November 2017, Day 2, Takekaze v Kotoyuki

Alright, first-day jitters are out of the way and wrestlers are starting to loosen up, smash heads and sling tsuppari. Takekaze demolishes Kotoyuki off the tachiai, getting a right hand underneath Kotoyuki’s left arm and pushing him off balance before toppling him at the edge of the ring. Takekaze gets tangled up in Kotoyuki’s legs and goes overboard himself, and it’s only the wide Fukuoka Arena aisle that prevents a large spectator casualty count when the two men hit the ground. Oshitaoshi (front push down) for Takekaze’s first win.

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September 2017, Day 9, Chiyonokuni v Takekaze

Fantastic match-up between Chiyonokuni and Takekaze, showing a good mix of full-on tsuppari (open-palm thrusts/slaps), grappling, and belt work. Takekaze uses a knee-buckling outside leg sweep to get his left arm deep around Chiyonokuni’s belt, securing the right-handed belt grip shortly after. His left arm is high underneath Chiyonokuni’s right, keeping it away from his belt, so Chiyonokuni has to stretch his left hand for the overarm belt grip in order to get some kind of leverage. Chiyonokuni pulls hard with the left hand, breaking Takekaze’s left-handed grip and slinging Takekaze around towards the edge of the ring. But Takekaze returns the favor, using the momentum to his advantage and twisting down hard with his right hand to crumple Chiyonokuni to the clay. Official technique is kirikaeshi (twisting backward knee trip), but I didn’t see Takekaze use his knee at all behind Chiyonokuni’s leg. To this amateur’s eye it looked more like a shitatehineri (twisting underarm throw), but I don’t have access to the slow-mo replays or the decades of experience it takes to make the official call.

September 2017, Day 8, Daishomaru v Takekaze

Dinner roll, jelly roll, sushi roll, why am I hungry all of a sudden? Sumo wrestlers train in falling techniques to prevent themselves from getting injured when they hit the hard-packed clay surface of the dohyo, and Takekaze executes a beautiful shoulder roll once he feels himself headed inevitably dirtwards. With the win, Daishomaru is the sole representative from the bottom half of the rankings still tied at one loss with the tournament leaders. Takekaze rolls to 2-6.

May 2017, Day 15, Takekaze v Ishiura

Ishiura can sleep well tonight, having earned his all-important eighth win on the final day of the tournament. Takekaze grabs Ishiura by the face to try and stop his forward charge, but Ishiura cannot be denied. Takekaze finishes with a disappointing 4-11 record.

May 2017, Day 11, Takekaze v Arawashi

Arawashi pulls off a nifty trick, utilizing a rare technique called ketaguri (pulling inside ankle sweep). It happens really fast, but at the tachiai Arawashi reaches out to pull down on Takekaze’s head, while simultaneously sweeping forward with his left foot. The left foot connects with Takekaze’s left knee, knocking his leg out from under him. Takekaze now has eight losses, and Arawashi is 4-7.

May 2017, Day 8, Takekaze v Ichinojo

Takekaze survives the steady plodding attack of Ichinojo for the first half of the match, doing a good job of fighting off the larger wrestler’s arms and keeping him from getting a good grip. Pulling Ichinojo’s arms to the side, Takekaze gets some breathing room for a moment before surprising Ichinojo with a left hand to the face that opens him up for the final charge. Both men finish the day at a disappointing 2-6, but Takekaze should be happy with his performance.