Jungyo Newsreel – October 22nd

🌐 Location: Osaka

Terunofuji keeps working like mad


He came early to the morning practice, and found himself the only member of the joi present. So he got right up on the dohyo and did 14 bouts (opponents unspecified), of which he won 11 and lost 3. You could see him establish a left-hand upper grip right off the tachiai, and powerfully pushing his opponent all in one go. “Not good enough yet. I want to increase the number of bouts.” he said. When asked if he has any concerns regarding his body he replied with a smile “Yes, I have many of those”.


Ikioi goes on a diet to relieve back pain


The Isenoumi wrestler, who was absent from the jungyo due to back pains, revealed that he was diagnosed following the Aki basho with a bulging disc, causing him pains whenever he leaned forward. He was advised not to have surgery, but instead to strengthen the muscles in the affected area, and lose some weight to take some of the load off it. He is on a diet following that advice.

Today he was not doing any on-dohyo exercise, except kiddie sumo, accompanied by cheers from the local crowd, as he is himself from the Osaka Prefecture.


Ichinojo leaves the Jungyo due to hernia

He practiced yesterday in Kishiwada, but did not participate in the torikumi, instead heading back to Tokyo. “It’s a hernia, but it’s a preexisting condition. The affected area has probably been overloaded”, said Tamanoi Oyakata, deputy head of the Jungyo department. “It’s not severe.”


Hakuho makes love to Takakeisho

In the form of butsukari geiko, of course…

The Miracle Of Love

The dai-yokozuna once again dedicated over five minutes to the youngster (shouldn’t he have deducted their Nagoya bout?), and sent him rolling on the ground time and time again.

The Takanohana wrestler was, of course, grateful for the privilege. “It’s not something he would have done for someone he thinks nothing of.”

Following his disastrous Nagoya basho, Takakeisho says he has learned his lesson: “I became depressed after the initial setbacks, and that made it hard for me to even out my score later on. I need to give 100%, grasp at the challenge, and stir things up without thinking too deeply”. Originating from the nearby Hyogo prefecture, Takakeisho vowed that by the next Osaka honbasho, he will be in sanyaku.

(Daily Sports Online)


For those who cherish the Kotoyuki hoot:

Mitakeumi takes revenge on Terunofuji:

Can’t believe he lifted that mountain like that…

And the Musubi of the day:

Note the amount of salt that Hakuho throws in the Jungyo…

Different angle:

Kisenosato must be getting pretty frustrated. Hakuho 6 – Kisenosato 2.

Jungyo Newsreel – October 19th

🌐 Location: Kashiba

Guess what just popped out of the ocean?

A Terunofuji expression you don’t get to see in honbasho

Yep, today’s main sports news item is Ozekiwake Terunofuji (above, saying hi to Uncle Aminishiki) joining the Jungyo after his serious knee injury during the Aki basho. Which, I remind you, was only a month ago.

How bad was his injury? “Well, at first I couldn’t even use the toilet” remarked the fallen Ozeki (TMI! Please don’t say anything that will cause me to imagine Shunba helping you there, ever again! Somebody hand me the brain-bleach, please!). He was unable to properly extend his leg. Apparently, this was a new injury to his meniscus, unrelated to previous knee problems he had.

Pump it up, Kaiju!

He received some treatment and some rehabilitation, and alongside that (wisely) concentrated on building up his muscles. “I worked out vigorously”, he said.

Today he refrained from doing any on-dohyo practice, and opted instead for shiko, suri-ashi, tachiai practices with his loyal Sancho-Panza, Shunba. And of course, strength training, as you can see here.

But if you think he is taking it easy, like his anideshi Yokozuna, you’re wrong. Tomorrow, when the Jungyo hits Osaka, he intends to join the rest of the sekitori and do some actual keiko.

Moreover, he was in the torikumi today. And the schedulers matched him up with Mitakeumi, no less. When I read that torikumi I was pretty sure Fish-Mouth will make himself a kaiju sandwich. But surprisingly, he didn’t. Mitakeumi did a quick nihon-zashi, and got the ozekiwake all the way to the tawara, but in the end, Terunofuji lifted the sekiwake with both arms (both uwate!) and got him out by Utchari. Video below!

Terunofuji’s problems are far from over, though. “If I told you that there is no pain, I’d be lying. But even if I rested, it won’t heal. I’ll just have to live with it”. He said.

About his demotion from Ozeki after 14 basho in that rank, he had this to say: “If my injuries are healed, I’ll be able to attain that rank again any time. The fact that I ended up with a completely new, unrelated injury that time does not make me happy, but I’m not wasting time thinking about a drop down the banzuke. I have to have self-confidence, and I’ll gain self-confidence by training and competing.”

And as usual, Tachiai wishes our favorite Kaiju a safe and healthy continued career.

It’s kisenosato’s turn to play with Asanoyama

The Yokozuna has apparently forgiven the kanto-sho winner for playing hooky from keiko the other day.


He invited him to a 14-bout sanban today, of which the Yokozuna won 9, and Asanoyama a respectable 5. Half way through the series, the two were pretty much even, and you could hear the Yokozuna grunting unhappily.

Those two have kenka-yotsu – the Yokozuna is hidari-yotsu, while Asanoyama is migi-yotsu. In those bouts in which the Yokozuna achieved his favorite grip, he easily dominated. But not so much when he didn’t. “I couldn’t push forward, so it wasn’t good sumo”, said Asanoyama, “but when I got my right hand in I could somehow negotiate at my own pace”.

Following yesterday’s 11-bout session with Kakuryu, this has been Asanoyama’s sixth time to be called for sanban by Yokozuna in this jungyo. “When I lose a bout, I can tell from the experience itself what the reason for having lost was. The angle at which Kisenosato hits you delivers a huge impact. Then he follows that by rapid attacks. Everybody should learn how to position themselves and quickly attack, from watching him”.

The Yokozuna, when asked about the training, narrowed his eyes: “He is skilled, and he has power. I can use him to assess my own state right now. He is the best opponent for that, as he vigorously produces power” he nodded his head.

(Taken from Daily Sports Online).

One thing I’d like to see is Terunofuji taking up Asanoyama (if the Yokozuna let him play with their toy). The youngster seems to be a certified self-assessment tool for high-ranking wrestlers.

Harumafuji is back on the dohyo

The Yusho winner who has, so far, settled for workouts below the dohyo, except for a couple of torikumi in the beginning of the jungyo, decided to do some butsukari geiko.


This was actually a reverse butsukari. That is, usually it’s the Yokozuna who lends his chest, and the lower-ranked wrestler who attempts to push him out. Given that a butsukari is usually a show of superiority, not just a form of practice, it’s relatively rare to see reverse ones.

Harumafuji commented that the reason he did not participate so far was finding himself “slow to recover from the fatigue of the honbasho”.

(Taken from Daily Sports Online. And if you read the article to the end and get to the part where they say that sumo originates from Israel, and that the calls “Haikioi” and “Nokotta” are actually Hebrew, well, that’s utter nonsense alternative reality).


Is that a nodowa or a Vulcan nerve pinch?

Edit: This just in: some bout videos!




Not Jungyo related, but sad news all the same

Apparently, Nishonoseki Oyakata (60) was found unconscious by passers-by after an accident with his bike. He was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery, but so far is still in a coma due to a brain contusion. (Sponichi)

Jungyo Newsreel – October 11

🌐 Location: Hamamatsu

After a short break in which the rikishi went back from Ibaraki to Tokyo, they got on their buses again and traveled back to Shizuoka prefecture, venturing further than before, south to Hamamatsu. By now, even Aminishiki is gently complaining in his blog about the busy schedule.

That is, all got on buses but the Yokozuna, who instead took the Tokaido shinkansen along with their respective retinues, straight to Hamamatsu. It’s good to be the King.

It’s actually rare for all participating Yokozuna to travel together, as usually each makes his own arrangements (or has them made for him). This time they all had a reception to attend, and therefore traveled together.

Let’s see what they have been up to since finishing with their non-sumo obligations:

Kisenosato gives Daieisho a nosebleed

daieisho-bleedingKisenosato once again engaged Daieisho in san-ban. They did 10 bouts, of which Kisenosato won 8 and lost 2. And Daieisho, as you can see, also lost a bit of blood.

Sponichi reports that Kisenosato was in good form, used his left arm, and entertained the viewers with excellent mobility. Me? I’ll believe that when I see it. Unfortunately, it seems that no obasan was kind enough to record any of the events. If I see any video, I’ll be sure to edit it in later on.

Kakuryu practices with Asanoyama


Having been dumped by Kisenosato in favor of Daieisho, Asanoyama has been batting his pretty eyelashes at Kakuryu. Apparently Kakuryu couldn’t resist much longer, and offered him some Yokozuna love. That is, a sanban. I suppose Asanoyama’s tachiai is better than Shodai’s.

Harumafuji gives Ichinojo personal tutoring

Harumafuji, in addition to all the other responsibilities he seems to enjoy accepting, has taken it upon himself to give sumo lessons to anybody around the dohyo who is willing to listen. In the Natsu jungyo, he taught Goeido his arm and shoulders workout routine. In this Jungyo, at Chikusei, he picked Meisei and demonstrated waza to him (seemed to be ashitori), patiently placing Meisei’s hands on his own person to clarify the points. Today he took up Ichinojo.


While the other sekitori were busy with moshi-ai geiko (winner picks next opponent), the Yokozuna spent about half an hour making Ichinojo do suri-ashi repeatedly, and at the same time physically corrected his technique, such as the use of his left arm. “It was a tachiai practice. I just taught him what I know. But whether he’ll diligently ingest this or not is up to him,” said Harumafuji.

Ichinojo himself was dutifully thankful, and noted that it has been a long time since he received guidance from the Yokozuna. “If I can get this down pat, I’ll have confidence facing the next basho”, he added. The Yokozuna remarked: “That depends on him”.

Ichinojo himself paid it forward, picking Yago for butsukari:


Now, this makes a lot more sense than Nishikigi offering his chest to Yago. This is a butsukari whose video I’d love to find. I’m sure when those two bodies clashed, seismographs around Shizuoka went into the red.

Terunofuji achieves pole position in race for Darwin Award

Terunofuji, the knee disaster personified, announced today that he will… oy… be joining the… oy… Jungyo as of October 19th, when it stops at Kashiba in Nara. Sorry, it’s really painful for me to type this. Oy.

Reminder: last time the fallen Ozeki prematurely returned to action, it ended up as you see on the left. And he just refuses to learn. I wonder how much more of this Shunba can take.

A less painful addition to the Jungyo occured today, as the recovering Yutakayama joined forces with the rest of the Makuuchi.

Great Insight Into Tsukebito (assistant) System

One of the huge storylines coming out of Haru basho was that Terunofuji is back. We get a bit more of the back story from an article, written by Muto Hisashi and published in Mainichi a couple of days ago. It’s a much longer article than the usual one or two paragraphs, and it’s fascinating. The topic is the “tsukebito” system. Makushita and lower rikishi serve as assistants to those in Juryo and above (sekitori). You often see them carrying the cushions and accompanying top ranked wrestlers as their entourage.


This headline is a quick one: Gaining synergies, “Tsukebito” by Muto Hisashi. The important term here is (付け人). I’ve never had to use the word “synergy” in English but this is what it is in Japanese: (相乗効果).

In the business world, particularly the entertainment industry, the core talents have personal assistants. They’re called “tsukibito.” For some reason, the sumo world has adopted a more positive turn on it and they refer to it as “tsukebito.” They say that there are synergies gained as younger, lower ranked wrestlers gain experience by training with the higher ranked wrestlers.

In the article, Muto highlights the relationship between Terunofuji and one of his tsukebito, Shunba. Usually these assistants are indesputably junior to the sekitori. However, occasionally some wrestlers are so good and progress so swiftly through the ranks that they seek out veteran tsukebito who act more as advisors than as assistants. Shunba fills this role for Terunofuji.

In the interview, Shunba reveals that there were deeper matters troubling Terunofuji. The injuries were serious but he had much more on his mind…the specifics of which he would not reveal. Muto interviewed Shunba in the weeks after Terunofuji’s dismal 4-win Hatsubasho where he went kadoban again. Despite the poor performance, Shunba was very confident that Terunofuji would do well. Apparently, Terunofuji had been keeping things bottled up and he had deep conversations with his tsukebito that seemed to bring about a lot of relief.

So while still hampered a bit by injuries, notably after the Endo bout, he was dominant. Not only did Terunofuji almost win his second yusho…in an awesome, fearsome manner enjoyed by us and many of our readers…Shunba went 6-1 in makuushita, at his highest rank ever. I’m eager to see him climb up the banzuke. I will be following both wrestlers and hope to do a deeper profile of Shunba and these assistant wrestlers in the future.

Preview of Hatsu Day 7


First Look At Leaders and Contenders

The middle weekend of Hatsu is upon us! Rejoice sumo fans! If you are fortunate enough to get the full NHK feed (in english) for the matches, you can enjoy John Gunning’s color commentary in addition to Murray’s play by play. Sadly, that does not include your humble blogger, as I am on a 777 bound for London, where sumo will be hard to find.

We are closing in on the half way mark, and everyone faced enough opponents that we can start to plot out who is in contention for the yusho, who is scraping by, and who is in trouble.

In Juryo, Ura was dancing around, defying the laws of physics and undefeated. That changed on day 6, and now a broad group of sekitori are back in contention.

Juryo Leaders: Ura, Homarefuji, Satoyama, Daiamami
Juryo Hunt Group: Daieisho, Tokushoryu, Tsurugisho

Personally I am hoping Ura will be able to prevail here, and either take the yusho or runner up.

In Makuuchi, the picture is even a bit more exotic

Makuuchi Leaders: Hakuho, Kisenosato
Makuuchi Hunt Group: Hokutofuji, Takanoiwa, Sokokurai, Ichinojo, Sadanoumi

So in essence, you have 2 heavy hitters undefeated, and a pack of mid to lower ranked rikishi who have one loss each. This is absolutely fantastic news, as it speaks strongly to the strength of the middle and lower Makuuchi ranks this basho. With a real possibility of losing 2-4 sanyaku in the next 12 months, a strong farm team is a must. Sumo’s popularity in Japan (and indeed world wide) is on the upswing for a variety of very good reasons, and keeping the world of sumo competitive and exciting will continue to draw fans, new and veteran, to the world of sumo.

Notable Matches

Osunaarashi vs Toyohibiki – Osunaarashi’s accumulated injuries, maladies and pain are overwhelming his sumo. He has limited mobility on the dohyo, and it shows. Toyohibiki is up from Juryo to balance out the card due to Tochinoshin’s kyujo, so we shall see how he fares. Toyohibiki was in Makuuchi last tournament, and holds a 3-2 career advantage over Osunaarashi.

Takanoiwa vs Ichinojo – I had to look at this twice, as I really was not keeping a close eye on Ichinojo; he’s 5-1. This is a battle between two of the low / mid ranked rikishi who have only one loss going into the half way point, which is actually pretty impressive. Both men are 3 wins away from kachi-koshi already. Ichinojo won the only prior bout between these two.

Shodai vs Goeido – This should be another stage in Shodai’s education in sanyaku, but it’s really more of an open question as Goeido is not super potent this basho, and Shodai is hanging on at 3-3 in Sekiwake, which is actually quite an achievement. Shodai is almost done with his “hard” week, and will likely have some easier matches week 2. He might actually pick up kachi-koshi in one of the most punishing ranks in sumo. 3 career bouts in this series, with Goeido taking 2.

Takayasu vs Kotoshogiku – We will get a really good indication from this match if the sumo guys are going to try to let Kotoshogiku survive. In the past it has seemed that Takayasu is not beyond a “strategic loss” from time to time. In past bashos there has been a handful of curious losses to Ozeki who needed to hang on. Personally I would rather see Takayasu back at Sekiwake than to see Kotoshogiku hang on in mal-performing misery. Kotoshogiku leads the series 11-6, but in his current condition it’s not predictive.

Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi – This is going to be an ugly bout, Terunofuji is vague and weak due to injuries and medication. Mitakeumi should be able to win this one given the poor condition of Terunofuji. Mitakeumi has beaten Terunofuji once before in their prior matches, which was their bout in Kyushu last basho.

Ikioi vs Harumafuji – Harumafuji is banged up, beat up and each time he steps on the dohyo, he rolls the dice on an actual career ending injury. I know he continues on because he loves sumo and he is under an threat of retirement. Ikioi, as a pusher-thruster, is going to bring a very high impact sumo into this bout. My hope is for no additional injury to the Yokozuna. Ikioi has never won in their 10 prior matches, and it would be a monstrous kinboshi if he prevails on day 7

Hatsu Day 2 Preview


Kokugikan Sellout Continues

The popularity of sumo is on the upswing both in its home country of Japan and indeed world wide. For a good period of time I considered attending several days of Hatsu myself, but the entire venue quickly sold out. This happens at a great time for the sport, as there is a fantastic crop of young, eager rikishi who are present in the upper divisions to test and train with some of the greatest men ever to wear a mawashi.

Day one was a really solid opening day, but there were very few upsets, and as Andy quipped, things turned out pretty much as expected. I note that Ishiura is still working hard to get a consistent attack plan together for these mid and upper level Maegashira, but I have a lot of faith that under Hakuho’s tutelage he will get winning recipe.

Notable Matches

Chiyootori vs Osunaarashi – Osunaarashi pulled a fantastic utchari twisting throw at the edge of the ring on day 1 to win over Chiyoo. In his second bout against the Chiyoo twins, he faces to much larger Chiyootori, who is a far more even match at 3-5 in favor of Chiyootori. Strong chance of a Chiyootori henka or early pulling attack.

Sokokurai vs Ishiura – Ishiura’s day 1 bout was nothing special, and he was pretty easily contained. Early basho bouts, and Hatsu specifically see a lot of cob webs being cleared as the rikishi get back into their sumo. This will only be the second meeting between these two, with Sokokurai winning the last match by getting behind Ishiura and pushing him out. (okuridashi)

Kotoyuki vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze is prone to have streaks of amazing sumo performance. The last example was Nagoya 2016, and it was a joy to watch. With his strong opening day disposal of Chiyoshoma, Yoshikaze fans globally are hoping that his new mawashi has brought renewed vigor. Yoshikaze has a slight edge over Kotoyuki. These two really love to let the slaps fly, so I expect Yoshikaze to get the expected battle damage to his face in today.

Endo vs Ikioi – Two crowd favorites face off in a match where you wish they both could win. Endo looked to have a flat tire on day one, hopefully his cobwebs are gone now and he is ready to bring his sumo. Sadly Ikioi tends to dominate their matches, with a 6-1 advantage.

Arawashi vs Shodai – On day one, Shodai got the Tsukiji treatment from Hakuho. It’s time to see if that rattled his confidence as he faces Maegashira 2 Arawashi on day 2. The have only met once before, with Arawashi prevailing with am underarm throw on day 15 of Kyushu.

Terunofuji vs Takayasu – It kind of hurts to watch Terunofuji. He has, in the past, been one of the most feared men in sumo. Now he struggles just to get off the line. Takayasu, if he still wants a shot at Ozeki, needs to help Terunofuji vacate a slot for him. Takayasu has been struggling, and he needs to really step up before he has too many losses for a shot at Kachi-koshi and a return to contention for Ozeki. His record with Terunofuji is an even 6-6, and I am hoping we see some great yotsu-zumō.

Kakuryu vs Shohozan – It went largely unnoticed, but Shohozan looked very good day 1 against Terunofuji, doing just as much to win the match as Terunofuji did to lose it. Now he faces a very strong Yokozuna Kakuryu, who is clearly fired up and ready to defend the Emperor’s cup. Their prior 10 matches have all gone to Kakuryu. Shohozan’s chance comes if he can wrap up the Yokozuna and fight the match via the belt.

Mitakeumi vs Harumafuji – Mitakeumi handled Goeido very cleanly on day 1. Now it’s time to face the frenzied attack of Yokozuna Harumafuji. I would expect The Horse to deploy his famous nodowa today, as is his custom against Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi’s one chance before he lands the death grip is likely a henka.

NOTE – Monday is the day of Wakaichiro’s first bout. He will face Tatsunofuji in the second match of the day, at a fairly early hour of the morning. Eternal gratitude to any soul that can put video of this on YouTube.

Kyushu Day 13 Preview


If you do not control your opponent, your opponent will control you

Book of Five Rings

Sumo fans could not ask for a more exiting final Friday of 2016. Across the two upper divisions (Juryo and Makuuchi), there is a mad scramble for the championship. With just a few bouts remaining, there is a broad group of rikishi that could claim the yusho. Recall that by this time during the Aki basho, we were very sure it was going to be Goeido, we just did not know if it would be a perfect record or not.

Going into day 13, no one remains with a perfect record, and the mightiest men in Sumo now face each other, as the Yokozuna will compete against both the upper Ozeki, and their fellow Yokozuna during the last three days. As each of these men are leading contenders for the championship, which sekitori has the lead in the yusho race to change moment by moment during the final bouts of each day.

The idea scenario for maximum drama would require Hakuho to beat Kakuryu, Harumafuji to beat Goeido, Kisenosato to beat Tochinoshin, and Ishiura to beat Arawashi. That would create a 4 way tie for the lead, with 2 days left.

Notable Matches

Ishiura vs Arawashi – Ishiura faced a very capable Ikioi on day 12, and Ikioi did not charge head-long into Ishiura’s mini-henke. Time to see if Arawashi learned this lesson as well. I expect Ishiura to face at least one more higher level rikishi before the end of the basho. Ishiura is very evenly matched against Arawashi, with a 2-3 record.

Sokokurai vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is going for his kachi-koshi again today, this time against Sokokurai. Thus match will likely be a strength test between the two men, with a slight edge to Sokokurai.

Shohozan vs Ichinojo – Shohozan should pick up his kachi-koshi today, as Ichinojo is really struggling this tournament. To his credit, Ichinojo is at .500 with three days to go, and kachi-koshi is still possible for him. Slight advantage to Fukuoka home town favorite Shohozan.

Endo vs Okinoumi – It has been a surprising basho for both of these rikishi. Endo had a very strong start, and has faded as of late. He needs a win here against the injured Okinoumi to make a credible case for finishing the tournament with a winning record. Slight advantage to Endo on this one.

Tamawashi vs Terunofuji – Tamawashi will attempt to score a winning tournament record today against the man-mountain Terunofuji. Tamawashi has been doing well, and Terunofuji is injured – but Terunofuji also just beat Hakuho, so I would say Tamawashi won’t find his eighth win today.

Tochinoshin vs Kisenosato – In the strangest match up of day 13, Maegashira 6 Tochinoshin faces off against Yokozuna killer Kisenosato. Tochinoshin has been (in the past) sort of a one trick pony – he likes to lift people up and carry them around. That won’t work against Kisenosato in any reasonable scenario. One of two things (or both) are happening here. First, it could be that the schedules want to give Kisenosato an easy match to make sure he can play spoiler in any potential play-off. Second, it may be the case that they want to see if Tochinoshin can recuse himself well against a solid Ozeki. Worth watching, but my thought is that Kisenosato will take care of him without too much bother.

Hakuho vs Kakuryu – This is one of the two highly anticipated matches for day 13. Hakuho has to be smarting, having been handed a third loss by Terunofuji. I am going to expect that he is hungry for revenge. Kakuryu has been winning, but he has been reactive to my eye, rather than dominating his matches. Hakuho dominates matches, even in his injured state. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. Historically, Hakuho has a huge advantage over Kakuryu.

Harumafuji vs Goeido – Harumafuji should be gunning for Goeido. The path to Goeido’s Aki yusho went through Harumafuji, and their match was won at the last moment when Goeido engaged a twisting throw at the edge. I have absolute confidence that the “Good” Goeido will be on the dohyo today. After the brutal “codpiece throw” that is part of the NHK intro, Goeido has a large supply of payback to throw at Harumafuji. This will be, in my mind, possibly the most exciting sumo of the day, even though the Hakuho match will go farther to determine the yusho race. Harumafuji has a huge lead in their career record, 29-10. Go boldly Goeido!

Juryo Note

The Juryo-yusho race is every bit as wild as the one in Makuuchi. The sole leader, Seiro (10-2) faces off against Osunaarashi (9-3) early in the Juryo matches. Shortly afterwards, Satoyama (9-3) faces off against Sato (9-3). One of these rikishi is likely to be to Juryo tournament winner, and it’s great to see the schedule putting them head to head during the last few days.