rzombie1988

Something needs to be done about part-time Yokozuna's

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Houmanumi said:

And they will tell you that there is no rule requiring a Yokozuna to retire. I'm just gonna rip off the Wikipedia section for this:

Retiring

As opposed to all other sumo ranks, a yokozuna cannot be demoted. However, during tournaments, expectations are very high for yokozuna. A yokozuna is expected to win or at least be a serious contender for championships on a regular basis. A yokozuna is expected to retire if he can no longer compete at the peak of the sport or in some cases such as Futahaguro or Harumafuji is deemed to have not upheld the dignity of the rank. Expectations are so high that, even in the course of one tournament, a yokozuna who early on appears to be headed for a losing tournament will feel the pressure to retire; there are many cases of yokozuna dropping out mid-tournament with a real or imagined injury to avoid a make-koshi (a losing record) and the expectation to retire. One of the recent example is the retirement of the 72nd Yokozuna, Kisenosato, who was unable to win majority of the bouts due to an injury in his left arm. These expectations are a large part of the reason that the promotion criteria for yokozuna are so strict in the first place.

Key points:

  • Expectations are set very high
    • Win or at lease be a serious contender for championships on a regular basis
      • in 3/6 most recent tournaments, Hak is Y or J.
      • in 2/6 most recent tournaments, Kak is Y or J.
    • EXPECTED to retire if they can no longer compete at the peak of the sport, or uphold the dignity of the rank 
      • clearly they can both compete, given the number of recent Y/J 
    • Hey look, a whole section on how Yokozuna can pull out to avoid losing records/the expectation to retire. Almost as if it's an expected thing from them that they have earned the right to do.

I get it, it sucks that we don't have young, healthy yokozuna. But I put that on the younger guys who aren't getting the job done (Takayasu, Mitakeumi etc.) rather than the two ageing Yokozuna who can just show up when they want and still win cups. In that same 6-tournament period, the only rikishi to get multiple Y/J was Asanoyama with two jun-yusho. Without established competition capable of picking apart these yokozuna, why should they go anywhere? I all but guarantee that if Asanoyama or another young star should rise to the rank soon, both Kakuryu and likely Hakuho will step away. 

 

> EXPECTED to retire if they can no longer compete at the peak of the sport, or uphold the dignity of the rank

There it is.

How can you say they are competing at the peak of the sport when they can only do it half the time? And what is dignified about missing so many matches?

> clearly they can both compete, given the number of recent Y/J

I think a lot of wrestlers would have better records if they only had to wrestle as much as Hakuho and Kakuryu do. And I think both of those two would have a lot worse records if they had to wrestle as much as everyone else does.

Edited by rzombie1988

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6 hours ago, rzombie1988 said:

>I want all of the Yokozuna to show up on day one every tournament and compete for all 15 days. Is that realistic when they get above the age of 30?

If they can't handle the same schedule as everyone else, maybe they shouldn't be wrestling?

You know that life sometimes is not fair.

There's different kinds of unfairness. Man-made and non-man made.

Kisenosato getting injured right after his promotion to Yokozuna. That's a non-man made unfairness and there's nothing that can be done about it.

Hakuho and other Yokozuna getting to miss tons of matches and tournaments while others can't, is a man-made unfairness. And fortunately, it could be fixed in record time.

It may indeed be "unfair", and a man-made unfairness at that. But to my mind, the importance is it's not arbitrary. It's a perk/rule known to all participants and ahead of time, applying equally to everyone (that is, any wrestler attaining the rank is afforded the perk). 

It's a significant perk, but one with a justification (that being the difficulty in obtaining the rank). It is no more offensive as being unfair than the fact that those of lower rank are paid less than those of higher rank. That is equally an unfairness, if not more so. But it's one known by all participants, ahead of time, applying equally to all. Go up in rank, get paid more. Go down, get paid less. Man made unfairness, certainly. But so what? 

(Please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting the current pay/rank/perk structure is not in need of some reform for the betterment of sumo. But a yokozuna being allowed to enter only a few a year to my mind is, while an unfairness, is at best a minor one and not one in need of a remedy; indeed, it fulfills an important need in allowing the symbolism of a reigning yokozuna to continue while allowing for a smoother transition). 

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21 minutes ago, rzombie1988 said:

> EXPECTED to retire if they can no longer compete at the peak of the sport, or uphold the dignity of the rank

There it is.

How can you say they are competing at the peak of the sport when they can only do it half the time? And what is dignified about missing so many matches?

> clearly they can both compete, given the number of recent Y/J

I think a lot of wrestlers would have better records if they only had to wrestle as much as Hakuho and Kakuryu do. And I think both of those two would have a lot worse records if they had to wrestle as much as everyone else does.

To your first point, 'expected' is not a rule, and yes, 'comete at the peak of the sport' is subjective. How can I personally say a two wrestlers with a combined 3 yusho and 3 jun-yuhso (I can't be bothered going back to check this so I may be off by one) are competing at the peak of their sport?! I don't think that warrants explanation.

Continuing, and to your second point, every single rikishi just had a one tournament rest. Very similar to what Hak and Kak often do. And who wins? A Maegashira 17. This was the prime opportunity for the youth brigade to stand up and make their mark, and (though they did well) they didn't do it. 

We have an injured ozeki, a brand new ozeki, and two ageing yokozuna. This is just a transitory period. In a 3-6 tournaments this will likely take care of itself.

I think the take-away from this discussion (between the two of us at least) is that we agree, they can't just sit-out non-stop. But I consider their current form (particularly Hakuho's) still to be 'competing at the peak of the sport'. When he is no longer completing tournaments to that effect, then I agree, it's time for him to go. Kakuryu has arguably reached that point already, and indeed if he doesn't complete the next basho I'll be joining the calls for him to step down.

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3 hours ago, rzombie1988 said:

Corporations and governments frequently cave in to public pressure.

Too true, and it's exacerbated by the anti-social media mob.

No offence, but you are not 'public pressure'; you're just one guy whining about something you don't like on a discussion forum where the majority appears to disagree with you.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, RabidJohn said:

No offence, but you are not 'public pressure'; you're just one guy whining about something you don't like on a discussion forum where the majority appears to disagree with you.

Lol yeah, SumoForum is not “public pressure” ... we’re not even speaking Japanese!

Edited by mt fuji
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1 hour ago, RabidJohn said:

Too true, and it's exacerbated by the anti-social media mob.

No offence, but you are not 'public pressure'; you're just one guy whining about something you don't like on a discussion forum where the majority appears to disagree with you.

 

1 hour ago, mt fuji said:

Lol yeah, SumoForum is not “public pressure” ... we’re not even speaking Japanese!

There is no public pressure, there is the YDC. 

There are no international fans, there are only Japanese. 

There is no yaocho, there is only less strong sumo.

There is no SumoForum, there is only the NSK. 

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6 hours ago, rzombie1988 said:

Ask Harumafuji and Asashoryu about that one.

Your argument is that a Yokozuna should retire when they start missing tournaments. You also know that both Asashoryu and Harumafuji retired because of disciplinary issues. That does not fit your argument. 

Since you seem to want to continue discussing this issue, then I would suggest that you email or call the NSK every day. I am certain that one foreign sumo fan can sway this corporation into making retirement rules for Yokozuna. 

I am done discussing this issue with you. Have a nice day.

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On 05/08/2020 at 14:32, Akinomaki said:

The 2 remaining now are showing us the natural way a yokozuna career ends:

Thank you @Akinomaki I think you have shown exactly what's happening to the Yokozuna, it's a natural end to long careers. IMO 'nothing 'needs to be done' - retirements will happen, as always, when they happen. It sounds a bit trite but it's true.

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1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

There is no public pressure, there is the YDC. 

There are no international fans, there are only Japanese. 

There is no yaocho, there is only less strong sumo.

There is no SumoForum, there is only the NSK. 

I can't decide whether you based that on the Jedi or Sith Code...

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6 hours ago, rzombie1988 said:

> EXPECTED to retire if they can no longer compete at the peak of the sport, or uphold the dignity of the rank

There it is.

How can you say they are competing at the peak of the sport when they can only do it half the time? And what is dignified about missing so many matches?

> clearly they can both compete, given the number of recent Y/J

I think a lot of wrestlers would have better records if they only had to wrestle as much as Hakuho and Kakuryu do. And I think both of those two would have a lot worse records if they had to wrestle as much as everyone else does.

I don't think any more productive discussion is going to be had out of this either; so this is my signoff.

As @RabidJohn said early on, a yokozuna does not have the "luxury" of dropping down the rankings, and his career can only end in retirement at yokozuna. That is the corollary of his "privilege" to withdraw without suffering a decrease in rank. Having established this, there is then no issue about their competing half the time not being "competing at the peak of the sport", or about missing matches not being "dignified". The Japanese understanding of "peak" and "dignity" is not about dominating people or showing up, it is about showing the very best that sumo has to offer even if injuries make those a rarer and rarer occurrence. (There is a reason people are upset about Hakuho's harite, kachiage, and nekodamasho, because yokozuna should not need these "cheap" shots to win. 

As for wrestlers having better records, well, this last basho was their best shot, and they blew it. Both yokozuna having a lot worse records, we don't know for sure but I doubt it. Their rank is a function of consistency not peak performance; their promotion (and to a lesser extent that of the ozeki) is reliant on their being able to output not just a good record, but good records consistently. We are simply in a transition period where the old rikishi are fading out (as seen by the recent retirements) but new ones have yet to properly rise; Shodai, Ichinojo, Terunofuji and Mitakeumi should have all made it a long time ago if not for their various issues.

That being said, it would be interesting to do a generational analysis of sumo. I suspect however that we may be making too much of this transition and/or this transition is unique to modern conditions; one would not normally be able to define eras in sumo based solely on the wrestlers making up makuuchi.

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On 04/08/2020 at 21:18, Gooner said:

Hakuho has finished 7 out of 17 over the last three years, Kakuryu 8. They have only met 5 times in the last 4 years...Sumo is all about gambarizing and perseverence but I feel that the rikishi at the top are lacking it.

While I recognise the feeling that the absentee Yokozuna phenomenon makes fans feel that they are being deprived of something.  When the banzuke is released, the expectation is that those names at the top will show up and represent.  But the reality of oozumo does not always match expectations.

As Akimaki pointed out, history shows that towards the end of their careers, Yokokzunas often cling to their rank for various reasons (pride and/or money).  

Hakuho (and Kakuryu for that matter) are not in my opinion taking advantage of their immunity to demotion.  They are showing up as much as their battered bodies permit.  When fit, they are still two of the best or the two best wrestlers in the sport in terms of power, skill and experience.  And even though the two current Yokozunas have only met five times in the last four years, those bouts, especially the  March 2019 senshuraku match, were on a whole other level compared to the bouts we generally see.  

Seeing two great warriors go head to head is worth the price of admission for all the days of all the tournaments they miss.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Amamaniac said:

While I recognise the feeling that the absentee Yokozuna phenomenon makes fans feel that they are being deprived of something.  When the banzuke is released, the expectation is that those names at the top will show up and represent.  But the reality of oozumo does not always match expectations.

I was in Nagoya last year and caught D9 - the day Hakuho lost to Ichinojo. What bummed me was that it was a no-zeki tournament; better still Tochinoshin (my favourite of the four at the time) withdrew the day I reached Nagoya. The ozeki have a lot more to answer for that than the yokozuna, if you ask me...

Edited by Seiyashi
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I can't really agree about the need for more strict rules governing yokozuna retirement. It's an honorary rank to begin with. In a sense you can say they've more or less ascended past the whole ranking system itself.

They're the miracle workers of sumo, and you don't really need miracles to happen every day. Or expect them to. To me it's perfectly fine for Hakuho and Kakuryu to be very selective about whether they're fit to participate, so that when they do they we can be sure they're in decent enough shape to seriously contend for the yusho.

Also, as part of the immense prestige and ceremonial importance of the yokozuna rank, their retirement should be as decent and honorable as possible too—it seems wrong to simply 'fire' one in disgrace based on not meeting a specific hard requirement. Yokozuna should retire when it's the "right time" for them to go.

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2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

I was in Nagoya last year and caught D9 - the day Hakuho lost to Ichinojo. What bummed me was that it was a no-zeki tournament; better still Tochinoshin (my favourite of the four at the time) withdrew the day I reached Nagoya. The ozeki have a lot more to answer for that than the yokozuna, if you ask me...

The ozeki, for one, have very clear boundaries in how much they are allowed to rest and how well they have to do after they've rested- if they don't, they are duly demoted. No alteration is necessary to that system. 

There's also the much more cloudy, under-the-table system of repromotion to the rank once one has been demoted. It generally seems that a repromotion candidate has a tougher way up than someone looking for his ozeki debut, but to my knowledge there are no hard-and fast rules about this. 

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2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

I was in Nagoya last year and caught D9 - the day Hakuho lost to Ichinojo. What bummed me was that it was a no-zeki tournament; better still Tochinoshin (my favourite of the four at the time) withdrew the day I reached Nagoya. The ozeki have a lot more to answer for that than the yokozuna, if you ask me...

You make an absolutely valid point.  Whenever the Yokozunas go kyujo, everyone expects the Ozekis to step up their game (i.e., win the championship).  They are, after all, the next in line.

I was simply saying that the Yokozunas on the banzuke today are still the most exciting ones to watch, and in my eyes ... they have very little to answer for.

As for the Ozekis, Takakeisho deserved to get promoted to the rank fo Champion, but an unfortunate injury has all but ruined his ability to win the way he used to win.  It was particularly disconcerting that he struggled to get his vital KK this time around despite having had four months to heal.  And not being able to finish the tournament further suggests that his injury is more chronic than one would like.  Is he a future Yokozuna?  Not in my mind.  Can he stick around as an Ozeki for the rest of his sumo career (potentially 10 years)?  I have serious doubts.  All that to say, making him answer for his poor showing is like expecting water from a stone.

But when we look at Asanoyama, the Shin Ozeki, even though he didn't end up winning the yusho, he did end up with the jun yusho.  His debut was anything but sub-par.  Even though his eventual loss was quite disappointing for many fans, given his determined and very respectable performance, I'm not sure I feel his has much to answer for.  He actually deserves a fair amount of praise.

The trouble as I see it has more to to with the "junior" Sanyaku and even Makuuchi joi wrestlers who struggle to show any consistency.

For years, we have been treated to a top-heavy banzuke (i.e., four Yokozunas with as many as six Ozeki), but now we are witnessing a bottom-heavy banzuke (i.e., M17) with a bare-bones Sanyaku.  Who is to blame for this situation?  I had the impression that this thread was created in part to blame the situation on Hakuho's and Kakuryu's apparent unwillingness to retire.  If they ceased to be around, others would do better.  

While I can appreciate that argument, I still hold the view that unless there is a clear sign that the higher-ranked wrestlers in the Top Division have developed the skill and consistency to be elite wrestlers, those Grand Champions still hold the torch and set the standard of what the best sumo is and should be.

In short, I agree with you, but think the problem goes down beyond the current faux-zeki and Shin Ozeki.

#jealous of your 2019 Nagoya Tournament visit (Noddingyes...)

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On 05/08/2020 at 10:12, rzombie1988 said:

Sumo history changes if various people aren't around.

Asashoryu was helped by having bad competition just as Hakuho was helped by having bad competition from 2010-2013.

Without Hakuho, there's no doubt people like Harumafuji, Kisenosato, Kakuryu and Terunofuji would have had a few more titles. And without him now, we'd probably have people like Shodai, Mitaekumi and Terunofuji around the Yokozuna level.

dont put terunofuji on the same category with shodai and mitakeumi

terunofuji was a clear dai yokozuna material before the injury

without hakuho harumafuji kisenosato kakuryu they all could have been 10+ yusho

its not they are that bad its just hakuho is on another level

 

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On 05/08/2020 at 20:18, Yamanashi said:

 

Kakuryu ... the more I watch his past bouts, the more I'm amazed he made it to Yokozuna.  If you put a 29-year-old Kakuryu against a 29-year-old Kaiou and compare their records, the difference is Kakuryu strung together two Yusho in a row.

to become a yokozuna you need a little luck and you have to won when it mattered the most

kakuryu did it and kaio did not and kisenosato failed many times and he finally won when it mattered the most

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Houmanumi said:

To your first point, 'expected' is not a rule, and yes, 'comete at the peak of the sport' is subjective. How can I personally say a two wrestlers with a combined 3 yusho and 3 jun-yuhso (I can't be bothered going back to check this so I may be off by one) are competing at the peak of their sport?! I don't think that warrants explanation.

Continuing, and to your second point, every single rikishi just had a one tournament rest. Very similar to what Hak and Kak often do. And who wins? A Maegashira 17. This was the prime opportunity for the youth brigade to stand up and make their mark, and (though they did well) they didn't do it. 

We have an injured ozeki, a brand new ozeki, and two ageing yokozuna. This is just a transitory period. In a 3-6 tournaments this will likely take care of itself.

I think the take-away from this discussion (between the two of us at least) is that we agree, they can't just sit-out non-stop. But I consider their current form (particularly Hakuho's) still to be 'competing at the peak of the sport'. When he is no longer completing tournaments to that effect, then I agree, it's time for him to go. Kakuryu has arguably reached that point already, and indeed if he doesn't complete the next basho I'll be joining the calls for him to step down.

>are competing at the peak of their sport?!

Half the time, when they actually complete tournaments.

>And who wins? A Maegashira 17

Can you tell me more about this Maegashira 17 winner? Has he ever won titles before or has he ever been a higher rank?

 

Edited by rzombie1988

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13 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

 

There is no public pressure, there is the YDC. 

There are no international fans, there are only Japanese. 

There is no yaocho, there is only less strong sumo.

There is no SumoForum, there is only the NSK. 

And don't forget, "there is no Dana , only Zuul."

Wasn't the YDC created to be the august presence representing the soul of 日本.  If not, what is their job?

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35 minutes ago, rzombie1988 said:

>And who wins? A Maegashira 17

Can you tell me more about this Maegashira 17 winner? Has he ever won titles before or has he ever been a higher rank?

If you simply Google Terunofuji, the wiki page will give you all the background you need.  

And for some nice colour commentary, try John Gunning's recent article: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2020/08/05/sumo/terunofuji-comback/

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6 hours ago, kamizake said:

to become a yokozuna you need a little luck and you have to won when it mattered the most

kakuryu did it and kaio did not and kisenosato failed many times and he finally won when it mattered the most

I don't concede the point, I agree with it.  My point is that the luck creates an aura that doesn't hold up under inspection.  Heck, I like Kakuryu!  He (and Harumafuji) are the patron saints of every lunchbucket salaryman who thinks he could get to the top with a little more perseverance. 

To illustrate my point, take two rikishi and follow them from age 26 to age 34:

A - 5 Yusho, 9 Jun-Yusho; 9 basho with <5 wins; 10 basho with >= 12 wins

B - 6 Yusho, 6 Jun-yusho; 14 basho with <5 wins; 11 basho with >= 12 wins.

Relatively equal, right?  A was Kaio, B is Kakuryu.  And Kaio never had more than 10 wins after age 32.  Yet he cleared kadoban for 65 basho as Ozeki.  Could he have done better if he had the option of leaving early 3 or 4 basho in a row?  Who knows?  Kakuryu couldn't remain an Ozeki with 4 straight losing basho, but he remained a Yokozuna.

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7 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

Heck, I like Kakuryu!  He (and Harumafuji) are the patron saints of every lunchbucket salaryman who thinks he could get to the top with a little more perseverance. 

Might I suggest "bento-box salaryman"? ;-)

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31 minutes ago, Amamaniac said:

Might I suggest "bento-box salaryman"? ;-)

Pull-eez, I'm trying to appeal to a diverse multicultural audience.(Beinghypocrite...)

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4 hours ago, rzombie1988 said:

>are competing at the peak of their sport?!

Half the time, when they actually complete tournaments.

>And who wins? A Maegashira 17

Can you tell me more about this Maegashira 17 winner? Has he ever won titles before or has he ever been a higher rank?

 

So again:

I think the take-away from this discussion (between the two of us at least) is that we agree, they can't just sit-out non-stop. But I consider their current form (particularly Hakuho's) still to be 'competing at the peak of the sport'. When he is no longer completing tournaments to that effect, then I agree, it's time for him to go. Kakuryu has arguably reached that point already, and indeed if he doesn't complete the next basho I'll be joining the calls for him to step down.

I'm not going to argue back and forth over the fact that we have a different opinion on the subjective criteria of 'competing at the peak of their sport'.

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Kakuryu and Hakuho out again this basho. Between the two of them, they have completed 3 total bashos in the last year.

Edited by rzombie1988

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