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Featured rikishi - Takanotsuru

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The Elvis doppelganger doppelganger, henceforth to be know as EDD.

Other than that? Nada, and I don't mean Tochinonada.

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Takanotsuru Shinichi

(Real Name: Shinichi Sekiyama) - Naruto Beya

==================================

Dohyo debut : Haru, 1992

Born : June 18, 1976

188 cm tall, 179 kg

From Izumi City, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The shikona derives from his home town of Izumi City, a well known for cranes arriving there for winter. The shikona was selected by the mayor and Naruto oyakata.

-----------------

You may have noticed him, just before the last shikiri, raising his both arms like a crane lifts its wings before the flight. It's apt apt as here's a man hailing from the land of cranes.

His oyakata describes him simply as a great human being. His only request to Takanotsuru is to develop more of fighter's instincts as Takanotsuru being a gentle soul tends to miss his greatest chance by making a slight mental gaffe.

This basho he won six straight bashos. But in his next nine bouts he went 3 wins and 6 losses, finishing with a 9 and 6 record. He had a 9 and 6 record in his first Makuuchi basho but had Makekoshi the next basho so now his challenge is to get

Kachikoshi in the Kyusyu.

So get yourself a cup of green tea and hope you enjoy my Takanotsuru story.

-------------

Takanotsuru got his kachikoshi by beating Kotoryu on Day 14 at the Aki Basho 2004. He just made it back to Makuuchi in the Aki Basho, placed at Maegashira West 16, one higher than the East 17 which was the last of Makuuchi ranking.

This was the second time around in Makuuchi for Takanotsuru who initially made the Makuuchi Dohyo debut at the Hatsu Basho, 2003. He had Kachikoshi in that first basho but then he could not sustain it and had Makekoshi in the Haru 2003. That was the last full Makuuchi basho until this basho. The following basho (the Natsu 2003) he was injured and missed 11 appearences after losing four. Then after two bashos (the Aki 2003), he fell all the way down to Makushita, no longer a sekitori.

For Takanotsuru, a hardship is not something he experiences. It is a way of life. And his is the life filled with inspiration, caring and hope while overcoming trials and tribulations. Here's a bear of gentle man. He is kind and considerate to others. He is loved by everyone who came in to contact with him.

----------------

On this June 18, Takanotsuru was sleeping in his room when there was a call from downstairs. One of the heya's young rikishis came up and told him there was a phone call to him at the heya's office and asked to come down. Not fully awake, Takanotsuru went downstairs rubbing his sleepy eyes, wondering why the lobby was pitch dark. Then all of sudden the lights came on and he saw all the young rikishis at

the heya were gathered in front of a cake, his birthday cake.

"I thought what the heck was going on. Every year they were giving me a birthday present but this, the party for me. I couldn't believe it. While I was blowing out the candles, tears started flowing. I hurriedly went back up in my room to hide from everyone," Takanotsuru recalls.

This episode tells something about the man - how he is looked up and cared by those who serve him and who live their entire daily life with him. It shows a kind of man Takanotsuru is. Respected and well liked by his peers, supporters and most of all by those who are his juniors.

He is a simple man who loves his parents so much so that whenever he goes back to see them in Kagoshima, he will hold their hands and walk with them. He is a gentle soul with a mighty heart and giant body.

His older sister still tells of a story of a pre-schooler Takanotsuru telling he needed to take care of his parents. Last June, he was invited to a meeting sponsored by "Hearing Handicapped People" of Yokohama. At the gathering Takanotsuru told them of his experience growing up in a family whose parents are deaf in the only language they understood, Japanese sign language. He learned it before he could write properly as a child as that is the only way he could communicate with his parents.

"I wanted to tell them that even if parents are hard of hearing, they can raise children properly and responsively."

An oldest child of barber, he started learning Judo when he was in a middle school. He did not have any sumo experience. He has been always a big kid. When he became a Grade 1 student and went to school, he could not fit into the desk. He ate so much that the school ever prepared a special "Sekiyama Shinichi Menu" as a normal portion of school lunch was never enough for him.

The sister says Takanotsuru always cared for smaller kids and whenever he found they were bullied, he went personally to try to settle the dispute, often got into a fight himself and she was called in to the school as his parents could not hear. But when she explained the circumstance, the teachers all understood as they also knew Takanotsuru's character so well.

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When Naruto oyakata happened to visit Izumi City, looking for new recruits, his friend (former Sandanme 81 Komatsubara) was asked to join Ozumo. The oyakata phoned Takanotsuru after being told by him that there was another kid bigger than him.

Takanotsuru couldn't believe a sumo oyakata would even ask him to join his heya right out of blue. His grandmother snatched the phone away from him and told the oyakata to forget it, that he would never make it.

But by the time the oyakata visited their house soon after, his grandmother completely turned around and asked the oyakata to take him in and take care of him. She became the greatest booster of Takanotsuru joining Ozumo.

So before Takanotsuru could figure out what was going on, the negotiation was all completed and he was set to join the heya. His parents did not particularly go against the decision as they thought it may be OK as the grandmother loved sumo. He was

often taken care by her when they could not.

----------

Ever since Takanotsuru was small, he has experienced troubles with his right foot. As his parents were hard of hearing, as a child he was never able to explain to them of his problem clearly and as a result it was never treated. And that came to

haunt him in his future sumo life.

After Takanotsuru joined the heya, he showed a great promise, quickly climbing up the banzuke ladder. But the pain in his right foot persisted. Just as he was almost reaching Makushita, he could no longer withstand the pain. He had no choice but to

undergo a surgery. He had to withdraw two consecutive bashos but he looked forward to having a pain free foot and training.

After the rehab, he came back strong winning three straight bashos. Unfortunately his luck was not on his side. He started experiencing unbearable pains again, this time not just in one foot but in both legs. The pain was so excruciating for him.

Naruto oyakata could not sit still seeing him agonzing suffering so much and contacted hospitals throughout Japan trying to find the cause and cure.

To free from the pain, his doctors finally decided to cut off the big toes from his feet and took out the nerves before re-attaching them. They subsequently bolted the toes but this time they made them 1.5 cm longer than before as Takanotsuru had very short big toes, almost impossible to find any type of footware to fit him.

Takanotsuru spent the next 11 months in hospital. Initially he could not even walk on hard floors and crawled around to do his rehabilitation program. But he never took a pity on himself. Seeing other people with more serious illness, he considered

himself to be very lucky and motivated him to work even harder.

------

Takanotsuru was forced to withdraw five consecutive bashos, starting from the 1996 Nagoya Basho. He had fallen out of the Banzuke ranking and was put into the Banzuke-gai list. It meant he was no longer recognized as a member in the Sumo World. But just like in the rehabilitation, he crawled back and crawled up on the Banzuke. And he did crawl up impressively.

After the 2001 Haru Basho, he was promoted to Juryo, and then at the 2003 Hatsu Basho, he finally made his Makuuchi dohyo debut. It has been 11 years of a long and very winding road. In his first Makuuchi debut at West 12, he won 9 and lost 6, a

very credible record. The next basho at Maegashira West 8, he was four wins and 11 losses. Then unthinkable happened, he had dislocated his left shoulder. The record of his third Makuuchi basho at East 14 was 11 losses and four absent bouts.

By the Aki Basho last year, Takanotsuru fell all the way down to Makushita. He lost his private room at the heya. He had to get up early to make chanko again. The oyakata assigned him as a tsukebito to Wakanosato who joined the heya at the same time he did. He had to go back living with new recruits years younger than him, sleeping with them in one big room and doing menial chores for the heya's sekitoris. He was even asked to do a towel duty for sekitoris at a Soken session.

One thing kept him going on. Takanotsuru wanted once more to go back to Makuuchi. He realized there were so many kind people who kept cheering him on. They encouraged him, gave him support and sent warm wishes. For them and for himself he promised he would do all he could to climb out of Makushita.

And he did achieve it. Takanotsuru was back in Juryo in one basho. Then, this 2004 Aki Basho, he did fulfill his promise. He was promoted to Maegashira West 16, the second last rank in Makuuchi but still a Makuuchi ranking. He felt he finally could

tell all those people who supported him when time was tough that he has made it back to Makuuchi through their kindness.

"There is no one in our heya I can compare with Takanotsuru as far as determination and perseverance are concerned," Naruto oyataka said after his comeback to Makuuchi.

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(Second prize...) Fantastic bio there Jonosuke! You have put me out of business! In previous featured rikishi I have trawled through the SML archive and picked out tidbits. The majority of them were posted by you! now you are here yourself we can cut out the middleman and get the info straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.

In regards to Takanotsuru I know precious little, but you have just filled me in!

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What great stories! Quite inspirational as well.

I get the feeling that Naruto beya really is like a big family. I was there earlier in the week. It was a mid-basho practice (where you would expect things to be a little lighter than usual) but although the sekitori were reasonably light in their training they were looking out for the sandanme rikishi, giving them advice or a few sharp words. The whole heya seemed in good spirits. They also had the Czech national amateur team staying and training (with a link already from Takanoyama) and seemed to accept them openly. The sandanme were helping with a few tips, and Takanoyama was quite at the center of things with translating for both sides.

However, as I am straying off Takanotsuru, it seems that they all look out for one another. The descriptions of the support for Tsuru not only reflects on him but also the whole of the heya and the oyakata, I think.

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thank you Jonosuke-san for this great post.

i feel bad for not knowing all these stuff about the guy and just thinking him as a Toki-lookalike ....

he is trully amazing and the story about him becoming Sato's tsukebito is really sad.Next basho i will pay more attention to this guy.

i hope we will see more of these great biographies in the future for other rikishi too...

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Ditto with others Jonosuke.

By the way don't you think he looks like Takamiyama rather than Toki? Dark, large upperbody & hairy...

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Thank you for your kind comments. It makes it all worthwhile as there are some rikshis welll deserveing of being known more.

Takanotsuru may not be a Sanyaku nor top Makuuchi ranking material (yet), but the fact that he has come this far is inspirational to all of us mere motals.

I also agree that Naruto oyakata is buiding a dynastiy of sort and it does reflect on his persoonality. I wish him all success as now they will not only have Sanyaku fixure Wakanosato who is in my view is already has what it takes to be an Ozeki and Takanowaka who should be up in Sanayku if not for his proclivity to go for easy way out and do his pull and slapping.

Takanotsuru also should do well in the mid Makuuchi ranking as well.

And what can I say about Hagiwara who has been unfortunately being compared with Takahanada/Takanohana. It's like saying the kid is the next Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds and Bruce Springsteen. Give the kid a break.

Just getting back to Czech team training in Naruto Beya. I got a cell phone email from Shiroikuma this week saying he just finished his Keiko and went to get some old sumo magazines at a Book-off store in Ryogoku and found out they trashed all the sumo magazines. He was almost in a state of despair looking for a discount store selling old sumo magazines and books. I told him of those Jimbocho/Kanda old book stores.

I never figured out where he ws training until now. Thanks now I know it has Naruto Beya.

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Thanks a lot Jonosuke. I didn't know anything about Takanotsuru before, beyond the bare statistics. Now he has a personality for me (and a very pleasant one too) so I will follow his progress with much more interest than before.

(Blushing...)

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Wow, thanks Jonosuke! This truly is a very emotional story. I must say that for me Takanotsuru was no special rikishi, just a Toki follower. But, to quote a popular songwriter: "there's more to the picture than meets the eye". If I had to make a movie or write a book about sumo and about life, than this would be my inspiration. Thanks! (Blushing...)

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Thank you so much, Jonosuke. :'-( I've added another rikishi to my list of favourites.

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(Pierced by Cupids arrow...) Who's the lady with the nice...(Hypnotic...) err, I mean, who's the fella in blue with the nice tan? :'-(

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(Btw, who is the Naruto Oyakata?)

None other than former Yokozuna Takanosato.

(Blushing...)

Thanks, Asas.

Edited by bennyloh

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And then, there is this:

Edited by Kintamayama

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Distinctive feature in his yotsu-sumo is that peculiar forearm grasping yorikiri. He sometimes just lifts his foe's arms with his forearm and wins that way. It usually looks like an awesome display of strength.

Another thing in his sumo is the rather upright stance. Occasionally he sort of stands up suspiciously erect and yet is not moving backwards.

Takanotsuru was forced to withdraw five consecutive bashos, starting from the 1996 Nagoya Basho

In the light of the story of his foot problems, it is always scary to see him exhibiting signs of discomfort in his foot. On senshuraku he had some signs of pain in his foot in a win against Takekaze. I have a tape from Hatsu 1996 and Takanotsuru won jonidan (perhaps) yusho there as Sekiyama. He looked to very much in discomfort and winced and shook his head even after bowing out after his 7th straight win. Evidently he had already suffering from those rather unbearable pains that then lead to his big foot surgery and long hospitalization.

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I have a tape from Hatsu 1996 and Takanotsuru won jonidan (perhaps) yusho there as Sekiyama.

You are correct, he won the Jonidan yusho in Hatsu 1996. He beat Ryutenzan in a kettei-sen for the yusho. Ryutenzan incidentally showed some promise back then with 6-1 and this 7-0, but he never reached Makushita with a highest rank of Sd3w and quit after three years, last on banzuke in Natsu 1999.

But the real question is - where do you get all those videos, even with lower division stuff?

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You are correct, he won the Jonidan yusho in Hatsu 1996.

<..good stuff snipped..>

But the real question is - where do you get all those videos, even with lower division stuff?

I believe lower division ketteisen bouts are shown on TV as they are determined on the Senshuraku.

But even then keeping the videos from 1996, I am impressed.

I noticed I have some old sumo video I taped off TV Japan one time but that's because I forgot to erase them or because the tapes turned up beneath my old record collection of Deep Purple or something.

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Welcome to The Forum White Bear!

Hope you're back on the NHK English sub-channel sometime... B-)

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Wow, I AM VERY EXCITED TO HAVE YOU, TOO. Shiroikuma! May be you could teach us from the some techinical standpoint of waza deployment in certain matches etc.

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Welcome to The Forum White Bear!

Thanks.

Jonosuke told me he's around quite a lot here, so came too...

Seems like a quite a lively place.

ShiroiKuma :-)

Saw a bit of footage of you boy(s?) more than one I think - at Naruto on NHK during the basho.

Don't have a tape myself but someone might. Quight close to the end of the basho and focus on Wakanosato.

Anyway, welcome.

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