January 2018, Day 6, Takakeisho v Tochinoshin

Takakeisho puts up a good fight, but Tochinoshin is rock solid. Takakeisho stays busy defending against Tochinoshin’s right arm, trying to prevent a second belt grip, but Tochinoshin moves him steadily backwards without ever landing the right hand and before you know it they’re over the straw.

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January 2018, Day 5, Goeido v Tochinoshin

My vote for bout of the tournament so far. Tochinoshin’s strong arms, long torso, and heavy lower body make for a difficult challenge when he’s performing well, and he’s performing really well. He’s too much for Ozeki Goeido, who tries every trick in the book but can’t get Tochinoshin over, down, or out. The right arm of Tochinoshin is key, and Goeido stands a chance as long as he can keep it away from his belt. But once Tochinoshin fights past Goeido’s guard, slipping his right hand inside and grabbing the deep underarm grip, it’s the beginning of the end. Goeido’s valiant last stand with his toes gripping the straw bales, even reaching out with his left leg for an outside sweep, all in vain against the crushing double-handed belt grip of Tochinoshin. A titanic bout between two wrestlers at the top of their game. Tochinoshin stays tied for the tournament lead at 5-0, Goeido loses for the first time, still within reach at 4-1.

January 2018, Day 4, Tochinoshin v Takayasu

Tough loss for Ozeki Takayasu, falling to a fully-recovered Tochinoshin on Day 4. It seems like he’s going to get the win charging forward, but his feet don’t keep up with his top half and Tochinoshin pulls him down at the edge. Tochinoshin’s right foot stays in bounds by the tiniest of margins, hanging over the toku-dawara with his heel millimeters from the surface of the outside of the ring until Takayasu hits the ground. The camera zoom at the end of the bout shows no disturbance in the soft dirt where Tochinoshin’s heel was levitating. Tochinoshin wins his fourth in a row, and Takayasu loses for the first time.

January 2018, Day 2, Arawashi v Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin has been bouncing up and down the rankings the past few years, never able to string together more than a few winning tournaments in a row, moving as high as sekiwake and as low as M10 after an injury last January. He looks strong and stable now, imposing his brand of straight-forward sumo on Arawashi, who has no answer for the big Georgian. Looks like Tochinoshin will have good success if he can secure the early belt grip and use his solid base to stay anchored.

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.

November 2017, Day 1, Chiyoshoma v Tochinoshin

Great katasukashi (under shoulder swing down) by Chiyoshoma, who gets both hands around Tochinoshin’s left shoulder and torques hard until the taller wrestler rolls off the dohyo.