May 2016, Day 12, Toyonoshima v Takayasu

Toyonoshima is having a rough tournament. Today he maneuvers well against Takayasu, using a right-handed belt grip to spin to the side and move Takayasu almost all the way out. But Takayasu plants his foot on the tawara and uses his left arm to complete a beltless arm throw that takes Toyonoshima completely by surprise. Toyonoshima loses his eighth bout, ensuring a demotion next tournament.

March 2016, Hakuho Yusho compilation

Hakuho wins the March 2016 Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, collecting his 36th top-division championship (1st all-time) with a 14-1 record. After losing on the first day to Komusubi Takarafuji via yorikiri, he strung together fourteen consecutive wins looking stronger and stronger each day. Until the last day, when I thought he cheated us out of a good matchup with Yokozuna Harumafuji. Of his fourteen wins, he used five different winning techniques: yorikiri (5), oshidashi (5), uwatenage (2), yoritaoshi (1), and tsukiotoshi (1). His longest bout was 53.3 seconds, and the shortest was only 1.4, with an average over the tournament of 7.7 seconds. Anyway, enjoy this compilation of all fifteen of his bouts in a row.

March 2016, Day 7, Kotoshogiku v Toyonoshima

Kotoshogiku gets all he can handle today against Toyonoshima, and barely escapes with his sixth win. Things go pretty well from the tachiai onwards, with Kotoshogiku controlling the action using a kime grip (double outside) on the shorter wrestler’s arms. When Toyonoshima goes for a belt grip on the inside, Kotoshogiku changes tactics and tries to maneuver his left arm inside Toyonoshima’s right, but this puts him way too upright and out of position. Toyonoshima is too crafty to let such an opportunity slide, and before you know it Kotoshogiku is straining with all his might to keep his heels planted on the tawara and prevent the lower-positioned Toyonoshima from pushing him out. Toyonoshima gains some separation and tries one mighty shove, but somehow Giku stays in. A strong thrust from Giku’s left arm into Toyonoshima’s ribs sends the smaller wrestler spinning off to the side and down into the clay. Kotoshogiku should go watch that tape and think about giving up an advantageous position at the first sign of trouble. (Hint: Don’t do it.)

March 2016, Day 4, Goeido v Toyonoshima

Goeido keeps winning the bouts he should win. He’s showing extreme confidence and an appropriate level of swagger. His weakness has always been psychological, but it seems like he’s in a good mental space this tournament. The aggressive tachiai he throws against Toyonoshima today is a thing of beauty, and he doesn’t get overextended when his opponent starts to slide out of the way. He uses the right-hand overhand grip for an uwatenage attempt, and Toyonoshima’s spin doesnt fool him – he follows close behind for the solid oshidashi victory. The look on his face as he takes a breath at the end says it all. (Bonus points if you can find Waldo in the crowd.)

January 2016, Day 13, Kotoshogiku v Toyonoshima

Toyonoshima is always a threat to topple the guys at the top of the division. He’s deceptively agile, with a ton of experience. He’s unpredictable, equally as likely to push you out as pull you down (with quite a few wins by throw as well). Today Kotoshogiku brings his full-force tachiai, as expected, and after absorbing the blow Toyonoshima responds by stepping to the left, wrapping up Kotoshogiku’s right arm with both his arms, and swinging the Ozeki down to his first loss of the tournament. With two days left, there are now four wrestlers with a chance at the championship. Kotoshogiku and Hakuho each have one loss, and Toyonoshima and Harumafuji each have two losses. Kotoshogiku has the easiest remaining schedule, but I’m predicting a playoff on the last day. (fingers crossed)

January 2016, Day 8, Kyokushuho v Toyonoshima

Haven’t seen much from Toyonoshima this tournament on the blog, but he’s been quietly compiling a 6-2 record. He puts Kyokushuho on his heels from the get-go, and spends a trip around the ring defending against Kyokushuho’s pull-down attempts. Toyonoshima is finally pulled off-balance by the pressure on the back of his head, but just before he falls he manages to grab Kyokushuho’s thigh with one hand while pushing him out with the other for the watashikomi (thigh grabbing push down) win.

January 2016, Day 6, Toyonoshima v Myogiryu

After a strong tachiai leaves neither wrestler with a clear advantage, Toyonoshima and Myogiryu take a pause in the middle of their bout to contemplate some of the larger issues in life: Why am I half naked? Why is that guy trying to slap me in the face? Did I leave the oven on? When they restart, Myogiryu gets the upper hand, putting Toyonoshima in a headlock. But his kubinage (headlock throw) has less of the feel of a crisp technique and more of the feel of two toddlers who hug each other so hard they fall over. Hey, a win’s a win.