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Middle School Banzuke 2019

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Starting from middle school, sumo tournaments are no longer gakunen-betsu (separated by year groups). That means first years compete on a level playing field with second and third years, in what can be described as "open" tournaments (like in golf). Third years usually have an advantage over everyone else, but things don't always work out that way. The red number for each rikishi denotes which year group they are in.

This banzuke takes into account the following tournaments:


East Yokozuna - Altangerel Sosorkhuu (アルタンゲレル ソソルフー), Tottori (3)
West Yokozuna - Narita Rikido (成田 力道), Tottori

East Ozeki - Niijima Ibuki (新島 伊武起), Kagoshima (3)
West Ozeki - Shinozaki Sota (篠崎 颯太), Ibaraki

East Sekiwake - Takayama Shunsuke (高山 瞬佑), Shiga (3)
West Sekiwake - Honda Kotaro (本田 豪太郎), Kumamoto (3)

East Komusubi - Seki Masashige (関 真成), Niigata (3)
West Komusubi - Takko Asahi (田子 麻聖), Akita (3)

East Maegashira 1 - Altankhuyag Bayarbold (アルタンフヤグ バヤルボルド), Mongolia (3)
West Maegashira 1 - Kobayashi Arashi (小林 嵐), Saitama (3)

East Maegashira 2 - Morita Akihiko (森田 陽彦), Ishikawa (3)
West Maegashira 2 - Tasaki Masami (田崎 正美), Osaka (2)

East Maegashira 3 - Okuda Shiyu (奥田 史祐), Osaka (3)
West Maegashira 3 - Iwamoto Yoshikazu (岩本 修和), Toyama (3)

East Maegashira 4 - Tachibana Ryusei (橘 龍生), Kumamoto (3)
West Maegashira 4 - Shinto Akira (神藤 輝), Osaka (3)

East Maegashira 5 - Suzuki Yamato (鈴木 大和), Miyagi (3)
West Maegashira 5 - Miura Tomokazu (三浦 智一), Aomori (3)

East Maegashira 6 - Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真), Chiba (2)
West Maegashira 6 - Ote Kira (大手 希星), Kumamoto (2)

East Maegashira 7 - Okano Sora (岡野 颯良), Hyogo (3)
West Maegashira 7 - Kudo Kota (工藤 晃太), Iwate (3)

East Maegashira 8 - Aino Shogo (相野 祥吾), Chiba (2)
West Maegashira 8 - Inagaki Akira (稲垣 明良), Mie (3)

East Maegashira 9 - Sugahara Haruka (菅原 悠翔), Shizuoka (3)
West Maegashira 9 - Irabu Takahito (伊良部 誠士), Okinawa (2)

East Maegashira 10 - Oga Ryota (大賀 亮太), Kyoto (3)
West Maegashira 10 - Miyamoto Rikuya (宮本 陸矢), Saga (3)

East Maegashira 11 - Yamasaki Hiiragi (山崎 柊), Fukuoka (3)
West Maegashira 11 - Onozawa Ayato (斧澤 亜矢斗), Saitama (2)

East Maegashira 12 - Kuwabara Teppei (桑原 哲平), Shizuoka (3)
West Maegashira 12 - Ikoma Tomoyuki (生駒 智之), Gifu (3)


Sanyaku Photos

East Yokozuna - Altangerel Sosorkhuu (アルタンゲレル ソソルフ ー), Tottori



West Yokozuna - Narita Rikido (成田 力道), Tottori



East Ozeki - Niijima Ibuki (新島 伊武起), Kagoshima



West Ozeki - Shinozaki Sota (篠崎 颯太), Ibaraki



East Sekiwake - Takayama Shunsuke (高山 瞬佑), Shiga



West Sekiwake - Honda Kotaro (本田 豪太郎), Kumamoto



East Komusubi - Seki Masashige (関 真成), Niigata



West Komusubi - Takko Asahi (田子 麻聖), Akita


Edited by mikawa
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The first thing you'll notice about this banzuke is that BOTH Yokozuna are Tottori wrestlers. Plot Twist: neither of them are actually from Tottori.

That's because Sosorkhuu (Mongolia) and Narita Rikido (Aomori) have both got their sights set on joining the powerhouse sumo club of Tottori Johoku High School, and have moved there three years early to make sure of this. Tottori Johoku is where Ishiura and Ichinojo graduated from before they joined Ozumo, and interestingly, their brand of sumo is remarkably similar to their two kohai. Sosorkhuu, despite his lack of size, is very strong and very skilled (like Ishiura), while Rikido is very big (like Ichinojo), though he specialises in thrusting sumo rather than belt sumo.

With Sosorkhuu taking the East Yokozuna spot (a runaway victory at that), we are beginning to see the effects of the Hakuho Cup on the sumo landscape. Ten years ago, Yokozuna Hakuho set up this tournament to raise the profile of sumo in countries outside Japan, and for sumo kids from all over the world to come together to compete.

This gave Mongolian talents a chance every year to show their skills in front of a packed Kokugikan Stadium, and a lot of them have shone in the bouts. Amongst those Mongolian talents was a kid called Sosorkhuu, whose demeanor suggested that he was always itching for a fight.

Aside from this though, Sosorkhuu didn't really stand out in Team Mongolia. Until, that is, the way he took care of Japan's #1 in the Grade 5 final. This bout, which was against Narita Rikido all of people, made everyone take note of him.


Four years on from that memorable final, a much better Sosorkhuu returned to the Kokugikan and dominated the middle school category. You can see how good he's become from his quarter-final match against the talented Honda Kotaro (West Sekiwake). That uchimuso (inner thigh propping twist down), it was simply genius.


From Japan's #1 to the now supposed Japan #2, Narita Rikido was a name to be feared during his primary school days. He was so commanding back then that Kinboshi Sumo Club portrayed him as the target that everyone could aspire to. However, although he has improved over the past three years, it's not as much his tougher opponents.

Rikido is still very strong, but like I have said before, his biggest problem is that he has not needed to develop other techniques because of how strong his thrusting attack was. And now, with his thrusts no longer such a big threat, he doesn't really have a Plan B. Basically what happened in this bout.


I've known about West Sekiwake Honda Kotaro for a very long time now. I've always liked his style of sumo (a balance of strength and technique), and his family name (Kotaro, 豪太郎) just happens to be the same as my favourite rikishi (Goeido Gotaro). Honda has said that he wants to become Goeido #2, so it probably wasn't a coincidence.

Time and time again I have seen him dispatch his opponents with either power or skill (or both) to advance through tournaments, willing him to win a national title. But time and time again, when the stakes became high, Kotaro would always fall short of the mark, whether he should have or not. Maybe he doesn't do well under pressure?

Throughout his sumo journey so far, Kotaro has always been a top 5 rikishi in the entire country (even top 3 in certain years), but he doesn't always act like it. The story of his life was when he was part of the super-team that Udo Junior Sumo Club fielded at the 10th National Club Championships in 2013. "Super" because out of the five members on their team, four of them either are or would become national champions.

They completely destroyed every team they faced on their way to reaching the final (I'm talking 5-0s and 4-1s here), where they were heavy favourites. It was very similar to when the 18-0 Patriots faced the wild card Giants in Super Bowl 42. Kotaro stepped up for the opening bout in the final, and lost. That would be signs of things to come as just like the unbeaten Patriots, Uto Junior Sumo Club fell at the last hurdle.

In the following bout, Honda Kotaro (on the left) showed us what he was capable of. He knows exact what to do to gain an advantage, and that hand movement near the edge was a very cleverly done. Heck, even in his later bout against Sosorkhuu (in the second video above), Kotaro was able to keep up with the East Yokozuna for most of the bout, which isn't easy by any means. Maybe he had better luck in an alternate universe.


There are quite a few Grade 2s on this banzuke, and leading the pack is Osaka's Tasaki Masami. Masami is all about power, he's a bit like Baruto or Terunofuji. He was two wins away from becoming the Middle School Yokozuna last year, so it would be interesting to see how he does in 2020 (if by any chance those tournaments go ahead). Other names to watch out for (again, dependent upon the situation in Japan) include Tokitsukaze-oyakata's younger son Sakamoto Shoma, and Kotaro's Uto Junior kohai Ote Kira.

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