John Gunning

Sumo and Head Injury / Concussion

Recommended Posts

On 19/01/2021 at 07:16, Akinomaki said:

The Shonannoumi bout was no fun to watch. After a head bump matta, unable to stand, but was kept trying. Shimpan conference till he was able to compete again. At least he won, but his head got some lasting damage.

The incident will lead to a new rule: no tori-naoshi/redo in case of signs for a concussion. So far the rikishi could/had to decide if he wants to go on. Shonannoumi had a CT scan and 2 hospitals declared him to be OK http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASP1P7J16P1PUTQP02C.html

Now in this case a hikiwake/draw (itamiwake) can be declared o

but he was quite weak at his loss yesterday - and he took care to avoid head contact

Ms19w Sakigake (5-1) uwatenage Ms22e Shonannoumi (4-2)
202101210001029-w200_0.jpgo

Edited by Akinomaki

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, hopefully 'signs of concussion' is interpreted accurately, and a rikishi isn't deemed to be non-concussed just because he can drag himself up like a drunk eventually.

Well he's not unconscious or bleeding out his head, he should be good to go....

Edited by Katooshu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They should adopt some of the boxing rules on concussion.  In boxing, when a guy suffers a concussion (knocked out, knock down), he is banned from fighting for a certain period.  Also, just look at how quickly a doctor jumps into a ring when a boxer is clearly knocked out.  The doctors and seconds will do their best for the injured boxer to move.   I don't see any of these common-sense practices in ozumo.  In fact, the fallen rikishi is urged to get up, with no doctors on sight.  It will take a few deaths for the sumo knuckleheads to do something about it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Churanoumi* landed concussed out of the dohyo unable to get up, the bout was immediately finished with only Takagenji and the gyoji on the dohyo while Churanoumi was being helped out.

Some progress on the situation. (Signofapproval...)

Edited by Joaoiyama
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have strong opinions on this, coming from the world of professional wrestling, where concussions were ignored for many years. Wrestlers were often concussed just minutes into matches and fought purely on instinct. Its left some with lasting damage and in a few cases, led to tragedy (Chris Benoit). We also see this in sports like Rugby League and Australian Rules, but they've taken strong steps to ensure that the impact of concussions are somewhat mitigated.

Besides what has been done in the last few days, I don't see the powers that be in sumo doing anything else. They've already proven to me that rikishi are expendable. If they were serious, there would be medical staff ringside, an ambulance on standby and rikishi given much more support. The dohyo would no longer be raised so high and padding would be on the floor directly outside the ring. Saving face and warrior spirit be damned; if a tiny MMA promotion can put on an event for 100 people and have medical staff attend, then why can't sumo? If puroresu promotions can have padded floors then why can't sumo?  Its simple - they don't have the want or the will to change.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Yamanashi said:

So, what you're saying is that one of the most successful rikishi at the art of brain-damaging head butts is the head of the NSK?

I couldn't say if moto-Hokutoumi was one of the most successful at that particular aspect. He certainly led with his head on many occasions, but I remember his vicious nodowa above all. 

Head butting at the tachi-ai is so prevalent in sumo, though. Yoshikaze did little else at times. Harumafuji did it. Takakeisho is always at it, as is Onosho, to name barely any of the literal nutters.

I'm with Eikokurai. Make them aware of the dangers, and let them take responsibility for themselves. 

As for on-dohyo situations such as the one that sparked John's article and this thread on the subject, I believe the precedent has already been set by enforced kyujo with no banzuke penalty for rikishi at stables affected by the virus. There should be an immediate, penalty-free, enforced kyujo for the concussed party, and a fusensho for the other guy. 

It can't be beyond the means of the NSK to get the yobidashi trained in first aid. Being seen to do the right thing when it happens would be an enormous improvement. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RabidJohn said:

I'm with Eikokurai. Make them aware of the dangers, and let them take responsibility for themselves.  

Well, I humbly disagree with my betters on this one.  (Drippingsweat...)

When they come into the sport they're kids, wrapped up in the bravado, rituals and peer pressure of a sumo stable - they'll make wrong decisions - hell we all thought we were immortal at 18 years of age! Sorry, they can't take responsibility for themselves because that's not how it works in such a unique training environment and culture, especially when young.

I look at people like Ura and Akiseyama as well as some of the smaller guys, their tachiai is not usually hard hitting. It doesn't take long for changes to be adopted and seen as normal. If a current rikishi's raison d'etre is to headbutt the opponent in the face and modification to the tachiai stops them winning so much then boo hoo - I don't care. (Ok a bit excessive but if a hard hitting tachiai is all you got then tough luck - learn some new skills or slide down the ranks).

Personally I'd like to see modifications to the tachiai (just like there were recently in rugby scrums) to reduce impact and, a trained medical person at ringside who calls the shots - if they say a rikishi is hurt then that's that, no-one is allowed to argue.

Phew, that's off my chest, I need a lie down.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Karasukurai said:

Well, I humbly disagree with my betters on this one.  (Drippingsweat...)

When they come into the sport they're kids, wrapped up in the bravado, rituals and peer pressure of a sumo stable - they'll make wrong decisions - hell we all thought we were immortal at 18 years of age! Sorry, they can't take responsibility for themselves because that's not how it works in such a unique training environment and culture, especially when young.

I look at people like Ura and Akiseyama as well as some of the smaller guys, their tachiai is not usually hard hitting. It doesn't take long for changes to be adopted and seen as normal. If a current rikishi's raison d'etre is to headbutt the opponent in the face and modification to the tachiai stops them winning so much then boo hoo - I don't care. (Ok a bit excessive but if a hard hitting tachiai is all you got then tough luck - learn some new skills or slide down the ranks).

Personally I'd like to see modifications to the tachiai (just like there were recently in rugby scrums) to reduce impact and, a trained medical person at ringside who calls the shots - if they say a rikishi is hurt then that's that, no-one is allowed to argue.

Phew, that's off my chest, I need a lie down.

I agree with you.  Teach "heads-up tachiai" like they do to American football players from the start.  Add "head butt" to the list of hansoku-worthy actions and it stops immediately.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree too. I just hate to hear the sound of two heads colliding.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope I'm not going off-topic, but the mishandling of head injuries goes beyond tachiai. Just from the Day 13 action that I saw, Nihonyanagi landed a great sotogake on Fukai, and I couldn't tell if he hit his head when he landed on his back, or if he just had the wind knocked out of him... either way, he was obviously injured and the shimpan did the right thing to hurry along Nihonyanagi and get an attendant up to talk to Fukai.

 

Even though this instance was a step in the right direction for getting injured rikishi some help, I still wish they had some assistance or ringside attendance from any medical professionals. Whether it happens from a tachiai, or a hard throw, or a bad landing off the dohyo, we've all seen rikishi who have made their injuries worse because they're forced to exit the arena on their own, when proper medical attention could have handled their injuries more effectively.

I said this in my YouTube comments but no one here reads those: I know I'm watching a full-contact sport and I don't expect any sport like that (especially this sport) to change the rules of the game to make it injury-free. But it's terrible for the rikishi to give 100% in the ring, get injured, and have to fend for themselves to get anything close to medical attention. It's also bad optics, but that shouldn't really be the main issue. At least when football or rugby or whatever players get injured, they immediately get someone checking them out. Makes me want to stop watching, honestly.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, mt fuji said:

I know I'm watching a full-contact sport and I don't expect any sport like that (especially this sport) to change the rules of the game to make it injury-free. But it's terrible for the rikishi to give 100% in the ring, get injured, and have to fend for themselves to get anything close to medical attention.

Yep, I can't get my head around the fact that these sportsmen in the 21st century in a modern 1st world society have no proper medical support at major events. Yes, I know sumo is traditional, cultural, religious as well as a sport but bloody hell - my local primary school sports day has a better medical team on stand-by than a Japanese combat sport televised to the nation at prime time.

Really, I don't think proper medical support is some kind of patronising, Western ideology being imposed on an Eastern cultural tradition, it's just humane and proper.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think this is so much a west vs east thing. The kyokai is just an old style guild. I'm sure Boston dockyards wouldn't let independent medical staff in to recover injured people in the 80s either. 

I agree medical staff should be on site, maybe down the hana michi, but this behavior is not surprising if you've had family members involved in insular trades.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The  rijikai discussed this today.  "If something like this happens again, and a rikishi cannot continue his match, the match should be stopped and we should all discuss this and try to see if we can let him or not let him continue to do sumo. If he can't go on, or we deem it dangerous for him to go on, he will be awarded a fusenpai. We will be adding that to the rules," said Isegahama Oyakata. At this point it is a suggestion brought before the executive board and should be finalized before the March tournament.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Kintamayama said:

 If he can't go on, or we deem it dangerous for him to go on, he will be awarded a fusenpai. 

A great award, I'm sure all concussed rikishi will prefer that over continuing and trying to get a win.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Katooshu said:

A great award, I'm sure all concussed rikishi will prefer that over continuing and trying to get a win.

Bandage on the wound. At least the NFL and NPB provide for ties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And of course the shimpan will be applying all their medical knowledge and skills to decide whether the rikishi is actually fit to continue...

  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Katooshu said:

A great award, I'm sure all concussed rikishi will prefer that over continuing and trying to get a win.

Over at Tachiai the silly idea was presented that it should be a draw, as though that doesn't carry its own huge set of issues (punishes the opponent, can be gamed, etc. etc.). But focusing narrowly on how they should score such a bout is a red herring, anyway. The real issue is what they should do with a concussed rikishi afterwards and the rest of his (potentially fully absent) basho record. And even wider than that, the core issue of whether absence = loss for banzuke purposes can be maintained altogether. I doubt they're gonna want to set a precedent with concussions being set apart from "normal" injuries.

  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We carry some baggage around with us when we discuss concussions: our cognitive abilities are what drives our personalities, and there is an emotional response to diminished cognition that we don't necessarily have for, say, a knee injury.  Also, if a rikishi breaks his leg, the answer to "is it broken" can be determined unambiguously [I know, I'm assuming some sort of Fairy Tale Ozumo here].  But "is he severely concussed?" is not a snap judgment.

Having said that, we can't assume that a properly diagnosed concussion diagnosis will lead to the correct form of therapy or medical intervention.  After all, stretched ligaments and busted tendons get treated with "sodium gambarizolate", so I don't expect they'd do anything different for a rikishi who got his bell rung.  The key is to have protocols in place so that everything is tested immediately by medical specialists as a matter of course.  Then we can talk about how to treat them and how to count the time off.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The closely related topic of the raised dohyo also needs to be addressed, IMO. I don't recall which rikishi, but on one of the last two days of this tournament, one of the guys went off the dohyo and landed with his chin first on the edge of the raised platform. He also looked to have seriously had his bell rung, and from my non-medical view, looked like he could have easily received a head and neck injury.

All of the practice dohyos at the heyas that I've seen are flush with the ground, and I do not see any reason this could not be adopted for the bashos, as well. I'm not suggesting this would be a panacea for head injuries, as the tachiai also is a good place to try to make some safety revisions. It is inherently a dangerous sport, but as a fan, I think some movement in the interest of our rikishi seems warranted. The dohyo being level with the ground is a pretty easy no-brainer, IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Kaminariyuki said:

The dohyo being level with the ground is a pretty easy no-brainer, IMO.

Nice pun. ;-)

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is just my opinion (which has been ranted out before).  I believe that many matches are "exciting" at the tawara because one rikishi has the other at the edge and doesn't want to push for a yoritaoshi because both of them will be falling off a table with extra weight on them, and one will be possibly landing backwards on his head at an angle.  To my eye an example of that is Kotoeko in this last basho.  It's tough enough to go for a ride onto a flat surface outside the bales, but adding the elevation and the extra rotation when landing on floor level is asking for tragedy.  In my opinion (Marca registrada) we don't see as much damage from falling off the dohyo because the rikishi avoid it; my point is that they avoid it at the cost of their sumo quality.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jakusotsu said:

Nice pun. ;-)

Guilty, as charged... 

I had meant to include in that post that this has been discussed on a couple of threads before. So, not an original thought. I don't recall much argument against it, so I don't quite understand why it hasn't been done. We can't be the only proponents.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now