May 2017, Day 10, Kaisei v Ura

Man, I love a good kirikaeshi, and Ura executes it flawlessly. Getting Kaisei stumbling forward with the katasukashi (under-shoulder swing down), Ura then charges into the side of Kaisei, who defends with a right-side armlock throw. But Ura quickly catches himself by hooking his left leg behind Kaisei’s right, and leaning into his big opponent to drop him with the kirikaeshi (twisting backwards knee trip). Ura gets his second consecutive top-division kachikoshi (winning record), improving to 8-2, while Kaisei picks up his fourth loss.

May 2017, Day 8, Kaisei v Ishiura

Ishiura gives up 185 pounds to Kaisei. That’s the size of a large human being, just in the negative space between them. So I guess it’s no surprise that Ishiura, trying to fight back from the edge of the ring, bounces off Kaisei like a ping pong ball. Kaisei holds his ground and gets a two-handed shove on Ishiura’s hips, sending him spinning out of the ring to his fourth loss. Kaisei improves to 5-3.

Chiyoshoma stays active against the much larger Kaisei, never settling into any kind of predictable rhythm and keeping Kaisei from getting any traction. Hands to the throat at the tachiai, circle left for a deep overarm grip, back to the face and throat with some slaps, then a left hand inside that slips off the belt. Kaisei finally gets a chance to show some offense, and cranks on Chiyoshoma’s left arm with an armlock throw. Chiyoshoma defends nicely, using the outside leg hook on the left side to keep from going over. Chiyoshoma then charges forward, but gets a little too upright, letting Kaisei get a left-handed grip on his belt and actually coming off the ground for a split second. But when Kaisei moves forward to grab the belt with his right hand, Chiyoshoma retreats with perfect timing, setting his feet and using a quickly-secured right-handed grip to take advantage of Kaisei’s momentum and drop the big guy with an uwatenage (overarm throw).

January 2017, Day 8, Takekaze v Kaisei

Takekaze provides a real treat on Day 8, winning by one of the rarest kimarite (winning techniques) seen in sumo. Ipponzeoi (one-armed shoulder throw) is used by wrestlers only .02% of the time (for contrast, 26% of all bouts are decided by yorikiri), and the last time Takekaze performed it was almost twelve-and-a-half years ago. After a solid tachiai against Kaisei, Takekaze starts off trying to pull his opponent down by the back of the head. When that doesn’t work he transitions quickly into a double-underarm morozashi position, looking for the front of the belt with his left hand to equalize the left-handed overarm grip Kaisei has already secured. Kaisei does a good job clamping down on Takekaze’s left arm and making it hard to get a solid grip, so Takekaze jumps backward. He lands and sets his feet sideways, with Kaisei following closely. The momentum is in Takekaze’s favor if he can pull it off, so he grabs onto Kaisei’s right arm with both hands, turns his back, hoists Kaisei onto his shoulder and cranks on that arm. Kaisei goes over like a 400-pound bag of mulch, and Takekaze gets the win. The crowd is all a-twitter from the action, but listen to the reaction when the announcer calls the official decision as “ipponzeoi.” They know they’ve seen something special.

January 2017, Day 4, Kaisei v Sokokurai

Sokokurai survives his bout on Day 4, spending the first half of the contest just trying to stay elusive and avoid getting wrapped up by big-boy Kaisei. Once Kaisei closes the distance and gets a hand on Sokokurai’s belt, Sokokurai is force to grapple and locks up a left-handed overarm grip of his own to even things out. Then he circles wisely away from Kaisei’s grip, pulling his hips free and regaining the advantage, fending off Kaisei’s right arm while trying to get back to the center of the ring. The instant Kaisei regains his left-handed grip, Sokokurai uses the two Ts, Torso and Timing, to roll Kaisei with a great uwatenage.

January 2017, Day 3, Kaisei v Takanoiwa

The official winning technique for this bout is uwatedashinage, or pulling overarm throw, because Takanoiwa’s left arm happened to be on Kaisei’s belt as he fell over. But any fight fan will recognize that the true win came by cold-blooded KO, and the massive right-handed slap that found a home on Kaisei’s chin and dropped him like a sack of pudding.

November 2016, Kakuryu Yusho compilation

Kakuryu wins the November 2016 Grand Sumo Tournament in Kyushu, earning his third top-division championship with a record of 14-1. Over the course of fourteen wins he used six different kimarite (winning techniques): yorikiri (8), uwatedashinage (2), oshidashi (1), hatakikomi (1), tsukiotoshi (1), and shitatehineri (1).