Benihana

Natsu 2022 Discussion Thread - here be spoilers

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4 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

Russia invades Ukraine, Shanghai goes into lockdown, and now Aoiyama as sole leader of a honbasho ... the chaos of 2022 continues.

Plus, all the 5-1s are hiramaku. Top rankers are having a hard time so far.

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3 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

Breaking news: Shodai still sucks.

He is an accidental Ozeki, I'm finding it easier to say he will lose the rest of his matches and go Kadoban for July.

 

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MAY 2022 (NATSU) BASHO LINKS AND STATISTICS BLOG--DAY 5

Links to 10 archived Makuuchi Day 4 videos , Jonokuchi, and several maezumo matches,  over 190-photos, match articles, selected Rikishi quotes, match results, Kimarite and time statistics with comparisons to the March Basho. I have added match results and Kimarite statistics for Juryo. Also Top Rank performance, Maegashira v san'yaku, and Top Ten performance in Juryo. 

Have added Time of Match statistics for Juryo (no official source, so I used a stop watch app). Probably not exact, but close. Anyway, if anyone knows of an "official" source available in English please let me know. Hope it increases your enjoyment of the Basho. 

 

Enjoy

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I feel sorry for Teru. After last year I was convinced that he was going to win 3-4 tournaments in 2022 but it looks like he really gave everything he had to earn his promotion and his body hasn't recovered from it. 

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5 hours ago, Hankegami said:

Off topic: archaeologists, not historians. I am an archaeologist and I am never amused by this frequent mix-up. It's just like somebody doing a henka, let's say. Historians mainly work on documents and their main focus is the "grand history" (kings, queens, wars & co.) and shift to everyday life only whether enough written documents are available. Archaeologists are the opposite: they focus on material evidence and use written texts (when available) as a secondary source. Both the Bronze Age Collapse and the Roanoke issue belong to archaeological research. In the first case, the only written sources are the "Amarna Letters" and the "Ramses III Stela" which barely cover the point of view of Egyptians and Hittites. As the Collapse involved the whole Mediterranean, evidence for burnt settlements and similar things is essential to make up a more complete picture. Roanoke is not much different. The only written source is the report from the rescue expedition, which reports the famed "Croatoan" message. Archaeologists were required both to dig up the Roanoke settlement and to look up for British settlements on Hatteras Island (the most likely Croatoan).

Ok, embolism time off. Back to the topic, as everybody can guess I am not a 100% fan of either henka and HNH. I mean, I accept them as part of the game but I'd prefer kirishi to use them only when strictly necessary since they virtually avoid fighting. Sure, they are highly technical moves and therefore rikishi able to successfully execute them "deserve" their wins. Yet again, it's a matter of circumstances for me. Generally speaking, I am more prone to accept them during the final days of a tournament, when rikishi are pressured to not drop any more bouts either to get their KK or to win the yusho race. A henka (or HNH) on day 5 against a perfectly even opponent is a total lack of taste for me, not to mention a lack of respect towards a fellow san'yaku. Long story short, I am going to wear my Daieisho t-shirt (which I don't have) today.

My deepest apologies.  I mentioned the two references because 1) I have recently finished The End of the Bronze Age - Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200  B.C. by Robert Drews (1993) by Robert Drews, Prof. of Classics and History at Vanderbilt University; 2) I had heard about the recent digs (by archaeologists) in 2019 at two locations ~50 miles from Roanoke Island) finding evidence that the Lost Colony may have split into two and went to settle with local Native American groups.  I decided to use "historians" rather than "archaeologists" because it helped pare back the post, since my prose tends to be a little stuffy and pedantic (as evidenced by this post).

Regarding HNH, I make my judgment on a case-by-case basis.  I don't like henkas at all.

(P.S. my wife was trained as an archaeologist and participated in digs in Jordan and Portugal).(Bow...)

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

My deepest apologies.  I mentioned the two references because 1) I have recently finished The End of the Bronze Age - Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200  B.C. by Robert Drews (1993) by Robert Drews, Prof. of Classics and History at Vanderbilt University; 2) I had heard about the recent digs (by archaeologists) in 2019 at two locations ~50 miles from Roanoke Island) finding evidence that the Lost Colony may have split into two and went to settle with local Native American groups.  I decided to use "historians" rather than "archaeologists" because it helped pare back the post, since my prose tends to be a little stuffy and pedantic (as evidenced by this post).

Regarding HNH, I make my judgment on a case-by-case basis.  I don't like henkas at all.

(P.S. my wife was trained as an archaeologist and participated in digs in Jordan and Portugal).(Bow...)

Don't worry, I was undeniably on an emotional embolism when I wrote that post. I was just triggered by yet another mention of "historians" doing our job. By the way, you were spot on about HNH: scholars of ancient times do not have the luxury to talk with the people they study. That's why archaeologists in particular are heavily dependant on ethnological reports but also on excavations of historically documented sites. On the other hand, the creator of the HNH word is undeniably still alive and kicking.

By the way, if you are interested in the Bronze Age Collapse there's a more recent book on the shelves, 1177 BC by Eric H. Cline (see here), published 2014 with a new updated edition in 2021. Cline teaches at the George Washington University (D.C.) and did research across the whole Eastern Mediterranean. I did not read his book personally (didn't have the time) but Cline is a very prominent archaeologist I admire so it's most probably a very good reading.

Edited by Hankegami
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3 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

Btw, a henka is simply sidestepping at any point in the bout, not just at the tachi-ai. Most of you seem to admire nifty tawara footwork and never think of it as henka, but it is.

After contact it is inashi. Both this and the usual henka are kawaru (evading), with the same kanji as the hen in henka, but inashi is not frowned upon -  evading contact is a cheap henka.

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

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Posted (edited)

Three days ago Oho put up the kind of fight that reminded me why I picked him to do well this basho. Yesterday, I don't know where that Oho was.

Still maybe not as bad as picking Onosho to win only to find out his whole body is busted up too late to do anything about it.

And I'm kind of amazed Hoshoryu bulldozed Daieisho like that. I knew he could win, but I didn't expect it to be like that. 

--------

I'm gonna maybe be unpopular and say I don't mind henkas at all. I know some people say they don't mind them occasionally, and I suppose I'm in agreement; my perspective is that the nature of the move is such that they'll never become the sumo "meta", so to speak (which I do think would be a problem). It has to be a surprise move, because if it's expected, even if it doesn't result in getting straight yeeted off the jump, you necessarily give up space to the opponent. Even for a sport that gives a lot of power to good lateral movement, that's not something you want to do very often.

More than that, though, there are two core reasons I'm fine with them:

1. I'm not in the ring. They are. In the end, their jobs are based solely on winning and losing, and it's not for me to decide what the best method for them to achieve victory is. 

As a corollary to that, maybe it's because I've seen too many instances of too many fans in too many sports who complain that somebody broke an unwritten "code", but more and more it just comes off as a way for people to smack-talk things they personally dislike. I know the henka, and the dislike of it, has been around for a very long time, so I'm not poking at anyone here for mindlessly raging against something that isn't an issue or some such. I'm just saying, this is my background with sports fans, and I've grown to dislike trying to play the game for the players.

Easy recent example to explain my viewpoint (I'm not going to argue, I just want it to be clear): Hokutofuji has dominated Mitakeumi recently. Mitakeumi sent him flying yesterday. Given that you know Hokutofuji is going to go all raging bull on the tachiai, can you really blame Mitakeumi for trying to get unstuck in a rough basho by using that against him? If that's fine, then when is a henka not fine? And I have a hard time seeing that as "bad" sumo, not only because he clearly has a better chance of victory in a matchup with demonstrated difficulty, but this is an environment where top-rank wrestlers frequently get super beat-up while ascending the mountain. Having healthy ozeki rikishi is good, so I'm fine with a guy reducing his risk of injury and maximizing his chance of victory in the same move.

2. If the issue is stepping away from contact at the tachiai, why does there seem to be so little criticism of Ura when he does his stepback starts against larger, more aggressive opponents? (He's not the only one to ever do it, but I remember it from him the most.) I assume it's because avoiding the initial collision doesn't get him out of a fight, whereas that's exactly what a henka is designed to do. But then again, Hakuho caught massive flack for starting way back against Shodai, because he was the yokozuna. So where is that line drawn?

To be super clear, I completely understand if people like the tachiai crash and don't like seeing henkas because it's not what they enjoy about a sumo bout. I'm only saying that I think it's kind of unfair to straight up criticize the wrestlers for using the tactic when their careers are at stake, not ours.

Edited by Sumo Spiffy
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3 hours ago, dada78641 said:

Plus, all the 5-1s are hiramaku. Top rankers are having a hard time so far.

They're too evenly matched and taking points off each other, while all it takes is for some hiramaku to have a good basho and there they go. I wouldn't be too worried just yet since the shimpan are used to handling hiramaku yusho runs, but it probably says something about us not yet being out of the sengoku period despite having another yokozuna. Don't forget Terunofuji was tipped to have been yokozuna a long time ago, so he's not a yokozuna of this generation but rather the past. 

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Shodai is simply trying to perfect the lazy ozeki mode - 8 wins every other basho ;-) OK but seriously I shouldn't joke about him. Must feel awful not being able to prove himself. 

Takayasu simply can't seem to catch a break. He's straight on the way to achieving the opposite record of last basho. He must feel awful as well. 

Today was even more proof, if we even needed more, that Terunofuji cannot handle strong oshi sumo anymore. In both losing bouts this basho he's been helpless. I do wonder if today his previous losses against Tamawashi played a role -- it's easy to start doubting oneself in this situation and become convinced ahead that it's impossible to win. Losing the mental battle ahead of the real bout in other words. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

They're too evenly matched and taking points off each other, while all it takes is for some hiramaku to have a good basho and there they go. I wouldn't be too worried just yet since the shimpan are used to handling hiramaku yusho runs, but it probably says something about us not yet being out of the sengoku period despite having another yokozuna. Don't forget Terunofuji was tipped to have been yokozuna a long time ago, so he's not a yokozuna of this generation but rather the past. 

Most important, they are not only hiramaku but also veteran hiramaku. Tamawashi is 37, Aoiyama will be 36 within a month, and the younger guys are Tobizaru (30) and Ichiyamamoto (28). The real issue with this period is that the younger rikishi seem to be in a standstill. The most promising guys in the immediate are Mitakeumi (29) and Wakatakakage (27), both borderline "old" from a sumo point of view. Wakatakakage is still young-ish (and also entered ozumo quite late), but he clearly belongs to an intermediate age. A successful Yokozuna would have gotten his rope before reaching 25 years old (Hakuho, Asashoryu, Takanohana, Akebono and so on).

Of the actually young people, Takakeisho (25) does not seem to get his rope anytime soon, Kotonowaka (24) is currently busting his basho after a strong start, and Hoshoryu (22) has played KK-MK ping-pong since joining the joy. Did I forget anyone? Things are, we still don't know where are we heading to. The next generation has yet to come (or is already here but does not gambarize enough).

Edited by Hankegami
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57 minutes ago, dingo said:

Today was even more proof, if we even needed more, that Terunofuji cannot handle strong oshi sumo anymore. In both losing bouts this basho he's been helpless. I do wonder if today his previous losses against Tamawashi played a role -- it's easy to start doubting oneself in this situation and become convinced ahead that it's impossible to win. Losing the mental battle ahead of the real bout in other words. 

I agree that he can't handle the really powerful straightforward stuff (or, if he's physically capable of it, hasn't figured out how to make it work for him), but if he was at risk of losing the mental battle it would have happened after the first loss. The big question seems to be, who's capable of bullying him like that? He probably still has the ability to see some success ahead because, right now, I don't think it's that many guys.

But Daieisho and Tamawashi look like they're gonna be easy picks for the The Underdog Game for a while. (Laughing...)

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

 A successful Yokozuna would have gotten his rope before reaching 25 years old (Hakuho, Asashoryu, Takanohana, Akebono and so on).

I respectfully disagree. Most Yokozuna have achieved that rank in the later half of their 20s or early 30s. Those referenced are all exceptions that come around in a generation, on average. 

We were treated with exceptionally strong Yokozuna over the last 20 years, but nobody can expect a dai-Yokozuna every five years.

Edited by Gospodin
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5 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

Ooh, Tamawashi really is in beast mode!

Btw, a henka is simply sidestepping at any point in the bout, not just at the tachi-ai. Most of you seem to admire nifty tawara footwork and never think of it as henka, but it is. Current leader Aoiyama uses the henka as his main technique: push and thrust, henka and pull - really, how many times have you seen him do just that?

The henka that is so disliked is one that avoids the impact at the tachi-ai. I get that: we want a show, and bouts like Hoshoryu vs Wakatakakage and Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji don't give us that.
What I don't get is why no one whines about Ura. He may not henka at the tachi-ai very often, but he nearly always avoids any tachi-ai impact. That's not sumo.

 

I've always understood a henka to be a sidestep specifically at the tachi-ai. Must have missed that broadening of the definition. 

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2 hours ago, Akinomaki said:

After contact it is inashi. Both this and the usual henka are kawaru (evading), with the same kanji as the hen in henka, but inashi is not frowned upon -  evading contact is a cheap henka.

 

Just now, ryafuji said:

I've always understood a henka to be a sidestep specifically at the tachi-ai. Must have missed that broadening of the definition. 

It was an interview with KONISHIKI (either with Moti or John) where he talked about the mid-bout henka being a valid tactic, but cheap/bad when used at the start. 
I was surprised to hear him refer to mid-bout sidestepping as henka, but I also listen to the Japanese commentary and often hear mention of henka in bouts where the tachi-ai was perfectly straightforward but other sidestepping took place. 

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Henka simply means "change". Of any kind. This word is extremely often used even outside the sumo context.

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Gospodin said:

I respectfully disagree. Most Yokozuna have achieved that rank in their late 20s or early 30s. Those referenced are all exceptions that come around in a generation, on average. 

You're very right (well, mostly late 20s actually). In fact, I added successful for a reason. Since 2007 (Hakuko) until 2017 (Kisenosato), the wrestlers which obtained the rope were from a range of barely two years: 1984-1986. The early 1990s finally found a representative in 29-years-old Terunofuji and his time-bomb knees. My problem is that we have an entire stock of rikishi on "Yokozuna range" (21 years old +) literally struggling to keep their pace with people in their 30s. I don't know whether it's a consequence of some "Hakuho effect" or what, but we are lacking people with consistent results. As Seiyashi pointed out, Terunofuji much represents a last backlash from the good 'ole times. A backlash with a couple of knees acting up.

I won't over-dramatise the situation, but I feel confused at the moment. Terunofuji won't last long (he can stand his own, but his suffering from oshi wrestlers in not good at all), and we don't have any valid substitute yet.

Edited by Hankegami

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

I won't over-dramatise the situation, but I feel confused at the moment. Terunofuji won't last long (he can stand his own, but his suffering from oshi wrestlers in not good at all), and we don't have any valid substitute yet.

IMHO it is impossible to overstate what Terunofuji achieved, coming back from those injuries to make the rank in the first place (there´s a poll on this very well informed forum about how far he´d make it back, and very few voted for Yokozuna).

As for hopefuls I see none who will be able to, again, achieve the dominance we were "treated" to with Asa, Hakuho and Harumafuji, which is not the norm. But there are several who just need to make the next step.

We are in a transitional period, which I enjoy to watch.

Edited by Gospodin
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9 hours ago, Kotononami said:

What's wrong with Takarafuji this basho?  Injured? 

 

 

Probably a neck injury. 

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44 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

A successful Yokozuna would have gotten his rope before reaching 25 years old (Hakuho, Asashoryu, Takanohana, Akebono and so on).

Back then, many if not most of the rikishi who became Yokozuna were recruited into ozumo at a very young age (15 or 16).  They had many years already in the professional world, so it would not be that uncommon to get the rope at a relatively young age.  Nowadays, many of the new rikishi don't enter the world of professional sumo until they have graduated high school or university, so I would expect the age at which they could get the rope to be higher.  And from what I've read, it doesn't seem as if those rikishi who have been allowed to bypass the lower ranks have performed well enough to be considered as Yokozuna material, at this time anyway.  I think it would actually be quite unusual nowadays to see a rikishi get the rope before the age of 25.

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1 minute ago, sumojoann said:

Back then, many if not most of the rikishi who became Yokozuna were recruited into ozumo at a very young age (15 or 16).  They had many years already in the professional world, so it would not be that uncommon to get the rope at a relatively young age.  Nowadays, many of the new rikishi don't enter the world of professional sumo until they have graduated high school or university, so I would expect the age at which they could get the rope to be higher.  And from what I've read, it doesn't seem as if those rikishi who have been allowed to bypass the lower ranks have performed well enough to be considered as Yokozuna material, at this time anyway.  I think it would actually be quite unusual nowadays to see a rikishi get the rope before the age of 25.

Yes and no. It's true that more and more potential newcomers wait to finish their studies before entering ozumo, but even this way many are expected to join between 21 and 23. Also, they usually fight in sumo amateur championships in the meanwhile, meaning they have experience. Not to mention there are exceptions (Takakeisho dropped from high school, Kotonowaka and Hoshoryu joined ozumo after high school). Although I plenty agree that having a 21-years-old Yokozuna will be very hard in the future, 25-years-old is still reasonable in my opinion.

 

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45 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

My problem is that we have an entire stock of rikishi on "Yokozuna range" (21 years old +) literally struggling to keep their pace with people in their 30s.

It's a fairly recent phenomenon in all sports, not just sumo. Look at Nadal and Federer, or Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce, or LeBron James, or Tom Brady, or Cristiano Ronaldo and so on and on. Athletes in their 30s are not pensioners anymore, but top of their sports. I don't pretend to understand all the details, but in very crude terms I believe its thanks to advances in sports, medical and nutritional sciences. If anything, sumo should be the outlier due to the often-reported reluctance of proper medical care etc. But I suppose the advances have not entirely passed by the sumo world. 

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, dingo said:

It's a fairly recent phenomenon in all sports, not just sumo. Look at Nadal and Federer, or Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce, or LeBron James, or Tom Brady, or Cristiano Ronaldo and so on and on. Athletes in their 30s are not pensioners anymore, but top of their sports. I don't pretend to understand all the details, but in very crude terms I believe its thanks to advances in sports, medical and nutritional sciences. If anything, sumo should be the outlier due to the often-reported reluctance of proper medical care etc. But I suppose the advances have not entirely passed by the sumo world. 

That's not wrong, but in my opinion ozumo is more a sport for the young. This was once almost the opposite. In the 18th-19th century rikishi retired in their 40s, and in the first half of the 20th century 30 years old was the ideal age to become Yokozuna. The main reason was the old two-basho-per-year system, which allowed injured rikishi to heal plenty between a basho and the other. Things changed with the introduction of the 6-basho era in 1959. Having six basho per year did not only cause an unprecedented record of yusho winners (Hakuho 45, Taiho 32, Chiyonofuji 31, Asashoryu 25, Kitanoumi 24, Takanohana 22) but also brought much more strain on the bodies of the rikishi. The 43rd Yokozuna Yoshibayama (got the rope at 34) retired for instance in 1954 at 38 years old. Twelve years later in 1966, the 49th Yokozuna Tochinoumi became the youngest-ever Yokozuna to retire at age 28. A few years before that, in 1961, Kashiwado and Taiho became the youngest Yokozuna then on record at 23 and 21 years old respectively.

While it's very true that, for one, Hakuho borrowed some more time thanks to modern surgery and healthcare and Terunofuji literally had his career saved by modern knee surgery, the average age of retirement didn't increase this much in ozumo. Wrestlers literally do not have time to heal properly. That's actually another reason to complain about 22-25 years old healthy and energetic people out of breath while chasing grandpa Tamawashi and his homies.

Edited by Hankegami

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4 minutes ago, Hankegami said:

That's not wrong, but in my opinion ozumo is more a sport for the young. This was once almost the opposite. In the 18th-19th century rikishi retired in their 40s, and in the first half of the 20th century 30 years old was the ideal age to become Yokozuna. The main reason was the old two-basho-per-year system, which allowed injured rikishi to heal plenty between a basho and the other. Things changed with the introduction of the 6-basho era in 1959. Having six basho per year did not only cause an unprecedented record of yusho winners (Hakuho 45, Taiho 32, Chiyonofuji 31, Asashoryu 25, Kitanoumi 24, Takanohana 22) but also brought much more strain on the bodies of the rikishi. The 43rd Yokozuna Yoshibayama (got the rope at 34) retired for instance in 1954 at 38 years old. Twelve years later in 1966, the 49th Yokozuna Tochinoumi became the youngest-ever Yokozuna to retire at age 28. A few years before that, in 1961, Kashiwado and Taiho became the youngest Yokozuna then on record at 23 and 21 years old respectively.

While it's very true that, for one, Hakuho borrowed some more time thanks to modern surgery and healthcare and Terunofuji literally had his career saved by modern knee surgery, the average age of retirement didn't increase this much in ozumo. Wrestlers literally do not have time to heal properly. That's actually another reason to complain about 22-25 years old healthy and energetic people out of breath while chasing grandpa Tamawashi and his homies.

While I broadly agree with what you've said so far, the 6-basho a year system has been around for quite a while already, but the current discussion about still being in a transitional period relative to the Hakuhō, Asashōryū, and Waka-Taka-Bono periods has existed entirely within the 6-basho period. So while an increased tournament pace has probably resulted in more injury (or at least less time to condition around it, since I doubt keiko was that much easier in the good old days), it can hardly be the explanation for why this current crop of youngsters seems to be taking so long to hit their stride and establishing themselves. IMO those are two separate issues altogether.

While dwindling numbers of rikishi who enter really young might have something to do with it, I'm not entirely sure that that explains the current phenomenon we are seeing where the "contenders" are frequently failing to make that next step up. It certainly explains generational shifts in slightly older ozeki/yokozuna ages (e.g. Shōdai, Asanoyama), but it doesn't explain the failure of the current young ones to consistently make good on their potential. Is it a lack of skill? A difference in coaching methods relative to the "good old days"? A difference in worldview amongst younger rikishi (lack of drive or contentment)? Or simply a statistical aberration from lack of sample size?

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

While dwindling numbers of rikishi who enter really young might have something to do with it, I'm not entirely sure that that explains the current phenomenon we are seeing where the "contenders" are frequently failing to make that next step up. It certainly explains generational shifts in slightly older ozeki/yokozuna ages (e.g. Shōdai, Asanoyama), but it doesn't explain the failure of the current young ones to consistently make good on their potential. Is it a lack of skill? A difference in coaching methods relative to the "good old days"? A difference in worldview amongst younger rikishi (lack of drive or contentment)? Or simply a statistical aberration from lack of sample size?

Part of the issue surely includes the small scale of the sample. 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.

This naturally does not mean the death of ozumo, however. The quality of the sport will nevertheless decrease as things remain as now. And young, less talented upstart could find a particularly thick wall in more experienced but also more talented veterans of the previous generation.

Edited by Hankegami

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