Kintamayama

Nagoya Basho 2021

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2 hours ago, Hakuryuho said:

The pearl clutching by the Sumo purists is glorious

Kitanofuji can well afford to do that. But I agree some of the fan outrage is hilarious.

 

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2 hours ago, Hakuryuho said:

The pearl clutching by the Sumo purists is glorious

I suppose it's the last chance to get in some pointless digs like that. You know, eventually he will be gone for longer than he was there, so...

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I don't think most people here are expressing disappointment because Hakuho was for them a paragon of perfection, and the scales just dropped from their eyes today leaving them scrambling to justify his conduct. Nor is anyone seriously contending that he broke the rules (although there is an open question over whether harite should be banned as part of head-shots in general). We've seen his sumo in his decline, and the debate over that opening harite-kachiage combo has been had time and again. Even Hakkaku has come in to say it's a legitimate move, although reading between the lines suggested that he meant it was also fine for it to be done to Hakuho.

The adverse reaction to Hakuho's yusho seems to stem more from the fact that after 13 days of slightly shaky, but reasonably decent sumo befitting a 44-time champion, he chose to do sumo that a lesser rikishi would have been roundly lambasted for by his seniors. And this is not as a matter of rules, but as a matter of a general consensus that the default paradigm for sumo is going forward and "doing your own sumo" and having it be better than the opponents. 

If the yokozuna, who got there by virtue of his sumo being better than everyone else's, resorts not to straightforward sumo but partial trickery, he's within his rights to do so, but it's not going to be seen as cricket.

From a personal and sporting perspective, you can't deny his achievements. The fact that he did it 4 months after surgery, and he kept his word to both his father and his daughter, makes me admire him more in some respects as a person and a family man. He is a man of his word and of intense commitment.

But from the sumo and cultural perspective, there's at least a good deal of head scratching wondering if the yusho was really worth winning in that way. It's not as if this was his first yusho, he was half his size, and we could turn a blind eye to having to scrap against the biggest baddest monster on the banzuke. He's won plenty of yusho in a fairer manner than this. The question is, if he is resorting to this sort of sumo to haul in the wins, has not the threshold against "competing at the pinnacle of the sport" been breached? Is this the sumo that juniors should aspire to? If the answer is no, surely he has outlived his time as a yokozuna by now? And if he was still capable of winning in the usual way, why didn't he do so?

For the avoidance of doubt I don't think anyone is seriously contending that yusho should now be judged by their elegance either. Yusho 45 is in the books from Hakuho. The flag has been presented, and he and Terunofuji will meet as equals at least in rank the next time yusho portraits are presented in front of the Kokugikan. But that meeting will not be amicable or friendly, nor will there be any love lost between them. Hakuho's behaviour will not engender respect or a friendly rivalry, but a hatred and a wish for revenge - see what happened when Endo beat Hakuho in very fine style after getting discombobulated by the kachiage.

The debate is about Hakuho's continuing fitness to wear the white rope, and that is tied up with what we think the white rope represents. Some people think Hakuho should have gone a long time ago, that his kyujo alone were tarnishing the dignity of the tsuna. Others were willing to give him a chance. For my part, I think the kyujo were fine, and it would have been double standards on the part of the NSK to not permit him some recovery time after Kisenosato's record-breaking kyujo streak, but that forbearance implicitly came with the condition that he came back capable of winning. And win he did, but in what manner?

It's fine to see Hakuho purely as a cup-winning machine, in which case it doesn't matter how he wins. But the other dimension is beyond Hakuho the athlete, and moves towards Hakuho the yokozuna to be assessed in the history books. What will be said of him? "He won 45 yusho, but yusho X Y and Z were controversial because he won with a henka/kachiage that was seen as beneath the dignity of a yokozuna". What message does it send to future aspiring rikishi who say "I want to be a yokozuna like the great Hakuho" - will faces drop because no one knows what part of Hakuho that rikishi is referring to - the 63-winning streak great, or the brawling bully we saw yesterday and today?

I suspect part of this strife is due to our wanting clean and simple storylines, and being disappointed when messy reality arrives to snap us out of it. It would have been great if Hakuho had expressed disappointment but bowed out as Hakuho oyakata (for good, since this would have been before the report) before his kyujo streak, and despite his cultural transgressions he would have still held multiple records and retired when opinion was still much more in his favour. His performance today just adds to the mixing and muddling of what once was a pristine legacy, which fans and detractors will be battling over for a long time to come.

Edited by Seiyashi
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57 minutes ago, neonbelly said:

Not that the elbow to the jaw is great for the other guy but Hakuho is smart about protecting himself that way. Wrestlers like Takakeisho who almost always open with a head butt will pay for it later in life.

Not just that; he's also explained that it means he can go straight into a belt grip out of a tachiai, because he's deflected his opponent's head sideways away from where his head needs to go if they are to cinch up immediately.

But that was the harite - the kachiage is really unnecessary as a follow up.

Edited by Seiyashi

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9 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

I suppose it's the last chance to get in some pointless digs like that. You know, eventually he will be gone for longer than he was there, so...

That will be the case for all rikishi, eventually, so...

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Interesting to see the domination of the mongolian rikishi this basho. Of the 9 rikishi that finished with 9 or more wins in makuuchi, there are 3 japanese and 6 mongolian rikishi. Ichinojo, Hoshoryu and Kiribayama has really upped their game lately, and are likely to rise to ozeki-level in a couple of years. Additionally: Mitoryu took the juryo yusho, and Hokuseiho (technically japanese, but actually mongolian) took the makushita yusho. The retirement of Harumafuji and Kakuryu might have led someone to believe that the mongolian dominance would diminish, but with Terunofuji making a comeback, and several other mongolians trending positive, it seems that it won't. Perhaps I'm reading to much into the results of one basho, but I'm not seeing enough improvement in their japanese counterparts to believe that Mongolia won't dominate makuuchi.

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3 minutes ago, Kishinoyama said:

That will be the case for all rikishi, eventually, so...

Well, that's my point. The unwritten rules that people think Hakuho is unsportingly ignoring were there before Hakuho, and they'll be there after Hakuho. Considering that "after Hakuho" may well start in less than two months, any gloating about "pearl clutching" comes across more as a desperate last gasp than as the cutting putdown it was presumably intended to be.

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1 minute ago, Asashosakari said:

.... The unwritten rules that people think Hakuho is unsportingly ignoring were there before Hakuho, and they'll be there after Hakuho.

Well, the unwritten rules need to be written down. Otherwise, they are not in actuality rules.

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3 minutes ago, Kaioshoryu said:

Interesting to see the domination of the mongolian rikishi this basho. Of the 9 rikishi that finished with 9 or more wins in makuuchi, there are 3 japanese and 6 mongolian rikishi. Ichinojo, Hoshoryu and Kiribayama has really upped their game lately, and are likely to rise to ozeki-level in a couple of years. Additionally: Mitoryu took the juryo yusho, and Hokuseiho (technically japanese, but actually mongolian) took the makushita yusho. The retirement of Harumafuji and Kakuryu might have led someone to believe that the mongolian dominance would diminish, but with Terunofuji making a comeback, and several other mongolians trending positive, it seems that it won't. Perhaps I'm reading to much into the results of one basho, but I'm not seeing enough improvement in their japanese counterparts to believe that Mongolia won't dominate makuuchi.

To be fair, had they competed, Asanoyama and Takakeisho would have accounted for 2 more of those, and Yutakayama and Abi were in the running for the juryo championship for the entire second week. Terunofuji may have come back in a big way but he is also likely to be gone pretty soon. Of the three future ozeki mentioned, only Hoshoryu looks like a lock to be there (and maybe go further); Ichinojo has been inconsistent at sanyaku level and Kiribayama is probably stable sanyaku but I don't think I would lock him in as a future ozeki just yet.

The Mongolian dominance is incoming though, and that's in the form of Hokuseiho. Very few rikishi have been able to give him a solid challenge in the lower divisions. He only needs to go through juryo in two basho to tie Jokoryu's record for fastest advancement to makuuchi, and that looks very possible.

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38 minutes ago, Maguroyama said:

I totally agree. While I can understand that people are disappointed, I think too much is being made of his "behaviour". No sportsmanship? Come on, it's a competetive combat sport. Things will happen. It must a burden to expect perfection all the time. "My favorite team won but one of the players made an ugly foul, thus the're not worthy..." 

For me personally it's not any one thing I'm particularly fussed about with Hakuho, it's more a "death by a thousand cuts" situation. What has come out of this basho for me isn't "wow, the GOAT is back!", it's the realization that I actually didn't miss him all that much during the last 12 months.

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4 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

To be fair, had they competed, Asanoyama and Takakeisho would have accounted for 2 more of those, and Yutakayama and Abi were in the running for the juryo championship for the entire second week. Terunofuji may have come back in a big way but he is also likely to be gone pretty soon. Of the three future ozeki mentioned, only Hoshoryu looks like a lock to be there (and maybe go further); Ichinojo has been inconsistent at sanyaku level and Kiribayama is probably stable sanyaku but I don't think I would lock him in as a future ozeki just yet.

The Mongolian dominance is incoming though, and that's in the form of Hokuseiho. Very few rikishi have been able to give him a solid challenge in the lower divisions. He only needs to go through juryo in two basho to tie Jokoryu's record for fastest advancement to makuuchi, and that looks very possible.

You are right about Asanoyama and Takakeisho of course, but I thought it was telling that the rikishi that stepped up and collected more wins in their absence were the mongolians. In fact all mongolians in makuuchi finished with a KK, Chiyoshoma finished 8-7. :-)

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1 minute ago, Kaioshoryu said:

You are right about Asanoyama and Takakeisho of course, but I thought it was telling that the rikishi that stepped up and collected more wins in their absence were the mongolians. In fact all mongolians in makuuchi finished with a KK, Chiyoshoma finished 8-7. :-)

Last basho, half of them went MK though, and the basho before those weren't particularly impressive either. I'd agree that this basho was exceptional, but I'm not sure that Mongolian dominance is back per se, just probably fading a bit slower than the purists in Japan would have liked after Harumafuji's exit. After all, the Mongolians that do join sumo are scouted for a reason, and for better or worse, that ship is running regular ferry services for the foreseeable future.

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30 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Last basho, half of them went MK though, and the basho before those weren't particularly impressive either. I'd agree that this basho was exceptional, but I'm not sure that Mongolian dominance is back per se, just probably fading a bit slower than the purists in Japan would have liked after Harumafuji's exit. After all, the Mongolians that do join sumo are scouted for a reason, and for better or worse, that ship is running regular ferry services for the foreseeable future.

Even if they regain/retain dominance at the top via Hoshoryu and Hokuseiho, it doesn't look like it'll have much of a foundation anymore. Given the current recruiting patterns where oyakata don't take chances anymore and just take in Mongolians that look like a reasonably sure thing (of which some inevitably fail anyway), there might be less than 15 of them in all of sumo a decade from now, or earlier. At one point there were 17 just in the sekitori ranks, 13 in makuuchi.

Edited by Asashosakari
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5 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

what's the point of carrying on? His legacy is set. We can ask no more of him than he's done. We're into diminishing returns territory now. Every extra yusho he wins matters less to his legacy than it used to. 45 is the same as 44. People aren't judging him on records anymore, but be sure plenty will privately dock him a few reputation points for every win they feel is beneath a man of his talent. 

45 after being battered enough for a normal human to be crippled for good. Hakuho may have had an interest to continue to write history by rising from the ashes yet another time. It ain't over 'til it's over.

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The sansho interview for Kotonowaka ended on a refreshing note - anti Shodai: asked whom he's looking forward to meet on the dohyo, of the top guys he'll be facing next basho, he said: all of them. Shodai cemented his negative image by an interview where he basically said: none of them.

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Anyone know what color the macaroon was?

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2 minutes ago, Rocks said:

Anyone know what color the macaroon was?

Cherry pink, I think.

 

Edited by Seiyashi
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2 hours ago, neonbelly said:

I think the biggest thing sumo could do to protect the head is not be so strict about hands down at the tachiai, which inclines the rikishi's domes toward each other.

Watch Taiho's win streak on youtube, you'll see they don't start with hands down at all, and their heads never smash together. 

Watching Hakuho I'm very confident that he leads with the outstretched arm to deflect the opponent's head and make a head-to-head impact impossible. Not that the elbow to the jaw is great for the other guy but Hakuho is smart about protecting himself that way. Wrestlers like Takakeisho who almost always open with a head butt will pay for it later in life.

As to banning face slaps, I can't support that. Sumo is unique among grappling arts in allowing strikes and thrusts, and it shouldn't lose that.

Not quite unique, you are allowed to strike in Senegalese wrestling for example. 

I completely agree with you though. Sumo without slaps and thrusts wouldn't be sumo. They are as fundamental to the sport as the forward pass is to American football.

Edited by Mightyduck
Clarification
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I have seen much worse harite, I remember a match between Daishoyama and Takatoriki in July 1990, I think it is on YouTube which looks a bit rough.

As long as the slaps are delivered by open hands, as opposed to closed fists, they should remain OK.

 

Swami

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2 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

I blame Terunofuji for leaving his chin open to a perfectly legitimate move that Hakuho has used previously. He is just lucky he didn't end up the same as Myogiryu in 2012.

Look, I get why so many people are extremely unhappy about the way events unfolded. My favourite yokozuna remains Chiyonofuji. Hakuho has never had the right degree of hinkaku for me, and we saw that in its extreme today. The face and attitude after the bout was all wrong. 

But falling way short of ideals is not breaking the rules. Nor was the brawling, brutal sumo he came out with today. 

And even though he can be thoroughly unlikeable at times, I stand in awe of his achievements. Pulling off a zensho at the age of 36, after already having had the greatest yokozuna career of all time, when everybody thought he was past it... 

I can forgive him for not being perfect.

Agree 100%

I've only been watching sumo since 2016 and I still feel like a newcomer to the sport at times. But, If you know Hakuho

a. can lead with his forarm

b. Has done so many times in the the past

c. Probably can't match you physically 

Why wouldn't you defend yourself against it?! So many complaints about what Hakuho did but like others have already said, there isnt a rule against it. I wanted Terunofuji to win so I was more frustrated that he let himself get hit like that. 

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I can understand aesthetic objections to Hakuho's performance. Everybody prefers to watch different styles. Sumo is great for that, like Shohozan and Kotoshogiku have totally different fighting styles. But if Shohozan became a yokozuna, should he have to change what made him one just to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of some? You do not get promoted to Yokozuna for aesthetically pleasing sumo, you get it for winning. Therefore (although naturally there are other factors) winning is the most important single thing about being a Yokozuna. Everything else is opinions. Opinions are obviously also very important.

An opinion worth considering, though, is Terunofuji's. If I were in his shoes I wouldn't have wanted Hakuho to do anything less than his damnedest to win. On day 14 of Haru 2017, Terunofuji henka'd Kotoshogiku to deprive him of a return to Ozeki, just so he could stay in the title picture with Kisenosato. A man who can do that understands what winning means and what winning requires and wouldn't want any less than Hakuho's utmost efforts, regardless of how ugly they may seem to some. And I think if Terunofuji doesn't object to Hakuho's tactics (putting aside the potential arm injury for the moment), I think that should count for something.

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10 minutes ago, Wakanopedia said:

I can understand aesthetic objections to Hakuho's performance. Everybody prefers to watch different styles. Sumo is great for that, like Shohozan and Kotoshogiku have totally different fighting styles. But if Shohozan became a yokozuna, should he have to change what made him one just to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of some? You do not get promoted to Yokozuna for aesthetically pleasing sumo, you get it for winning. Therefore (although naturally there are other factors) winning is the most important single thing about being a Yokozuna. Everything else is opinions. Opinions are obviously also very important.

Hakuho didn't use to wrestle like this in his heyday. It was only after injuries started overtaking him that he pulled out the harite/kachiage style. Believe you me, if he had had that as ozeki he would never have been promoted to yokozuna on hinkaku grounds, or would have been upbraided far more often by the YDC and NSK for it. The fact that he feels pressured to resort to such tactics to continue winning is precisely what is driving the discussion here: is winning more important as a yokozuna, or winning in a graceful way?

Those of us who see Hakuho as an athlete will incline to the former, while those who see more in a yokozuna prefer the latter view.

Aesthetics is not part of it. Takakeisho's sumo may look "unyokozunalike" but if he can win two yusho in a row there's no question of promoting him. But if he resorted to tactics considered beneath the dignity of a yokozuna then that's a different matter. When we say dirty tactics it's not because it looks bad, it's because it feels unfair to use it.

And no - yokozuna is the one rank where there is ostensibly still some discretion to whether to grant it or not. Konishiki was infamously denied promotion on the basis of "no hinkaku as a foreigner" - they wouldn't be as blatant as that today, but there would definitely be doubts beforehand about whether a wrestler who fought like that would be worth promoting.

I don't follow many other sports, but I suppose the closest equivalent I can think of is that archery clip where an archer chose to walk off the line after his opponent's equipment malfunctioned. Sure, it's not a rule that he needed to do so, but we felt that it was fairer had he done so. Hakuho's done the equivalent of choosing not to walk here, which is giving himself an advantage that arose not entirely as a result of his pure skill at sumo. The metaphor is imperfect, but you see what I'm getting at.

13 minutes ago, Wakanopedia said:

An opinion worth considering, though, is Terunofuji's. If I were in his shoes I wouldn't have wanted Hakuho to do anything less than his damnedest to win. On day 14 of Haru 2017, Terunofuji henka'd Kotoshogiku to deprive him of a return to Ozeki, just so he could stay in the title picture with Kisenosato. A man who can do that understands what winning means and what winning requires and wouldn't want any less than Hakuho's utmost efforts, regardless of how ugly they may seem to some. And I think if Terunofuji doesn't object to Hakuho's tactics (putting aside the potential arm injury for the moment), I think that should count for something.

This, though, is true. And Hakuho's harite/kachiage has been successfully defended against - Endo showed exactly how to do it. Then again, Hakuho hadn't really done the kachiage the whole basho, and after the bout with Shodai yesterday I don't think anyone really expected the kachiage in the musubi on senshuraku either. So if anything else, Hakuho definitely seized the mental initiative from the beginning, for which he must be commended, but we really wish he hadn't gone and used the kachiage and sullied that preparation.

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20 minutes ago, Wakanopedia said:

 But if Shohozan became a yokozuna, should he have to change what made him one just to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of some?

Ama did.

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I'm not so certain the harite made a big difference. It looked like most of them only partially landed but I may be wrong. I didn't magnify it or anything, just noticed that Terunofuji kept his head in the direction of the action.  Indeed, it wasn't the prettiest sumo but the arm lock, which was nearly escaped and then re-established was a strong and winning move. The list of folks who can throw Terunofuji like that is limited for sure.

Hakuho's bizarre approach to Shodai on Day 14 set the stage for today. Terunofuji had no idea what to expect. And, the niramiai was priceless. It at least seemed obvious who would win before the tachiai, IMO.

Congratulations Hakuho!

Edited by Kaminariyuki
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I enjoyed the bout and I am enjoying he discussion. 

As pointed before, I am experiencing conflicting opinions on Hakuho's performance today but that does not worry me. It only reminds me of why I've been following this fascinating sport/cultural phenomenon for such a long time.

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