A Word On Kisenosato

Farewell

As Liam reported, Kisenosato has finally put an end to the drama and announced his retirement. Herouth explained how we got here and Bruce did a great job pointing out why this was what needed to be done. Minutes before the announcement came down, I had retweeted survey results from Sponichi that 78% of respondents thought he should retire, belying the idea that he had a groundswell of fan supporting the idea that he should continue. We could hear it in the crowds’ reaction to each of his three losses.

The great thing is, that drama is over now. Kisenosato will continue his sumo career as coach, then as head of his own stable of wrestlers. And there really was no other way forward. If he had lost again, the howls would grow along with the discomfort of the Sumo Kyokai and Yokozuna Deliberation Council. If he won, the inevitable may be delayed by a day or two. But with more wins, or some dream (fantasy) comeback kachi-koshi record, surely questions would arise about their legitimacy given his recent poor results. Perhaps this is where the idea of yaocho, that it’s all fixed, can finally be put to bed.

The second thing that I hope comes out of this is a real reform within stables regarding the treatment of wrestlers’ injuries, if it hasn’t started to happen already. We’ve seen some chronic injuries rested, but others continue to come back, tournament after tournament, only to finish with 1, 2, or at max 4 wins and never really healing completely…I’m looking at you Ikioi…not to mention the entire Ozeki corps. It would be a slow change but hopefully the days are over where a shattered arm would be patched up with an expectation of continuing with keiko bright and early the next morning.

I look forward to seeing Kisenosato wearing a blue jumpsuit of the NSK during future basho, in a hakama and presiding over mono-ii as shinpan, or in jeans, laughing with fans during jungyo in Ibaraki as he guides his own deshi through their own careers. Undoubtedly, he’s now free from the pressure to perform that has been hanging over his every appearance over the past year.

And a final note: Kisenosato owes Nishikigi a beer. Odds of a second kinboshi have now surely plummeted. If Nishikigi gets a kinboshi against Hakuho this tournament, I’ll eat my hat — with a special wasabi marinade — during the next podcast.

I wish Kisenosato well as he begins the next chapter of his sumo career as Araiso oyakata (荒磯親方).

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Final Day (Oct 28)

Here it is, the final chapter of this Jungyo series. I hope you have a lot of free time this weekend, because I stumbled across a treasure trove of raw footage. Usually I give you short bouts or scenes from the side lines. But this person has what seems like the entire event uploaded to YouTube, and that is bound to give you a whole different perspective of what going to a Jungyo event must be like.

So hang on to your coat tails, here we go.

the-jungyo-is-over
The Jungyo is over!

🌐 Location: Shunan, Yamaguchi
🚫 Scandal level: depends how you look at moob groping

I’m skipping the videos that show the venue from outside, the sekitori arriving and the concession stands. Also the handshake part. Let’s start with some still photos from the side lines instead. Here are Chiyonoumi, Hokutofuji and Tomokaze. All graduates of the Nippon Sports Science University. Which, apparently, has its own not-so-secret hand gesture. Demonstration:

university-grads

And that’s the only wholesome sidelines picture you’ll see today. Because the Tamawashi bug seems to have taken in everybody. Here is Gokushindo with Dewanojo:

gokushindo-dewanojo-boobies

But Gokushindo himself does not escape abuse. From our university graduate, Tomokaze, both front:

tomokaze-gokushindo-boobies-front

and back:

tomokaze-gokushindo-boobies-back

Kagayaki is lifting his tsukebito as a form of weight. And that’s no problem. But what is Wakatakakage looking at?

what-is-wakatakakage-looking-at

OK, OK, better get on with those videos, shall I?

There aren’t any sekitori from Yamaguchi prefercture at the moment. So attention was focused on the lower-ranking wrestlers from that prefecture. This video starts with Harada, who is one of those Yamaguchi wrestlers, receiving butsukari. The chest is offered by none other than Enho.

The video then moves on to some moshi-ai among the Jonidan and Sandanme wrestlers.

I must say seeing Enho as the dominant in butsukari is rather comical. Harada is taller than him, and although light, Enho doesn’t seem to offer much of a stamina challenge for him.

No wonder, then, that the exercise is soon over. Moving on to the moshi-ai session. Remember, moshi-ai is a series of bouts in which the winner gets to stick around and chooses his next opponent. Therefore, the wrestlers who want to get some exercise vie for the winner’s attention as soon as the match is decided.

I didn’t like the first winner (sorry, at this level, I really can’t recall names from faces. If you know, please let me know) too much. He is prone to dame-oshi. The second one sticks around for quite a while – but you see his stamina seeping out with every bout until at last he is ousted.

I didn’t think that Mr. Huge there would be called by anybody, but I guess some rikishi like a challenge. So he was.

The attention wars are also quite amazing. Wrestlers are not shy of hanging on to the winner’s neck or poking his cheek or whatever it takes.

And all the while, Aoiyama and Tochiozan stand on the sides and do their shiko.

In the following video, the Sandanme-and-below moshi-ai continues, when sekitori start mounting the dohyo, and give short butsukari sessions to the low-ranking rikishi. You’ll see Akiseyama, Jokoryu, Enho (again) and Abi.

When no sekitori offers, the lower ranking wrestlers just continue on their own. Each butsukari session ends with a tap on the dominant’s chest and, answered with a throw for a korogari (roll).

In the next video, we start with some yobidashi activity on the dohyo – pouring new sand, watering, and sweeping. Then the moshi-ai starts again, with Makushita and some more rikishi joining in. You can see Kyokusoten and Musashikuni.

Kyokusoten is doing the typical Mongolian mawashi sumo. And despite winning, he just gives the right-of-way to a new pair and rests. Musashikuni’s koshi-daka is still unresolved and he isn’t likely to get a second chance quickly.

Apart from what’s going on on the dohyo, though, it’s interesting to watch the opposite corner where a little Mongolian clique is gathered to do some stretches, and apparently, joke around: Kyokushuho, Chiyoshoma and Azumaryu. Also, watch the lower left part of the screen for Tamawashi. Shodai shows something on his smartphone. Smartphone? In keiko? Anyway, that exchange of course evolves into Tamawashi slapping Shodai around.

Next vid. The moshi-ai continues, and then, once again, sekitori mount the dohyo, and we get a series of butsukari: Yago, Kotoshogiku, Jokoryu, Yoshikaze, Ichinojo, You can see how Ichinojo’s submissive actually asks him to do it. Some guys like challenges, as I said.

And now it’s time for the sekitori to start their own practice. The moshi-ai is more relaxed at this point. There are three men on the dohyo and when one of the two wrestlers loses, the third goes in.

We start with Meisei-Tochiozan-Takanosho. In the background you can see Kisenosato doing his wobble exercise, and various rikishi coming to hand him some water. I assure you, in this ladle there is not even a single grain of salt. Nobody is suicidal.

Kisenosato switches to Shiko. On the opposite side you can see Goeido doing the same. Takayasu is not far away from his Yokozuna. From time to time the wrestlers on the dohyo take a towel break.

It’s nice to see Aoiyama and Ryuden move to save Meisei from a bad fall.

After Tochiozan leaves the field and only Meisei and Takanosho are left, again, as if by magic, other sekitori get on the dohyo and a sequence of butsukari follows. If you notice, the first session is always with the winner of the last moshi-ai. Endo lends his chest to Takanosho. Then Aoiyama-Tochiozan, and finally, Ryuden takes Meisei.

The next video continues in the same pattern. This time we have four men on the dohyo – Aoiyama, Ryuden, Daieisho and Myogiryu. This means the two “free” wrestlers have to vie for the winner’s favors.

This session, too, ends with a series of butsukari, though curiously, the first two are between the same four wrestlers. We then switch to Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai.

I’m going to skip the next sequence, which is just a continuation of that trio, and go to the next one, which shows you a san-ban session. Goeido engages Shodai. Reminder: san-ban is a series of bouts between the same two wrestlers, who do as many bouts as the higher-ranked one wants.

As the session progresses, you can see the increasing frustration on Shodai’s face and in his body language. Goeido is relentless, and Shodai can’t stay in the ring for more than two seconds, let alone win.

Note how every time the Ozeki wants a rest he has his two tsukebito hurry up with a ladle of water and a couple of towels to service him. Shodai has to settle for Nishikigi-mama, who keeps handing him his towel, then folding it back neatly.

Eventually, after 16 minutes of this Goeido love, Shodai is saved by Tochinoshin. Again, the proper way to finish a session is with some butsukari, so poor Shodai, who is already out of juice, has to also push an ozeki for a while for his trouble. Tochinoshin doesn’t make a full-fledged kawaigari of this, though. So the nightmare is soon over.

What follows is reverse butsukari. Nishikigi offers his chest, Goeido pushes. But of course, Nishikigi runs around so as not to waste the Ozeki’s precious time, and there is no rolling in the mud. Finally, a short one between Onosho and Daieisho. Apparently, the etiquette here is that all participators in the moshi-ai or san-ban session (Remember this started with Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai) get to do some butsukari.

This next one starts with a san-ban session between Asanoyama and Mitakeumi. Not as lengthy as the one between Goeido and Shodai, though. Then Asanoyama goes out and Tochinoshin engages Mitakeumi.

Earlier, in that butsukari session with Shodai, Tochinoshin only had taping on his knee. Now that he is about to engage in san-ban, he puts on his brace.

Of course, being Ozeki, he also gets serviced by his tsukebito. One for ladle, one for towels.

A few minutes later he switches to Asanoyama.

The session, of course, ends with butsukari. Reverse ones this time. Tochinoshin pushes Mitakeumi, and Mitakeumi pushes Tochiozan. Then, not to leave the third man out, Aoiyama takes Asanoyama.

In the background you can see Mitakeumi thanking Tochinoshin for his attention by offering him a ladle of chikara-mizu.

I’m going to skip the lower-ranks bouts, the Jinku, drum demo and shokkiri, and skip right to the Juryo bouts. By the way, here are Yago and Wakatakakage, waiting for their dohyo-iri. Yago seems to also be a man who loves to keep his hands on other people’s bodies:

yago-wakatakakage-love

But at least there doesn’t seem to be much fondling going on. So let’s see how these guys (and the rest of the rather miserable division) did in the bouts:

JokoryuChiyoarashiTsuridashi
TomokazeEnhoUwatenage
AzumaryuNakazonoTsuridashi
GokushindoChiyonoumiOshidashi
TobizaruGagamaruYorikiri
TsurugishoWakatakakageYorikiri
KotoekoTakekazeUtchari

Enho is fast!

Watch out for the faces Tobizaru makes at Gagamaru. :-)

Note how the “fillers” from Makushita don’t have their rank called out. The gyoji announcer describes each Juryo wrestler by shikona, rank, shushin and heya. But the “fillers” only get shikona, shushin and heya.

Next we have Kisenosato’s rope tying demonstration, and then the rest of the Juryo bouts:

DaiamamiKyokushuhoYorikiri
DaishohoAkiseyamaYorikiri
MeiseiYagoYorikiri

Ah, the look of frustration on Yago’s face.

In the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, of course we have the continuing Mitakeumi-Tamawashi saga:

mitakeumi-loves-tamawashi

Skipping the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, the Yokozuna dohyo-iri and the mayor’s speech video, we move straight to the Makuuchi bouts.

The first bout is missing a few seconds.

ChiyoshomaYoshikazeTsuridashi
RyudenTakanoshoYorikiri
SadanoumiOkinoumiYorikiri
NishikigiDaieishoUtchari
HokutofujiAoiyamaYorikiri
TakarafujiKotoshogikuYorikiri
ShohozanTochiozanOkuridashi
OnoshoAsanoyamaTokkurinage
MyogiryuKagayakiYorikiri

Takanosho gets a fast morozashi there, and Ryuden can’t make the makikae.

Daieisho rains tsuppari on Nishikigi. Nishikigi doesn’t lose his cool – saves himself at the edge with a nice utchari. Speaking of Nishikigi, where are his glasses today?

nishikigi-glasses-1

Apparently, right on Shohozan’s nose.

nishikigi-glasses-2

Onosho steals Aminishiki’s tokkurinage (“sake bottle throw”). But hey, Aminishiki does that in honbasho.

Continuing right from Abi’s shiko:

ChiyonokuniAbiUwatenage
ShodaiEndoUtchari
YutakayamaChiyotairyuTsukidashi
KaiseiTakakeishoYorikiri

Chiyonokuni goes on a shiko match with Abi. He is a little shaky on the left side, but still pulls it off, much to the appreciation of the crowd. He also gives Abi a serious stare-down. All is well and good – but Abi finishes him off within half a second.

Kaisei yori-kiris Takakeisho, but has an inertia problem. Takakeisho flies off the dohyo straight onto Tomozuna oyakata (ouch), but then Kaisei falls on top of both of them. That’s… well, a real-life drop-bear (hi, Australians). He helps Takakeisho up, and poor Tomozuna oyakata also asks for a hand up. Everybody is still in one (albeit squashed) piece.

Finally, we have the last four Makuuchi bouts. This includes Tamawashi vs. Ichinojo. And of course, Goeido still has his tsukebito heckling Tamawashi:

goeido-still-heckles-tamawashi

Kakuryu doesn’t seem to approve. So what did Tamawashi (and Goeido, and Kakuryu) do?

Now, Tochinoshin’s leg has neither taping nor brace.

TamawashiIchinojoOshidashi
MitakeumiTochinoshinTsuridashi
GoeidoTakayasuUwatenage
KakuryuKisenosatoYorikiri

Tomozuna oyakata gets hit again! Luckily, Ichinojo’s brakes are better than Kaisei’s, so he didn’t get hit by yet another drop bear. And that is Ichinojo’s killer nodowa making an appearance again.

I have a feeling of déjà vu about Mitakeumi’s bout with Tochinoshin. Haven’t we seen this bout a few days ago? First Mitakeumi attacks, tries a couple of gaburi, then Tochinoshin takes over and forklifts him out?

Takayasu seems pretty amused about how his match turned out.

And Kakuryu’s left foot is once again doing circles in mid-air. I thought his problem was his right foot.

Here is a link to the complete YouTube playlist from which these clips were taken. It’s a bit of a mess, so if you want to watch in order, pay attention to the numbers.

And your final pin-up boy for this Jungyo, I give you Asanoyama:

asanoyama

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 22 (Oct 26)

venue

🌐 Location: Kure, Hiroshima
🚫 Scandal level: 0

Let’s walk along the sidelines and pick up some rikishi photos. We have Endo practicing his very fine shiko:

endo-shiko

I don’t know who gave him that lash mark across the chest, apparently it’s not just a smear of blood, as it is there the next day as well.

Speaking of marks of injury, Ichinojo practices with his tsukebito, Minatoryu. And what he practices is his fearsome Nodowa:

ichinojo-minatoryu-nodowa

He then moves on to teppo, but take a look at Minatoryu’s throat:

ichinojo-minatoryu-teppo

Wow, that really was a killer nodowa… being Ichinojo’s tsukebito is a bit of a health risk.

Somehow, I don’t think Tochiozan would have chosen this photo as his OKCupid profile pic:

what-me-worry
What, me worry?

Impressive array of bandaging on that left leg.

Tomozuna oyakata takes a selfie with Takakeisho:

takakeisho-selfie-tomozuna

I think Tomozuna oyakata is one of the coolest oyakata around.

Here is one side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. From the NSK official account. And as usual, the dohyo-iri just can’t pass without some antics:

Kaisei is posing for the camera. Tamawashi – who else – messes with his mawashi knot.

Here is a fine shiko match between Chiyonokuni and Abi:

 

abi-chiyonokuni-side-a
Side A

abi-chiyonokuni-side-b
Side B

Konosuke seems to be enjoying the view.

Here is a summary video of the day, including:

  • A variety of keiko – bouts and butsukari
  • Jinku
  • Quite a bit of shokkiri
  • Juryo dohyo-iri
  • Drumming demonstration
  • Jokoryu-Chiyoarashi
  • Gagamaru-Tobizaru
  • Yokozuna rope tying demo (Kakuryu)
  • Meisei-Yago
  • Makuuchi dohyo-iri (and continuation of the Tamawashi and Kaisei saga)
  • Yokozuna dohyo-iri
  • Yoshikaze-Chiyoshoma
  • Okinoumi-Sadanoumi
  • Aoiyama-Hokutofuji
  • Abi-Chiyonokuni
  • Shodai-Endo
  • Takakeisho-Kaisei
  • San-yaku soroi-bumi
  • Tochinoshin-Mitakeumi
  • Takayasu-Goeido
  • Kakuryu-Kisenosato

No Tobizaru, Enho or Wakatakakage today, so your pin-up boy of the day is…

ichinojo-pinup

Ichinojo!

 

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 21 (Oct 25)

The Jungyo is over. All the rikishi are gathered at Kyushu at their respective heya’s lodgings. The banzuke is out, some of the people you saw in the reports wearing a white sekitori’s mawashi have dropped to Makushita. And some of those you saw serving sekitori are now getting their own tsukebito. But I want to keep posting my Jungyo reports, and complete the journey – unless, of course, you think it’s a waste of bandwidth and sleep. Let me know in the comments!

gyoji-making-signs
Gyoji hard at work preparing signs

🌐 Location: Matsuyama, Ehime
🚫 Scandal level: 0

We have a lot of video action today. But first, take a look at Umizaru (“Sea Monkey”):

umizaru

He is from Miyagino beya, and serves as Enho’s tsukebito for this Jungyo (Enho’s regular tsukebito are Takemaru and Kenyu, but Umizaru is a native of Kyoto, one of this Jungyo’s locations, so he was assigned temporarily).

Umizaru’s main claim to fame is the gag that has been doing the rounds in the sumo world: he is said to be the third brother to Hidenoumi and Tobizaru, and thus his Shikona is a melding of theirs.

Even I fell for this story – mostly because Tobizaru is always happy to endorse it. In fact, it fooled even Abema TV, who put that little piece of fake news on their trivia blurb on Hidenoumi. Hidenoumi wasn’t impressed.

It’s a lie. The Iwasaki brothers – Hidenoumi and Tobizaru – come from Tokyo, and Umizaru, as we know, from Kyoto.

But don’t you think his eyes look a bit like Tobizaru’s?

Anyway, on to the action of the day:

On the side lines, Nishikigi uses Yutakayama for a teppo pole:

Yutakayama has really been abused this Jungyo. He should consider some breastplates.

Mitakeumi is having a mock bout with Enho in the hana-michi.

On the dohyo, Endo vs. Shohozan:

Ryuden surprises Kisenosato:

He’ll have a chance to try that in honbasho soon…

Fast forward to the Juryo bouts, and we have Enho vs. Gokushindo.

Whoa. Enho is trying to channel Tochinoshin.

Gagamaru is goofing around excessively. He interferes with Rikishi going down the hana-michi. He leans on Tobizaru – waiting to give him his water – as he goes up the dohyo, and then instead of throwing the salt on the dohyo, throws it at Tobizaru. Also does a tachiai in jikan-mae. Then he has this exchange with his opponent, Wakatakakage:

“How dare you win! I was supposed to win that. Why, you…”

:-)

Time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Where are Nishikigi’s glasses?

Aha! Kesho-mawashi are convenient like that. Though interestingly he doesn’t do the same when he participates in the yokozuna dohyo-iri. Probably squatting puts some strain on the frame.

Now take a look at Mitakeumi and Tamawashi throughout this video.

First Mitakeumi kisses Tamawashi’s back, no less. Then proceeds to caress it, then gets down to Tamawashi’s tush. At some point Tamawashi warns him off, but he still messes with the Eagle’s mawashi knot, and so on, and so forth.

Nishikigi awaits his turn, and… stretches?

No, he doesn’t. It’s a Nishikigi sock puppet. Somebody is operating him from behind!

And as he comes back from his bout, fans ask for attention. Signs the first one an autograph. Waves to the second. Signs for the third… and only then he gets his glasses back.

That is, he did all of the above without actually seeing anything.

Myogiryu shows why he is at the top of the new banzuke:

Poor Shohozan…

Endo once again matches Abi’s shiko:

endo-matches-abi-shiko

And here is the bout itself:

Once again, Abi is doing Mawashi sumo, although I feel like diving through my screen, going through the Intertubes, and getting to that dohyo only to shout at Abi to get his freaking ass down. It looks like he is trying to keep it as high as possible. Why?

Shodai vs. Asanoyama:

Shodai drops on top of Onosho. Helps him up – but still gets slapped on the tush on his way back up. Yeah, things you won’t see in honbasho.

Here is the san-yaku soroi-bumi:

And a rather entertaining bout between Mitakeumi and Tochinoshin:

Signing off with both Tobizaru and Enho together:

tobizaru-enho

Tobizaru: “Have you seen? Somebody at Tachiai decided to make me a pin-up boy!”

Enho: “You? Hahahahaha… that’s rich…”

Tobizaru: “Hey!”