Day 6 – It’s not easy being an Ozeki


First, I would have liked to bring you news of Hattorizakura’s first win, but alas, he lost his 70th consecutive bout today. However, this has been one of the best efforts we have seen from the “Inverted Hakuho” so far:

And if you want to see more of Hoshoryu, and how he looks when his rival isn’t Naya, here’s today’s maezumo:

(I have no idea why One And Only calls him Toyoshoryu. Both the yobidashi and the gyoji are pretty clear).

Sumidagawa from Naruto beya is currently the only one in his heya still in zanbara. He is also two losses to one win now:

And alas, Enho is having a worse time than we thought he would have at this level of Makushita:

…and with a rival who can’t seem to be able to bend his knees enough for the tachiai.

enho-has-the-sads
Enho today, doesn’t seem very happy

So, let’s ascend to Makuuchi and check what happened there today.

Just before Asanoyama starts his bout with Ishiura, the announcer wonders aloud “What is Asanoyama going to do about Ishiura’s quick movements?” The answer seems to be “Tsuppari, not let him get inside, and push him out within seconds”.

asanoyama-ishiura
“See there, that’s the tawara. Go to the other side. Thank you.”

If Asanoyama stays 7-0 tomorrow, don’t be surprised to find him matched with Tochinoshin the next day or so.

Nishikigi is not letting go of Makuuchi easily. Daiamami pulls at his nose and attacks, but Nishikigi takes a hold of his right arm and drags him to the edge for a quick kotenage. BTW, the gyoji who announced the torikumi just before the bouts began doesn’t know who Daiamami is, calling him “Oamami” instead (it’s an alternative reading of the same kanji).

Takekaze, on the other hand, seems to be past his swan song. Ryuden gets a grip on him very easily and pushes him out. Oshidashi, and Ryuden now even at 3-3. Takekaze worked very hard pumping iron before the basho – he was the only one in the gym during the New Year’s break – but those muscles are not bringing back his sumo.

Sokokurai is also in dire straits, and may find himself right back in Juryo, with Daieisho pushing him out faster than you can say “ah” (that’s an actual Japanese phrase). Daieisho is, in fact, in the chaser list for the Yusho, with only one loss so far.

Abi gets slapped down in another oshi match with Daishomaru. If Abi could learn yotsu zumo, which is a bit unlikely given his shisho, he may become known as the Yokozuna with the most beautiful dohyo-iri in history. Just sayin’.

Shohozan goes for a slap-fest with Kotoyuki. The latter finds himself rolling down the dohyo. What’s the bowling score for hitting 3 pins, er, spectators?

Kotoyuki may be pissed off because of Shohozan’s harite off the tachiai. In the first days of the basho, nobody was doing that. There was some speculation that this was due to the criticism Hakuho got for this move. Shohozan decided to break the “taboo”, and he is not the last one doing that today.

Chiyomaru vs. Tochiozan. “Ah”… And the Kokonoe man wins.

Chiyonokuni attacks Takarafuji with his trademark barrage of tsuppari. Takarafuji defends and defends, and tries to get an arm inside. He knows why: as soon as his left arm is inside, he pushes Chiyonokuni out like a rag doll. Currently Takarafuji is the only ray of light at Isegahama. 😲

Okinoumi finally looks more like himself against Chiyoshoma. The Kokonoe Mongolian still hasn’t mastered the channeling of Harumafuji as well as he would have liked. He finds himself hugged and with no room for one of his throws, and hurts his ankle in the process. I guess mimicking the Horse means his injuries as well…

Shodai uses an effective tachiai to… Wait, what did I just write? The words “Shodai”, “effective” and “tachiai” are shocked to find themselves together in the same sentence. But so it is. Shodai secures a quick morozashi on Endo and pushes him out. Perhaps his win against Ichinojo was not so much Ichinojo’s fault as I thought it was.

Ikioi seems to be in deep trouble, with only one win to his name so far, with Arawashi converting his attempt at a sukuinage into a beautiful sotogake. Kintamayama says Arawashi has bad knees, and that’s obvious from the mummy-like bandaging, but I suspect Ikioi also has some trouble in that department.

This sums up the low-to-middle maegashira. But the joi bouts is where the excitement is! Let’s move straight on to Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho. Which style will win, Takakeisho’s in-and-out tsuki-oshi, or Tochinoshin’s “Red Incredible Hulk” mode?

Well, Takakeisho got as far as pushing Tochinoshin to one side and trying to send him out. This got Tochinoshin angry. And this Incredible Hulk (a) turns red rather than green when he’s mad, and (b) wraps the puny meatball of a rikishi in front of him with his long arm and shows him how sumo is supposed to be done. Tochinoshin still riding the zensho train!

Mitakeumi doesn’t even bother with any tsuppari, where Hokutofuji may have an advantage over him. He just applies force as if Hokutofuji was giving him a butsukari. Mitakeumi looks like he seriously wants that next rank, and with two Yokozuna missing again – who knows?

And here comes the second harizashi of the day (“slap and grab”). While the first one was just a slap, not a grab, Ichinojo goes for the full monty. What taboo? I want to win, dammit. Tamawashi barely knows which Mongolian mountain hit him before he hits the bottom of the dohyo with his head. I hope he’s alright.

Goeido meets the Yokozuna bane, Yoshikaze, and finds out that he also keeps a side job as an Ozeki bane. This was over so fast Goeido may still be wondering if the bout took place. The Ozeki finds himself, again, out of the yusho race – unless all four leaders drop two more bouts. My guess is that he’ll just concentrate on not going kadoban from now on.

yoshikaze-goeido
Yoshikaze. After a slow start, now a candidate for the Outsanding Performance Award

Takayasu prepared his usual kachiage for Onosho, but the red mawashi would have none of that. Blocking him with his outstretched arm, he started his own attack, and combined with an unfortunate slip, Takayasu joins Goeido in the “Maybe next time” club.

Maybe this is the time to pause and comment that both Takayasu and Kisenosato suffer from “koshi daka”… “high pelvis”, if you please. Meaning that their stance gets too high and unstable. This is a shame, because stability and balance used to be the Tagonoura brothers’ specialty. The combination of two injured rikishi losing their dohyo sense, followed by them mostly practicing with each other, may be the cause for both men’s troubles. This is why there are still some in the NSK who believe that Kisenosato can redeem himself – by curing that koshi-daka. The problem is less pronounced with Takayasu, of course, who is not permanently damaged, has been off the dohyo a shorter time, and has practiced with more people than did the damaged Yokozuna.

Ah, what, did I leave you hanging in the air? Let’s go to the musubi-no-ichiban. And what a bout that was! Kotoshogiku determined to show he is still Ozeki material, grabs Kakuryu right from the start and starts his gaburi attack. The Yokozuna hurriedly dances hither and tither, on the one hand evading the tawara, and on the other, looking for a grip. When he finally finds one, the two stop, assess the situation, and finally Kotoshogiku attacks again. And then, Kakuryu reverses that attack into his own attack and leads the former Ozeki out. He sure was winded when that ended.

tired-kakuryu
Man, this is tiring work

So the Yokozuna maintains his record. Let’s look at the Yokozuna situation at the moment:

yokozunameter-hatsu-2018-day6

So we have one Yokozuna carrying the basho on his shoulders (unpaid), and two Yokozuna undergoing repairs. And I think neither of them will be putting his main effort into the injury that he submitted on his medical certificate. Hakuho will have to figure out a winning tachiai technique or two. Kisenosato, who actually ran out of injuries and had to report his original one (“aggravated by a hit to the chest”) as the reason for his kyujo, will have to work on that koshidaka. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll have to work on a new hairstyle.

Yusho Arasoi

6-0

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M16 Asanoyama

5-1

  • M9 Shohozan
  • M13 Daieisho

Tomorrow the leader list is going to be down one man, as Kakuryu is to face Tochinoshin. Will kakuryu lose a notch in my meter, or will he prevail against the Incredible Hulk? Don’t miss the next episode of Hatsu 2018!

 

Day 5 – New Hopes, Dashed Hopes


So let’s start at the very bottom.

naya-hoshoryu
Naya and Hoshoryu – didn’t look like maezumo

There are mae-zumo bouts in every tournament. They usually pass almost unobserved, with only the sumo database to recall them from oblivion. But this tournament, we have two sublime scions who promise to make sumo interesting 10 years from now.

These are, of course, Taiho’s grandchild, Naya (who also happens to be Takatoriki’s son, but that fact is not paraded on TV and the press as much), and Hoshoryu, formerly known as Byambasuren, Asashoryu’s nephew.

And today, these two were matched against each other.

Hoshoryu is certainly channeling his uncle there when the gunbai points to his rival. Anyway, this looks a lot better than maezumo usually is.

Moving up a little bit, Torakio suffered his first loss today, after two wins.

The technique is not quite there yet.

And unfortunately, my main man Terutsuyoshi also suffered his first loss, in the battle of the former sekitori with Yago:

A valiant attempt at an ipponzeoi there at the end, but Yago had him from the get-go.

Let’s get up to Makuuchi, then. It was my day off today, so I was able to watch some live sumo for the first time. I caught the stream (Abema TV + VPN) right when Kakuryu was finishing his dohyo-iri. I must say I prefer the NHK broadcasts (which I got to watch recorded, never live). Too much stuff on the screen obscures the view, and the “female guests” that they promised only enhance the image of the “stupid broad who doesn’t understand sports and needs to be told basic things”. Bah.

But all this doesn’t make for bad sumo, right? So let’s go through the bouts:

Asanoyama got a Juryo rival today, Kyokutaisei, who was not really a match for the revamped Asanoyama. Yorikiri within the blink of an eye.

Ishiura was impressive in the first three days but now seems to be slumping back. We’ll have to see if he really improved when the sample size grows a bit. Ryuden did not let him do anything, really, and rebalanced his score a bit.

Daiamami, tells us Abema TV, has a pre-bout routine in which he pulls at his nose. Hmm… I prefer Arawashi’s salty mawashi. His bout with Yutakayama starts with some tsuppari, he follows with a nodowa. Yutakayama overcommits as he pushes him forward, but who got out first? Quite a long monoii ensues, and although Yutakayama was already flying out of control, Daiamami touched first, so Yutakayama gets the oshidashi win.

Nishikigi seemed to be in control of the bout, but Daieisho circled, causing Nishikigi to lose balance and winning by hatakikomi.

Abi and Kagayaki are of the same age. Abi just advanced from Juryo, and Kagayaki has more Makuuchi experience and looked strong in the beginning of the basho. He also has a slight height advantage over the Shikoroyama Peter Pan. But all of this list of advantages doesn’t do much for the buxom rikishi, as Abi moves quickly and pulls him down for a hikiotoshi.

Takekaze‘s game plan has been pulling down Daishomaru. Tried once, didn’t work, tried again. Tsukiotoshi and the old man’s first win this basho.

Sokokurai can’t seem to produce whatever magic he produced in Juryo. Kotoyuki pushes him out very easily for a tsukidashi.

Shohozan and Chiyomaru start with a tsuppari barrage, but Shohozan tries to get a mawashi grip. Chiyomaru evades and evades, but eventually Shohozan catches on and pushes him towards the edge. Chiyomaru only manages to stop himself when his toes are already outside. Hikiotoshi.

Now, the Aminishiki vs. Chiyonokuni battle did not look good. First, there’s Uncle Sumo’s sumo. I mean, it isn’t there. He can’t catch a grip on his rivals nape for one of the pull downs he likes, and he can’t get inside for a mawashi grip. But the worst part is that as Chiyonokuni rolls him to the exactly same corner when he ended up yesterday,  Uncle lands badly and hurts his right leg – the one with the snapped ligament and the brace. He had to go to the shitaku-beya leaning on someone’s shoulder. He will make a decision whether to go kyujo or not tomorrow morning.

aminishiki-hurt
Aminishiki. Couldn’t get back on the dohyo for the bow.

Next to Kaisei, Chiyoshoma looks like a teen. However, after he finishes his Harumafuji-like shikiri, they both struggle for a mawashi grip. Chiyoshoma gets a secure shitate grip, and uses it for a shitatenage. Once Kaisei is on the floor, Chiyoshoma gives him a helping hand up. Now that’s the Chiyoshoma I want to see.

Tochiozan doesn’t manage to get any grip on Ikioi, and starts to back away as Ikioi pushes, but then manages to catch at Ikioi’s neck and pull him down for a hatakikomi.

In the battle of the “Ikemen” (manly men), Okinoumi just can’t repeat his success from the previous basho. Endo fights him for the grip, and they end up in a hidari-yotsu, but apparently Endo’s hold is stronger and he pushes relentlessly for the yori-kiri.

Takarafuji, however, is back in the land of white stars. Arawashi doesn’t seem to even pose a problem for him. A harite, a nodowa, and an oshi-dashi. This despite the TV team (Kasugano oyakata commentating) speaking at length about the type of yotsu each of them prefers.

Shodai gets a good grip on Ichinojo, and proves to him that even mountains can be moved. Losing to Shodai, Ichinojo? Ichinojo gets his favorite grip first, but Shodai manages to switch grips without penalty, gets him all the way to the edge, and then dances a bit on the tawara and lets Ichinojo’s momentum do the rest. The Yokozuna must be thinking “Is it that easy?”.

BTW, In the “fun facts” box on Abema TV, they wrote that Ichinojo can sleep on the back of a horse. The TV team – especially Kasugano oyakata – start to crack jokes about the poor horses in Mongolia and Ichinojo’s weight…

What was supposed to be the highlight of the evening, the tadpole battle, ended up with Takakeisho doing the splits within seconds, and Onosho with another easy win.

Mitakeumi and Tamawashi get into a pushing battle. But Mitakeumi is the stronger one of these two, and Tamawashi can do nothing but retreat until he’s out.

Although he lost to Hokutofuji twice already, in addition to one fusen, Takayasu is fearless as he comes to the dohyo today. Takayasu combines a mawashi grip with oshi, and expertly gets Hokutofuji out in an oshidashi. Keeps himself within one loss of the leader group.

Now, Tochinoshin‘s bout with Goeido is one for the history books. Kasugano oyakata at the commentator seat looked like a cat who swallowed a bowl of cream. At first, the two battled for a grip, each denying the other his hold and looking for his own opening. Tochinoshin managed to secure a firm grip, and started pushing Goeido relentlessly towards the tawara. Goeido didn’t go out without a fight, though, and tried a leg trip. Tochinoshin maintained perfect balance, and kept applying his unbelievable force. Goeido joins Takayasu in the “1 behind” group. Great match.

tochinoshin-goeido

Kakuryu keeps sailing from one bout to the next with poise and hinkaku… Chiyotairyu is really no match, as Kakuryu gets a grip on him right off the tachiai and lifts and pushes, lifts and pushes until the Sumo Elvis passes the bales. I was relieved to see that Kakuryu’s attempt at gaburi-yori yesterday vs. Ichinojo (didn’t work, he had to change tactics and move the mountain sideways to win) did not cause him to wake up this morning with his back wrecked again. Keep up the good work, Yokozuna!

And now, to the musubi-no-ichiban. The last bout of the day. Yokozuna Kisenosato vs. Yokozuna bane, Yoshikaze. And the man in the green mawashi was not giving the crippled Yokozuna an inch of slack. Yoshikaze tried a pulldown at first, then got into a morozashi, and dropped him unceremoniously off the dohyo. He went down to offer him a hand up, which Kisenosato rejected. Things are not looking good for the one-year-old Yokozuna.

yokozunameter-hatsu-2018-day5

So Hakuho is out for repairs, Kisenosato has a serious kinboshi leak, and only Kakuryu is in a state of “Need a Yokozuna? I’m right here!”.

Yusho Arasoi

The leader list is now down to four:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M16 Asanoyama

(Asanoyama? “Been there, done that, got the sansho”)

Jungyo Newsreel – December 9th


🌐 Location: Kumamoto, Kumamoto

Today an Ozeki and a Yokozuna started practicing in earnest. Takayasu, who has been practicing mostly with rikishi of Makushita and below, selected Nishikigi for san-ban practice, which consisted of five bouts, all won by Takayasu. He then followed that by naming Tochinoshin as his next opponent.

takayasu-with-tochinoshin

Now, this was a whole different power level, and the san-ban started with 3 consecutive losses for the Ozeki. He rallied and won 3 times, but then he started favoring his damaged leg, and lost the next three bouts.

“Not enough practice. It’s not real sumo yet”, commented the Ozeki. “My leg takes its time recovering, but if I do nothing at all, my entire body will lose its power. I have to work my body back into its normal condition.”

Yokozuna Kakuryu also chose this day to step up his practice, after doing mostly dohyo-side workouts. He – unsurprisingly – picked Shodai as his san-ban opponent. This consisted of 10 bouts, all of which the Yokozuna won.

kakuryu-butsukari-shodai

Kakuryu demonstrated various dashi-nage, yori and sukui-nage techniques in that series of bouts. However, this Jungyo event took place in Kumamoto, which is Shodai’s home territory, and Kakuryu seemed to consider his total dominance over the maegashira to be perhaps unsatisfactory for the fans. So he followed the san-ban with some butsukari.

When interviewed, the Yokozuna talked to the press about the state of his health. He said that favoring his injured foot has over-strained his back, and a few days before the Kyushu basho, after he went to sleep, he could not get up in the morning. “I was agonizing over the decision to go kyujo again”, he said.

He has consulted a specialist, and has taken special care of the affected area. “I have many injuries, but I do not want to give in to them. I want to overcome this. I will overcome this.”

Now let’s turn to the entertainment part of this event. As I told you, Shodai was the man of the day, and was supposed to be the center of attention in the kiddie sumo event. Only… Ikioi decided to steal his thunder.

You know how boring it is to wait in your kesho-mawashi until you are called up to the dohyo to do your dohyo-iri? Well, I don’t suppose any of the readers here has ever worn a kesho-mawashi, so you probably don’t know how boring it is. But Daieisho and Takakeisho found a way to pass the time.

This is called “Teoshi-zumo”. The rules are simple – you can only hit or touch the opponent’s hands. You lose if you move a foot.

Amakaze was in a specially sunny mood today as he waited for his torikumi. He helped the television crews with their work:

And offered “help” undressing:

So, speaking of torikumi, let’s start with a few at Makushita. But first, it appears that Enho and Tobizaru decided to have their own unofficial bout:

They then proceeded each to his own official one. Here is a – rather odd – bout between Terao and Enho:

It’s a bit hard to use tsuppari when your opponent is, like, a meter below you.

Then came the bout between Tobizaru and Akua:

Akua is a patient fellow.

Moving up to Makuuchi, we have the bout of the geriatrics, Aminishiki vs. Takekaze.

I keep fearing that one of Aminishiki’s limbs will simply come off and roll down the dohyo. But he somehow manages to keep them intact, with duct tape and spit.

You can see Shodai’s bout in this video from NHK (as well as some of Kakuryu’s san-ban mentioned above):

Onosho once again tries to win without his red mawashi? Tsk, tsk…

And I’m getting a bit tired of NHK opening every one of its reports of the Jungyo with “The Jungyo, which has been shaken by the Harumafuji incident, took place today at…”.

And the musubi-no-ichiban:

Hakuho 3 – Kakuryu 3

[cough, cough]

BTW, Takayasu is back on the torikumi, but Terunofuji [sigh] is no longer on it.

Finally, Osunaarashi shared this image of today’s shitakubeya (preparation room)… Lovely, but the rikishi were not allowed to use the pool. 😢

shitaku-beya

 

Day 7 – Redemption Will Wait


goeido-2017-11-day-07

I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard

Paul Simon

The basho is turning wackier, with only Hakuho anchoring it at the moment.

Let’s start from the end this time. Hokutofuji grabs his third kinboshi, from the kinboshi dispenser that Kisenosato is proving to be. He takes a different tactic than Takakeisho and Shohozan, and combines nodowa with a right ottsuke which doesn’t allow the Yokozuna to get a left-hand grip.

I would expect the Yokozuna to just rely on his right hand, but he seems to be baffled and lost, and after a few dances around the dohyo Hokutofuji sends him out. Third loss for Kisenosato, and the sigh of relief from his fans yesterday seems to have been premature.

He is in an interesting position if he wants to go kyujo, though. You don’t just decide that you don’t want to participate. You have to hand in a medical certificate. And with the storm brewing around Takanoiwa’s medical certificate, the Kyokai is going to be checking that the certificates it gets are genuine. If he hands in a certificate regarding the state of his left arm and chest, he’ll probably have to abide by whatever the doctors recommend for it, and I doubt that it will just be “two weeks rest”.

In the penultimate match, we have our only reliable yokozuna keeping his finger in the dike. Onosho said after the two trained together, that “the training was a valuable lesson for him to win their real bout”. I think he meant it, because he actually prevented Hakuho from getting any sort of grip on either his mawashi or his body. So Hakuho switched to plan B, sidestepped and handed Onosho his second tsukiotoshi of the basho. So in fact Onosho’s only win so far is against “Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm” Harumafuji on day 1.

Goeido‘s match with Shohozan seems to have been a replay of yesterday’s match with Chiyotairyu. Shohozan takes the initiative, and Goeido just reacts and retreats, and can’t find a way to attack. This is his second loss, he drops out of the chaser list. Also, he wanted to redeem himself for the last basho, and that redemption will be really hard to achieve now, because he really needs to do superb sumo from now on to make himself look like an Ozeki again, much less a candidate for a rope-run.

Takayasu, on the other hand, having made no vows, maintains a cool head after his losses. He takes Chiyonokuni‘s belt right from the tachiai. Chiyonokuni manages to escape the grip and plans to launch one of his cat-bat flurries, but he is too close to the edge and Takayasu gets him out before he can do anything. Takayasu needs to scrape three more wins to clear his kadoban, and with only one Yokozuna and one Ozeki to face in the second week, has a very good chance of doing so.

The Kotoshogiku vs. Yoshikaze bout starts well for old Giku, although Yoshikaze denies him the hips. But it seems that Kotoshogiku doesn’t have enough stamina and simply loses power after holding Yoshikaze against the tawara for a few seconds. Yoshikaze takes advantage and runs Kotoshogiku to the other side of the ring.

Tamawashi runs all over Mitakeumi. It seems Mitakeumi doesn’t even know what hit him.

I didn’t like the Takakeisho we saw today. It was too much like his old self, which may mean he is developing a Goeido-like tendency for version-flipping. Chiyotairyu attacks and attacks, only to have Takakeisho sidestep and hand him the tsukiotoshi. Well, Takakeisho can always say that he didn’t do anything that Hakuho didn’t do.

Ichinojo seems to have decided to go as Aminishiki today. Only, being about two times as thick as Aminishiki, he can’t move sideways fast enough, and Tochiozan‘s grabbed head simply meets his torso. Oops. But this basho Ichinojo thinks fast on his feet, and he manages to recover and push his opponent. Yet another win for the boulder. Tomorrow he faces the ailing Yokozuna, which is going to be a challenge for him, as he is not the kind of oshi man that Hokutofuji or Takakeisho are. Anyway, go go bridge abutment!

I don’t know exactly how, but Takarafuji actually managed a worse tachiai than Shodai. It seems he can’t win on days Aminishiki wins. Problem is, of course, that Aminishiki wins a lot. Shodai pushes him all the way out, and today Isegahama has only Aminishiki and Terutsuyoshi to look to… wait a minute, you really have to see this:

Terutsuyoshi faces the hitherto undefeated Sokokurai. The bout ends pretty quickly, only… they touch the ground at the same time. Then there are two whole minutes of monoii. And a torinaoshi.

But it is well worth the wait, because what follows is really, really exciting sumo. Kudos to both Terutsuyoshi and Sokokurai, to whom I apologized for the jinx of mentioning yesterday that he was undefeated.

OK, so this was more than a minute. More like 8 minutes (unless you were smart and skipped the monoii). We now go back to our scheduled programming.

Arawashi doesn’t waste much time in his match with Daishomaru. Unlike yesterday’s annoying henka, he gets right into a belt grip and pushes Daishomaru all the way to the other side. Quick and clean, and he keeps himself in the chaser group.

Chiyoshoma is disappointed again today. He manages to get a good grip on Endo and tries a suso-harai. Failing that he loses that shallow grip and his balance with it.

Daieisho tries a tsuppari attack against Tochinoshin. But the Georgian pays no attention, and gets him where he wants him – in a strong mawashi grip. From then there’s only one way for Daieisho, and that’s out.

It’s the seventh day. Seven is an odd number, and on odd days, Chiyomaru loses. Like clockwork. What is that slow, weak tachiai supposed to mean? Kaisei takes the gift and says thank you very much.

Ikioi seemed to have the upper hand in his bout with Okinoumi. But eventually, both fell down, nearly the same time, the shimpan had to consult amongst themselves before awarding Okinoumi the white star.

What’s up with Asanoyama? Where is the strong sumo we saw yesterday? Or is he only capable of executing that against feeble old men? Myogiryu sails forward easily and picks his fourth win.

I’d like to say that Kagayaki wins when he doesn’t do his Kermit Flail. But, well, this was basically a fluke. He did almost get Nishikigi in a kotonage, but then Nishikigi grabbed a hold of his hand – maybe with a tottari in mind, and dragged him to the other side, but then both fell, and unfortunately for Nishikigi, he fell first.

We’re down to the geriatric battle of the day. I’ve been waiting for this bout since the results of Aki became known, but it was a little too short for pleasure. Takekaze is on his way to Juryo, or to intai, and if Aminishiki wasn’t older than he, I’d berate him for harassing the elderly. The tachiai commences with a coconut clash, which seems to bother Uncle not at all. And then he did his push-me-pull-you trick and rolled the Oguruma man like a die.

That’s it, other than Kotoyuki quickly giving Daiamami another black star, though both will probably see each other in Juryo in Hatsu.

Leaders

Our Supreme Leader, Father Of Phoenixes, Ruler of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, King Of Kings, Hakuho Sho.

Chasers

Hokutofuji (M3)
Ichinojo (M4)
Arawashi (M5)
Okinoumi (M12)
Aminishiki (M13)

Not a single member of the sanyaku in this list!


As you know, I follow Naruto beya. So here is Torakio trying to break a world record in matta. Be that as it may, the Bulgarian is kachi-koshi, 4-0, and who knows, may have his eyes on the jonidan yusho.

Day 5 – Flash Flood


Today we saw two of the leader group being washed away.

ichinojo-takayasu-down
Ichinojo, Takayasu, bye!

And now the leader group consists of only three men. One of whom is – as it turns out – the same age as Onosho’s dad.

But let’s start at the beginning. We had a flood of flash bouts today. The first of them was Myogiryu taking on Juryo visitor Tokushoryu. Myogiryu gets both hands inside and quickly yori-kiris Tokushoryu.

Not much beauty in the Nishikigi vs. Kotoyuki bout. Kotoyuki retreats, retreats, until he runs out of dohyo. He seems on his way back to Juryo, possibly to be replaced by a very motivated Ryuden.

And then we move to the first serious challenge to Aminishiki‘s reign over the Maegashira ranks. Daiamami knows Aminishiki well, and knows where the Ancient Mariner’s weakness is. He pushes him against the tawara. But Aminishiki somehow manages to do his bale dance and get away, only to be caught again. The old wizard’s knees almost cave, when he gives a final dance to his right, and uses the grip he has on Daiamami’s left arm for a sukuinage. Uncle Sumo visibly pants as he picks his kensho-kin. But he is still in the yusho race!

Ikioi gives Takekaze another black star, as this elderly man fails to mimic the senior citizen from the previous bout. Ikioi gets him in a double-hand-inside, holds him high and leads him out.

Kagayaki once again goes into a belt battle with Kaisei. He nearly turns the Brazilian around, but Kaisei rallies and gets face to face again. Kaisei has the upper hand, at least as far as mass is concerned, and then dispatches the man in the mustard mawashi in short order.

Okinoumi continues in his good performance vs. Daieisho. It starts with an exchange of slaps, and Daieisho gets Okinoumi to the bales, but he take a risk, grabs Daieisho under his shoulders and presses down for a Katasukashi. By the way, did you know that “Katasukashi” also means “disappointment” or “letdown”? I’m sure that’s how Daieisho felt.

Asanoyama is probably not going to repeat his double-digits from Aki. In fact, the way it looks, he’ll be happy if he can get a kachi-koshi at all! All he does against Endo just doesn’t work. The strength is there, but he can’t put it together.

Chiyomaru continues in his on-off-on-off series. The NHK commentator explains that Chiyomaru has a problem with mawashi fighting because he can’t reach the opponent’s belt owing to his huge belly. Tochinoshin, on the other hand, doesn’t have much of a belly, has long arms, and he catches Chiyomaru in a belt grip right away and just leads him out without the Kokonoe meatball ever showing much defense.

Arawashi grabs Shodai‘s arm and tries to pull. Shodai resists. Arawashi tries again. Shodai gets out. Arawashi gets a belt grip, but Shodai is not letting him do much. So the Mongolian goes for the arm yet agai, and this time pulls the kotonage he was aiming for from the start. Very nice bout!

Takarafuji manages to scrape a second win today vs. Daishomaru. He keeps his opponent at an arm’s length, showing his usual patience, he evades an attack and keeps the distance between their bodies. He finally gets a yori-kiri without ever getting any sort of firm grip. I must say that it looks like the goings-on at Isegahama are taking their toll on all their sekitori. Though winning, Takarafuji looks tired and gloomy.

It’s a wonder how Chiyoshoma keeps winning against Ichinojo, who is about twice his weight. Today’s bout wasn’t even very long. As soon as he got a mawashi grip, he sent the boulder outside. Of course, if he had tried to do this with only the one hand on the mawashi, he would have to get a new elbow installed tomorrow. He helped the giant along by pushing him with his left hand. I hope Ichinojo rallies and continues his good form as the basho continues.

It’s rare to see Chiyonokuni in a mawashi match. And Hokutofuji is no yotsu expert, either. But still, this is where they found themselves, locked into each other’s mawashi. At some point, Hokutofuji tries to throw Chiyonokuni, but Chiyonokuni rallies. Then there’s an attempt at a kotonage, which eventually leaves Chiyonokuni open, and Hokutofuji pushes him out. Again, a great bout to watch.

And here we begin the flash flood. Kotoshogiku vs. Chiyotairyu. Going, going, gone! I wouldn’t have believed Kotoshogiku could win so fast these days. Especially against Chiyotairyu, which is usually not a pushover.

Then, Takakeisho pushes at Yoshikaze for just a second, side steps, Yoshikaze would have regained his footing – but Takakeisho is there to push him out. Wham, bam, gone in a flash!

This is followed by Takayasu, who is pushed by Tamawashi right out of the dohyo before he manages to get his breath back after the tachiai. You snooze, you lose. And our Kadoban Ozeki drops off the leaderboard.

But have no fear! Goeido is here. He must have been watching the videos from the previous Onosho matches. Usually, I’d complain about him doing his sumo backwards, but for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, you know. And since Onosho proved that he overcommits and can’t stay on his feet, Goeido served him up with the exact kind of dish that he cooked for himself. So, Goeido still in the lossless group.

Now, what followed in the Hakuho vs. Tochiozan was a very strange thing. This was not your regular “matta”, where the two wrestlers don’t find the correct second to rise. This was actually before the Gyoji started the bout (the gyoji changes the position of his feet during the pre-bout, and this marks which of the shikiri rituals is the “real” one). Events outside the venue must have been weighing on Hakuho’s mind.

Although the bout itself ends pretty quickly and decisively in Hakuho’s favor, he once again pulls one of his “extracurriculars”, though at this point he really doesn’t need any hint of misconduct. That push was certainly a dame-oshi.

Now, the musubi-no-ichiban was worth the money. Shohozan must have watched Takakeisho’s bout with Kisenosato yesterday, as he went for basically the same thing: constant attacks on the Yokozuna’s left side, combined with nodowa, that left the Yokozuna defenseless. Then he tried to throw the Yokozuna, but Kisenosato is not an easy fellow to throw. But Shohozan continued with his pressure and pressed the Yokozuna against the tawara. Unfortunately for Shohozan, the Yokozuna’s right side is still functioning, and he managed a suicidal throw, that got the Yokozuna the come-from-behind win in this bout, which was completely dominated by the Maegashira. Oh wow.


So, what does the leader list look like now, a third of the way into the basho?

Yokozuna Hakhuo
Ozeki Goeido
Maegashira #13 Aminishiki

Say what?

By the way, there is another leader list to follow: those with the most wins for the year. As we started this basho, which is the last of the year, Harumafuji was leading with 47 wins. With Harumafuji no longer able to earn any stars this year (and probably ever), the list looks like this.

Mitakeumi 49
Takayasu 48
Harumafuji 47
Hakuho 47
Takakeisho 46
Hokutofuji 45
Tamawashi 44
Ichinojo 44
Yoshikaze 43
Goeido 41
Daishomaru 41

Whoever ends up as the yearly leader is going to have a negative record: the worst number of wins for the leader of the year, after Takanohana’s 60,  which he achieved years ago. With only 10 days to go, matching 60 is going to be impossible without a playoff.


Finally, here are a couple of Juryo matches for your pleasure:

Ishiura vs. Yutakayama:

Ryuden vs. Homarefuji

Again, nobody from Isegahama, with the exception of Aminishiki, seems to be doing any sumo. Ryuden, on the other hand, got his first kensho-kin yesterday and is very uppity.

 

Day 4 – Five Men In The Lead


aminishiki-the-magician
Hatakikomus Magnificus!

There are three men keeping this basho from becoming as wacky as the previous one: one Dai-Yokozuna and two Ozeki, who keep delivering the goods expected from Yokozuna and Ozeki, and neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop them from doing so.

All hail the king and the two princes, but don’t tell me you’re not cheering for the other two guys who are 4-0 at the moment. One is a big boulder from the steppes of Mongolia who suddenly decided to be a sumo wrestler. And the other is the “Magician From Tsugaru”, in the picture above.

First let’s start with Ryuden, who aspires to enter Makuuchi, vs. Kotoyuki, who aspires not to fall back to Juryo. As they dance, it seems for a moment that Kotoyuki has achieved a bear hug around Ryuden, but the Japanese announcer calls it right: “Ryuden is in”. Meaning Ryuden achieved a morozashi, and indeed, within two seconds Kotoyuki is out.

In the next bout, between Nishikigi and Takekaze, Takekaze also achieves a morozashi for a second. Nishikigi manages to escape one side, but Takekaze uses that hand to catch on to Nishikigi’s belt and throw him down. Both of them are now 2:2, and apparently Takekaze is not leaving us yet.

And now we get to the waza lesson of the day by Uncle Sumo. After a matta from a somewhat nervous Myogiryu, Aminishiki slips in a slap at the tachiai, pretends to be going for a grip, but within a split of a second has his hand on Myogiryu’s nape, and dances back. Years of experience tell Uncle exactly where he is on the dohyo, and Myogiryu meets clay before Aminishiki sets foot outside the tawara. Work of art.

Daiamami can’t get two wins in a row, as a very improved Kagayaki, who seems to be going more for grips than for slaps this basho, turns him around and introduces him to the audience.

Okinoumi tries to get a hidari-yotsu on Kaisei, but the Brazilian is just a bit too big for that. No matter, Okinoumi has a firm left hand on Kaisei’s mawashi, and succeeds in twisting him for a shitatenage.

Ikioi comes back after yesterday’s loss, and shows us he has some waza in him as well. It’s impressive that he can pull that kotonage with his bandaged elbow. Poor Endo will have to wait for his next W.

Asanoyama is somehow not showing the same brilliance he showed last basho. Perhaps the other Maegashira have come to know him. Perhaps he has too much self-confidence. Daieisho attacks him with oshi-zumo, and he doesn’t find a defense against it in time.

Chiyomaru continues in his day-on-day-off schedule. This time he got into a yotsu match with Shodai. This is dangerous, as Shodai is pretty strong once past the tachiai. Indeed, Shodai manages to get a morozashi, But Chiyomaru rallies beautifully by pulling on Shodai’s neck from both sides and sending him down to the clay.

Now, second waza lesson of the day, from our throws expert, Chiyoshoma. As soon as he catches Daishomaru‘s mawashi, he immediately makes the maru fly. An uwatenage for the books.

Takarafuji continues the Isegahama misery (after Homarefuji and Terutsuyoshi lost again in Juryo), when he meets Tochinoshin, who shows us some of his good sumo today.

Today, Ichinojo was given all sorts of trouble by Arawashi, who had him in a really firm morozashi (but couldn’t really push the boulder out). Arawashi then managed to throw him down. However, in doing so, he stepped out, and Ichinojo maintained his perfect record. The Japanese commentator noted that unlike previous basho, in which Ichinojo tended to give up easily, this time he stands his ground.

Hokutofuji continues in his good performance, impressive for a broken wrist. But what is wrong with Tochiozan? He seems to be strong, but just can’t get that first white star.

Allow me to skip the description of Kotoshogiku performing the easiest hip pumps in the world on the ghost of Terunofuji. I’m sure there wasn’t even a sense of revenge there. On the Isegahama page, Terunofuji comments. “No good. I have no idea what to do anymore.”, and Isegahama fans are urging him to go for a long kyujo and heal himself.

Onosho seems to fulfill Moti’s predictions for this basho. In a match with Yoshikaze, in which I would expect the ambitious tadpole to win decisively, he gets pulled to the ground by the elderly sekiwake. Once again he loses his balance, though it’s not a slippiotoshi this time – just bad footwork. I suggested to him from these pages in the past to go ask the Tagonoura brothers for a lesson in self-balance, because this was his weak point even in his shiny Aki basho. I doubt they will give him that lesson, though, as this will make him very very dangerous.

Mitakeumi shows that he can do well in a slapfest, even with the best of them, Chiyonokuni. But the Kokonoe man looks out of his league at this level.

Tamawashi tried the same sort of matta tricks against Goeido as he did in his bout with Kisenosato. Goeido was visibly annoyed the second time. But that annoyance didn’t cause him to lose his concentration or his clean record. In an untypical slap match, he manages to achieve his second katasukashi in a row and stay at the top.

Takayasu continues with his supercool sumo. He is so cool you could chill a beer bottle on his head (too soon? Anyway the beer man is not around). He takes Shohozan for a long, protracted hug (the match was a minute and seventeen seconds long), and then, all of a sudden, wakes up and pushes him decisively all the way out. The man is half-way out of his kadoban.

Takakeisho attacks Kisenosato‘s left side with heavy tsuppari, combined with the occasional nodowa to the Yokozuna’s right side, and completely shuts out the big K for his third kinboshi. Kisenosato is simply left powerless, and should be worried, very worried.

And then there’s a Dai-Yokozuna who fights like one. Hakuho gets a high morozashi on Chiyotairyu right from the tachiai, and the Kokonoe man flails and flails to no avail. From then on it’s just a matter of Hakuho’s leg muscles vs. Chiyotairyu’s dead weight, and Hakuho has leg muscles enough.

Flawless Leader group:

Yokozuna Hakuho
Ozeki Goeido
Ozeki Takayasu
Maegashira #4 Ichinojo
Maegashira #13 Aminishiki

What a basho!

And here’s Enho’s bout from today. Look at the tenacity of the boy wonder. Comments compare him to Ura. May his knees be strong and healthy.

 

Day 3 – Katasukashi Galore


Elephant Crosses Dohyo
What Yokozuna Incident?

So… let’s start with a couple of Juryo bouts. First, if there are any Ishiura fans out there, take a look:

Finally, Ishiura gets a win, against the hapless Homarefuji. He plants his head and keeps his feet in order, and manages to take the Isegahama man out. Of course, this black star is probably the last worry on Isegahama Oyakata’s mind this day. But they keep piling on.

Now take a look at Yutakayama vs. Tokushoryu:

A couple of days ago I said that there’s a level of difference between Yutakayama and Asanoyama. But as it turns out, the larger man is already in possession of three wins, while Asanoyama is not doing as well.

Up into Makuuchi we go, and Daiamami gets his first win today! Admittedly, Kyokushuho is just a Juryo rival, but any white star is a gold star at this point for the newcomer. It starts with a matta, but in the second round, Daiamami just cannons into Kyokushuho and gaburi’s him out. The fans enjoy his interview face:

Kotoyuki also grabbed his first win today, in a bit of a confused battle. Myogiryu throws Kotoyuki down, but falls a split second before the huge meatball. Air resistance?

Up we go to take a look at everybody’s favorite uncle. Whatever is happening around him in his heya, and the fact that he is going to do his dohyo-iri in his own kesho-mawashi from now on, do not seem to affect him. Nishikigi tried to do the smart thing – to press the kneeless man against the tawara. But Aminishiki just tiptoed aside like a ballerina, and handed Nishikigi the first Katasukashi of the day.

Aminishiki’s comment on the Isegahama website: “The heya has met with a serious situation, but the remaining rikishi must do their best. As the eldest I will strive to lead everybody forward”.

Takekaze seems to be headed to Juryo (if he doesn’t decide to retire). Okinoumi exchanges some thrusts with him until he gets a nice hold of his neck and ends it with a hatakikomi (if anybody can explain to me why this is not a tokkurinage… sigh).

The Asanoyama vs. Kagayaki bout was different than I expected. I’m used to seeing Kagayaki flailing wildly with his arms and his… additional appendages… This time he basically got his hands on Asanoyama’s body and managed to beat the Yotsu man at his own game.

Daiesho gets a first win today as well, when, after some attempts to slap and defend on Ikioi‘s side, he finally sidesteps and lets the big man hit the clay.

Endo decides to use thrusts vs. Shodai, and doesn’t make any use of his tachiai advantage. Shodai withstands the tsuppari attack, and manages to get a grip on Endo’s upper body. That’s the end for the recovering man in the golden mawashi, as Shodai has more than enough power to get him out even without a mawashi grip.

Not much can be said about the battle of the Marus. Again, Chiyomaru seems to have come to the dohyo without his usual genki. Daishomaru easily pushes him out.

Arawashi takes Tochinoshin to the bales and executes a beautiful sukui-nage. As Tochinoshin tries to resist the fall, Arawashi uses his right leg against Tochinoshin’s left and “helps” him complete the roll. Very nice!

Takarafuji earns his first win today vs. Chiyoshoma. It was Chiyoshoma’s initial initiative, but Takarafuji rallied, didn’t let Chiyoshoma get any grip on him for a throw (come on, Chiyoshoma, don’t try neck grips with Takarafuji, those are futile!) – and then throws the thrower in a nice uwatenage.

The second Katasukashi of the day came from Ichinojo. But this one was rather weird. Hokutofuji came at him low at the tachiai, and Ichinojo grabbed him under his arms, and then just let him drop. Not sure if slippiotoshi or sloppy tachiai on Hokutofuji’s part.

Chiyonokuni‘s match with Shohozan was less of a slapfest than I thought it would be, and ended pretty quickly with the Kokonoe man slapping his opponent down. All-important first win for Chiyonokuni.

Kotoshogiku nearly succeeds in his game plan today, and starts pumping his hips. However, Mitakeumi makes sure to be loose on one side, and concentrates his power on his grip on the pump-man’s arm for a well-executed sukuinage. Still bothered by his toe, but as long as he can execute throws like that, I’m sure the sekiwake is happy. Kotoshogiku is not getting the comeback he was hoping for, now 0-3.

Terunofuji‘s ghost continues to float over the dohyo without ever being able to latch its feet to it. Yet another loss for the former kaiju, this time against Yoshikaze who picks up his first win.

I wonder when Onosho is going to switch back to his fiery red mawashi. Rikishi are usually quick to blame their mawashi for their troubles, and the tadpole clearly suffers some bad lack, with his second slippiotoshi in a row against Takayasu. Unlike yesterday, when the Yokozuna really could take no credit for anything in the bout, Takayasu can be commended for managing to keep his footing first against a sidestep and then when pushed to the tawara. Excellent footwork from someone who tore a major leg muscle less than two months ago.

Goeido diversifies. In the two previous matches he hugged his opponent and swept him all the way to the other edge. Today he heard it was Katasukashi day, so he showed Tochiozan that he has waza as well as brute force.

If anybody hoped for another pedagogic bout between Hakuho and Takakeisho, this was not to be. Takakeisho exhibited welcome fearlessness in this bout, and even attempted to throw the dai-yokozuna. And if he had managed to do that I would really be worried that we’re seeing the decline of the One True King. But of course, Hakuho maintained his footing, got his other arm on Takakeisho and quickly swept him off the dohyo.

Finally, in the musubi of the day, Kisenosato manages to overwhelm Chiyotairyu in a way that he can feel happier about than yesterday’s silly bout vs. Onosho. He almost dances back to his position on the east to take his prize money.


Some more lower-ranks action:

Osunaarashi – Takagenji:

For followers of Shunba: