Yokozuna Kakuryu wins the March 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, his fourth top-division championship and his first since November 2016. He finished with an excellent 13-2 record, losing only to defending champ Tochinoshin and Ozeki Takayasu. Over the course of the tournament he used four different kimarite (winning techniques): hatakikomi (6), yorikiri (3), oshidashi (3), and tsukiotoshi (1).
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.
Kotoshogiku shows a rare display of frustration at Abi’s henka, out of character but entirely understandable. It’s not a terrible henka, but Kotoshogiku has to be tired of losing this way.
Takarafuji spends the first part of the bout trying to get around Kotoshogiku’s left arm and reach the belt with his right hand. When Kotoshogiku gives a heave, Takarafuji finds the angle he needs to secure the grip. Now Takarafuji has some leverage over Kotoshogiku’s center of gravity and moves him to the edge of the ring. And like a mirror image of yesterday, Kotoshogiku is forced to push back hard, giving Takarafuji the perfect opportunity to reverse the momentum and roll Kotoshogiku by uwatenage (overarm throw).
Mitakeumi thinks he knows what Kotoshogiku’s trying. He thinks he knows because Kotoshogiku almost always tries the exact same thing. So when Mitakeumi has his heels on the tawara, with Kotoshogiku bumping up against him, he thinks he has to push back as hard as he can to keep from getting pushed out. And he’s not wrong. But he’s also completely taken off guard by Kotoshogiku’s sudden reversal, which turns his forward lean against him and sees him slung to the ground by sukuinage (beltless arm throw). Surprise!
Goeido out-Kotoshogikus Kotoshogiku. Dipping low, eventually getting both arms in, not even needing a belt grip to belly-bump Kotoshogiku out of the ring. For Kotoshogiku it must have been like fighting a clone. And their records are mirror images as well, Goeido at 6-2, Kotoshogiku at 2-6.
Always nice to see blast-from-the-past Kotoshogiku show up and take out an opponent with his solid gaburi-yori frog-hopping attack. The left hand high under the armpit destroys Endo’s posture, and Kotoshogiku keeps his feet moving forward until Endo is out. Endo falls to 3-4, and Kotoshogiku earns only his second win of the tournament.