May 2017, Day 5, Kotoyuki v Ura

Kotoyuki solves the Ura puzzle of the day, standing up at the tachiai instead of his usual hard charge forward to better react to whatever Ura’s got planned. A couple of hands in Ura’s face keep him from going too low, and then a good solid shove to the chest sends Ura down to the ground below the dohyo. Both wrestlers finish the day at 3-2.

March 2017, Day 5, Kagayaki v Ura

Rough day for the little guys. Ura, as expected, goes low at the tachiai. But Kagayaki uses his reach advantage to keep Ura at bay, and Ura soon goes tumbling out of the ring.

January 2017, Day 15, Shohozan v Ishiura

I wish I had the time, bandwith, and resources to put up more of the pre-bout ritual stuff. To me, it adds so much to the match itself when you can watch the two wrestlers go back and forth, facing off, staring each other down, going back for more salt and a rubdown, getting themselves either calmed down or pumped up depending on their personality. The tension builds over three or four minutes, culminating in one of the great moments in sports – the tachiai, or initial charge. The referee gives a loud “Matta nashi!” (No false starts!), and he tells them to put their hands down, “Te wo tsuite!” And now they have to launch together, no starting gun or signal to set them off. Either Shohozan jumps early or Ishiura waits too long, one or the other, but the ref calls them back to do it right. And this time their timing is aligned. Ishiura ducks low and to his left, going for a leg and causing Shohozan to miss with his head slap. But Shohozan turns quickly and uses an arm bar to stand up Ishiura before shoving him hard at the edge of the ring, sending him literally flying into the air and down to the ground below. Ishiura is slow to get up, with ring judge and former Ozeki Chiyotaikai showing concern, but it looks like he’s ok. Both men finish with losing records.

January 2017, Day 14, Takakeisho v Daieisho

J2 Daieisho has been bouncing around between the top of the Juryo division and the bottom of the Makuuchi division for about a year and a half. With an 11-3 record so far, it looks like he’ll be back up in Makuuchi next tournament. Today his bout with M12 Takakeisho turns into an old-fashioned brawl, each man shoving hard at the other’s head and taking a tour of the entire ring. Daieisho gets backed up to the straw bales where he plants his feet and lands the decisive blow on Takakeisho’s chin, sending him spinning down to the clay. Takakeisho falls to 6-8.

January 2017, Day 13, Chiyootori v Kotoyuki

Kotoyuki is one of many wrestlers who finds himself at seven losses heading into the final days of the tournament. Nothing motivates a wrestler like the fear of losing his rank (except maybe the chance at winning a tournament), so Kotoyuki comes out firing. He looks solid and strong, and calmly works Chiyootori back with a series of alternating thrusts, finishing with a shove that knocks Chiyootori on his backside tumbling out of the ring. The tsukitaoshi (front thrust down) victory gives Kotoyuku a 6-7 record, and Chiyootori also finishes the day at 6-7.

January 2017, Day 2, Kotoyuki v Yoshikaze

Yoshikaze turns as beet-red as his new mawashi trying to fight back against Kotoyuki’s relentless onslaught, but in the end he runs out of room and Kotoyuki sends him tumbling backwards off the dohyo.  What’s little, red, and never gives up? The Stormin’ Strawberry? Hmmm…

November 2016, Day 15, Endo v Tamawashi

Endo follows up a great tournament in Tokyo in September with a disappointing 7-8 performance in Kyushu. On the last day against Tamawashi, it looks like he flubs the tachiai, not putting his left hand all the way down and then expecting the referee to call them back for a false start. But the referee lets them play on, and Endo has already relaxed his effort and finds himself on his butt after some strong thrusts to the face from Tamawashi. Tamawashi knows you don’t stop until the ref says stop.