November 2017, Day 5, Daiamami v Aminishiki

Daiamami, age 24, is in his twelfth professional tournament, and his first in the top division. Aminishiki, age 39, is in his hundred-twenty-fifth professional tournament, and his ninety-fifth in the top division. Looks like experience goes a long way to mitigating a set of bad knees. Aminishiki tries to gain the upper hand with a leg pick attempt right after the tachiai, but his younger, heavier opponent recovers, pushing Aminishiki all the way to the edge of the ring. A right arm high underneath Daiamiami’s left armpit gives Aminishiki just enough leverage to keep from going out. At one point he actually has both feet in the toku-dawara notch in the far side of the circle, but his knees hold up thanks in no small part to yards of support tape. As Aminishiki circles to his right, he uses that right arm to sweep Daiamami into the empty space where his body used to be with a sukuinage (beltless arm throw). His cheeks pooching out with a big exhale, Aminishiki stays perfect at 5-0. The last time Aminishiki started a tournament with five consecutive wins was March of 2015, and before that it was September of 2007. Good job, Ami-chan.

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November 2017, Day 3, Mitakeumi v Kotoshogiku

One former Ozeki on his way down, one likely future Ozeki on his way up. The way Kotoshogiku applies pressure with both legs equally can be really powerful when he stays on his line and uses his arms to control his opponent. But it can also be a weakness when his opponent shifts off-center, making him susceptible to easily tipping over. Like today. Good work by Mitakeumi to exploit ‘Giku’s style and get the sukuinage (beltless arm throw) win.

November 2017, Day 3, Tochinoshin v Arawashi

Arawashi cruises to his third straight victory with a determined sukuinage (beltless arm throw) against Tochinoshin. Right off the tachiai the long-armed Georgian gets a deep left-handed overarm belt grip, and Arawashi immediately reacts with a strong underarm belt throw on that same side. Arawashi also has a hold of Tochinoshin’s right arm, which helps twist the taller wrestler towards the ground. But Tochinoshin is pretty flexible and won’t go over easily, not as long as he can defend with that overarm grip. His feet are still planted and he’s leaning hard on Arawashi, who loses the underarm belt grip. But Arawashi doesn’t give up, executing a nice leg sweep to break Tochinoshin’s base while continuing the pressure with that last bit of his wrist that’s still under Tochinoshin’s arm. The effort pays off with a pretty throw and a perfect record.

September 2017, Day 8, Kotoshogiku v Tochiozan

Tochiozan jumps sideways at the tachiai, knowing that Kotoshogiku always charges ahead full-steam. This is a sneaky maneuver called a henka, and it’s generally frowned upon when used too often, but Tochiozan knows his opponent and figures he can get the easy win. Kotoshogiku goes sailing by, but somehow manages to stop his forward momentum and turn on a dime. Tochiozan is too slow, he should have followed right behind Kotoshogiku to push him out, and he looks completely unprepared when ‘Giku spins to face him. Now Kotoshogiku has some motivation, some fire in his belly, and he charges into Tochiozan taking him to the edge of the ring. But Tochiozan is a wily veteran, and plants his feet, using a left-side sukuinage (beltless arm throw) with perfect timing to toss Kotoshogiku out of the ring. ‘Giku’s slide continues as he drops his fourth bout in a row after winning the first four days. Tochiozan’s barely hanging in there at 2-6.

September 2017, Day 6, Mitakeumi v Kotoshogiku

These two guys are headed in opposite directions, both in the short arc of this tournament and over the longer perspective of their careers. Mitakeumi started with a few losses but looks better day by day, while Kotoshogiku started 4-0 but now has dropped two in a row. I won’t be surprised if Mitakeumi makes Ozeki someday, and he’ll need continued success against the veteran gatekeepers of the top of the division like ex-Ozeki Kotoshogiku to make that happen. Taking on Kotoshogiku’s strong tachiai and driving him to the edge of the ring, finishing with the sukuinage (beltless arm throw) – that’s just the kind of high-level performance we’d like to see from Mitakeumi.

July 2017, Hakuho Yusho compilation

Yokozuna Hakuho wins the July 2017 Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya, earning his thirty-ninth top-division championship with a record of 14-1. Along the way he surpassed former Ozeki Kaio to set the all-time wins record with a mark of 1050. Over the course of the tournament he used eight different kimarite (winning techniques): yorikiri (5), tsukiotoshi (2), okuridashi (2), hatakikomi (2), sukuinage (1), oshitaoshi (1), yoritaoshi (1), kotenage (1).