Benihana

Natsu 2022 Discussion Thread - here be spoilers

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Posted (edited)

Out of curiosity (and having not a lot to do today), I poked through the current banzuke.

Makuuchi, 25 and under: Onosho, Midorifuji, Kotonowaka, Hoshoryu, Kotoshoho, Oho (14.3%).

Juryo, 25 and under: Nishikifuji, Shimazuumi, Hiradoumi, Kitanowaka, Atamifuji (17.9%).

Makushita 1-20, 25 and under: Oki, Shishi, Oshoma, Fukai, Shonannoumi, Nishikawa, Fujiseiun, Hikarifuji, Kitadaichi, Narutaki, Osanai, Tsukahara, Kinbozan, Kanno, Tokunomusashi, Suzuki, Tochikamiyama, Roga, Hokuseiho (47.5%).

I realize that veterans who drop to, or haven't made it out of, division three may be much more likely to retire, but all the same, this seems like a decent crop of younger talent, unless they endlessly spin their wheels (which some seem to be doing but not all, yet).

But then there's the future beyond this.

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29 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

Also, I personally believe we are currently witnessing a consequence of the "one foreigner per heya" policies in full. Of the current perspective Ozeki/Yokozuna, I am positive the only foreigner candidate is Hoshoryu. All the others (Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Kotonowaka, even Abi and Asanoyama) are japanese. While the policy initially appeared to have failed at the beginning (see the Mongolians, but also Kotooshu, Baruto, Tochinoshin and other successful foreigners of the 2010s) now is in my opinion in full force. Foreigners are discouraged to join ozumo, while natives are encouraged. Little problem: young japanese are not totally into sumo like in the good 'ole times. Young talents might prefer to do something else than becoming a fat guy and possibly even die in your 50s or 60s due to long-time health issues. This means that the talent pool is being restricted in many ways.

I tend to agree with this in part, but consider it in combination with two other major factors: how stable life looks in the world of the Internet, and the potential rewards for chasing this type of career.

People in their mid-20s are the first generation to grow up surrounded by the Internet and the speed/relative ease it offers compared to life before there was WiFi everywhere. This is not "kids can't live without their smartphones"; this is to point out that, while stable life has long been acknowledged as disciplined and difficult, that disciplined lifestyle comes at a cost of even more freedom (or, at least, perceived freedom) than in previous generations. For young wrestlers who are already working on a high level (e.g. university champions or team captains), it still might be worth it because they're ahead of the curve. And, of course, some people will try and live the dream regardless.

But then, look at the rewards. A sport that's losing popularity to the point of recruiting drives coming up empty or basically empty of anyone interested in trying out a career can't lean on the glory of being part of the sport as a draw. There's no money in it unless you hit division two, which, again, would be much more likely to appeal to the younger athletes who are already succeeding in a big way at their current levels of competition. If just getting to that point would be a struggle, it's understandable why a lot of people wouldn't sacrifice their time, their bodies, and, to be honest, a lot of their happiness for a shot at a salary that they could likely exceed in the long run (and maybe even the short-term) with a technical degree and a job at a solid company.

Outside of those previously mentioned, it's hard to see this being much of a draw except for those who are decently athletic but just don't have any other prospects in life.

And that, really, is where I agree the most with the one-foreigner rule doing damage to the sport's talent base. If your best shot at finding people to fill out the ranks is to bring in those who are in search of a way to hit the athletic jackpot somewhere, and who are fully aware the NBA, NFL, and potentially even the UFC pay a lot better, the net has to be spread pretty far.

Edited by Sumo Spiffy
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Posted (edited)

I recall Gaijingai posting an article about declining attendance in sumo clubs, and that sparked some discussion about interest in sumo vis-a-vis the declining birth rate in Japan. In short, if all extra-curricular clubs are equally affected by declining demographics, then it's surely a bit early and alarmist to be saying that the youth in Japan have declining interest in sumo. If the Hakuhō Cup and various other amateur tournaments are anything to go by, there is still a steady hardcore base of support for sumo. At worst, the casuals would have been weeded out by being better informed about the hardships and rigours of sumo, which ought to lead to a smaller but better talent pool, if anything else. That's probably good for everyone - the deshi are more interested and motivated, the NSK runs a leaner organisation, oyakata can coach and bond with their deshi better, audience get better quality sumo, etcetc.

As for foreigner participation, it has to be borne in mind that the NSK isn't running a sport league, but essentially a cultural phenomenon that happens to be a sport. That in and of itself shouldn't be used as an excuse for ham-handed and unsubtle policies like the 1-foreigner-per-heya rule, as foreigners have shown themselves more than capable of integrating themselves into Japanese culture (Musashimaru being perhaps the most Japanified foreign-born oyakata at present). One can understand the alarm that the original Ōshima six caused, but a subsequent 2-per-heya or a fractional quota might have been more enlightened. But whatever the actual rule to be devised, it does give pause for thought against just simply casting a wide open recruiting net in the style of western sports teams, because the NSK is less interested in the results than they are in the culture. 

What the NSK needs in order for them to change their mind is evidence that their approach to preserving sumo as part of Japanese culture isn't resonating with the Japanese themselves, not that certain results are or are not being achieved within the sphere of the dohyō or the banzuke. As much as sumo has the trappings of sport, with cups and rankings and prizes, it was never really "sport" in the Western tradition of gentlemanly amateur competition subsequently overtaken by professional developments. And as long as there continue to be the amateur and youth support for sumo as it currently exists, the NSK won't see an impetus for change. There needs to be a grassroots revolt against some of the more extreme practices in sumo - mainly medical - before the NSK can be convinced to enact any sea changes, and unfortunately that revolt by definition excludes foreigners and foreign fans no matter how passionate we may be about sumo. 

Edited by Seiyashi
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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Sumo Spiffy said:

Out of curiosity (and having not a lot to do today), I poked through the current banzuke.

Makuuchi, 25 and under: Onosho, Midorifuji, Kotonowaka, Hoshoryu, Kotoshoho, Oho (14.3%).

Just to have some comparison, I checked the Natsu 2002 Maakuchi banzuke (exactly 20 years ago). Presence of younger people was clearly higher, with 25 y.o. and younger constituting the 22,5% of the banzuke, almost one fourth. The young'uns were (by ranking) Asashoryu (22), Wakanosato (25), Aminishiki (24), Miyabiyama (24), Jumonji (25), Tamanoshima (24), Hamanishiki (25), Hokutokiri (24), and Shimotori (24). Most of them around 24-25 (some turning 26 later that year) with Asashoryu being the only one much younger.

On the other hand, this show that age differences with today are perhaps not this dramatic after all. Most of them belong to the upper part of the age limit. There is however the impression that by age 24 one was mature for Maakuchi back in 2002.

Edited by Hankegami
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Just a few days ago, we saw the new ozumo graduates make their traditional appearance at the beginning of the Natsu basho.  What struck me, and others have mentioned this, is the fact that there were about 30 or 35 of them!!  The biggest group I remember seeing in a long time.  So maybe things are not so bad after all.

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51 minutes ago, sumojoann said:

Just a few days ago, we saw the new ozumo graduates make their traditional appearance at the beginning of the Natsu basho.  What struck me, and others have mentioned this, is the fact that there were about 30 or 35 of them!!  The biggest group I remember seeing in a long time.  So maybe things are not so bad after all.

Wasn't that due to delays in some of them being able to partake? I don't know how much bigger that is than usual, though, so maybe it's still big.

1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

As for foreigner participation, it has to be borne in mind that the NSK isn't running a sport league, but essentially a cultural phenomenon that happens to be a sport. That in and of itself shouldn't be used as an excuse for ham-handed and unsubtle policies like the 1-foreigner-per-heya rule, as foreigners have shown themselves more than capable of integrating themselves into Japanese culture (Musashimaru being perhaps the most Japanified foreign-born oyakata at present). One can understand the alarm that the original Ōshima six caused, but a subsequent 2-per-heya or a fractional quota might have been more enlightened. But whatever the actual rule to be devised, it does give pause for thought against just simply casting a wide open recruiting net in the style of western sports teams, because the NSK is less interested in the results than they are in the culture. 

I should clarify, I wasn't thinking they should cast a wide net in the sense of "come one, come all", but rather that it would probably help to, as you say, expand the allowable number of foreign rikishi, and perhaps also get back to the idea from a couple decades ago (?) of bringing sumo to different places in the world to increase interest. I realize the following statement is very much from an American perspective, and deals more with culture and society than sport, but: I think they'd find some capable athletes with an interest and willingness to adapt to Japanese culture in places like Africa, which has only had (to the best of my knowledge) one person from the whole continent become part of the sport. 

I also would completely expect them to maintain a rigid adherence to the cultural aspects of sumo from anyone who partakes, with regards to being in the events and general public behavior. But if the stories I hear about stable life are generally true, a greater flexibility in how they live outside of training time might help just as much. (I'm hoping some of the newer oyakata, especially Magaki [Hakuho] and his willingness to break from tradition, will try to make these kinds of changes and see how they work.)

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3 minutes ago, Sumo Spiffy said:

(I'm hoping some of the newer oyakata, especially Magaki [Hakuho] and his willingness to break from tradition, will try to make these kinds of changes and see how they work.)

In case you missed it, Nishonoseki (ex-Kisenosato) has already bucked some traditions, with his 3-man toriteki rooming arrangement (vs the old communal style) and breakfast before keiko innovations. It's perhaps for the best that he, as the golden boy of his generation, does it, because it's probably far more palatable that he start it rather than Magaki.

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6 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

In case you missed it, Nishonoseki (ex-Kisenosato) has already bucked some traditions, with his 3-man toriteki rooming arrangement (vs the old communal style) and breakfast before keiko innovations. It's perhaps for the best that he, as the golden boy of his generation, does it, because it's probably far more palatable that he start it rather than Magaki.

These seem like easy wins, based on modern sports science.

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2 minutes ago, Reonito said:

These seem like easy wins, based on modern sports science.

Not according to Naruto they aren't, seeing as how he's struggled to produce a sekitori. Nishonoseki might well face the same problem; it's too early to tell. 

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18 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Not according to Naruto they aren't, seeing as how he's struggled to produce a sekitori. Nishonoseki might well face the same problem; it's too early to tell. 

I don't know everything that's in play here, just saying that getting better sleep and being well-fueled for workouts seem like no-brainers. 

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1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

In case you missed it, Nishonoseki (ex-Kisenosato) has already bucked some traditions, with his 3-man toriteki rooming arrangement (vs the old communal style) and breakfast before keiko innovations. It's perhaps for the best that he, as the golden boy of his generation, does it, because it's probably far more palatable that he start it rather than Magaki.

I did miss that, and yeah, I agree it's better for him to do it. I kind of expected it to have to be Magaki, but I'm glad to be wrong.

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51 minutes ago, Reonito said:

I don't know everything that's in play here, just saying that getting better sleep and being well-fueled for workouts seem like no-brainers. 

They are, and tbh I think changes like these will be adopted widely regardless of whether the first stable to make them has big success stories. Having some pop-off wrestlers will speed things up, but as long as his charges are seen as fighting above their expected level and benefiting from the changes, then others will follow whether or not many (or any) reach sekitori status.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

In case you missed it, Nishonoseki (ex-Kisenosato) has already bucked some traditions, with his 3-man toriteki rooming arrangement (vs the old communal style) and breakfast before keiko innovations. It's perhaps for the best that he, as the golden boy of his generation, does it, because it's probably far more palatable that he start it rather than Magaki.

Takanohana also campaigned on a progressive agenda to reform sumo, and we all know how that turned out. 

Edited by Kaninoyama

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3 minutes ago, Kaninoyama said:

Takanohana also campaigned on a progressive agenda to reform sumo, and we all know how that turned out. 

I prefer to think of the contrast between the two as a case of putting one's own house in order. In any case they have very different trajectories and personalities, so hopefully there won't be any convergence. If there's anyone most at risk of a Takanohana, it's Magaki surely, but even he seems to be keeping a low profile for now. 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I don't really associate Nishonoseki or Naruto oyakata with the level of ego that Takanohana seemingly had. But I could be wrong. 

Edited by Benevolance

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2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

In case you missed it, Nishonoseki (ex-Kisenosato) has already bucked some traditions, with his 3-man toriteki rooming arrangement (vs the old communal style) and breakfast before keiko innovations. It's perhaps for the best that he, as the golden boy of his generation, does it, because it's probably far more palatable that he start it rather than Magaki.

Magaki is lying low until this fall when Miyagino hits retirement age.  It will be interesting to see what he initiates in the next year or so

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Tsuchinoninjin said:

Aoiyama sole leader!!!

First bout dropped today, to Sadanoumi, who joins him on 6-1 at the top.

Epic tussle between Oho and Yutakayama earlier. Neither one yielded to the flurry of slaps and then once they were both knackered, they settled into a long chest-to-chester.

Edited by Eikokurai

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17 hours ago, Akinomaki said:

Uncle Asa posted the comment "good sumo" about Hoshoryu's win today

You sure he said this about day 6, not day 5? I wanted to hurl that at their faces ;)

Spoiler

robin-hood-men-in-tights-walk-this-way.g

Trivia: Did you know in the german sync his name is Nuttingham, which translates to Whoreingham?

 

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Posted (edited)

Decent win for Tochinoshin today, getting himself out of trouble to throw Kotoeko.

Slightly strange end to Takarafuji-Okinoumi, finishing almost in slow motion. Okinoumi seemed to have resigned himself to being walked back out only to realize Taka was falling slowly and he had time and space to slip his grasp for the win. Taka 0-7 and facing the nakabi makekoshi tomorrow.

Fair play to Kotoshoho for pulling the win out there. Wakamotoharu had him on the bales and rocking.

Edited by Eikokurai

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Ura defeats Terutsuyoshi in the battle of he who throws the most salt and he who throws the least. 

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1 minute ago, Kaninoyama said:

Ura defeats Terutsuyoshi in the battle of he who throws the most salt and he who throws the least. 

A clear sign that lots of salt displeases the gods. The 21st century deities are environmentally conscious and concerned with sustainability.

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Kotonowaka's wheels have come off. From 3-0 against the Ozeki to 3-4 after facing Terunofuji and the joi hiramaku. 

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So weird seeing Abi grab the belt and attempt some yotsu-zumo. Feels like something never seen before. He looked rather ungainly in the bargain 

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Just now, since_94 said:

So weird seeing Abi grab the belt and attempt some yotsu-zumo. Feels like something never seen before. He looked rather ungainly in the bargain 

He had no other way. Houshouryuu grabbed first and refused to let go.

No Ozeki Wakatakakage any time soon probably...

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Wakatakage over eager again, too bad.

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