Jonokuchi Report: Match Day 2

Aki is a firecracker. The sumodb statistics list him as 165cm and 68kg. For us Imperialists, that translates to 5′ 5″, the minimum height required to be a sumo wrestler, and 150 lbs. That’s about two inches shorter than Enho and ~60 pounds lighter. His opponent tonight was Higohikari whom, at 173cm and 119kg, fits near the average height and weight for the division. He’s a lifer, with a 2003 debut at the tender age of 15. Aki, on the other hand, is a youngster from Ibaraki who started his career in the summer of last year at 16. He was quick off the line with a solid tachiai, and then a final blast near the tawara.

Andy Walks Along Kochi’s Shimantogawa

After match day two Tosamidori, from beautiful, verdant Kochi prefecture, is the largest and oldest of the undefeated as the winners’ bracket has shifted quite early in this tournament to the young and relatively compact.

Of the heaviest 22 wrestlers in the division, comprising the rightmost six of the twelve bins in the weight histogram below, only four remain undefeated. Tosamidori is the only one in the top 10.

Senho won his second match, as did Akinishiki, Sawada, and Numano. I wonder if Numano is a Seinfeld fan? I updated the colors in the chart to make more sense. Green is good, this time, 2 wins and 0 losses. They’re clustered firmly on the right side of the graph with Chida being the tallest undefeated wrestler, followed by Sekizukayama and Senho.

Jonokuchi Report, Match Day 1

Jonokuchi is the lowest division in sumo. Unless you are successful at the amateur or college level, thereby earning a privileged debut in Sandanme or Makushita, you begin your career here after a short maezumo assessment. For most, especially for those who become sekitori, Jonokuchi is an introductory tournament or two, while the real education begins in Jonidan and Sandanme. It’s the first time you see your name in lights (well, ink) on the banzuke. And it’s also the first time to see whether you can last a tournament, seven bouts over a fortnight.

Sawaisamu Career chart

Many cannot last long and fall off the banzuke and leave the sport (and the heya life) fairly quickly. Some linger in the division for years, like Hattorizakura, or jump back and forth between Jonokuchi and Jonidan like Sawaisamu. Ultimately, in the search for the next one, the search must start in this division where Hakuho, Kakuryu, Kisenosato, and Harumafuji all began their careers. As we close out 2019, let’s take a look at who is in Jonokuchi.

Jonokuchi Height Distribution

This November, there are fifty-nine wrestlers in the division. Seven did not compete in the first two days, kyujo. Of those who did compete, one, Moriurara, actually started his tournament with a visit to Jonidan. There’s a wide range in ages, heights, and weights, though there’s definitely a cluster of young and relatively thin wrestlers.

Jonokuchi Weight Distribution

The tallest, Okuniashi, is 188 cm while two wrestlers tied for shortest at 165 cm (both won their first bout). The largest wrestler is Daigonishiki, 188kg while the slightest was Nangu at 67kg. Nangu had a really nice uwatenage on Day 1. Using body-mass index, Hattorizakura has the lowest BMI at 21.6, dwarfed by Daigonishiki’s 60.72.

BMI by Hatsubasho and by Age:
Red means Win, Green means Loss

Now that the First match-day is over for these chaps, we get an interesting look at how the cluster of young upstarts had quite a bit of success at the expense of larger, older wrestlers. Senho, one of Hakuho’s protégés whom Herouth has been following since his debut, is one of the red marks on the far right. He just started this year. Though he is tall, his BMI of 28.34 puts him well below that trend line. He has time to bulk up and “skill up.” Hanakaze is at the extreme left end of this scale, as he’s nearly fifty years old, started his sumo career in 1986…but he still picked up a win. If his love for sumo holds up, he should be able to bounce back into Jonidan.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 11

With all of the chaos in the top divisions, Makuuchi AND Juryo, it’s often nice to remember there’s a whole slew of other bouts among the junior divisions. Yes, I’m clutching at straws here but I need something to look forward to now that the Hakuho/Takayasu bout won’t happen. My man Kaisei is facing Juryo…my man Ikioi is facing Makushita…and as Uncle Sumo…しかし!

Jonokuchi

Herouth has been keeping us on top of the yusho races down here and Naruto Oyakata, the dashing former Kotooshu, has certainly gotten himself a bumper crop of youngsters dominating the Jonokuchi yusho. Marusho leads the division as he had his sixth bout last night, winning against Minami of Tatsunami beya. Sadly, I have not been able to find the bout.

As wrestlers from the same heya (or father) cannot face each other during the tournament until the playoff, schedulers can’t have Sakurai face-off against Motobayashi tonight and then have the winner battle Marusho.

Jonidan

Homarefuji has a great chance at winning the Jonidan yusho with a dominating win over Hitenryu. He sure has the poise and confidence of a sekitori, even just going through his prebout routine in this video from the Japan Sumo Channel. But when the time comes to put the fists to the ground, he nearly bowls Hitenryu straight over backwards.

One of the men he may need to face in the coming days is Adachi, on the right in the montage below, picking up his sixth win against Ooba.

Sandanme

In SandanmeI only have the end of Wakaichiro’s bout for us. With the oshidashi victory, Wakaichiro is 3-3 and will be fighting for his kachi-koshi.

Makushita

In Makushita, Hoshoryu faced Oguruma beya’s Nogami, both 3-2 coming in and fighting for kachi-koshi. Nogami engaged directly, and effectively, using that extra mass to drive Hoshoryu to the edge. Hoshoryu arrests their backward movement with his left foot on the bales but he is high and tries to reach over Nogami’s back with the right hand.

Nogami prefers a yotsu bout and locks the dragon up with both hands inside. Once that left hand came in and secured a belt grip, he pretty much lifted Hoshoryu up and out. Yoritaoshi. With the win, Nogami is looking to secure himself a spot in the Makushita joi.

Hoshoryu will need to win his next one to have any hope of snagging a vacant spot in Juryo. His opportunity may have slammed shut as Seiro has already locked up one slot and Irodori will be eyeing another. Seiro picked up that kachi koshi today against Kaisho. Kaisho went far too low, allowing Seiro time to grab the mawashi with his right hand as he backed away, finishing with an uwatenage. With the poll position at Ms1, Seiro’s promotion is a lock for picking up the position Akiseyama will leave behind.

Akua got a taste of Juryo last year and wants to return. Coming into today, he was a solid 5-0 and had his own designs on a coveted position in the makushita joi. However, he was shown the door by Tsurubayashi who used one of my favorite kimarite. This okuritaoshi had a shokkiri routine feel to it the way Akua tumbled out, head over heels, and Tsurubayashi’s right leg comes up…perfectly aimed to give him the old boot. But it’s probably a good thing for that restraint as the fall was a hard one.

And let us pause now and thank Herouth. :)

And then let’s thank her again for adding this about the Terunofuji/Roga bout. I swear I meant to do it. Cross my heart…

Thanks for covering for me!

But… but… how could you skip the Terunofuji vs. Roga bout!

Roga sure would have wished that Futagoyama oyakata had skipped it, though. His master gave him a public shaming on Twitter today for this bout.

Today Roga from my heya had a match with former Ozeki Terunofuji. Terunofuji’s physical fitness is still far from perfect, but Roga was utterly beaten, and his sumo was bad at that. Well, that’s Roga’s actual power at the moment. Guys who were in the same year in school with him are in the banzuke joi. It was pointless to have taken him with me for degeiko. If he keeps this up I have zero expectations of him.

Thank you, Herouth!

Day 10 From Lower Divisions

Jonokuchi
No one on the Jonokuchi torikumi is leading for the yusho though there were a few hopefuls with an outside chance on one loss. I found a great video featuring the first four bouts of Day 10. This is a gem and shows why I stay the whole day when I get a chance to watch a tournament live. It moves fast, these four bouts take less than 10 minutes.

First up, Hattorizakura was set to battle Shishimaru to see who would pick up their first win. Shishimaru is a big guy and seems to toy with Hattorizakura, giving him a little hope by backing up to the edge. Quickly, and unceremoniously, Shishimaru pivots and throws the hapless Hattorizakura to the clay. Shishimaru picks up his first win and Hattorizakura picks up his fifth loss. All is right with the universe.

Next up we have Yada on the left versus Houn. This does not go the way I expected. Things start out with pushing, thrusting, favoring the larger Yada. He whiffs on a punch and Houn pounces, grabs the belt and takes control. He’s not strong enough to topple the kid 40 kilos heavier. Instead, he looks like a truck driver, steering his out-of-control rig around the dohyo and out. Houn gets his second win of the tournament, tying his best finish. Can he pick up a third? Yada is 1-4 in his debut tournament.

The third bout in this video features Tanaka on the left versus Toya. Tanaka is slight but has some serious moxie. The 68kg bulldozer drives Toya back and throws him in a heap off the dohyo. Lastly, Takamasaki on the left against Sawada. A solid tachiai but Sawada seemed unready for the fact that given the combined inertia of these two he’d end up going backwards, slipping to 2-3 while Takamasaki improves to 3-2.

Sandanme
I couldn’t find any Jonidan bouts so we move on to the sandanme bout of Ones to Watch regular Naya (right) against Shohoryu. Naya is a tall guy but still seems to be a bit too high after the initial tachiai and tsuppari. Shohoryu manages to get inside, drive Naya back a bit on the defensive. Then he uses that belt grip, and some flexibility, to get a great shitatenage under-arm throw.

Makushita
Musashikuni began the Fukuoka tournament kyujo. He missed his first bout and came back in time for his second, which he lost. However, he has been on a tear since and picked up his third win on Day 10 against journeyman wrestler, Oazuma.

Oazuma has been in sumo for 12 years. He had a major setback in 2010 and fell back to Jonokuchi where he won the yusho. Since 2013, however, he’s been a makushita regular. In their bout, Musashikuni got a great drive off the line, pushing Oazuma straight back before he locked in with a solid belt grip with both hands and did his best Tochinoshin impression for a great yorikiri win. Musashikuni has a chance to pick up his kachi-koshi tomorrow against Obamaumi.

Juryo

This Juryo digest video starts of with a great tachiai between Daiseido, visiting from Makushita with his kachi-koshi already, and Tomokaze who will want two more wins to stay in the professional ranks. Daiseido’s forceful charge sends Tomokaze back to the straw bales but the big guy is agile and manages to escape to the other side of the dohyo. After a few attempts at shoving Daiseido out prove futile, Tomokaze perceives his opponent over-committing, and slips to the side. Daiseido’s own momentum launches him, uncontrolled, across the dohyo and Tomokaze’s hatakikomi attempt turns into a twisting sukuinage as his right arm pulls up while the left drives down.

Is it just me, or did Mitoryu attempt a henka? Azamaryu recovers but falls to a hatakikomi. Gokushindo has learned to keep Enho away from his belt at all costs. This bout is a lot of leaning with short bursts of activity which probably wore on Gokushindo’s focus. After a long wait, Enho pounces. While spinning and trying to keep those hands away from his belt, Gokushindo loses his balance and his hand touches the clay. A tiny mistake but that’s all it takes.