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.

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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).

May 2017, Day 15, Daishomaru v Ura

Ura, man, that’s kinda not cool. Everyone knows your tachiai is a little weird, you don’t charge forward with full effort, and that’s part of your style. But today you literally stepped backwards. Granted, hooking under the leg of Daishomaru and swinging him out with the beltless arm throw was a nice finish. But your 11-4 record is going to mean a good promotion next tournament, and it’ll be interesting to see how some really top-notch wrestlers handle your unorthodox sumo. Good luck!

May 2017, Day 12, Tochinoshin v Takakeisho

Takakeisho pulls off a difficult throw against Tochinoshin, who gets his preferred overarm grip deep around the back of Takakeisho’s belt. Takakeisho does a good job keeping his right arm and shoulder very high, reducing the amount of leverage Tochinoshin can apply from that side. And given how high Tochinoshin’s arm is, Takakeisho needs just about perfect technique to execute the sukuinage (beltless arm throw), using his right leg and hip to help tip Tochinoshin’s body over and around. Takakeisho improves to 9-3, a great result so far in his third top-division tournament. Tochinoshin, on the other hand, is more than likely disappointed with his 9-3 record, as it just about takes him out of championship contention.

May 2017, Day 10, Chiyoshoma v Goeido

Goeido’s feeling the pressure of his precarious position, needing just a few more wins in the last few days to secure his Ozeki rank for another tournament. He comes out motivated against Chiyoshoma, wasting no time in charging forward and executing the flawless sukuinage (beltless arm throw) that sends Chiyoshoma crashing out of the ring upside down. Goeido inches closer to his eighth win at 6-4, but Chiyoshoma gets his eighth loss and makekoshi record, guaranteeing demotion next tournament.