September 2016, Day 12, Takanoiwa v Shodai

Huh. So, Shodai really doesn’t like getting slapped in the face. Takanoiwa falls behind in the belt battle, and fends off Shodai first with a left-handed shove to the head, followed by a real right-handed wallop. The crowd audibly reacts. But man, Shodai gets charged up and just muscles Takanoiwa off the dohyo, slinging him sideways and down with a beltless arm throw. Takanoiwa loses for the eighth time, and Shodai holds at seven losses, staving off demotion for another day.

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May 2016, Hakuho Yusho compilation

Hakuho wins the May 2016 Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, collecting his 37th top-division championship with his 12th perfect 15-0 record. Over fifteen days he used ten different winning techniques: yorikiri (4), oshidashi (2), tsukiotoshi (2), yoritaoshi (1), oshitaoshi (1), uwatenage (1), sukuinage (1), hikiotoshi (1), shitatenage (1), and utchari (1).

May 2016, Day 15, Hakuho v Kakuryu

Spectacular finish to a spectacular tournament for Yokozuna Hakuho. He wins his 37th top-division championship with his 12th perfect 15-0 record. On the final day against fellow Yokozuna Kakuryu he’s already got the tournament locked up, so he’s really just adding to his legacy. The two wrestlers both have left-hand underhand grips off the tachiai, and both shift their right arms underneath to end up in equal migi-yotsu grips. This is the classic sumo pose, and it’s a contest of strength. Kakuryu attacks first, pushing Hakuho right to the edge, but when Kakuryu tries the outside leg trip that worked against Kisenosato yesterday Hakuho responds by lifting Kakuryu off the ground, twisting around backwards, and depositing Kakuryu on the other side of the tawara for the utchari win. I can’t fathom the core strength it takes to pull off this move. The smallest of smiles crosses Hakuho’s face as he stands up. Congrats to the champ.

May 2016, Day 15, Harumafuji v Kisenosato

It’s all for pride at this point for Kisenosato, after dropping two bouts in a row to Yokozunas Hakuho and Kakuryu and losing his chance at a first-ever tournament championship. So he takes it to Yokozuna Harumafuji, nullifying the smaller wrestler’s movement with good hand fighting and protecting his belt all the way to the edge. Kisenosato finishes with the second-best record in the top division, two losses behind the perfect Hakuho.

May 2016, Day 15, Kotoyuki v Terunofuji

Kotoyuki is on point again today, standing up the big Ozeki Terunofuji at the tachiai with strong thrusts to his head. From there it’s academic and Kotoyuki drops Terunofuji to his twelfth loss. Kotoyuki finishes with a make-koshi (7-8) as well, and will want to build on the experience he got this tournament against the best of the best.

May 2016, Day 15, Shodai v Yoshikaze

The make-koshi (losing record of 7-8) must be disappointing for Yoshikaze, especially fighting at the middling rank (for him) of Maegashira 4. He’ll be lower down in the middle of the division next tournament, and should be primed for an excellent performance.

May 2016, Day 15, Shohozan v Takayasu

Nice to see Shohozan finish strong – his 11-4 record this tournament means he’ll be promoted back up closer to where he belongs, out of the bottom Maegashira ranks. Despite Takayasu pulling on his head at the edge, he stays centered and uses a strong left arm around Takayasu’s midsection to ensure the win.