May 2017, Day 15, Onosho v Takakeisho

Takakeisho looks skyward in the moments before his bout, gathering the strength he needs for the upcoming sacrifice. Nothing weird like a goat, just a sacrifice of his own body at the edge of the ring, launching into thin air, stretching out over empty space to gain the few milliseconds necessary for Onosho to step out first. That kind of dedication has led to an excellent 11-4 record for Takakeisho, and he should find himself much higher in the division next tournament. Onosho finishes his first top-division tournament with an outstanding 10-5 record.

May 2017, Day 14, Ura v Takakeisho

Ura drops two in a row, getting blasted off the ring by Takakeisho. Takakeisho stays just as low as Ura at the tachiai, driving him back to the tawara where Ura plants his right foot and tries to escape to the side. But Takakeisho follows nicely and puts two hands on Ura’s chest, sending him flying. Both men have had excellent tournaments so far, finishing the day at 10-4.

May 2017, Day 13, Daishomaru v Takakeisho

That little smile from Daishomaru isn’t just because he threw down Takakeisho by the face. It’s also because he finally ended a five-tournament streak of losing records, picking up the all-important eighth win on Day 13. Takakeisho has a good record of 9-4 in only his third top-division tournament.

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 5, Hokutofuji v Takakeisho

Takakeisho looks great on Day 5 against Hokutofuji, standing up to his opponent’s fierce attack with solid hips and good lateral movement. He sets up Hokutofuji for the fall,  using a great matador move after some hard shoving to force Hokutofuji to push back. At 4-1 after five days, this is Takakeisho’s best start to a top-division tournament. Hokutofuji falls to 3-2.

May 2017, Sokokurai v Takakeisho

Sokokurai looks to be in trouble off the tachiai, driven backwards by Takakeisho all the way to the edge of the ring. But he pushes down on Takakeisho’s head while Takakeisho graciously forgets to move his feet forward, and Sokokurai hangs on with both feet balanced on the tawara, his heels suspended over the outside of the ring just long enough for Takakeisho to hit the ground first. The referee calls it for Takakeisho, but ex-Ozeki Kaio calls a conference and the ref’s decision is reversed.

May 2017, Day 1, Shohozan v Takakeisho

Shohozan leads with a light right-handed slap to Takakeisho’s face at the tachiai, more of a distraction than a power move, but it doesn’t faze Takakeisho. Takakeisho gets in two strong shoves before Shohozan can even respond, and this sets the tone for the rest of the bout – Shohozan takes some big swings without really connecting, and Takakeisho has better luck attacking Shohozan’s chest and neck. Takakeisho pulls the matador move, sidestepping while pulling down on Shohozan, who reacts instantly and spins to deflect the expected charge from behind. It’s a fine move, but Shohozan just misses the straw with his left foot and steps out before Takakeisho.