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About kumasama

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  1. Especially not the angry pull and shove way after the match, after he did all he could to not administer that extra shove that he so wanted to. Watch the body language. A Yokozuna is always scrutinized and held to the highest standards. When it was Asashouryuu it was why this and that. Even Akebono was under fire. Waka (weak), Taka (witch doctor and general strangeness)-everyone and his reason.And mind you, it's not us couch fans scrutinizing from afar-it's the Kyokai cronies, including his own Oyakata on air on national TV saying he asked Hakuhou countless times to take it easy but "he gets hot headed during bouts-what can we do?" So yeah, he is overboard, if one from the other side of the world may say so. It was like someone on a diet with the ice cream in the freezer. "No, I shouldn't!" ... "Oh, all right, just a little one..."
  2. Chiyotaikai was one awesome rikishi indeed, one of my favourites too. You should read up on him more, he has a really interesting background as well. A blast from the past! Or rather, lots of high-speed tsuppari from the past!
  3. Dunno if I'm a fan of the stricter four-hands-down calls. As long as both guys are in sync, I don't think it matters too much if they both touch with both hands. I like Kotoyuki, though, so I might be biased. Happily, it seems like he's beginning to adjust, which will hopefully just make him better in the long run!
  4. Post-basho Hakuho said of his henka, "I found it regrettable myself. But however I did it, all I wanted was to hold the [Emperor’s] Cup in my hands.” Sounds an awful lot like winning is everything to Hakuho - the ends justify the means. I hadn't seen this quote... I must say, it makes me even more disappointed than I was before. Here's the link: Hakuho: 1st-day loss served as motivation The Japan News (by Yomiuri Shimbun) on March 28 Thanks!
  5. This is an utterly bizarre thing for a journalist to write. The only way to be responsible to your audience is to be fair to and accurate about your subjects. Compromising one compromises both. I apologize if that sentence is clumsy. I mean my responsibility is to my audience rather than die-hard sumo fans, not that I would sacrifice accuracy or fairness (nb you didn't quote the previous sentence which I thought made this more clear). Again, the reason I came here is to try to get things right. I owe you an apology. I'm afraid I read your words from an unfair perspective and so misunderstood them. Your questions hit the intersection of several things I feel very strongly about at a very stressful moment in my life (a statement of cause and effect, not an attempt to avoid responsibility!), and so I let myself get upset and expressed my concerns in a negative, destructive way rather than in a positive, constructive way. Cultural dialog is exactly what I want, but I've clearly made a mess of it! Westerners can absolutely understand Japanese culture, if it's presented fairly, but I think there's an unfortunate tendency for TV shows, articles, etc. to gawk at the weirdest bits and ignore everything else, and this is one of the things that leads to exoticization. My own first exposure to sumo was the old sumo digest on ESPN, which I think was a great bit of cultural outreach. I very much hope skepticalsports's article will follow that tradition. I also feel very strongly that quantitative evidence is a wonderful thing, and qualitative understanding is a wonderful thing, but neither, on its own, is complete; they are best taken together so that one can inform the other.
  6. Post-basho Hakuho said of his henka, "I found it regrettable myself. But however I did it, all I wanted was to hold the [Emperor’s] Cup in my hands.” Sounds an awful lot like winning is everything to Hakuho - the ends justify the means. I hadn't seen this quote... I must say, it makes me even more disappointed than I was before. But even if Hakuho is personally all about winning, that doesn't mean there aren't higher expectations placed on him (and other top rikishi) by the kyokai and Japanese society generally. For example, when he first got his tsuna there were all sorts of discussions about hinkaku and how he had it while Asashoryu was lacking in that department. Naturally, there was/is a wide range of opinion, but I remember that a lot of my Japanese coworkers at the time felt that Hakuho was supposed to be the good boy who would give sumo a new, clean face. Of course that's a grossly oversimplified story and, yeah, reality intervenes. But whatever Hakuho personally feels, expectations are placed upon him. My point has been all along that there are two (largely) unrelated issues here. One is whether henkas confer a tactical advantage and how often and in what circumstances they should (or shouldn't) be used (the OP's original questions). This could be approached as a statistical/game theory problem, and I'd love to read a good analysis by someone with a lot more sumo knowledge than I have. The other issue is to what extant and why and by whom henkas are discouraged--and that seems to me to be a sociological question. Again, I'd love to see survey data or something like that, if anyone knows of any. But it seems rather wrongheaded to try to answer the second question using the methodology suited to the first or to try to answer the first question stripped of the context given by the second. Add to that the tendency of non-Japanese media to treat everything related to Japan as bizarre and inexplicable and my personal opinion that 538 too often passes off a bit of number crunching as substantive analysis, and perhaps you'll see why my hopes are not high for the proposed article.
  7. This bout, perhaps? http://www.youtube.com/embed/WrZW8LzPLks Now there's a good bit of game theory for you!
  8. Off topic, but I was wondering if you maintain your glicko2 rankings and/or post them online? I was hoping to do my own during the summer when I have more time, so I'm really curious what parameters you used.
  9. Yeah, this pretty much confirms my fears. "the phenomenon of a legal and seemingly game-theoretically important strategy" = Why don't they jump out of the way more? "foreign to American sports fan" = Hey look at the weird foreign stuff! "game-theoretically" "whether it provides an "unfair" advantage" = Let's throw a bit of math at it and pretend we understood something! Of course henkas work. That's why they happen. Now, I'd be fascinated to read a good statistical analysis of henka usage and a good game theoretical analysis of tachiai tactics, but quantifying the efficacy of henkas (which is what all your original questions were about) is totally irrelevant to why they're frowned upon. That is "a weird tradition", or to say it in a less demeaning way, it's cultural. There have already been some great replies on this, so I'll just throw in my 2 yen. 1. Winning isn't everything. Of course it's important for ranking (and therefore salary) and prize money, and winning tournaments is naturally a big deal. But there's a very strong culture in Sumo of doing things the right way (and in Japan generally, I'd say--you see all sorts of signs about correct behavior on the train, for example, or the proper way of taking a bath in a hot spring). And the "right way" for sumo is all about strength, power, moving forward, and humility. It goes well beyond the actual bouts, extending to how rikishiki behave, dress, etc. off the dohyo. It's a way of life. And the furore around Hakuho is probably more for late extra shoves than for the henka. There's even an official advisory committee which regularly nags the top guys on their sumo style and behavior. And bear in mind that sumo has its origins in shinto ritual and is still quasi-religious (but not in the western sense!). 2. Henkas aren't usually loved by the fans (you'll find exceptions on this forum, though), especially in major bouts. I want to see great bouts where both guys really give it their all, lots of attacks and counter attacks, defense at the edge, a real battle. A henka feels like I'm cheated out of a bout. And let's face it, sumo is a business and needs bums on zabutons and eyeballs on TVs, so entertaining sumo is in the association's interest. The sumo association is also part of the ministry of eduction and has a duty of evangelize the sport--meaning that standards of behavior appropriate for a responsible position in society need to be maintained (see point #1). So why are henkas tolerated at all, then? 1. They're a corrective and equalizer. Kotoshogiku (much as I like him) probably should never be a Yokozuna because he has an easily exploited weakness, which Yokozunas shouldn't have. Same goes for guys that get too big and have no agility. 2. They're not that common. Checking the old SumoFanMag data upthread, only seven guys pulled henkas more than once in 20 bouts; 12 had none at all for a year. I don't particularly like henkas, but there just aren't enough to bother me too much. (Unless it's in a bout I'm really looking forward to...) 3. Making a rule against them wouldn't be very practical (because of the definition problems discussed above), and it wouldn't be a very Japanese way of dealing with the problem, anyway. Social pressure can be used to deal with problems using more finesse. Kintamayama's translation from the ample men thread: So to summarize, henkas are fair sumo, but they're not good sumo, and that's for cultural rather that strategic reasons. There are a few here and there to keep guys honest, but not enough (usually) to spoil the enjoyment of a day of sumo. If you only try to optimize wins using all legal tactics, you're going to completely miss the point. This is an utterly bizarre thing for a journalist to write. The only way to be responsible to your audience is to be fair to and accurate about your subjects. Compromising one compromises both.
  10. I think you've got a few problems here. 1. Henka is poorly defined. For example, does Harumafuji's thing count? Where do you draw the line? 2. Success is poorly defined. If a rikishi more or less recovers from a henka but is in a disadvantageous position and later goes on to lose (or even win!) does that count as a success? How do you measure "disadvantageous position"? 3. The notion of "reckless charging" is a rather misguided. Kotoshogiku is great when he can come in hard under his opponent and stand them up. It's a deliberate strategy which plays to his strengths--he wouldn't be as good without it. But yes, it makes him very prone to henkas. 4. It's not a binary choice between blindly charging in and jumping out of the way. There's an entire continuum between, and that continuum is way more interesting than the extremes. Where do you make contact? How hard? How high? Do you go for a grip? What kind? How about some kind of slap or shove? On a higher level, I think this article is in danger of falling into two traps that are really worrying. 1. The "weird Japan" narrative. Everyone seems to think Japan is very strange, and so an awful lot articles about Japan focus on the weirdest bits, so people think Japan is strange, so... But let's face it, every country has its share of weirdness. And I have to say, having lived in Japan a third of my life, the US is at least as bizarre. (American football? WTF? And don't get me started on politics...) If you're going to write about sumo, please write about it as you would any other major sport and not as some sort of bizarre spectacle. 2. The "data journalism" thing. I've read 538 since the 2008 election cycle. I get what you do. And yes, more data is generally better than less, and a lot of journalism is really, really terrible when it comes to dealing with data and statistics. But for the data and statistics to be helpful, you need context and understanding. I'm sure a lot of the people here would be very interested in henka statistics. But if your sumo article is driven by the question of "Why don't they jump out of the way more?" then you don't have context and understanding, and a few pretty graphs aren't a substitute. This is a trap far too many 538 articles fall into. Imagine an audience whose idea of baseball was "men in pajamas hitting balls with sticks" and a writer who asked "Why don't they hit the ball where the other guys aren't standing?" and gave a few stats about defensive shifts--and you'll understand my concern. Unless your article is very long, or part of a series, or written for sumo enthusiasts, there are probably much better things to write about than henkas. (Edit: Thanks for the new thread!)
  11. Sorry! I've got the feeling that the odds are pretty good of one of these two getting the yusho... so even though they've faced each other a million times before, I think this time will be pivotal. Sadly, I'll be on the train at the time...
  12. In happier news, Kotoshogiku v. Kisenosato today should be a good one, with both of them being in good form!
  13. Agreed, but it's just a bit hard to give the benefit of the doubt again and again, especially when others manage to refrain from this kind of thing... Does anyone know if there has been much response in the Japanese media?
  14. Congrats to Kotoshogiku! A well-earned unstoppable steam train yusho! I also thought heyamate Kotoyuki looked like he meant business and Shodai had a great debut. It'll be fun to see how they develop. Shodai showed a great ability to resist throw attempts and then turn the tables once his opponent commits, but I also thought he was reacting a lot rather than taking initiative. It'll be interesting to see how his stuff plays higher up the banzuke and if he can adjust to more powerful tachiais.