Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 6 and 7

Let’s proceed with the past two days, which were full of events in the lower divisions. You have already seen Ura and Wakaichiro. Here are some others.

happy-terutsuyoshi
Four men are leading Juryo. This is one of them. (Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Midorifuji, his tsukebito for this basho)

Day 6

Tsukahara has won the Jonokuchi and the Jonidan yusho when he started out in Hatsu 2018 (Mae-zumo in 2017). But he got a little stuck in his next two basho. He is going for the Sandanme Yusho this time. In this bout he faces Seigo from Shikoroyama beya:

He also had a bout on day 7, and is currently 4-0.

Now we turn to the princes. First, the Duke of Tatsunami, Hoshoryu. Here facing Sasakiyama. At this point both are 2-0. Note that the torikumi committee regularly matches people with the same record – this helps separate the wheat from the chaff quickly and efficiently.

Sasakiyama returned after a long kyujo and went 6-1 in Jonidan and 7-0 in Sandanme (Jun-Yusho, with Kagamio winning the yusho).

Sasakiyama is not happy. But at least that kotenage left him in one piece.

The next is the Prince of Otake, scion of Taiho (and Takatoriki). He is already 1-1 at this point, and faces Sakigake with the same score.

Bad mistake there, and he finds himself facing outwards, and is respectfully led out. Serious setback, two losses in a row for a man with so many hopes pinned on him. If he doesn’t get a kachi-koshi, it’s back to Sandanme, as he is at the very bottom of Makushita.

I am not going to go through the entire Juryo, but I want you to watch two special bouts. The first is a mixed bout. Toyonoshima in Makushita is scheduled for a Juryo match. So he gets to wear an oicho-mage and throw some salt, which he hasn’t done for a while. It’s a bit unusual to be scheduled for the fourth time in six days, but hey, if he wants to be a sekitori, he has to be able to wrestle every day, right?

He is matched with Jokoryu – a former Sekiwake against a former komusubi. One striving to return to sekitori status, one just now having achieved that.

Since Toyonoshima is at Makushita #1, if he wins this bout, he is kachi-koshi and virtually ensures his return to Juryo for Kyushu.

With both falling about the same time, there is, of course a monoii. And a torinaoshi. Toyonoshima is full of fire. The second time around ends in a hearty uwatenage. Toyonoshima returns to Juryo.

toyonoshima-crying
After two years, Toyonoshima will finally be able to provide for his family

The next interesting day 6 bout is not quite as emotional, but still brilliant. Enho – who else – meets Tokushoryu.

Enho goes for the Hakuho slap-and-grab. The grab doesn’t quite work, but Enho is unfazed. He finds Tokushoryu’s mae-mitsu, and at the same time secures a hold on Tokushoryu’s mawashi knot. The kimarite is shitatenage. But if you look at the replays, you’ll see that enho actually throws him with both arms – he needs a lot of leverage on that hefty guy. With this, Enho is level again, 3-3. His game is much improved over his first Juryo visit.

Oh, and there was something very odd going on in the Day 6 Juryo dohyo-iri. Take a look:

Three wrestlers are missing from the dohyo-iri, and come running in just in time to delay Aminishiki, who looks rather outraged. Perhaps because one of the delinquents is his own ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined at a later date) – Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Tsurugisho and Daishoho. I’m pretty sure Aminishiki had a little talk with Terutsuyoshi after that.

The gyoji-announcer, however, smoothly adds the names of the three late joiners without pause.

Interestingly, despite being late for the dohyo-iri, Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (Midorifuji, in the top picture) seems to have retained all of his teeth. I guess there are ways of dealing with one’s own tardiness without spilling the blood of one’s subordinates.

(Yeah, I am referring to the Bakayoshitoshi incident).

Anyway, here is the day 6 full Juryo digest for your pleasure:

Day 7

Jonokuchi

How can we pass up a Hattorizakura bout? Here vs. Kogitora:

In the previous basho it seemed that Hattorizakura has made a step forward, and started working on his staying power. Alas, this basho none of that seems to have remained. His stablemaster promised him a new shikona should he make kachi-koshi. I guess he likes “Hattorizakura”.

Let’s look at another Jonokuchi bout for a change. Here is one of the new recruits for Naruto beya, Oju, vs. Toya. Oju’s first basho in Jonokuchi has been a disaster, but take a look at this bout:

Oju looks pretty drained after the bout, but still goes over to try and help his opponent up (which Toya refuses). So he is a nice guy. But besides that, it was a good bout, and he kept his stance lower than his opponent and used his opening. He is now 2-2.

Jonidan

Tsushida, who was the Jonokuchi yusho winner in Nagoya, suffered a setback on day 6. So probably no Jonidan yusho. But can he come back? Here he is faced with Sakabayashi. Again, the torikumi masters match wrestlers with the same score:

So maybe no yusho, but Tsushida is still going strong.

Now, on day 1 I said Satonofuji looked tired and spent, and speculated that he may retire soon. But in fact he is having a lovely basho. And, oh, feast your eyes on this bout vs. Chiyotaiko:

In my opinion, that tachiai should have been a matta. But it wasn’t called, and Satonofuji finds himself in an awkward position. But if you think that the 41-years-old Isegahama man just accidentally came up with a clever kimarite, think again. This Izori is his 15th. The man has 36 distinct kimarite under his belt.

Sandanme

I still follow Torakio, but the man is starting to have a really disastrous basho, despite not being seriously injured this time. Take a look at this match vs. Yokoe. Both 1-2 coming into this match:

A lot of effort, but the Musashigawa man manages to unbalance the Bulgarian and Torakio is 1-3, very close to a make-koshi, and it’s not nakabi, yet!

Makushita

At the bottom, the struggling Naya meets Shosei. Both 1-2 coming into the match. Shosei is a veteran and Makushita regular.

Naya recovers from his two losses and is now 2-2.

Now here is a familiar face we haven’t seen in a while. Yet another one trying to make a return to sekitori status, Chiyootori. Here he faces Koba from Kise beya, both 2-1 coming into this match.

Despite that huge brace on his leg, Chiyootori seems full of genki. Bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce until the tachiai, and a yorikiri soon after. Chiyootori is now 3-1, and at Makushita 25, still has a way to go before he can start throwing salt again.

Finally, here is Sokokurai, who wants the yusho very badly, facing Gokushindo, who wants it quite as much (and there are other people in Makushita aiming for it):

This kind of bout is the reason why they invented tsuppari. Guys, stop circling around and tring to find an opening that doesn’t exist. Show some initiative. Sokokurai is very careful, tries not to expose himself in any way. This could go on forever, but Sokokurai makes the first mistake and loses his chance of a yusho.

Juryo

 

  • Chiyonoumi is having a real hard time this basho. His tsuppari attack is effective at first, but still, Hakuyozan is bigger and not easily moved by mere thrusts, and it’s the Kokonoe man who finds himself outside.
  • Akua with his back to the wall. His bouts in the past few days are very fierce, even desparate. Tokushoryu is the winner and Akua is 2-5.
  • Mitoryu started the basho strong, but weakened a bit as the days passed. Azumaryu wants to find his way back up.
  • Jokoryu manages to turn Tobizaru around, but the monkey somehow gets back around and they both fall outside. There is a monoii, but the decision holds – Jokoryu “nokotteori” – he still has a leg inside.
  • Enho tries to get inside, doesn’t find a way, but Seiro – back from kyujo – can’t unbalance the little pixie. Eventually, Enho achieves a straight oshi-dashi. This is the first time he manages two consecutive wins in Juryo.
  • Gagamaru lifts Tsurugisho easily over the bales.
  • Takekaze slams into Shimanoumi, but that doesn’t seem to impress his opponent much. He is soon sent out.
  • Terutsuyoshi – half henka, gets inside Hidenoumi’s belly, and sends him out. 5-2 for the Isegahama pixie.
  • Wakatakakage suffers a serious weight disadvantage in his bout with Takagenji. That was one fierce oshidashi.
  • Kotoeko requires some time before he succeeds in forcing Chiyonoo out.
  • Nice battle between Yago and Daishoho, which goes back and forth between the two. Daishoho tries a hatakikomi, but is driven out before Yago finds himself on his knees.
  • Akiseyama once again switches mawashi color to stop his losing streak. Alas, this time it doesn’t work. Meisei somehow manages to keep in the black, while Akiseyama is 1-6.
  • Kyokushuho doesn’t leave any opening for Uncle Sumo’s wiles. Aminishiki flies to the fourth row before the fans finish their first “Aminishiki” shout. Two consecutive losses for the Isegahama veteran, and he is now 4-3.
  • Finally, once again, Arawashi grabs the mawashi and throws at the edge. Daiamami is down before Arawashi’s legs leave ground.

Juryo is crazy this basho. It seems the level is very very even. No one is 7-0. No one is even 6-1. And there are four men with 5-2:

  1. J4E Daiamami
  2. J8W Terutsuyoshi
  3. J11E Tokushoryu
  4. J13E Azumaryu

If Terutsuyoshi, the pixie with the sodium fixation, who only secured his kachi-koshi in the previos basho in the last day, is in the Yusho arasoi in this one, then as far as Juryo is concerned, we are in a Wacky Aki.

Day 5 – Bouts from the lower divisions

toyonoshima
Toyonoshima – one win away from reclaiming his silk mawashi

Jonokuchi

Hattorizakura had yet another bout today, against Shishimaru. How did he do?

I recall that in the past, one of the members of the Tachiai team wondered if people were given instructions to be gentle with poor Hattorizakura before their bouts. Well, if so, Shishimaru didn’t get the memo. Applying a nodowa to Hattorizakura? Oh, the humanity!

Chiyotaiyo also had his third bout today, vs. Onagaya:

(Bonus bout: Shachinofuji vs. Tanaka)

This time, our string bean wasn’t as successful as in his first two matches. Nevertheless, it was a good effort, with a good belt grip and two attempts to throw his bigger rival. I think his Tachiai wasn’t as good as yesterday’s, though.

Jonidan

Here we have the oldest rikishi in the sumo world, 48 years old Hanakaze, facing the 33 years younger toddler, Wakamatsunaga. Hanakaze entered the sumo world at about the same time I entered university. That was when Chiyonofuji was at the height of his career, and Kitanoumi was not yet a Yokozuna. This was a long, long time ago.

Well, he can still do sumo, even if he can’t lift his leg for a decent shiko.

Sandanme

I have to bow before the penetrating analysis Bakanofuji delivered of Torakio’s sumo in the previous installment. Here he is, hurting himself again:

Out of curiousity, I decided to watch the bout of his stablemate, Sumidagawa, who has advanced to Sandanme in this basho. Take a look at his bout with Kotomyozan:

It seems that – although he wins this bout – he suffers from some of the same weak points that Bakanofuji mentioned w.r.t. Torakio: bending at the waist instead of the knees. Having an ineffective Tachiai. Which now raises the question: could it be Kotooshu’s fault?

Makushita

Wakamotoharu, of the Onami brother, faced Ryuko today:

Tomisakae, the bouncy Isegahama man, continues to do well:

Tomisakae seems to have some bunny genes. His interpretation of gaburi-yori is a hop-hop-hop forward. He is now 3-0.

Sokokurai continues his careful sumo in an attempt to extend his number of wins as much as possible and get his sekitori status back quickly. Here he is matched with Kagamio.

Kagamio is the Sandanme Yusho winner from the previous basho. This come-from-behind win for Sokokurai seems to piss him off tremendously. He goes off the dohyo without a bow. When called back, he makes the most cursory of nods. The previous time those two met was in Makuuchi, by the way, in hatsu 2015.

Here is Nakazono vs. Gokushindo:

Gokushindo has a really nice, balanced stance.

Finally, the bout that made it to Kintamayama’s video today: Toyonoshima vs. Tomokaze (here from the opposite angle):

Toyonoshima is now just one win away from regaining his akeni, kesho mawashi and shimekomi. And the ability to provide for his family. Although only sekitori are allowed to get married, nobody forces them to divorce when they fall to the lower divisions. However, it’s quite a difficult situation, when you do not receive a salary, and are techically not allowed to live outside the heya.

Juryo

Here is today’s Juryo digest:

  • Enho can’t seem to win in the day after a henka. Akua is really fighting for his life there. It’s not clear from this angle, but at some point in the bout – which started off pretty much the way Enho wants it to – Akua has his head in a vice, and he struggles and frees it. But this of course disrupts the entire attack, and he gets thrown unceremoniously  to one side.
  • Azumaryu is the bee’s knees this basho. Gagamaru seems on his way either to Makushita or retirement. He is past his due date.
  • Tokushoryu’s victory over Mitoryu eliminates the last Juryo man with a clean winning record. No zensho-yusho this basho.
  • Tobizaru continues his bounce back. Alas, at the expense of my Chiyonoumi, who will have to work hard to secure a kachi-koshi this basho.
  • Terutsuyoshi back to winning after two losses. Straight sumo, no fancy stuff.
  • That seemed to have been quite a mistake on Takekaze’s part. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t call it an Isamiashi or something.
  • Wakatakakage with a second loss in a row.
  • Kotoeko, just back from Makuuchi, is having a miserable basho. He will drop further down, I predict.
  • Yago goes for a belt fight with a Mongolian. And wins.
  • What a bout by Aminishiki! First he starts with a hearty tsuki-oshi. Then switches to the belt. Attempts a trip, perseveres against Akiseyama’s defenses, and eventually Yori-kiris him.

 

Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 3 and 4

Yesterday all my YouTube sources dried up all of a sudden, so I decided to collect the little material that I had from two days. This doesn’t matter much in the divisions below Juryo, as mostly the wrestlers have bouts on alternating days. But it does mean that I’ll have to concentrate on today’s Juryo rather than yesterday’s.

enho-hassotobi
Behold, a flying pixie

Day 3

What I have from day 3 are mostly Makushita bouts from the top of the division.

Here is the hottest thing in Isegahama, the back-flipping Tomisakae, vs. Wakamotoharu – that’s Wakatakakage’s slightly older brother (the oldest is Wakatakamoto).

After a matta, Tomisakae drives straight forward and quickly dispatches of the Arashio man. Note that he is then called over by the one of the shimpan and scolded for something. I’m not sure what that would be. Maybe that little jump of glee at the end?

Then we have Sokokurai, who means business. And in this case, it’s a very long business transaction:

Sokokurai has Tokushinho in a morozashi, but Tokushinho is bigger than Sokokurai and gets a soto-yotsu (both hands outside) grip. First he only gets the outer layer of Sokokurai’s mawashi, but then manages to get a hold of the lower layer with his right hand. Sokokurai releases one hand and tries a throw, but it doesn’t work. Tokushino starts forward, but Sokokurai rallies and reasserts his morozashi. Tokushinho, however, starts marching forward again, and Sokokurai is running out of stamina. But he is not the only one. Eventually a little shift and Tokushinho drops to the floor. It’s called a shitatenage, but it was more like an underarm release than an underarm throw.

Here is Tomokaze, facing another rather hot name, Irodori:

Irodori starts the attack, but then Tomokaze changes the direction and puts Iridori between himself and the closest line of bales, where he goes ahead and pushes him. Tomokaze is 2-0 at the moment.

Finally, we have Toyonoshima vs. Toyohibiki:

Those two go back a long way. Most of their past 14 meetings were in Makuuchi.

Toyohibiki goes for the attack, but Toyonoshima does a little dance around and reverses the fates. The ancient one is now 2-0.

Here is the Juryo digest for day three, for those who do not want to miss a single bout, but I am leaving it uncommented:

Day 4

We start the action in Day 4 with two Jonokuchi bouts. First, we cannot do without Hattorizakura.

Here he meets Takanoryu again. Takanoryu has only ever beaten two other rikishi. One of them twice before. Can you guess who that is?

Hattorizakura tries to stick it on the bales, but his heel goes lower and lower and eventually the shimpan signals to the gyoji that the bout is actually over.

Next up is a bout with a little more talent. It’s my favorite stick insect, the underfed Chiyotaiyo, vs. Hayasaka:

(Extra bout – Akatsuki vs. Kyonosato)

Chiyotaiyo seems to be very popular – gets a lot of calls from the spectators. He launches himself at Hayasaka, grabs an arm, and wins by tottari. My guess is that this time he is not staying in Jonokuchi. 2-0 for the Kokonoe string bean. Feed him, Chiyotaikai!

Up we go to Jonidan, where we have a bout between Tsushida – the Jonokuchi yusho winner from Nagoya, and an expected contender for the Jonidan yusho in Aki – facing the now famous Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito, and current yumi-tori performer.

34 years old Kasugaryu is certainly giving Tsushida a run for his money. Nice legwork, and it’s amazing how he manages to survive most of this bout on one foot. But eventually this causes him be turned around and Tsushida shows him the lovely view at the bottom of the dohyo.

Moving up to Sandanme, we have Torakio meeting Matsuda.

Now, this looks completely different than Torakio’s first bout. So I suppose that one should be attributed to ring rust? We’ll see over the coming 10 days. He patiently works his way to Matsuda’s mawashi, and then picks him and leads him to the edge. That really looked like mature sumo.

Now, we move up to Makushita. And we concentrate on its lower part this time. First, what is Naya up to? Here is his bout with Hitachigo:

He suffers a similar kind of setback to that suffered by Ura in his second bout. Now he has virtually lost his chance of a Yusho (well, there have been yusho which were won with 6-1 in Makushita, but it’s relatively rare). No yusho means no shortcuts up the banzuke. If Hoshoryu manages a 7-0, let alone a yusho, he will leave Taiho’s grandson way behind him.

Speaking of Hoshoryu, here is his bout vs. Sadanosato:

Hoshoryu’s style is usually going for the mawashi and attempting a throw – a typical style for Mongolians (Tamawashi a well-known exception). But in this particular bout he chooses to switch to tsuki-oshi. It’s not really forced on him by his opponent. This is a surprising flexibility from someone not yet 20.

OK, we now move up to Juryo, and here is your digest for the day:

Due to Seiro’s kyujo, a rikishi from Makushita is called up to do a Juryo torikumi. It’s the yo-yo, Kizenryu, facing Akua in his retina-damaging shimekomi. This turns out to be a protracted battle, in which both sides are doing their best to deny access to their mawashi. But Akua is again left winless, with nothing to show for his great effort. He is probably going back to Makushita yet again.

Now, if you have watched Kintamayama today, you will have seen that Enho’s bout with Gagamaru came after two very strange mattas. Enho explains:

“I was seriously scared. When we had the matta, my opponent’s face went boiling red. Well, his head was very low, so it was clear that I should go to the right. That was so strong on my mind that before I knew it I found myself flying. It’s the first time in my life I have flown”.

Personally, I was not too enthusiastic about that Hassotobi, having seen its sister being performed over and over again in the Jungyo by Enho’s stablemate, Ishiura. It’s not good sumo and I’m sure Hakuho is not going to proudly tweet about it. But the spectators at the Kokugikan loved it, and Enho made it to the kanto-seishin (the crowd fighting-spirit favorites list). What is he going to do when he gets to Makuuchi and has to face the likes of Chiyomaru, Chiyotairyu and Kaisei?

  • Azumaryu suffers his first loss with some serious pressure from Tokushoryu.
  • Chiyonoumi started his comeback after his first loss yesterday. Today he faced Jokoryu (who is the first one I see daring to wear a brown mawashi), and aims some massive thrusts at him. Go, go, Kochi-man.
  • Tobizaru is also on the mend from his disastrous first two days. He changed his shimekomi, by the way, to something that looks like banana-milk or Badam-milk color.
  • Mitoryu faces Shimanoumi. Some fierce nodowa and Shimanoumi is pushed away. Mitoryu continues to dominate with 4-0.
  • Terutsuyoshi, however, had excellent first two days, but has now followed them with two consecutive losses. This time he doesn’t manage to keep his grip as he did in the first day.
  • Wakatakakage suffers his first loss at the hands of the rebounding Tsurugisho.
  • Takekaze is doing the push-me-pull-you, and ends up luckily inside the ring.
  • The Hidenoumi-Takagenji bout seemed pretty simultaneous to me. I expected a torinaoshi, but it went to Hidenoumi. I’m not complaining, mind you.
  • The Kyokushuho-Meisei bout was fine, but I don’t really get how Meisei made it into the kanto-seishin list.
  • Yago made the same mistake twice in the same bout. In both cases he tried to pull and failed. He is much better moving forward. He loses too much ground when pulling.
  • Akiseyama secures a grip and tries to trip the tripper, Arawashi. He also tries to lift him and take him aside. Arawashi shows what he is made of – and keeps his balance perfectly. The way he uses his feet to change his center of gravity is superb.
  • Aminishiki’s bout was a very short version of “Crime and Punishment”. Daishoho saw his henka and raised him a hatakikomi.

That’s it for day 4. By now, day 5 action has already started in the lower divisions. Hope you enjoyed this collection!

Natsu Day 11 Highlights

Tochinoshin-salt

Day 11 presented no surprises, but had some solid sumo for fans to enjoy. Thankfully Hokutofuji is kyujo, and hopefully any injury to his skull or brain will be addressed before he bouts the dohyo again. The Ozeki bid by Tochinoshin is about to enter its final stage. He has 11 wins now, which is numerically sufficient for promotion. But the elevation to sumo’s second highest rank is not simply a numbers game. It revolves around the NSK and to a lesser extent the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee deciding that the performance period in question meets a threshold for promotion.

Tochinoshin’s 11 wins have all be impressive, overpowering wins. He is clearly one of the most genki or possibly THE most genki man in sumo right now. But his 11 wins can be minimized by members of the NSK or YDC citing that they come in a tournament with no Ozeki, and should he fail to defeat either Yokozuna, the raw numbers may be deemed insufficient. Please keep in mind, I don’t get to make this decision, I am not a member of the NSK or the YDC. I am just some guy in Texas who loves sumo.

For myself I think he will beat at least one Yokozuna, and he may end up with the Yusho, which would eliminate all reservation by the NSK and YDC, in my opinion. At the larger scale, sumo needs a more stable Yokozuna / Ozeki corps, and this is how that rebuilding starts. If Tochinoshin can maintain this level of performance, he will make a fine Ozeki, and sumo will be the better for it.

Highlight Matches

Kyokutaisei defeats Gagamaru – Planet Gagamaru was his traditional, lethargic self. He put forth some effort, but he lived up to his current 2-9 tournament score. This match is notable not just because of the gravity waves that disrupted LIGO observations of colliding black holes as the shitatenage took him to the clay, but Shin-Maegashira Kyokutaisei scored his kachi-koshi, and will be in Makuuchi for Nagoya.

Arawashi defeats Takekaze – Both rikishi put a bunch of effort into this. Both are at the make-koshi line now, and for Takekaze, there is a real desire to not be considered for Juryo in July. The saving grace is that there is not a huge cadre of Juryo men who are beating down the door to Makuuchi.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Myogiryu gets his kachi-koshi, and it really looks like Chiyonokuni may have decided to coast to the finish this time. I can understand why. He is at a good rank, and he may not be genki enough for a full cruise through the joi. He’s done that a few times and he ends up getting pounded. His sumo is improving, but I am going to guess he wants to hit around Maegashira 6 or so for Nagoya. This will let him figure out if he has advanced enough to possibly accomplish anything in joi.

Nishikigi fusensho over Hokutofuji – With humble gratitude to the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, Hokutofuji is kyujo for now, hopefully getting that head scanned and any sort of medical treatment needed. As a result, the man who never gives up, Niskikigi, gets his kachi-koshi at the very bottom of the banzuke, and will be Makuuchi for Nagoya. He really has put forth a lot of effort to hold on by his fingertips, and it’s great to see it pay off.

Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – As expected, this was a fascinating match to watch. From the tachiai, Takarafuji is working to get control of Takakeisho, with Takakeisho constantly moving about and landing blows. If you have a chance to watch this on replay or YouTube, watch their feet! For whatever reason, I think a rikishi’s feet say more about what they are doing than their arms or heads. Takarafuji keeps being forced to give up his defensive footing and retreat. As soon as he is moving backwards, Takakeisho matches the timing of his steps to land thrusts when his feet are not planted. This just accelerates Takarafuji’s movement. When Takakeisho makes a mistake and pushes too high (as opposed to center mass of the chest), Takarafuji deftly moves inside and rushes forward. Takakeisho is not even slightly phased by this, and sets up a finishing move at the tawara. A ballerina pirouette later and Takakeisho’s won! Great great sumo from these two!

Ikioi defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru launches into the tachiai with gusto, and it puts Ikioi into a defensive mode straight away. Ikioi circles away and breaks contact, then attacks. Again, watch Daishomaru’s feet at the moment Ikioi starts to press his offense. His feet are not set, his balance is not over his hips. Ikioi exploits this and rushes forward for the win. Ikioi with a well deserved kachi-koshi.

Yutakayama defeats Ryuden – Both are make-koshi, and possibly deeply so by the end of Natsu. But you would never know it looking at these two members of the Freshman team go at it with vigor. If you like yoritaoshi wins, do watch this one.

Shohozan defeats Abi – As pointed out in last night’s preview, Abi tends to get his arms up and stop his opponents tachiai. Today Shohozan countered that with pure speed. Robbed of his disruptive opening move, Abi did not have time to reset, and Shohozan attacked like a hangry bison in a fresh alfalfa field.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Looks like Endo’s return may not have been a good tactical move. Tamawashi uses his face for a slapping target. As we learn in the Marines, you can have a great battle plan, but as soon as someone is punching you in the head, it’s tough to keep on plan. Endo make-koshi now.

Ichinojo defeats Chiyotairyu – Not one, but TWO loud belly blasts from these two men of girth. After the second one, it seems that Chiyotairyu’s sideburns were bereft of their power inducing kami, and Ichinojo more or less walked him out.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoshogiku – I think the scheduling team moved Tochinoshin’s match with Hakuho up to day 12, because they wanted a chance to have a 3 way yusho battle set up for the final weekend of the basho. Points to Kotoshogiku for giving him a good fight, but Kotoshogiku got off balance, and Tochinoshin did not let that opportunity escape. I truly hope Kotoshogiku can get his kachi-koshi.

Hakuho defeats Shodai – About as minimal as a match could get, Shodai offered no resistance to speak of.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – There we go! That’s Kakuryu sumo to be certain. Mitakeumi gave him an excellent match, and it was touch and go for most of it. But as has been typical for Kakuryu, he likes to win in the last 3″ of the dohyo. Why rikishi don’t ease up as they get him close to the tawara is beyond me, as Kakuryu loves to use the tawara.

Natsu Day 11 Preview

Tochinoshin Raids The Vending Machine

Ready or not, here comes act 3! This is where we sort the winners from losers, and hand some hard-working rikishi the Emperor’s cup. Right now the cup is Tochinoshin’s to lose, and the only way this is competitive is if someone gets dirt on the undefeated man on an Ozeki run. That Ozeki run is looking more likely from a numbers standpoint. The only question so far is the “quality” of the wins.

Some fans and readers have very passionate positions on this, so I will mention up front that I am an armchair sumo fan living in Texas. I am not a member of the YDC, I don’t look like Colonel Sanders, and I have never been a holder of elder stock in the NSK. So my opinions count for exactly ZERO in the sumo world.

As I mentioned in the podcast, there is a means by which Tochinoshin might reach double digits, but be declared “not quite there yet” in terms of Ozeki. It all comes down to who he beats. He has yet to face any Ozeki this tournament (sorry, fresh out) or any Yokozuna (they are on the plan). But a shiroboshi from either of them would likely remove that as a possible criticism. Of course a yusho win would assure promotion.

I would also point out that to this date, Tochinoshin has never beaten Yokozuna Hakuho. Were he to accomplish that (and Tochinoshin is looking mighty genki right now), it would mark a turning point in both men’s careers, in my humble opinion. Tochinoshin is also 2-21 vs Yokozuna Kakuryu. One of those wins came last tournament, and was Kakuryu’s only loss. Clearly Tochinoshin as a big wall to climb, but I think at this point, he is at peak performance and more than ready to challenge the top men in the sport.

Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Tochinoshin
Chasers – Kakuryu, Hakuho
HunterChiyonokuni

5 Matches Remain.

What We Are Watching Day 11

Gagamaru vs Kyokutaisei – Planet Gagamaru orbits into Makuuchi for a day. He is already make-koshi so this match may just be some kind of battle-reunion for Kyokutaisei, who needs one more win for a kachi-koshi. Kyokutaisei holds a 4-2 career lead.

Nishikigi vs Hokutofuji – Honestly, what the hell sumo world. Hokutofuji is hopefully going to get completely checked out by a neuro-medicine specialist and cleared for combat before he returns to the dohyo. If the sumo world thought there was trouble with a medical incident on the dohyo during jungyo, let there be some poor fellow have a stroke, a seizure, and aneurism or even convulse and die right there on the dohyo. No amount of salt will purify it again. I want to see Nishikigi go kachi-koshi by fusensho, thanks.

Sadanoumi vs Kagayaki – Both men still within reach of a winning record for Natsu, both of them fairly evenly matched. Sadanoumi looked very good in his day 10 match against Arawashi, and Kagayaki looks like he might be losing focus / running out of steam. They are 4-3 career, with a slight edge to Sadanoumi.

Yoshikaze vs Tochiozan – Both of these storied veterans have seen better days, both come in in some state of disrepair. Both of them 5-5, both of them wanting to secure a winning record. For some fans, it’s kind of a tough match to watch. We hate to see our heroes fade.

Takakeisho vs Takarafuji – Takakeisho is starting to look a bit better as the tournament goes forward, and it’s a great time to pair him up against Takarafuji. Takarafuji is very careful, forceful and under control. Takakeisho, when he is on his sumo, is a rippling vortex of conflicting force vectors, most of which he is going to transmit through your body. I am eager to see what he does with the very stable Takarafuji. Takakeisho won both their prior matches, but Takakeisho is not quite up to full power.

Daishomaru vs Ikioi – Winner gets kachi-koshi. Ikioi has had a bit of a rough ride with Mitakeumi on day 10, but I think he is a good match for Daishomaru right now. Ikioi still seems to be very stiff, in pain and moving with difficulty every match.

Shohozan vs Abi – Shohozan has a pair of massive arms. But note they are actually a bit short. Abi on the other hand has shown just how useful his near cartoon like reach can be. This is underscored that Shohozan has yet to win a match from Abi. It’s just possible that Abi might go kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2, which would mean a second basho in the job for Abi, and frankly would further elevate his profile to his growing base of fans around the world.

Tamawashi vs Endo – Loser of this one make-koshi. Tamawashi and Endo are very evenly matched across the board, and this has the potential of being an outstanding bit of sumo. Tamawashi will try to stay mobile, and I would look for Endo to go for a shallow grip straight off the tachiai. He will take a couple of fierce blows to get his grip, but if he can hold, he will control the match.

Chiyotairyu vs Ichinojo – Day 10 saw Ichinojo once again summon overwhelming strength against Shodai. So much so that he seems to simply push Shodai away like an empty udon bowl that could no longer hold his interest. Chiyotairyu likes to win at the tachiai with speed, force and power. Frankly Ichinojo might actually feel that, or he may be focus solely on checking the crowd for wolves. History for the two of them is an even split of 2-2.

Tochinoshin vs Kotoshogiku – Former Ozeki Kotoshogiku, aka the Kyushu Bulldozer, has a lot of frustration to discharge. He faces off against the man who would be Ozeki, who is looking like the strongest, most energetic man in sumo today. Kotoshogiku holds a 24-7 advantage over Tochinoshin, but in the last few tournaments, it’s been Tochinoshin who prevails. Tochinoshin will try to go chest to chest early, and that is just fine with Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku is looking stronger and healthier this tournament than he has in a while, so the hug-n-chug might actually overpower Tochinoshin. We know that Tochinoshin is strong enough to lift Kotoshogiku over his head and twirl him like a button, but Kotoshogiku has a surprising portion of his body weight below his mawashi, making his center of mass difficult to manipulate. This will either be a roaring match of the day, or a complete snooze fest. Double points if Tochinoshin pulls a henka.

Shodai vs Hakuho – Shodai is having a good basho, but Hakuho is getting himself amped up to stop Tochinoshin, and claim his 41st yusho. So Shodai is a bit of a warm up. But just a bit. There is that nagging problem of the one time Shodai beat him, so Hakuho will be on his guard, and hopefully not do anything too exotic just for the fun of it.

Kakuryu vs Mitakeumi – Not really sure what to say here. Kakuryu and his henka on day 10 was a ridiculous surprise, which he beclowned himself. I am sure he has and will catch a lot of grief over that. He is 3-3 against Mitakeumi, who copes well with Kakuryu’s reactive style.