March 2018, Day 15, Kotoshogiku v Hokutofuji

Because the severity of your demotion depends on how far under .500 you finish, every win counts even after you’ve dropped eight losses. Veteran Kotoshogiku understands this and fights like mad to stay in, borrowing a page from newbie Ryuden’s book to plant his heels on the straw bales and refuse to be pushed out. The crowd appreciates the effort and roars in approval when Kotoshogiku recovers from a strong nodowa (throat push) to reset in the center, finding a left-handed underarm belt grip to give him enough leverage to push Hokutofuji the length of the dohyo and out the other side. Both men finish the tournament at 6-9.

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March 2018, Day 14, Endo v Hokutofuji

“Olé!” or whatever the matadors say.

March 2018, Day 13, Mitakeumi v Hokutofuji

Mitakeumi shouldn’t have this much trouble with Hokutofuji, but here we are. The bout ends up very entertaining as a result, a rambling affair that weaves back and forth all across the dohyo. Hokutofuji survives a good left-handed sukuinage (beltless arm throw) attempt at the edge, and returns the favor with a dangerous push on Mitakeumi’s arm that sets up a strong throat shove, putting Mitakeumi on his heels. With victory in his sights, Hokutofuji lunges forward just as Mitakeumi escapes to the side, pushing down on Hokutofuji’s shoulders and driving him into the dirt. Big relief for Mitakeumi who avoids his eighth loss, improving to 6-7. Hokutofuji also finishes the day at 6-7.

March 2018, Day 8, Ryuden v Hokutofuji

This is a long, exhausting, blue-collar bout, and that’s no insult. Ryuden and Hokutofuji lock up with pretty equivalent belt holds, and then it’s just a contest of strength. It’s almost ninety seconds of grab-the-belt, grab-the-boob, and Ryuden comes out on top.

March 2018, Day 7, Daieisho v Hokutofuji

Strong tachiai from both men in their first-ever meeting, with Daieisho coming out on top after a series of sharp tsuppari thrusts to Hokutofuji’s head. A perfectly-timed pull takes advantage of Hokutofuji’s counter-charge and sets up the finishing move, where Daieisho grabs Hokutofuji by the face and throws him off the dohyo. Oshitaoshi (front push down) is too bland a name for this technique, so I propose a new one: kaotsukamitaoshi (顔掴み倒し, face-grabbing push down).

March 2018, Day 2, Yoshikaze v Hokutofuji

Yoshikaze fights through the nodowa (throat push) of Hokutofuji, keeping his feet moving forward until he has Hokutofuji wrapped up at the edge of the ring and time stops for a brief moment, Hokutofuji’s inevitable collapse a palpable thing in the air, suddenly made real in a crumpled heap of two wrestlers.

January 2018, Day 15, Hokutofuji v Aminishiki

Aminishiki pulls one more rabbit out of his hat, pulling down Hokutofuji and sending him stumbling gracelessly off the dohyo. With only three wins this tournament, Aminishiki is facing a likely demotion from Maegashira 10 down to the Juryo division, so we can only hope this wasn’t his last top-division win.