

Torakio, though, is still a sore loser. There was a distinct shove there at the end. Torakio out of the sandanme yusho race.

Then there is Kototekbakari vs. Inoe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcOBgX67h4Y

Nice attempt at a trip, but this was Kototebakari’s win by kotenage.

Makushita

There were a number of fine bouts in Makushita today, but the only individual bout I have is – who else – Hoshoryu, here vs. Tanabe:

What doesn’t work with tsuppari and doesn’t work with yori, works with hineri. Not one of Hoshoryu’s most powerful matches, but he is still in the Makushita yusho race, which also features names like Sokokurai, Chiyootori, Wakamotoharu, the older Taka twin, and a bit surprisingly, Kyokusoten.

Juryo

Because Kisenosato has gone kyujo, once again a Juryo wrestler has to fill in at Makuuchi, and therefore, a Makushita wrestler has to fill in at Juryo. Today we start with Toyohibiki, 0-3 before this match.

  • Shimanoumi may have been distracted by the fact that he is the only man in Juryo so far to have defeated Enho, as well as that bad balance Toyohibiki came into this bout with. But it’s the Makushita rikishi who takes about one second to sweep Shimanoumi off the dohyo.
  • Chiyonoumi, with a worrying 1-4, enters this match with Gokushindo, who seems to continue the same strategy as yesterday – stalling and keeping his opponent at arm’s length. Chiyonoumi tries everything in his tsuki-oshi arsenal, and eventually enters a leaning contest with Gokushindo. Gokushindo relies on two pillars for legs and trusts in his stance, but Chiyonoumi eventually manages to pull him down for a very precious second win.
  • Tobizaru enthusiastically rains tsuppari at Tomokaze’s chest. Tomokaze, somehow, doesn’t look too impressed. Waits a bit for Tobizaru to spend all the bullets in his magazine, and then gives him three or  four shoves out. This is Tobizaru’s first loss this tournament, and now nobody in Juryo is zensho.
  • After winning a lengthy stamina bout yesterday, Toyonoshima loses a short one today. Azumaryu tries to catch his mawashi, decides it’s too low for him, and just gives him a couple of shoves outside.
  • Enho’s bout starts, as usual, with a scramble, as Enho throws himself inside and secures his favorite left hand inside grip. Jokoryu can’t defend against the little wasp, but of course he has an excellent outside grip himself. He is stable. It seems that it should be easy to shake Enho off. Well, not if the pixie in the red mawashi has anything to say about that. Which of course he has. Jokoryu tries that throw, and discovers that Enho is… sticky. He lowers his body. He wraps a leg around Jokoryu’s. He is like that small dog who enthusiastically humps your leg and just won’t let go. Enho attempts his throw once, Jokoryu spins around but is still steady. So Enho attempts it a second time, and this time he gets it. Jokoryu floored, Enho has a nosebleed for his troubles. Yet another excellent bout.
  • Both Chiyonoo and Kyokushuho are 1-4 coming into this day. The two grab each other. Kyokushuho takes a few seconds to assess the situation, then walks the Kokonoe man outside.
  • Mitoryu and Tsurugisho get good right hand inside grips on each other, lean for a while, and then, as tsurugisho starts maneuvering Mitoryu to the side, Mitoryu pulls him down and drops him to his knees. Sukuinage, and you don’t see it in this footage, but Tsurugisho has a mighty disappointed expression on his face.
  • Hakuyozan dispatches of Takekaze rather easily. Takekaze keeps a balanced score.
  • Kyokutaisei doesn’t look like he is on his way back to Makuuchi. Akiseyama pulls him down pretty early off the tachiai.
  • Terutsuyoshi today opts for a henka. Or is that a HNH? He then follows it up with some strong shoves and Wakatakakage finds himself on the floor. Terutsuyoshi, like Enho, keeps himself in the leader group.
  • For once, Ishiura wins by a hatakikomi which is not the result of a henka. He go straight forward at the tachiai, and only then pulls and sidesteps.
  • Hidenoumi manages to slip his right hand inside under Daishoho’s arm. Daishoho applies an ottsuke, then a lock, and they grapple on the other side, when Hidenoumi manages to slip in the second into a morozashi. You’ll then see Daishoho trying the same thing Nishikigi did later to Tochiozan – only a lot less effectively. While Nishikigi knew his ability to hold his armpits locked is limited and immediately stepped forward, Daishoho here delays. Also, his arm lock is not as efficient as his elbows are more open than Nishikigi’s were and Hidenoumi gets a grip on the back of his mawashi. At some point Daishoho even releases and rests his tired arm muscles. Hidenoumi then manages to use that morozashi to effect and walks him over the bales.
  • The bout between Tokushoryu and Yago starts as an exchange of rhythmic shoves. Then Yago decides he has enough, lands a yotsu hold, and finishes with a classic yori-kiri.
  • So if you’re short on henkas, and feel you have missed them in the Makuuchi bout, Kotoeko here demonstrates a big, fat henka that has Takagenji rolling his eyes in frustration at the other edge of the dohyo.