Featured Club / Dojo - Komatsuryu Dojo

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Part 1 - The Dragons of Taito

Location - Riverside Sports Center, Taito, Tokyo
Keiko - Saturdays (1:30pm onwards), Sundays (9:30am onwards)

"The kids really won my heart, as well as the parents. And this time I was not shy, I was loud and cheered for the Komatsuryuu team of John (Gunning). My hands hurt from clapping loudly.... I remembered the kids from watching their Keiko 3 years ago. That was cool to see em performing well. I cross my fingers. Taira-sensei (former Dewataira) went to the kids before each bout, gave em tips. That is how a trainer should be." - ilovesumo

Located in the basement level of Riverside Sports Center in Taito District, Tokyo, Komatsuryu Dojo (小松竜道場) is one of the oldest sumo clubs in Japan (founded all the way back in 1949), and the most famous club / dojo in amateur sumo. They have keiko sessions on 3 days of the week - Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and host 2 major competitions during the year for clubs in and around the Kanto region, one in Spring and the other in Autumn. Komatsuryu Dojo even have their own blog, which they update fairly frequently, as well as a Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. Most of the tournament photos and reports on their blog are contributions by the kids' parents.


Komatsuryu Dojo's fame stems from the club being featured in a lot of programs, newspaper reports and even posts in the forum, and from their willingness to welcome amateur rikishi from around the world to train with them.

Listed below are just some of those articles, reports, and programs:

Sumo groups hope skinny Japanese kids can recapture their nation’s glory (an article on Washington Post)


Edit (a post in the forum introducing Komatsuryu Dojo and their coach, started by Nishinoshima)


Asashouryuu Sumo cup-children sumo (a post in the forum by Kintamayama)


Komatsuryu - now in Adachi-ku (a post in the forum by Mark Buckton)


Komatsuryu Aki Tourney (another post in the forum by Mark Buckton)


Komatsuryu Dojo article in Sumo Magazine (a scan by aderechelsea)


Trip to Japan - Komatsuryu dojo (an article by Leonishiki, a friend of John Gunning)


Komatsuryu Dojo AutumnTourney (an issue in Sumo Fan Magazine by Mark Buckton)


Komatsuryu Rikishi to Join Tamanoi Beya (another issue in Sumo Fan Magazine by Mark Buckton)


Komatsuryu - 56th Annual Aki Taikai (another issue in Sumo Fan Magazine by Mark Buckton)


2 videos from Fight! Japan, hosted by Robert Clyne, that show the members of Komatsuryu Dojo in keiko and in competition:

A short documentary on sumo by Al Jazeera, featuring Komatsuryu Dojo:

Komatsuryu Dojo have more members than any other club / dojo in Japan, not only attracting kids from Tokyo, but also as far away as Chiba and Tochigi. In fact, such is their strength and depth as a club, that at the National Club Championships, where clubs are usually only able to put out 1 or 2 teams (owing to the age restrictions for each team member), Komatsuryu Dojo were actually able to put together FIVE teams, with Team Iwasaki reaching the last 32, and Team Yoshioka getting as far as the quarter-finals.


Edited by mikawa
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Yes it's him. As much as I envy his mateship with all the colourful sumo identities and his sumo experiences - I am not John Gunning. We have done tachi-ai on palm trees in Thailand, tsuppari on the Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong and been nipple crippled by Baruto in Osaka but I have never been to the Komatsuryu dojo. I hear the kids are too ferocious and like crushing bones.

Edited by Johnofuji
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Yes it's him. As much as I envy his mateship with all the colourful sumo identities and his sumo experiences - I am not John Gunning. We have done tachi-ai on palm trees in Thailand, tsuppari on the Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong and been nipple crippled by Baruto in Osaka but I have never been to the Komatsuryu dojo. I hear the kids are too ferocious and like crushing bones.

Sorry about the assumption, I'll amend this right away

Edited by mikawa

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Part 2 - To the Quarter-Finals, and Beyond

Not only are Komatsuryu Dojo successful in regional tournaments in and around Kanto, their club members have also excelled at the national level, with Nanakaichi Koshi (七日市 康士) and Yoshioka Yudai (吉岡 友大) both reaching the quarter-finals of the 26th National Primary School Championships in 2013 (in Grade 5). 2 other club members in that same year group, Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼) and Kitano Soma (北野 颯馬), both qualified as well (Soma did so in 2014).

Komatsuryu's record at the Wanpaku Tournament is even more impressive, starting with Yahagi Arashi (矢作 嵐), who reached Grade 6's last 32 back in 2007 (at the 23rd Tournament). He lost out to the eventual semi-finalist that year, Kumamoto's Furukawa Haruki (古川 晴貴):


Fast forward to the 26th Wanpaku Tournament in 2010, since when Komatsuryu Dojo have been able to produce at least 1 high-level rikishi representing them at every single Wanpaku finals, continuing non-stop to this day, The kid who started off this incredible streak is the elder of the 2 Nanakaichi siblings, Nanakaichi Takeshi (七日市 武士), who reached the quarter-finals of the Grade 4 competition that year, where he was oshidashi'd by the 3-time Wanpaku Yokozuna, Toma Tsuguto (當眞 嗣斗). Komatsuryu's Yoshioka Kodai (吉岡 功大) also qualified that year, in the Grade 5 competition.

At the 27th Wanpaku Tournament in 2011, Kiyomiya Itto (清宮 一翔) lost in his first bout to Nakazaki Seito (中崎 勢斗, from 1:03:31):


Komatsuryu's best results came a year later, at the 28th Wanpaku Tournament in 2012, when Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼, on the left) and Nanakaichi Koshi (七日市 康士), both in Grade 4 at the time, both reached the quarter-finals:


Both Tsubasa (from 20:30) and Koshi (from 49:06) had straightforward bouts to start off with:


Tsubasa showed great technique in his last 64 bout (from 5:54) against Taninai Katsuya (谷内 勝哉), and produced (imo) the biggest shock of the entire tournament to knock out the much bigger Honda Rikiya (本多 力也, from 39:08). The best bout that year however goes to Gifu's Matsunaga Hayato (松永 颯斗), who drew thunderous applause from the audience with his last 64 bout (from 23:56). Tsubasa's last 16 bout is from 54:58:


On the other hand, Koshi's bouts (from 28:03, 46:27 and 58:36) were less spectacular, though he did have to survive a mono-ii in his last 32 bout against Nakatsuka Ryuji (中束 龍人, from 46:27). Worth mentioning is that Kitano Soma (北野 颯馬) also competed in the Grade 4 competition that year (from 20:16 and 42:39), though he would not become a member of Komatsuryu Dojo until later that year:


Having reached that year's quarter-finals, Tsubasa would go on to face the eventual winner, Ikeda Ryo (池田 亮, from 1:13:07), while shortly afterwards, Koshi would come up against the eventual runner-up, カフレ ジオバニ (from 1:18:16):


Over in the Grade 5 competition, Komatsuryu's Kiyomiya Itto (清宮 一翔, from 48:47) and Koike Sota (小池 颯太, from 1:07:30) also qualified for that year's Wanpaku finals:


Itto would go on to shock Aichi's Kamijo Miyoshi (上條 深能, from 21:13), a wanpaku semi-finalist (when he was in Grade 6) in the last 64, and then face Kanagawa's Sasaki Chikara (佐々木 主税) in the last 32 (from 40:06). Chikara is famous for being featured in the documentary "Chikara, A Sumo Wrestler's Son" (an extract can be found here), which was filmed prior to and during this tournament. Chikara's bout against Itto is the first tournament match shown in the extract.


Nanakaichi Takeshi (七日市 武士) made his second and final appearance at the Wanpaku Tournament that year, with his first bout from 51:13:


Takeshi would go on to face 2 tough opponents in Aomori's Kikuchi Arata (菊地 新, from 23:51) and Shizuoka's Suzuki Yuto (鈴木 優斗, from 44:57). Arata won the National Club Championships with his team, Tsugaru Sumo Club, but lost to Akita's Suzuki Taro (twice) and Chiba's Takeshi at the Wanpaku Tournament (Suzuki Taro reached the last 16 thrice at the Wanpaku, though he doesn't seem to have appeared in any other competition). Suzuki Yuto reached the final of the National Club Championships with his team, Fuji Wanpaku Sumo Club, and is a quarter-finalist at the Wanpaku that year. He is one of the best rikishi in his year group, and would go on to reach the last 16 at the Middle School Championships.


2012's Wanpaku team of Nanakaichi Takeshi, Kiyomiya Itto and Nanakaichi Koshi would be the best team to have represented Ichikawa City in Chiba, amassing 14 points between them (the 6th best team that year). Needless to say, all 3 are members of Komatsuryu.

The 29th Wanpaku Tournament in 2013 saw Komatsuryu Dojo having no less than 6 rikishi qualify (compared to 5 the previous year), with 2 of them reaching the quarter-finals (they've had quite a few Wanpaku quarter-finalists during the past decade):


In Grade 4, Sakai Masayuki (酒井 真幸) started off comfortably (from 19:50):


Masayuki then went on to win against Midorikawa Arumu (緑川 天瑠夢, from 19:16) in the last 32, and then pulled a shock win out of the bag to knock out Chiba's Tebakari Taiki (手計 太希, from 33:17) in the last 16. Taiki, despite his size, is a Wanpaku quarter-finalist (in Grade 6), and is one of the best rikishi in his year group. His older brother, Tebakari Toshiki (手計 富士紀), is a Wanpaku semi-finalist, and would go on to win the Middle School Championships.


In Grade 5, Yoshioka Yudai (吉岡 友大) fought valiantly in his first bout, but it wasn't to be enough against the 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna, Kumamoto's Hanaoka Masaki (花岡 真生, from 15:00). Yudai took the place of Nanakaichi Koshi by winning that year's Chiba qualifiers, as he is also from the city of Ichikawa. Kitano Soma, who has now joined Komatsuryu Dojo, wins his first bout comfortably (from 30:00):


Soma then powers his way through 3 bouts (from 13:15, 39:36 and 54:09) to join Masayuki in the quarter-finals:


Komatsuryu had no less than 3 representatives in Grade 6, Asano Futa (浅野 風汰, from 2:25 and 1:09:30), Kiyomiya Itto (清宮 一翔, from 31:27) and Kato Seiya (加藤 誠也, from 53:37), all of whom advanced from their first bouts:


Try as he may, Itto just couldn't win against Kumamoto's Kusano Naoya (草野 直哉, from 11:29) in his next bout, as was the case with Futa also (from 32:17), though Seiya was able to pull through against Hokkaido's アリュナ ダワニンジ (from 24:26), a kid whose name gave the announcer a hard time pronouncing. In the last 32, Seiya went up against that year's favorite to win the Grade 6 competition, Osaka's Kawabuchi Kazuma (川渕 一意, from 45:12), in what was to be one of the most exciting bouts that year. Kawabuchi's record at Wanpaku is last 16 (losing to the eventual winner, Shimomura Yui 下村 湧偉), semi-finals and quarter-finals, though appeared to be breathing heavily that year, and had to be told off for an extra shove at the end of the bout. The word to describe that bout would be 悔しい:


In the quarter-finals, Masayuki faced the Grade 4 winner that year, Ishikawa's Shinoda Hiroyuki (篠田 裕之, from 5:15), while Soma was up against Chiba's Murayama Go (村山 豪), a 2-time Wanpaku semi-finalist (losing to the 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna Hanaoka Masaki 花岡 真生 both times):


The 30th Wanpaku Tournament in 2014 saw 3 of Komatsuryu's Grade 6s qualify (it's their strongest year group by far, with no less than 4 national quarter-finalists), though no one else did:


The draw meant that there could have been an all-Komatsuryu bout in the last 32 (Yudai vs Tsubasa), and also in the last 16 (Soma vs Yudai/Tsubasa). However, though Kitano Soma (北野 颯馬, from 52:01) and Yanagisawa Tsubasa (柳澤 翼, from 57:40) were both able to win their opening bouts, as good as he is, Yoshioka Yudai (吉岡 友大, from 55:59) just couldn't get the win he wanted at the Wanpaku Tournament, losing to Okinawa's Nakazato Tomotaka (仲里 智隆):


In the last 64, Soma was able to defeat the skilful Kobayashi Kai (小林 海偉, from 21:56) from Saitama, but couldn't defeat the even more skilful Ochiai Shun (落合 駿, from 45:16) from Mie. Tsubasa was able to win his last 64 bout as well (from 24:37), but he couldn't defeat Nakazato Tomotaka (仲里 智隆, from 46:20) either:


Last year, at the 31st Wanpaku Tournament, Sakai Masayuki (酒井 真幸) was able to reach the last 64 of the Grade 6 competition, but no further:


Meanwhile, one of Komatsuryu's newest members, Nishikawa Mirai (西川 宙生), created the shock of the tournament by defeating Shizuoka's Sugahara Haruka (菅原 悠翔), runner-up in Grade 4, in the semi-finals. In the final however, he was no match for the 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna, Aomori's Narita Rikido (成田 力道, from 2:35):


Last Sunday (26th June), Komatsuryu's Saito Chugo (斎藤 忠剛) qualified for this year's 32nd Wanpaku Tournament by winning the Grade 4 competition at the Tokyo qualifiers (from 7:06:25, 7:16:32 and 7:26:59). Depending on how the draw goes, he might also reach the quarter-finals, just like his senpais.


Edited by mikawa
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