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Mark Buckton

Asa's sumo - worthy of a Y?

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Came to me just a minute ago when watching a re-run of today's Asa bout, yesterday's bout and shonichi's too.

When did he last win a few, back to back, in forward moving, linear, strong and impressive style from the get-go?

Not senshuraku, nothing in Osaka stands out in terms of memory.

So much seems to be while backpedalling of late. Moving to the side (no, not henka) and just by way of superior kimarite usage.

But Y are about more - aren't they?

Anyone answer without watching vids / looking at records

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Oh boy. Here we go, after day 3 of what promises to be a thrilling basho. And after Asahsoryu executed an awesome throw against Baruto and fine technical sumo against Kokkai.

When will these narrow-minded diatribes ever end. Frankly, if anything has the potential to take the joy out of ozumo for me, it is this BS.

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I don't think that his sumo from day 1 was Y-sumo at all. Or even Ozeki sumo. That aside, he doesn't have the aura of a Yokozuna, neither the pure intimidation, fierceness and power of Asashoryu, nor the calm wooden rooster confidence of Hakuho. Would I be surprised if he swapped places with Kotooshu at some point? No. Do I think he would make a good Ozeki? Yes. Do I think he would last longer than 2-3 years at Ozeki? No.

I think he means Asa(shoryu), while you mean Ama.

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Came to me just a minute ago when watching a re-run of today's Asa bout, yesterday's bout and shonichi's too.

When did he last win a few, back to back, in forward moving, linear, strong and impressive style from the get-go?

Not senshuraku, nothing in Osaka stands out in terms of memory.

So much seems to be while backpedalling of late. Moving to the side (no, not henka) and just by way of superior kimarite usage.

But Y are about more - aren't they?

Anyone answer without watching vids / looking at records

Feeling handicapped here because you won't let me look at vids. (I am not worthy...) But from general memory, my gut feeling is that he's never been a consistently forward moving rikishi anyway, even when he's been dominant. He IS very strong of course but has always prided himself on using a variety of styles, adjusting to his aite. Didn't he say once that before he retires he wants to register at least one win with each and every kimarite? I also believe that he varies his approach so he won't be predictable.

So to sum up, my feeling is that his modus operandi can't be measured with the same tools used with most others. But I do see where you're coming from because I also sense that he's somehow vulnerable right now. Waiting and watching...

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... from general memory, my gut feeling is that he's never been a consistently forward moving rikishi anyway, even when he's been dominant. He IS very strong of course but has always prided himself on using a variety of styles, adjusting to his aite. Didn't he say once that before he retires he wants to register at least one win with each and every kimarite? I also believe that he varies his approach so he won't be predictable.

So to sum up, my feeling is that his modus operandi can't be measured with the same tools used with most others. But I do see where you're coming from because I also sense that he's somehow vulnerable right now. Waiting and watching...

As far as I remember, this argument lasts since when I had my first chance of watching sumo (that more or less is when Asashoryu became a Yokozuna). A real Yokozuna wins by Yorikiri and Oshidashi, all the rest is trivial .... Not to speak of the indignant sentences he caused when he used ..... Ketaguri !!!! To my eyes of ignorant western sumo fan, Shomishu's opinion is correct: his general attitude is more that of a judo wrestler than that of a sumo rikishi: for instance his tachiai varies from an "all steam all forward" (beginning of last basho) to a conservative "wait and see". He has no definite "style" and that is precisely his force: varying the amount of strength, speed and technique depending on what his opponent does. Not by chance was Tochiazuma a problem for him, because Tochiazuma waited for him to do something, and many times Asashoryu found himself without a clear idea of what to do...

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Without looking at vids and so on, my gut said something similar to Shomishuu. I also don't buy the line that a Yokozuna is bound by the forward. Chiyonofuji comes to mind as a "Speed, Prowess, and Fierceness" Yokozuna, though he carries a far different aura than Asashoryu. But if we only expected forward moving sumo out of any respectable Yokozuna, we'd never get to see a brilliant maki-kai, specialties of both of the above. Maki kai generally requires a moment of rest in the action, and for the executor to move his body faster than even his own brain to succeed... Not every Yokozuna needs to lockstep behind Kitanoumi or Takanohana [Y]. No offense to Hakuho as regards similarities to the latter.

Despite his loss on day 1, which was respectable, I think Asa still displays Y Sumo by and large. He has several years left matching Hakuho yusho-for-yusho, if not better. And for the record I prefer Hakuho as a Yokozuna for many other reasons, yet still find Asashoryu's dynamic ferocity to be essential to the sumo of 'here and now.'

My tuppence (Neener, neener...)

EDIT: Paolo has an interesting observation about Tochiazuma's relative success against Asa. However, I'd liken the Wait-and-See description more to Hakuho's approach. What Tochiazuma did was to press into Asashoryu with fearless constant pressure, interrupted only by his trademark ottsuke and unpredictable inashi/ stray belt work. Maybe in some way he was doing 'wait-and-see' while always moving? In essence he treated Asashoryu just like any other strong opponent, not as if he was a Yokozuna. This last factor may in fact be the key to his relative success head to head.

Edited by kaiguma

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A real Yokozuna wins by Yorikiri and Oshidashi, all the rest is trivial ....

Wouldn't that be a boring thing to watch.

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So much seems to be while backpedalling of late. Moving to the side (no, not henka) and just by way of superior kimarite usage.

But Y are about more - aren't they?

In another context you said:

since meeting a few of the rikishi and seeing just how much they put into the sport - and what their vicories (at any level) mean to them, I have always wondered 'would I say that to their face'

Perhaps a little more :-) is in order?

How do these two statements fit together? (Neener, neener...)

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Asashouryuu has 22 yushos under his belt. Who cares if his sumo is worthy of a Y, J, X or a Martian.

Inashi, otsuke, bintsuke, pushing and pulling are all really nice, as I always tell the Finnish Doctor, but in the end, the very end, the wins matter.

The rest is a hologram in Disneyland and royal speculation.

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I don't think that his sumo from day 1 was Y-sumo at all. Or even Ozeki sumo. That aside, he doesn't have the aura of a Yokozuna, neither the pure intimidation, fierceness and power of Asashoryu, nor the calm wooden rooster confidence of Hakuho. Would I be surprised if he swapped places with Kotooshu at some point? No. Do I think he would make a good Ozeki? Yes. Do I think he would last longer than 2-3 years at Ozeki? No.

I think he means Asa(shoryu), while you mean Ama.

wow, how did I miss that.... (Neener, neener...)

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A real Yokozuna wins by Yorikiri and Oshidashi, all the rest is trivial ....

By that standard we have two very weak yokozuna at the moment, the percentage of Hakuho's wins by Yorikiri is even lower than Asashoryu's. And talking about Hakuho, almost 10% of his wins by hatakikomi. (Neener, neener...)

Both Asashoryu and Hakuho should be forced to retire. Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku win by right kimarite, they should replace the current Yokozuna.

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I guess it all depends on how and where you place your yokozuna bar. You must also need to frame them in the time they competed.

For instance as much as I like Shibatayama oyakata, he has not consistently met the norms but then you also have to consider the injury factor and age as well as their opponents.

Simply put Asashoryu's strength always has been his speed. No other of his contemporary can come close to him in that regards. He generates his power from speed. He utilizes his techniques using his speed. If you cut, dice and slice his sumo, it's all about speed. From that point of view at least, he is the yokozuna of all yokozuna. No other can equal him or come even close to him as he has met all challenges from larger and smaller opponents and defeated them.

If a yokozuna sumo is to be the summit of all sumo styles, then Asashoryu is standing on the summit of speed sumo, no other has climbed as high as he has in the speed sumo. In that sense there is no question his sumo style is worthy of yokozuna.

Edited by Jonosuke

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who is to decide what is worthy of a yokozuna? to me it's the master technician, that he can take down any one with any techninique, sumo has dozens of techniques why limit yourself to two basic styles? they are the core styles you need to be able to do but the others are just as meritorious. Asashoryu has a great all round package, that is why he is where he is.

Akebono and Musashimaru were poor yokozuna by my reckoning, they didnt have the arsenal of techniques that the man in question had, they had massive bulk and power - that was pretty much all they had, sure they pulled out blah blah kimarite every now and then but they were Caterpillar D10 Bulldozers, Asashoryu is a Ferrari

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actually, this subject is not too dissimilar to the Premier League VS sumo thread elsewhere; long term VS short term comparisons.

As I said - Asa has so much more in the way of kimarite usage (and thus ability to use them) but Y are 'about so much more'

Asa may be top of the pile for now, but compared to other 'Y' with that added linear capability, will he ever be ranked beside them in terms of historical ability?

Kitanoumi was very very technically gifted as was Tochinoshiki. older Wakanohana, Chiyonofuji too and even Taiho. Another man who impressed me but only from the vids and DVDs (and was promoted too old anyway) was Kotozakura. Many others as well. But, hand on heart, in which order would we rank some of these folk given that all of the above had that linear capability against even their largest of foes - they used their speed and movement to get themselves 'inside' and capable of pushing back?

Bigger picture time, not vision limited to the 2003-? period most will have seen sumo.

BTW - excellent Tochiazuma point above. By using 'Y' type sumo, and patience the former ozeki often beat the incumbent. Let's never forget that 2003 Kyushu Senshuraku. Pic still hangs in my local soba/udon shop.

Random-san - name matches selection of quotes / offerings in recent times - 'random' and unconnected. Please offer something by way of an opinion once in a while rather than pump up the post number with only quips on what others offer or attept to offer. (Neener, neener...) You make great efforts to search for, take, and use a quote from 2/3? months ago and use it out of context. Not on Hillary's team are you? :-) Any decent Y would be glad to have his name ranked alongside the great (some of those I list above) but wuld expect tough Qs in getting there.

as writing - another interesting comparison on cars - but would a Ferrari or a heavy duty landrover be the sought after vehicle in a heavy slog over rough ground (ie. a long career at the top?)

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as writing - another interesting comparison on cars - but would a Ferrari or a heavy duty landrover be the sought after vehicle in a heavy slog over rough ground (ie. a long career at the top?)

But it is arguable if in fact Asashoryu's career has been a heavy slog. Therefore, perhaps being a Ferrari is entirely appropriate. I think in some ways he has had to deal with more off the dohyo than on it. This off-dohyo performance will be the question mark that hangs over Asa's career when he is considered alongside the others in the future, not the quality of his sumo. I believe that, while he does not win by yorikiri or oshidashi, Asashoryu is widely recognised for being a skillful exponent of sumo techniques (many and varied) and thus his sumo is respected. No, he is not Takanohana or any other yokozuna, but I guess that each yokozuna is somehow to leave their mark and not just be a facsimile of another. I suppose that is why there are so few of them. I am by no means an Asa fan, but I feel we need to give credit where it is due.

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Random-san - name matches selection of quotes / offerings in recent times - 'random' and unconnected. Please offer something by way of an opinion once in a while rather than pump up the post number with only quips on what others offer or attept to offer. (Neener, neener...)

:-) I thought the question quite appropriate. What makes your claim that Asashoryu's sumo isn't yokozuna-worthy less disrespectful than Doitsuyama's assessment that Wakaryoma had a fluky yusho? (I sure hope the answer isn't one of your old stock replies from circa 2003: "Because I'm a journalist" and "Because I'm in Japan".)

Since Randomitsuki was too nice to come right out and ask, I'll go ahead: Would you say this to Asashoryu's face? I look forward to your response.

Edited by Asashosakari

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Asa - can you show me anywhere i have ever said this phrase you add quotation marks to please?

"Because I'm a journalist"
I do, fortunately, have the chance to work in / near / around sumo sometimes but as many of the NSK staff will vouch, that alone wouldn't cut it.

As to the second part of the comment about being in Japan, does a feeling exist here with people not watching sumo solely on TV? - yes. Is that fair... personal answer. I know no Japan based member here on SF that I have met face-to face and talked to in-depth that wouldn't agree that up close experience always trumps 'streams' and vids the like.

Would anyone, not resident in Japan, having seen sumo live claim total equality along that train of thought to those not yet so fortunate? I don't know, but having taken folk like Doits and 2 or 3 others here to his / their first ever asageiko session (Tamanoi), may be best to ask him as he has been 'here' but now lives 'there'.

As for calling a yusho 'fluky' and questioning a yokozuna's level of sumo - the first is quite simply rude and ill thought out, the second respectfully put-and something that would be expected from a man at the top.

Were I, as a colleague of yours in a company, to see you promoted at work, and call it (your promotion) fluky how would you feel when you heard my phrase? Please balance that against how you would feel were I to ask if it were justified in light of others/promotion criteria VS performance - the bigger picture. Fair Q VS rude comment?

Edited by Mark Buckton

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Personally I dont care how he wins as long as he wins.....

Winning is what Yokozunas do and Asashoryu is winning so his Sumo is a worthy of a Yokozuna...

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Both Asashoryu and Hakuho should be forced to retire. Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku win by right kimarite, they should replace the current Yokozuna.

(Neener, neener...)

This sums it up nicely. What a silly thread.

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If you consider forward moving, linear, sumo as only worthy of Yokozuna, I would suggest to bring in a new classification for such 'linear' Yokozunas as a ArchiYokozuna, or SuperYokozuna , or Yokozuna-With- Much-More-About-Them because momentarily there hasn't been a single Yokozuna who won only by those two kimarites (anything less would make the question absurd, as we all know Asa has his share of forward moving sumo too). I can't wait for arriving of such Yokozuna-With-Much-More-About-Them even better if Japanese, only afraid my life would be too short.

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as writing - another interesting comparison on cars - but would a Ferrari or a heavy duty landrover be the sought after vehicle in a heavy slog over rough ground (ie. a long career at the top?)

Ok then Asa is a "Range Rover" the worlds best 4WD - great for hard slogs, yet stylish too (Osh...)

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Sorry to add this long post just because I was not clear ... I see that many people have taken the following sentence that appeared in a post of mine in the sense that it represented my opinion... Actually I should have written it within quotes; it is simply what I read about Asashoryu's "style" when the first polemics on the subject arouse about 5 years ago !

A real Yokozuna wins by Yorikiri and Oshidashi, all the rest is trivial ....

Wouldn't that be a boring thing to watch.

I fully agree

Asashouryuu has 22 yushos under his belt. Who cares if his sumo is worthy of a Y, J, X or a Martian.

Inashi, otsuke, bintsuke, pushing and pulling are all really nice, as I always tell the Finnish Doctor, but in the end, the very end, the wins matter.

The rest is a hologram in Disneyland and royal speculation.

I fully agree

who is to decide what is worthy of a yokozuna? to me it's the master technician, that he can take down any one with any techninique, sumo has dozens of techniques why limit yourself to two basic styles? they are the core styles you need to be able to do but the others are just as meritorious. Asashoryu has a great all round package, that is why he is where he is.

Akebono and Musashimaru were poor yokozuna by my reckoning, they didnt have the arsenal of techniques that the man in question had, they had massive bulk and power - that was pretty much all they had, sure they pulled out blah blah kimarite every now and then but they were Caterpillar D10 Bulldozers, Asashoryu is a Ferrari

I agree, even if I do not like Ferrari very much (... incredible, isn't it ? I am italian...)

If you consider forward moving, linear, sumo as only worthy of Yokozuna, I would suggest to bring in a new classification for such 'linear' Yokozunas as a ArchiYokozuna, or SuperYokozuna , or Yokozuna-With- Much-More-About-Them because momentarily there hasn't been a single Yokozuna who won only by those two kimarites (anything less would make the question absurd, as we all know Asa has his share of forward moving sumo too). I can't wait for arriving of such Yokozuna-With-Much-More-About-Them even better if Japanese, only afraid my life would be too short.

Well said !

Thank you all for your patience and pardon me again ...

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I would compare Asa's sumo to a pitcher who once threw 99 mph fast balls, and due to age and experience, has learned to use 4 different pitches, and still throws 92-94 on his fast ball. Lets not forget that Asa went a whole basho a few years ago with an average bout length close to 10 seconds, which many people commented on at the time as being amazing. Sure, his bouts may be taking a little more time now, but he's still got Y-level sumo. Maybe not Y-level behavior in the last 6-12 months, but that's just Asa being Asa.

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As for calling a yusho 'fluky' and questioning a yokozuna's level of sumo - the first is quite simply rude and ill thought out, the second respectfully put-and something that would be expected from a man at the top.

Were I, as a colleague of yours in a company, to see you promoted at work, and call it (your promotion) fluky how would you feel when you heard my phrase? Please balance that against how you would feel were I to ask if it were justified in light of others/promotion criteria VS performance - the bigger picture. Fair Q VS rude comment?

how is this part of your post different then what you are doing to Asa? suggesting his technique shouldnt allow what he has done and accomplished. and isnt good enough to be what he is, and is as such to be considered him ranked higher then he should be, which is infact a fluke. .... how is it less rude to question if someone deserves a promotion then it is to just say they dont deserve it? both imply the same thing. one just isnt coming out and saying it. but it means the same....it means you think the promotion is questionable, or you wouldnt be questioning it at all. as such, how is this initial post of yours any less rude to him?...i almost thought Mrs. Uchidate wrote it. ...need anyone remind you of his 2004 winning streak? bad sumo that was, i guess

Edited by _the_mind_

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