Kyushu Day 3 Highlights

Witty prose goes here

After two days of the unusual and the unexpected, it was time for the rikishi to nomralize their sumo, with the Shimpan and Gyoji got in on the act. Today was a parade of matta and monoii for the ages. If you like seeing guys in fancy robes telling guys to try again, or giant former rikishi in black mounting to dohyo to discuss where they are going for beer while some poor fellow in a tiny hot screening room checks the replay – well today is your day! But there was some fine and revealing sumo, as the Ozeki corps dug deep to try and rescue their tournaments, and Tomokaze took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo to get his knee worked on. On to the matches!

Highlight Matches

Wakatakakage defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu looked quite wary in today’s match, initiating a couple of false starts in a vain attempt to get any advantage on Wakatakakage, who once again completely dominates Tokushoryu (now 8-1 career).

Terutsuyoshi defeats Daishoho – Terutsuyoshi begins to circle immediately into the tachiai, and gets Daishoho upright and moving back. Great tactics from Terutsuyoshi today, he used his agility for maximum benefit to pick up his second win.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – Kagayaki breaks through his heavy ring rust and gets into basho form. Straight ahead, fundamentals based sumo from him today, and another Oitekaze sekitori goes to 0-3.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Nishikigi goes in for a battle-hug against the bulbous Chiyomaru, and finds his target – Chiyomaru’s armpits. A fiendishly clever attack route that does not get enough use against Chiyomaru, who may in fact be a bit ticklish. The reaction from Chiyomaru is akin to “get me out of here”. That effort to escape leaves him defenseless, and Nishikigi invites him to leave the match.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ishiura – Ishiura is really flagging at the start of Kyushu, now 0-3 via a really weak bought with Chiyotairyu. We finally get to see Chiyotairyu execute well, focusing a rippling volley of thrusts to progressively move Ishiura back and out.

Shodai defeats Takanosho – It’s far too early for any leader board calls, but if there was Shodai is… well, 3-0. No surprise really as his rank vs his ability is a good sized mismatch. Shodai owned the early moments of this match, but Takanosho broke contact and rallied before Shodai slapped him to the clay.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – A part of me watches Kotoshogiku struggle daily, and wonders why he’s doing it. I am sure because sumo is his life, and he enjoys it. But he is a shadow of even himself in January. No ability to generate forward pressure, and his balance is starting to weaken. Kotoshogiku starts 0-3.

Shohozan defeats Sadanoumi – I though, “no way we are going to see another brawl on day 3”. No sir, I was wrong. Points to Sadanoumi for working hard to stay out of the slap zone, but Shohozan would not be denied. Oh, and a monoii to review the video for a hair pull after the gyoji pointed to Shohozan, but it was upheld.

Yutakayama defeats Kotoeko – Solid Yutakayama sumo again today, and he exits the dohyo 3-0 to start Kyushu. Forearm action to block any opening gambit from Kotoeko worked a charm, and Yutakayama controlled the match. Keep working, I am looking forward to your future matches against Asanoyama.

Enho defeats Onosho – Several matta here as Onosho was working from the idea that a quick blast into Enho might prevent Enho’s normal dive for the mawashi. I liked seeing the matta, as it gave some insights into Onosho’s tachiai form. Note the “crossed arm” tachiai on the second matta. Make contact, uncross the arms, and it gives you a thrust out for free. Nice. But nevermind all that, Enho goes shallow left hand grip at the tachiai and starts to unbalance Onosho, which seems to be easier than the par 3 at putt-putt mini golf.

Ryuden defeats Tsurugisho – Never let it be said that if there’s a matta streak going on, that Ryuden is not going to jump in with both feet. As expected, it completely disrupts Tsurugisho’s sumo, and when the match finally gets started his attack is vague and disorganized.

Kotoyuki defeats Tamawashi – This new, upgraded Kotoyuki is quite the package. He takes Tamawashi style sumo to the master and wins. I commend Kotoyuki’s relentless focus on thrusting against Tamawashi’s chest, keeping Tamawashi from setting his feet and starting a counter attack. Excellent oshi-sumo today from the Penguin.

Myogiryu defeats Abi – Sure, let’s have another matta. The moment of tachiai is telling, Abi is too far forward and completely off balance. Myogiryu is solid and has his hands lower, but Abi makes first contact. Abi begins his obligatory pushing attack, but with his body out of position he really has only 2 shoves in him before he loses balance and Myogiryu helps him over the bales.

Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Another day of excellent sumo from Hokutofuji. He took away most of Takarafuji’s stalemate options in the first step. The Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai did not go for Takarafuji’s non-existent neck, but rather swung in for an armpit hold that locked Takarafuji in place and lifted him up. At this point Takarafuji has very few options, but tries to respond. Hokutofuji counters by advancing strongly and delivers Takarafuji to the southwest corner of the dohyo. Hokutofuji keeps getting better.

Tochinoshin defeats Endo – Endo’s opening gambit was to dig for a right hand frontal mawashi grip, likely to evolve that into any number of pivoting attacks or a throw. But physics, thou art a capricious bitch, and that iron grip from Endo can be a fulcrum for Tochinoshin as well. Really nice sumo from Tochinoshin, sensing the risk and reversing it back on Endo. It looked messy, but was really quite an interesting match that showed just how good these two are. Tochinoshin, thankfully, picks up his first win.

Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – Back to Newtonian physics, Force = Mass x Acceleration. This match came down to the total bulk that Mitakeumi carries around every day acting as an aggressive, fleshy wall that constrained, contained and expelled Meisei, in spite of some really nice sumo from Meisei. Mitakeumi seems to have broken a blood vessel during the tachiai, and takes home the Yoshikaze ribbon for day 3.

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – A lot of respect for Takayasu for beating Okinoumi using his right arm. It was clear that Okinoumi was focused on attacking the damaged left arm, and Takayasu used that assumption to gain advantage on the right. It was sloppy, it was disorganized, but he made it work. Oh, and another monoii to discuss if it was beer and Yakitori or whisky and Okonomiyaki after the basho for the Shimpan.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Its clear that Takakeisho is really struggling, and Daieisho kept at an optimum distance where Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks had minimal effect. So the bout raged into maneuver warfare, which is not a Takakeisho strength. With Daieisho charging ahead for the win, Takakeisho tried a last-moment slap down, with the Gyoji bought, giving him the gumbai. But of course, a monoii was called because it seems that the Okonomiyaki place is only open for lunch, and there is a really nice izakaya just a block further away.

Hakuho defeats Asanoyama – Ok, now we know Hakuho’s toes are not a problem. Fast, brutal and effective today. He put Asanoyama on the deck and then added to the win with a celebratory belly-flop.

Kyushu Day 3 Preview

Image Courtesy Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

It’s only day 3 of the basho, and already Kyushu is loaded to the fill line with oddity. On day 2, the higher ranked rikishi in nearly every match lost. The only named rank athlete with a perfect record is Asanoyama. We have lost 3 (soon to be 4) rikishi to injury, and we have not gotten out of the first act. Sorry readers, but something is wrong in sumo land, maybe a few somethings.

But do keep in mind, sumo is a often brutal sport. It’s a combat focused zero-sum game, with a winner and loser in each match. The 6 basho + 4 jungyo schedule is merciless, and with the average weight of top division men climbing every higher, the risks for injuries compound.

But in the midst of this carnage, we are starting to see some of the future of sumo, in the fast approaching era when the current Yokozuna are both retired, and the young cohorts finally come into their own. But we have to wonder, how many of them can stay healthy to ascend the ranks when the promotion lanes open?

What We Are Watching Day 3

Wakatakakage vs Tokushoryu – In addition to having a 7-1 career advantage over the veteran, Wakatakakage seems to be on a opening hot streak. Will it be 3-0?

Terutsuyoshi vs Daishoho – His day 2 loss to Chiyomaru not withstanding, I think Terutsuyoshi is on a “recovery” tournament, to bounce back from his disastrous 4-11 score at Aki. I am looking him to make his 8, and maybe a few to spare.

Daishomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki brings a 9-3 career advantage to this match, so I think he may get his second win on day 3. Daishomaru was bamboozled by Wakatakakage and let Nishikigi win in blind man’s bluff, so he has to get his act together or figure out what he is going to wear in Juryo in January.

Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – Ok, this has my interest. I would think this series should favor Chiyomaru, but in fact Nishikigi tends to dominate these matches. Sure, Nishikigi can land his arm lock hold, but Chiyomaru has that giant belly as some sort of deflector shield.

Ishiura vs Chiyotairyu – Another match with odd history. I would assume that Chiyotairyu would overpower and dominate the smaller Ishiura, but it seems that with a 4-2 lead, it’s Ishiura who tends to give Chiyotairyu the business. That’s good news as Ishiura needs to find some wins starting now.

Takanosho vs Shodai – I know long time readers are going to assume this is a coded cry for rescue, but I think Shodai is going to run up the score this basho. At Maegashira 10, he’s going to out-class most of his opponents if he is healthy and in a good frame of mind.

Kotoshogiku vs Shimanoumi – It will be sad if Shimanoumi dealt local hero Kotoshogiku his 3rd consecutive loss. But lets be honest, as banged up ask Kotoshogiku is, it’s only a matter of when his next notch down the banzuke will happen. I love me some Kotoshogiku, but its kind of sad to watch him struggle.

Shohozan vs Sadanoumi – Shohozan was a brawling demon on day 2, even if he did go down to a loss. Will we see the same head pounding, face bashing sumo today? Sadanoumi has 13 career matches against Shohozan, so I am going to assume he knows how to avoid getting into a street fight.

Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – Oh I think this is going to be a good one. Both are strike-and-move oshi-rikishi, and so this may be a balanced fight. Yutakayama will have superior mass and defense, and Kotoeko may edge out in maneuverability and agility. Readers know I have Yutakayama earmarked to be Asanoyama’s rival, so lets see if he can stay healthy.

Onosho vs Enho – The lowest ranked of our tadpoles draws a match against power-pixie Enho, and this as “melt down” written all over it. Onosho has always had some balance issues, which got worse following knee surgery. If you fight against Enho, you had better watch your balance, as he can and will defy expectations of where and how the attacks will come.

Tsurugisho vs Ryuden – I am serious worried that Tsurugisho may have picked up some kind of concussion in his day 2 match with Shohozan. Maybe he’s kyujo today (1 in 6 chance, I would say). I think if the match goes on, Ryuden will have his hands full. While Ryuden racked up a 5-0 advantage from their time in Juryo, this version of Tsurugisho is bigger, stronger and possibly a bit pissed off.

Tamawashi vs Kotoyuki – We have not seen Kotoyuki crowd surf in a while, and given Tamawashi’s habit of sending opponents on orbital trajectories, we may get our first meet-and-greet for the zabuton crew today.

Aoiyama vs Tomokaze – This had better be a fusensho for Aoiyama. If Tomokaze shows up today, I am going to lose all hope.

Abi vs Myogiryu – Abi’s mental state may be poor right now. His Instagram antics got all rikishi everywhere thrown off of all social media, so I am guessing some of his fellow sumo men are disappointed in him. Even though he won day 2 against several parts of Takayasu, Abi is clearly not yet dialed in.

Hokutofuji vs Takarafuji – Oh good! Strategist and technician Takarafuji against both upper and lower parts of Hokutofuji, in seemingly good working order. I am going to look for Takarafuji to stalemate Hokutofuji as long as possible, looking for a mistake or opening. Hokutofuji is good at over-extending and over-committing, so lets see if “Not Kaio” has improved his discipline.

Endo vs Tochinoshin – A battle of excessive sadness. I now fear that Tochinoshin won’t make his 10, in fact I worry he may not even make 8. Endo will come in with a masterful plan, and I hope to see Tochinoshin pick him up and carry him around for 30 seconds like a box of green glass headed for the curb on Tuesday in Sumida.

Mitakeumi vs Meisei – Common wisdom might assume that the longest serving tadpole, Mitakeumi, would be the favorite, but Meisei is fighting very well this November, and I would not be surprised to see him take a few more scalps in the named ranks.

Okinoumi vs Takayasu – I think everyone knows that Takayasu is unable to generate any forward power on his left. The solution for any competent Makuuchi rikishi is fairly straightforward. I fear that we are going to be treated to a series of increasingly sad and depressing losses by the Ozeki as his injury compounds, and he gets even weaker on his left.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – Fresh from a Hakuho kinboshi, Daieisho comes to call on a battered Takakeisho, who has yet to convince anyone that he’s got his sumo dialed in, let alone that his left pectoral muscle is fit.

Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Hakuho has stated that he is a fan of Asanoyama – “A new generation guy who can do yotsu-zumo”. So now we get their second meeting, and I suspect that Hakuho has a foot problem either because of that odd day 2 match, or revealed by it. Asanoyama is fighting in great form for the first act, and I think that he’s going to have a strong showing.

Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo From Day 2

It is with no small measure of surprise that Team Tachiai report that Yokozuna Hakuho, “The Boss” has withdrawn from the September tournament on day 2. This gives Abi a fusensho win for a match that would have been a tough run for the Komusubi.

At the moment, there is no report of injury or cause for his kyujo, but perhaps he was injured in his day 1 kinboshi loss to Hokutofuji. Source media reports from Twitter below:

Aki Day 2 Preview

The scheduling committee has no business drawing up a day 2 card this compelling with a typhoon raging in the streets of Tokyo. But they did, and now I would gladly rather be standing in the driving rain to get a “day of” ticket in the upper reaches of the Kokugikan than spending a week at work.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Yutakayama vs Takagenji – Takagenji sputtered a bit on day 1, and he’s got to turn that around. But he’s facing down Yutakayama, who I would guess is on a mission to catch up to Asanoyama sooner rather than later and battle him for the lead of the Freshmen.

Daiamami vs Tochiozan – Daiamami is up from Juryo for the day to fill in the banzuke hole left by Takayasu. Tochiozan holds a 2-0 career lead over the Oitekaze man, and is not looking at all sharp to start Aki. He is another on my “watch list” of beloved veterans who might leave us in the near future.

Tsurugisho vs Ishiura – Ishiura suffered from being too low on day 1, and ate some Tokyo clay. Tsurugisho has gotten a formula for beating Ishiura (3-1) from their days in the lower divisions, so let’s see if Team Hakuho can pull out of the ditch on day 2.

Azumaryu vs Toyonoshima – A pair of storied vets go head to head? Oh do sign me up! Toyonoshima has not fared well in the past (1-3), but the typhoon may be blowing new atmosphere into the basho.

Shohozan vs Kagayaki – This makes 2 basho in a row where Kagayaki comes in encrusted with thick, heavy ring rust. Will we see the highly mobile combat style of Shohozan today, or will he continue with his new love of yotsu?

Nishikigi vs Daishoho – Nishikigi: living, walking proof that in sumo, you don’t really have to see your opponent to be victorious. Or even make it to the joi-jin it seems. He holds a 2-0 advantage over Daishoho. so maybe he squints out another win today.

Sadanoumi vs Onosho – Onosho’s red mawashi needs wins to power itself, and having failed to feed it on day 1, he tries again against Sadanoumi, whom has an 0-3 record against Onosho. We want that blazing belt of fire do its work. Let’s see some tadpole sumo!

Enho vs Meisei – Oh I am just very excited for this one. Something lit in Enho day 1, and it was magic. Maybe he is just racking wins in week 1 before everyone comes up to full basho level, or maybe he’s over that shoulder injury. What makes this great is that Meisei is no push-over, and seems to be bouncing back from his 4-11 make koshi in Nagoya.

Okinoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – As we saw in Nagoya, when Okinoumi fights a pixie, the normal mechanics seem to break down. This is his first ever match against Terutsuyoshi, and I think the young powerhouse is going to give the veteran a hard match.

Kotoyuki vs Takarafuji – I can’t believe that Kotoyuki is mid-Maegashira. If he somehow manages to kachi-koshi at this rank, it may be a sign of some sort. Kotoyuki has cut back on his crowd surfing, and it seems to have helped his sumo. Takarafuji will, of course, execute his excellent technical sumo.

Shimanoumi vs Kotoshogiku – I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by how long Kotoshogiku has been able to persist in the Maegashira ranks. He has somehow manage to keep his banged up knees in just good enough condition to rack up 8 wins when he needs them. Today he’s got newcomer powerhouse Shimanoumi.

Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – A pair of strong, heavily muscled, compact rikishi who love to grab a hold of an opponent and toss them around. I am hoping we don’t get some kind of cheap slap down action from these two, and instead its a battle of stamina and guile.

Tamawashi vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu let himself get locked up, boxed up and shipped home to Arakawa on day 1. Day 2 it’s toe to toe against skilled pugilist Tamawashi in a battle that may feature a tachiai detectable on seismometers.

Ryuden vs Shodai – Shin-Ikioi takes on Shodai, who in spite of his soft, flaccid tachiai, can actually produce some effective sumo if he can survive the first step. Ryuden needs a bounce back, as all of the “cool kids” are going to vie to stuff the San’yaku party bus to Kyushu.

Tomokaze vs Endo – A first time meeting between two high skill rikishi who both tend to come into a match with a masterful battle plan? This one is either going to be an epic war of warriors, or end in a blink. This match just oozes potential.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – Mitakeumi spent too much time with Ryuden on TV eating the contents of various fields around Japan just prior to the basho. As a result, I think Mitakeumi is still trying to digest all of that daikon, and may feel much better soon. In the mean time, we may see Daieisho dredge him in potato starch and deep fry him for 90 seconds, before serving him on a bed of cabbage.

Aoiyama vs Takakeisho – Folks, each one of these is going to be a nail-biter. Although he holds a 3-1 advantage over the man-Mountain, Takakeisho is clearly only about 80% right now. We have yet to see a proper wave-action attack. Aoiyama, I am confident, is going to bat Takakeisho around to see if Weebils really can fall down.

Ichinojo vs Goeido – This should show us how sturdy Goeido’s injured ankle is. If he blasts into Ichinojo and can beat him moving forward, Goeido may be tough to beat this time. Ichinojo, I predict, will use his enormity to his utmost.

Tochinoshin vs Asanoyama – I am going to assume both men go for yotsu, with Asanoyama spending a lot of attention keeping Tochinoshin from landing that left hand grip to set up the lift-and-shift. Look for Asanoyama to go right-hand outside at the tachiai if he can.

Kakuryu vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji already had one Yokozuna scalp. If Kakuryu can prevail, that may in fact be the deciding difference in the last 5 days, when I expect both Yokozuna to be contending for the yusho. Handshake tachiai to be certain, but I expect Kakuryu to give ground and let Hokutofuji’s natural inclination to get too far forward do most of the work.

Abi vs Hakuho – I an going to guess Hakuho is pretty wound up after day 1, and Abi may be the discharge path for all of that coiled up sumo aggression. Will we see “The Boss” give our favorite sick-insect a flying lesson?