Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Senshuraku

Do not irritate the kaiju

Here we are, at the end of what turned out to be a very interesting basho – and not just in the top division. Princes were dethroned (Hoshoryu and Naya make-koshi), new ones are in the making (one fresh nephew, and one Hakuho replica in maezumo). Let’s see what the last day brought us.

Jonokuchi

The big story in Jonokuchi was, of course, the three-way playoff between members of the same heya, Naruto beya. Marusho, Sakurai and Motobayashi did not allow themselves to be eliminated till the very end.

A three-way playoff (“tomoe ketteisen”) works like this – no matter at what division: two rikishi mount the dohyo, say A and B, and the third, rikishi C, awaits. Suppose A wins. B then descends the dohyo and waits, and C mounts it and takes on A. Should A win again, they yusho is his. if not, C stays on the dohyo, B joins him, and this continues until one of them wins two in a row.

So theoretically, this can go on until the cows come home. In practice, there is seldom symmetry of power, and the strongest one emerges pretty quickly.

Here is today’s three-way playoff. The yobidashi here also happens to be from Naruto beya – yobidashi kenta, who is nicknamed “Maeken” by his heya-mates. We start with Marusho on the right, Sakurai on the left, and Motobayashi waiting.

Well, Sakurai’s and Motobayashi’s university sumo experience tells. Marusho is merely a graduate of a good high-school sumo program. Sakurai wins the first bout, Motobayashi replaces Marusho and beats Sakurai, and then beats Marusho for the yusho. Motobayashi is a graduate of Kinki University, which produced many top-division wrestlers. In his school days he was considered Takakeisho’s rival, but he opted to continue his education when the future Ozeki left school for Takanohana beya.

Jonidan

Though the yusho has already been decided in Jonidan (Tokisakae), there were still rikishi who did not complete the seven matches. First, let’s take a look at long-legged Kitanowaka, the Hakkaku beya charmer, facing Tenei from Takadagawa beya. Both are 4-2, Kitanowaka is on the left.

Ah, we have ourselves a crane operator here. Kitanowaka finishes 5-2, and will get a decent bump up the ranks come Aki.

Next, we keep our watch out for Roman, the crew-cut man from Tatsunami beya. He is coming up against Isamufuji from Isegahama beya, and they are both 5-1. Roman is on the right:

This develops into a kind of dance in which both wrestlers try to keep their opponents from reaching the mawashi or any other hand hold. Eventually Roman catches an arm and pulls. He is now 6-1, and will get an even nicer bump up the ranks.

Finally, one we haven’t covered in these posts, but we all know and love. Well, at least, those of us who have been around before Isegahama beya lost its Yokozuna, and with him, its hold on the yumitori position.

I’m speaking of Satonofuji, of course. He is deeply make-koshi as he comes into this day, with 1-5, facing Shiraseyama from Kise beya with the same miserable result. One wonders why the 42 years old doesn’t call it quits yet. I’m guessing he has a couple of goals, yet. One is probably doing the yumi-tori shiki in Aminishiki’s retirement ceremony. The other may be that he is waiting to braid the last rope for his oyakata – the red one for his 60th birthday, to be used in the “kanreki dohyo-iri” performed by former yokozuna on that occasion.

Be that as it may, he has to go up the dohyo until then and do sumo, and here he is, facing us, while Shiraseyama is with his back to us.

It’s a bit of a slippiotoshi, one has to admit, but at least Satonofuji finishes senshuraku with a sweet taste.

Sandanme

In Sandanme we have yet another playoff, and it, too, is a playoff within the same heya – Asatenmai, the 38 years old from Takasago beya, faces Terasawa, the 24 years old who is just making his first steps in the sumo world. This is just a plain, single-bout playoff. Asatenmai on the right.

Hmm. I get a different atmosphere here than the amicable competition that ruled the Naruto three-way-playoff. Terasawa sends his ani-deshi (big-brother-heya-mate, similar to a sempai) off the dohyo and doesn’t even look back as he makes his way to his own starting point. Bad blood? Low-ranked rikishi operate in a seniority system, where the older ani-deshi boss them around.

In any case, Terasawa wins the Sandanme yusho.

Makushita

We start Makushita with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, having his last bout. His opponent is one we have also been following – Natsu basho’s Sandanme yusho winner, Shiraishi. I have not been happy about Shiraishi’s bouts, mostly because of his henka or half-henka in the first ones. And I’m even less happy about this one, although he makes it pretty clear he is not going for a henka today.

Seriously, what is this? I get that he has some injury in the shoulder and the arm. But what is this? He starts the bout two thirds of the way from the shikiri-sen to the tawara. He tries to keep himself so far away from Terunofuji that his own tsuppari almost doesn’t hit him. This looks more like that Laurel and Hardy Battle of the Century. Shiraishi should be thankful he belongs to Tamanoi beya rather than Futagoyama, or he would have his ass kicked all over Twitter.

Next we have ourselves an Onami – the eldest one, in fact, Wakatakamoto. He faces Tochimaru from Kasugano beya, and they are both comfortably kachi-koshi, 4-2, hoping to increase their fortunes and banzuke chances. Wakatakamoto is on the left:

Alas, the eldest Onami drops this one, and once again fails to catch up with his little brothers.

Going up the Makushita banzuke, we have Seiro facing Kototebakari. Both are kachi-koshi, 4-2, and Seiro get a salary next basho. Kototebakari, again, is trying to win an extra match to improve his own position next basho. Seiro is on the left, Kototebakari on the right.

Seiro makes short work of the Sadogatake man, who usually shows a bit more fighting spirit than that. I guess kachi-koshi will do that to you. Seiro is 5-2, Kototebakari 4-3.

Juryo

At the very bottom of Juryo, we have another Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, making a visit that may open the door for him to return to the salaried ranks. He is 5-1, and at Ms5w, 6-1 can certainly propel him into Juryo. However, he is facing Kotonowaka, who is 7-7, and needs this win to avoid dropping back into Makushita, disappointing his father, and bringing shame to the shikona he inherited from him.

Wakamotoharu on the right, Kotonowaka on the left:

We see glimpses here of the old Kotokamatani, in what looks like a typical top-Makushita brawl more than a Juryo match. Kotonowaka saves himself from demotion. He may not advance much, but he stays in the silk zone, and gets to keep his huuuuge oicho.

I shall finish this report, showing you that Ishiura can still do sumo that’s more easy on the eyes than his frequent henka. The foe is Mitoryu from Nishikido beya, and I think I don’t need to tell you which is which.

Round and round and round you go, Mitoryu. Ishiura will probably get back into Makuuchi, qualifying for Hakuho’s dohyo-iri again. The big question, of course, is whethe Hakuho himself will qualify for it come Aki.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 13

Naruto oyakata, on duty today, with his 7-0 deshi Sakurai

We’re back on track! Today, although there were few “big names” on the torikumi list, there were many important matches. All the yusho deciders in Makushita or below were played today, resulting either in yusho winners, or in playoffs to take place on Senshuraku. We’ll go through these bouts, as well as some of our usual ones of interest.

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Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 7

Kiribayama vs. Akiseyama

We start with a look at the Naruto beya guys down at Jonokuchi. I have three of them today for you, all at 3-0 at the start of the day.

We have seen Marusho yesterday,. Here he is again on the left, facing Shimakaze from Oguruma beya on the right.

Blink and you have missed it. 4-0. Kachi koshi.

We have also met Motobayashi. Here on the left, facing Tomiyutaka from Tokitsukaze beya on the right:

Moving forward like a road roller, Motobayashi is also 4-0 and kachi-koshi.

The third one is Sakurai, attacking from the right this time, vs. Garyu from Futagoyama beya:

I’m guessing the huge brace on the man’s leg at such an early stage in his career is something he brought from home (he is 22 years old), but it’s clear he also brought some sumo skills with him. Again, 4-0 and a kachi-koshi.

In fact, these three and one non-Naruto make up the leading pack of Jonokuchi, with Mishima, their heya mate, having his fourth bout in a few hours, hoping to join them there. Mishima is, in fact, going to wrestle with a 2-1 opponent, as the division ran out of potential 3-0. These guys can’t be matched against each other until the yusho playoffs, so if they keep winning, there is a distinct possibility of a big, fat, four-way playoff between members of the same heya at Jonokuchi. I bet that will draw some press to a normally forgotten division in senshuraku. I’m guessing the torikumi guys will start matching them against Jonidan wrestlers at some point to try to cull that down a bit.

Jonidan

Continuing our watch of Crew-Cut-Roman, here is the trimmed Tatsunami man on the right, facing Kiyota from Dewanoumi beya on the left. Both 3-0:

This time Roman’s skills fell a little short – see what I did there? – and Kiyota is the one stepping away with a kachi-koshi. Kiyota is 15 years old, it’s merely his second ranked tournament. He was a meh 4-3 in the previous tournament, but he actually looks like an interesting wrestler.

Another one we have been following through Jonidan is Kitanowaka, Prince Charming from Hakkaku beya. Here on the left, he faces Tokisakae on the right:

Tokisakae gets the kachi koshi. Kitanowaka suffers his first loss, and will not take the Jonidan yusho. Tokisakae had him in a morozashi he really didn’t know how to solve.

Sandanme

My only contribution from Sandanme today is Tachiai’s favorite Texan, other than Bruce, of course. Wakaichiro on the left is going against Narumi from Onomatsu beya on the right. Both 2-1 before this match.

Alas, though Wakaichiro was in control of most of the match, Narumi turns the tables on him at the end, and the boy from Texas is now 2-2.

Makushita

Shiraishi, the henka man from Tamanoi beya, seems to have suffered some sort of shoulder injury since his last match. He is here on the left, facing Hatooka from Kise beya on the left. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he won the Jonokuchi yusho last Kyushu, followed immediately with the Jonidan yusho this Hatsu.

Hatooka is kachi-koshi, and that injury seems to have been exacerbated in this bout. Ouch. Shiraishi will have to fight for his kachi-koshi through increasing pain.

Next up, Midorifuji, the Isegahama deputy pixie, who is tsukebito to the head pixie Terutsuyoshi. He attacks from the right, and Daishoryu from Oitekaze attacks from the left. This, too, is a 3-0 bout.

Midori does the push-me-pull-you dance, and gets his kachi-koshi. In fact, Terutsuyoshi has three tsukebito – Midorifuji, Hikarifuji and Isamufuji – and all of them won their bouts today, which is a rare event, as it turns out. He said that he felt pressure when he got up to his own match: “Imagine how it would feel if I were to be the only one in the car heading back home who had a loss today?”. He saved himself that humiliation with that, ahem, henka today, and there was much rejoicing in the “Team Terutsuyoshi” car.

Next up, we have two of our objects of attention facing each other today. On the left, we have Akua from Tatsunami beya. On the right, Kototebakari from Sadogatake.

Although Kototebakari opens aggressively, Akua twists around in a way that renders his attack ineffective, and then starts chasing him around. Akua is the one with the kachi-koshi and a leg in the yusho race, and Kototebakari is out.

Juryo

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring you footage of this rare event: Ikioi winning his first match of the basho.

Yes, Ikioi is now 1-6, somehow scraping that win off of Kizakiumi, who may have been still celebrating his win against Hoshoryu of yesterday.

Finally, my new Juryo favorite, who keeps evoking memories of Harumafuji – Kiribayama, Michinoku beya’s Mongolian sekitori. Here on the right, he faces our friend Akiseyama:

This is a nice match, but Kiribayama is in fact 4-3. His hoshitori (win/loss standing, depicted as white and black stars respectively) looks like this:

◦•◦•◦•◦

There is a term for this kind of win-lose-win-lose hoshitori: “Nukenuke”.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 6

Hoshoryu in his first official Oicho-mage

I wanted to start with a video of today’s maezumo. However, I have a personal policy against sharing videos that include serious injuries – ones that require the wrestler to be carried away by others – and unfortunately, today’s maezumo footage included one of those.

Senho, Hakuho’s new small forward uchi-deshi, apparently lost his bout yesterday, so unlike Hokutenkai, he had to do another bout. His opponent was Naruto beya’s humongous new deshi, Konno, and although Senho did not do anything spectacular or dangerous, Konno ended up landing badly on his knee and just stayed there unmoving. A sewanin and a yobidashi had to take him off the dohyo. I hope the reason for this is that he is not yet used to sudden pain, rather than a serious injury at such an early stage of his career, but if not, we may see him do maezumo again next basho or the one after it.

Jonokuchi

Speaking of Naruto beya, you may recall that Naruto had no less than six new deshi in the previous basho (I have to get a photo of the presentation of the new deshi. Kotooshu must have needed to go very deep into his collection of kesho-mawashi to dress up six of them). No less than four of them are in the Jonokuchi yusho race at this moment – which is going to give the torikumi committee a bit of a scheduling headache if they keep winning. Here are two of them. Start with Motobayashi, who is 23 years old. Here he is on the left, with his rival, Kotoyamato from Sadogatake, on the right:

No contest here. Next up is Marusho, who is merely 18, just graduated from high school. On the left, facing Koki from Minato beya.

He was listed as a tsuki-oshi man when he joined, but he went directly for the mawashi in this match.

Both men, as well as their heya mates, Mishima and Sakurai, are now 3-0. Three of them are scheduled against the remaining non-Naruto with 3-0, so there is good chance that Jonokuchi will run out of lossless rikishi who are not from Naruto beya pretty soon – in which case, they are going to be scheduled with lossless rikishi from Jonidan.

Jonidan

Speaking of Jonidan, here is Kitanowaka, the charmer from Hakkaku beya, attacking from the right, matched with Kirizakura from Michinoku beya on the left:

Again, quick dispatch, much to the delight of the young Maiko in the background. By the way, I think Kitanowaka has legs as long as Abi’s. I wonder what uses he will make of them as he advances into the more complicated levels.

Now, the next bout is interesting, and I’m sure you’ll want to rerun it several times. On the left, we have Hakuho’s giant uchi-deshi, Toma. On the right, Wakahiroto from Chiganoura beya, who is, himself, not exactly a pixie. Since Toma currently mostly wins by using the Orora tactic (“be big”), this bout turns out not to be that straightforward for him.

I would have sworn that it was Wakahiroto’s win, but there wasn’t even a monoii. And looking at the video several times, it appears, indeed, that – unless Toma’s left heel is touching the Janome, which we can’t see – he has one foot firmly on the tawara, while Wakahiroto’s feet both detach themselves from the dohyo’s surface. So it’s indeed Toma’s win. By the way, they call it a yoritaoshi as Toma turns to leave, but it was later corrected to an utchari. The one thing to remember, both from this bout and from Onosho’s bout: it’s not about who touches first, it’s about who died first.

Sandanme

Unfortunately, I could not find any footage of Musashikuni today, so all I can do is report to you that the American lost his match with Oginosho. But thankfully, Wakaichiro is very popular, and so, here he is attacking from the right, while Hamadayama from Shibatayama beya is attacking from the left:

Straightforward, good deashi, thrusts from both sides, oshidashi, and Wakaichiro is 2-1.

Makushita

The two elder Onami brothers had bouts today. Let’s start with big brother Wakatakamoto (right), who faces Masutoo (left), Chiganoura’s Hungarian wrestler. Both are 2-0 coming into this game.

Not that this was brilliant sumo, but Masutoo has much confidence lately, which I suppose comes from the enlargement of the heya and some quality practice rivals. His career seems to have taken a change for the better, with 6-1 in the previous basho, and now 3-0.

Next up, we have two Mongolians – Yoshoyama, with whom you should already be familiar from my previous posts, is on the left, and Roga, the wolf from Futagoyama beya, on the right:

Engage, get his grip right, and twist your opponent down. The kimarite is shitatehineri. Roga is now 2-1, while Yoshoyama drops to 1-2.

Next up, Prince Naya, who was much talked of before this basho – getting stronger, coming into his own, etc. Naya is on the right, and Tsukahara on the left, and both are 1-1 as they face each other.

Ah, lack of experience. Naya starts aggressively and commits himself fully, but that opens him to exactly the side step that Tsukahara expertly performs, and the prince goes down to hatakikomi. To the press, he said “My keiko was not sufficient”. I seriously believe being at Otake beya hinders him. Otake oyakata is not Taiho.

Our next Onami brother is middle brother Wakamotoharu, here on the left, setting out against Kaisho from Asakayama beya on the right. Both are 1-1.

Nice yotsu match there. The two lock in, but when Kaisho attempts a makikae (change from an arm out to an arm in), Wakamotoharu makes his move. A makikae is always a risk for losing realestate, and Kaisho lost all of his land. Wakamotoharu himself lands almost in the box seats, but he lands there with 2-1, now even with his big brother.

Juryo

Because of Aminishiki’s kyujo, an extra wrestler is needed in Juryo every day, borrowed from Makushita. When that happens, the wrestler from Makushita gets to wear an oicho-mage for that bout, and today was Hoshoryu’s first appearance in an official oicho-mage. There was much swooning all over the su-jo scene. Hoshoryu, on the left, was to face Kizakiumi, on the right, whose brother, Churanoumi, he defeated yesterday.

Kizakiumi, however, proves to be Hoshoryu’s kryptonite. This didn’t even develop into a real bout, and the young Mongolian found himself unceremoniously dumped over the edge of the dohyo.

Lucky for Hoshoryu, who is now 2-2, with the exception of Seiro, those above him in Makushita seem to be doing worse, especially Daiseido, who is already 0-3, which means that a simple kachi-koshi may well carry him to Juryo in Aki. However, what he will do once he is there is a different question, as both his fights with “real sekitori” ended in him crumpled at the side of the dohyo.

By the way, for the time being there will be no more visits from Makushita to Juryo, as Tochinoshin’s kyujo evens out the number of sekitori. That is, there will be a visit from Juryo to Makuuchi, and an even number of sekitori will remain in Juryo.

In other news, on a scale of 1-10, how predictable would you rate the following match?