May 2017, Day 13, Tochinoshin v Shodai

When Tochinoshin is healthy, he’s a formidable wrestler. He seems to be mostly recovered from the injury that knocked him out of the January tournament, and his excellent record this time should see him promoted back up to the upper half of the division. Today he takes on Shodai, and uses the long overarm left-handed belt grip to work Shodai all the way to the edge. But Shodai digs in his heels and fights back, getting the dominant position with a moro-zashi grip (both hands under), while Tochinoshin only has the left-handed grip, his right arm occupied trying to dislodge Shodai’s left. This time it’s Shodai who pushes Tochinoshin right to the edge, and Tochinoshin has to plant his heels, lifting hard with the left-side grip to get Shodai briefly airborne. Now with momentum on his side, Tochinoshin presses forward and crushes Shodai to the clay by abisetaoshi (backwards force down).

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, Tochinoshin v Daishomaru

The first time Tochinoshin and Daishomaru crash into each other, the head judge seated ringside calls a “matta,” as Daishomaru didn’t get his hands down adequately. Tochinoshin doesn’t mind, as Daishomaru got the best of him and he’d love a rematch. The second try has the same result, matta, but Tochinoshin looks a little peeved this time to undo what would have been his victory. The third try goes off without a hitch, and Tochinoshin takes out his frustration on Daishomaru with a furious attack that leaves nothing to chance. Tochinoshin earns his winning record of 8-2, while Daishomaru drops to 6-4.

May 2017, Day 9, Tochinoshin v Myogiryu

Tochinoshin keeps his right arm tucked in at the tachiai, and uses it to get an underhook on Myogiryu’s left arm. This prevents the shorter wrestler from getting too low, and goes a long way to setting up the win for the much taller Tochinoshin. After a few tries, Tochinoshin gets the left-handed overarm grip to add to the right-hand under, and now he’s got total control over Myogiryu’s hips. Myogiryu tries to fight back, but he can’t prevent Tochinoshin from dropping him with the overarm throw.

May 2017, Day 7, Tochinoshin v Ishiura

When the long arm of Tochinoshin reaches out for you, there’s no escaping justice. Ishiura’s size betrays him today, as Tochinoshin reaches over his back with both arms for a deep two-handed belt grip. The underarm throw isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done.

May 2017, Day 4, Tochinoshin v Ura

Ura is entertaining even in defeat. Spectacular bout today against Tochinoshin, who plays the part of the lumbering giant trying to grab onto his elusive and much smaller opponent. Ura doesn’t even move forward at the tachiai, he just stands up and then looks for an opening, trying to stay out of Tochinoshin’s grasp. Showing his famous agility and speed, Ura ducks under Tochinoshin’s slap to try for a leg, but Tochinoshin finally clamps down on Ura’s left arm and uses his right leg for extra leverage on the throw. Ura goes flying through the air, and the referee calls it for Tochinoshin. A conference of the ring judges decides that even though Tochinoshin’s hand touched first, Ura’s body was flipped over and the position was impossible to recover. (This is a rarely-applied ruling called “shinitai” or “dead body.”) Winning technique is kotenage, or armlock throw.

March 2017, Day 15, Endo v Tochinoshin

It’s always high-pressure when two 7-7 wrestlers meet on the last day. Endo and Tochinoshin are staring each other down, but the referee is loudly admonishing them to put their hands down and get started. The men oblige, and Tochinoshin greets Endo with a massive forearm to the face. Somehow Endo’s head remains attached to his body and he gets a good inside belt grip, his right arm all the way around Tochinoshin’s waist. Tochinoshin can’t follow up on the strong start, and has no purchase on Endo’s body. Endo quickly walks Tochinoshin over the tawara, and makes sure his opponent doesn’t fall too hard – an acknowledgement of Tochinoshin’s injured leg. Endo offers to help Tochinoshin back up the steps, but Tochinoshin’s pride won’t allow him to accept. The aftermath of Tochinoshin’s forearm is evident in Endo’s bloody nose.