January 2018, Day 15, Kotoyuku v Ishiura

One thing you miss in these quick highlight videos is the pace of live sumo. The ritual, the pageantry, the building tension. The mind games. This slightly longer clip of Kotoyuki and Ishiura facing off before their bout and going through a couple of false starts gives you more of a taste of the real thing. The four or five minutes of build-up that lead to a 2-second bout give so much flavor to the 2 seconds, make it so much more impactful, it’s a vital part of sumo that I love. As for this bout, Kotoyuki drops his eighth loss for a make-koshi, and Ishiura finishes the tournament at 9-6.

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January 2018, Day 13, Asanoyama v Chiyomaru

Poor Asanoyama, following up a 6-0 start with a 1-6 second half. Chiyomaru sets him up and knocks him down with no trouble. Chiyomaru picks up his kachi-koshi today, but Asanoyama will have to win at least one of the next two days to avoid demotion.

January 2018, Day 10, Chiyomaru v Ikioi

Ikioi is desperate to avoid his eighth loss and subsequent demotion, so he comes out strong against Chiyomaru. But Chiyomaru takes advantage of his over-eagerness with a deftly-timed pull down on Ikioi’s shoulder and a great innate sense of the ring behind him. Ikioi falls to 2-8, and Chiyomaru finishes at 6-4.

January 2018, Day 9, Abi v Asanoyama

Abi’s reminding me more and more of Chiyotaikai – live by the slap, die by the slap. He starts off every bout going with a full-blast tsuppari attack to the face, and his 6-3 record suggests it seems to be working so far. Poor Asanoyama just manages to fight off Abi’s hands and take a tentative step forward when Abi slams down on his arms and drops him to his third loss in a row after a 6-0 start.

January 2018, Day 7, Mitakeumi v Yoshikaze

Mitakeumi sets up Yoshikaze perfectly at the edge, pushing hard before yanking back and stepping out of the way. Mitakeumi stays perfect at 7-0, tied for the tournament lead, while Yoshikaze falls to 3-4.

January 2018, Day 6, Shohozan v Kotoyuki

Shohozan goes bowling with Kotoyuki, picking up a strike in the first row as Kotoyuki rolls off the dohyo with a ton of momentum. Kotoyuki falls to 4-2, and Shohozan stays one loss behind the leaders at 5-1.

January 2018, Day 5, Takakeisho v Onosho

Takakeisho falls below .500 with a loss against tough opponent Onosho. After a smashing face-to-face tachiai, Onosho yanks down on Takakeisho’s arms to send him dirtward in a jiffy. Takakeisho finishes in the splits, no small feat for a 330lb man. These two are fairly evenly matched, both relatively new to the top division with quick promotions up to the high rank of komusubi. A string of good performances up here could see an Ozeki rank for one of these guys in the future, but it looks like they’ll need some more experience before that happens.