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Kaikitsune Makoto

Tochiouzan and Goueidou - Career watch

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That is my understanding as well. Some of these days Otsukasa the Jaw Breaker walks the streets of Tokyo just like any of us. (In a state of confusion...) Frankly, the guy is a phenomenon for refusing to go down but that's for another thread, I suppose.

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Kintamayama reported about Tochiozan's keiko before Natsu 2007:

Tochiozone showed his stuff today at the Dewanoumi combination keiko. He overwhelmed veterans Tochinonada and Tochinohana, and kept Futenou from doing any of his sumo as well. Kasugano Oyakata: "Don't settle for what you've done so far", trying not to allow him to rest on his Hardys. "Defend your flank better and attack from a low stance! Don't take a rest!", Oyakata said to his deshi at the keiko this morning. Till now, his oyakata said he wasn't strong enough. "His de-ashi has improved. This is the basho for him to gambarize!!", he says nowadays. O3 has put on 11 kilos since the last weigh-in and is now 149 kilos. He is the sekitori who gained the most weight this last year. "Though I'll be facing the joi-jin this time, I'd like to challenge them with my own attacking style", he said.

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Yomiuri article before Natsu 2007 about Tochiozan:

Tochiozan has top guys on the lookout

Isao Otsuka / Ozumo

Among the newer recruits to the top makuuchi division, the drums are perhaps beating the loudest for Tochiozan.

In his debut basho at the highest level in March, his 11-4 record as a No. 14 maegashira earned him a Fighting Spirit Prize--and ensured he won't be able to fly under the radar when the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament starts Sunday in Tokyo.

After a reasonable 3-2 start in March, Tochiozan set tongues wagging when he blazed to a seven-bout streak that left him in contention going into the final days.

If he was feeling the pressure, it certainly didn't show.

"I don't mind if I lose or if my opponent sidesteps me, I'm just going to keep moving forward," he said.

Tochiozan's most satisfying victory came against fellow up-and-comer Homasho on the 12th day. After sweeping Homasho to the edge of the ring from a powerful tachiai, he got a left-handed belt grip and sent his opponent out of the ring.

"My sumo went exactly as planned, right from the tachiai," Tochiozan said. Has beating Homasho given you confidence? "Certainly. I moved forward well--today was a good day."

More importantly, the win marked the 10th of the basho for the man from Kochi, and had the press scrambling to catch every word. It also sent a clear message: Tochiozan had arrived, and he was ready to play.

Losses on the following days to Roho and Kotomitsuki extinguished his hopes of an incredible championship, but a comprehensive final-day win over veteran Takamisakari meant Tochiozan could reflect on a job well done.

Before the basho, his stablemaster, Kasugano oyakata, had made it clear he expected great things from Tochiozan, right off the bat.

"I told him to win at least 10 bouts and to aim to pick up a prize," the stablemaster said. "He doesn't get too wound up about things, so I doubted he would be too nervous. I didn't want to see anything fancy, he just needed to concentrate on doing his own sumo."

Unsurprisingly, Kasugano later gave his protege a passing grade in his first test.

Ordered to eat five bowls of rice at every meal, Tochiozan has piled on seven kilograms since last year's Kyushu basho and now tips the scales at almost 150 kg. In addition to increasing his mass and power, training every day with ring-savvy sekitori such as Tochinohana, Tochinonada and Kasuganishiki has helped him learn his craft.

"I want to learn more about belt grips. Having a number of great senpai [senior wrestlers in his stable] helps me with my sumo," he said.

The 20-year-old's rise up the ranks and potential to go on to even bigger things has not gone unnoticed by those at the top.

"A few young Japanese rikishi are coming up," ozeki Tochiazuma said before his recent retirement. "I hope wrestlers such as Tochiozan and Goeido will have a shot at becoming a yokozuna one day. That would definitely make sumo more exciting."

Even yokozuna Asashoryu--who attended Meitoku Gijuku High School several years before Tochiozan--has turned a wary eye toward the new kid on the block. "How far up the banzuke rankings will he rise?" Asashoryu asked a group of reporters recently, a question that suggests he is preparing to face Tochiozan in the ring.

While Tochiozan won plaudits from all sides after his outstanding debut, his objectives during the spring regional tour were pretty basic: improve his tachiai, learn from older wrestlers and compete against them in the flesh.

"Wrestlers in the makuuchi division change the timing of their tachiai ever so slightly, which impressed me," he said. "If you follow your opponent's timing, you'll lose, so I want to refine my tachiai and improve it. I also want to practice against makuuchi rikishi who I've never faced."

But Tochiozan is under no illusions that cementing his place in the top division and working his way up to the higher ranks--and staying there--will be easy. While working on his explosiveness out of the blocks at the tachiai, Tochiozan also wants to expand his arsenal of techniques.

"When it comes to belt grips, I think my left-hand grip is slightly stronger. But now, if I stop moving when I have a grip, I can't win," he said. "So I want to learn to get to my opponent's belt quickly."

The combination of the explosiveness to thrust out an opponent and the wherewithal to quickly unleash a move to beat him when the bout comes to a standstill means Tochiozan is a handful for anybody. His style has also earned him a huge following in his hometown.

When several hundred members of a supporters group formed before the Spring Tournament in Aki, Kochi Prefecture, turned out to welcome him home after the basho, Tochiozan's delight was plain for all to see.

"This group has just been launched, but there are so many people here today. Thank you for your support, you have inspired me to work hard," he told them.

Now a No. 4 maegashira, Tochiozan likely will get to pit his skills against the ozeki crowd this time around. As the anticipation builds, however, he seems unfazed.

"First things first, I just want to get my majority wins," he said. "And if I come up against the ozeki, I'm going to give it everything I've got--like I always do."

(From the May 2007 issue)

(May. 10, 2007)

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Tochiouzan in Natsu 2007 basho:

His streak of consecutive kachi koshi came to an end at M4. His final record was 6-9 which is nothing to be ashamed of. He showed his forward sumo occasionally well but also got outskilled in some bouts after a good start. On day 1 he stopped Takekaze easily and pushed him out. On day 2 he had a good even tachi-ai against Kisenosato but the grip turned out to be hidari-yotsu which is Kise's game. He tried to get morozashi with a fast grip change but Kise blocked that enough so that Tochi never got the decent morozashi there and Kise drove him to the edge and out. On day 3 he failed totally at the tachi-ai when his first ozeki opponent ever Kotooshu moved a bit to left and Ouzan's right hand even got tangled up and Osh got morozashi and won with ease before Ouzan could do anything. On day 4 he easily outpowered Tokitsuumi in migi-yotsu and used effective ottsuke on the way. On day 5 he drove Aminishiki strongly to the edge but Ami showed remarkable resiliance and while Ouzan's left hand push was in progress, Ami slipped inside and turned the tide.

The first part of his basho ended wih 2-3. Two easy wins over inferior foes, one bad loss in his ozeki debut and two good fights against quality foes. Not a bad start quality-wise either.

On day 6 he got Tenku's harite and fast katasukashi and couldn't stay balanced losing quickly. On day 7 he survived Kakizoe's hataki well and then performed kubinage from Kakizoe's morozashi. On day 8 he threw down KAsugao soon after tachi-ai with left uwatenage. On day 9 Kotomitsuki seized deep morozashi immediately as he often does against newcomers and Ouzan didn't have any chance after that. Hakuho on day didn't give him migi-yotsu and after some fast maneuvre Hakuho won with kotenage. This was his second ozeki bout.

Second part was sloppier. Tokitenku's katasukashi was good but Ouzan also gave not genki Kakizoe morozashi although he survived that. He couldn't defend against Kotomitsuki's morozashi either and didn't get any sumo in against the current yokozuna. 4-6 after 10 days.

The final 5 days were to come.

On day 11 he tried to get migi-yotsu but ended up in hidari-yotsu against Kakuryu, survived Kakuryu's throwing attempt and was pushing forward but then Kakuryu kept yanking from side to side and a slip of foot enabled Kakuryu to drop him with semi-kotenage. On day 12 he went hidari-yotsu against Shogun and an attempt to shift to migi-yotsu gave Shogun the impetus to push forward and Ouzan went out. On day 13 he was all fired up against Homasho pushing him relentlessly and beating him with tsukiotoshi after spirited hidari-yotsu surge. On day 14 he beat Toyonoshima easily but on day 15 even after getting into morozashi position, couldn't do much when Tamanoshima employed a big kime drive.

6-9 was ok result and he had many good bouts but inexperienced he still is at this level. Nothing very stellar in his performance in Natsu basho though. Room for improvement for Nagoya basho. Still he just doesn't go backwards unless forced.

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Quality is a word always associated with 21-year old shin-makuuchi Goeido. He has impressed people with his quality and sumo in various contexts. Back in time when he was a kid, his mother once registered him to a contest of older boys hoping "he would get beaten up and got some humility" as he had become a bit arrogant amongst his own age groups due to relative invincibility. The plan didn't quite work as Goeido wasn't humbled by older kids but simply beat them all and won the contest. During his high school days he drew a lot of attention with his many victories and all this climaxed at All Japan where he more than held his own against college stars and narrowly missed the final by losing to kotenage machine in semi-final. Before joing sumo he caused Homasho many sleepless nights and nightly outdoor training punishments as he got totally humiliated at keiko against then amateur high school kid who came to train with Terao's rikishi. Having seen a clip of that session, it once again proved how uniquely strong Goeido was.

When he then joined sumo, his oyakata was impressed by his physical abilities. Already had great squatting strength and upper body wasn't weak either. In his first bout in jonokuchi he beat Tochiozan (then Kageyama) with shitatenage. He ascended the banzuke to makushita fast (yusho, 6-1, yusho) but then had a wake-up call by only getting a 4-3 in his makushita debut. He quickly got over the deceleration and again impressed many with his flawless 7-0 yusho in Kyushu basho. Many people expected him to breeze through to juryo in next tournament but then he got a burden of a lower back injury and couldn't compete in his full capacity for many basho. In Aki 2006 he won his second makushita yusho with 7-0 at Ms6 and got promoted to juryo.

What often happens with high quality makushita rikishi who finally break through to juryo is that they tend to do better in juryo than in makushita. His stablemate Hochiyama was a good example of this and he has become a lower makuuchi, upper juryo rikishi since his debut in juryo after countless of failures at high makushita. In his debut he started off with 0-3 before getting his act together. He finished his juryo debut with 8-7 at J11 winning his last four bouts. In Hatsu 2007 he again achieved only 8-7 but with more kirikaeshi, kozumatori, sotogake and especially his senshuraku win over yusho hunter Shimotori. He won that bout with powerful tsuridashi.

Still he wasn't performing as well as he "should", considering the quality of his sumo in principle. His clear weakness had been defense against oshi-rikishi. Even though he has had Iwakiyama and Toyohibiki to work out with at his heya, and even Hochiyama can put the wrath of tsuki on people, his continuous problem was poor defense against oshi-attack. Even Takanohana commented that he was worried about his development at some point. In Hatsu 2007 he was totally destroyed by Masatsukasa, Koryu and Tochisakae in oshizumo. The lower back problems undoubtedly had an affect on this.

In Haru 2007 he looked totally newborn. Healthier and very strong. Even his demeanor and gait at Osaka prefectual gymnasium radiated confidence and eagerness to get on the dohyo to dominate his foes day after day. He started with totally overpowering sumo by winning his 7 first bouts. Then he had two bouts against Shirononami and even in hopeless position in the first bout he somehow managed to hang in there and go for kubinage resulting in rematch. H ewasn't deterred by the loss and continued his powerful sumo by beating Asofuji, Tamarikido and Koryu with ease. On day 12 he lost to old fox Otsupotsu's early withdrawal trick and was pummeled on day 13 by accurate Hokutoriki attack bringin his defensive disadvantage against oshi attacks more on the surface again. He bounced back from two consecutive losses by beating the Gambler on day 14 but lost to Satoyama's brilliance on day 15 in yusho deciding bout.

Nevertheless, Hatsu 2007 was the final breakthrough to makuuchi level rikishi and what was notable was his clearly improved tachi-ai robustness against oshi-rikishi. The one fault of his was finally showing signs of steady polishing. It wasn't a far-fetched thought to consider him one of the favourites to win yusho in Haru 2007 at J3 and get easily promoted to makuuchi but again., something odd happened and he actually finished with 6-9, getting slapped down and pulled past a lot. Unexplainable degeneration in his sumo compared to Natsu basho.

In Nagoya 2007 he returned to his Haru level and only lost to his true nemensis Masatsukasa on day 2 (he is 0-4 against him) after an ill-advised poull-down attempt after bad tachia-i, to Shirononami on day 8, to Mokonami on day 12 after a good defense and in kettei-sen to his stablemate Iwakiyama. His sumo was superb thought almost without an exception. He dominated nost bouts with fast yotsu, didn't fail to stop oshi-attacks and showeed substantial hip power, balance and stability. He lifted Wakanoho and Tochinohana up in the air on his way to yorikiri, used his skillful kirikaeshi against and thriew down his fors with uwatenage, shitatenage and shitatedashinage. 12-3 at J5 will take him to makuuchi.

Goeido's sumo style in migi-yotsu, that is his most natural way but lately he has shown true strenght also in hidari-yotsu and isn't handicapped in that either. He also liked to go for kirikaeshi well as well as sotogake. In additio to those, he also does tsuri. All in all his yotsu is creative and sharp. Often he rushes forward in the same way Hayateumi did in his prime. That famous invisibly classy yori which looks so easy, at times he gets in close and goes for big kirikaeshi. He also hits harder at the tachi-ai now and doesn't yield in much there anymore. At keiko he dominates Toyohibiki, Iwakiyama, Hochiyama clearly and is said to have great stamina. He also has neat dashinage techniques and throws equally well from shitate and uwate positions. He can also go for kotenage and leg techniques. His mobility is at high level and reactions are fast. When he takes the initiative and forces the bout to go his way, he is extremely difficult to beat. Hopefully his makuuchi debut is as exciting as many expect. Finally he has caught up with Tochiozan and is in the same division with Iwakiyama and Toyohibiki. Hochiyama drops down to juryo for Aki but if he can get back up immediately, 4 Sakaigawa-rikishi in makuuchi is reality.

One interesting stat that describes his sumo well is the fact that he has NEVER lost by yorikiri in his whole professional career of 145 bouts. He has lost 9 times by oshitaoshi and 6 times by yoritaoshi but never by yorikiri. It means two things really:

1. He never gives up

2. He is not a rikishi easily beaten in yotsu

He is 182cm tall and around 135kg mark. He needs more tachi-ai training still and a lot of keiko against Toyohibiki to get even better against oshi-attacks. Hopefully we will see him soon at high maegashira to show his goods and maybe even lose by yorikiri...

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Tochiozan in Nagoya 2007:

He injured his shoulder when he was about to push Kakuryu out. Dislocation is nothing new to him. He suffered over 10 dislocations in his teens and from those times went into hard shoulder muscle training regime to stabilize the shoulder. Has been good until now but hopefully it won't become a burden on him.

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Aki 2007 day 8 Goeido update

Goeido has bloomed. He is now 7-1 in his makuuchi debut having suffered his only loss to Tochiozan (who is 5-3). His migi-yotsu has been powerful but he also showed excellent skill and posture against Futeno in hidari-yotsu. Kept Futeno off the belt and deployed kirikaeshi move to aid the yori. Very genki sumo and hits well at the tachi-ai. He will probably leave Tochiozan behind in Kyushu banzuke. Rivalry has been envigorated fully. Tochiozan has been ok too but also had couple of strangely weak bouts. Still solid charges. Good duo.

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Update Tochiouzan in Hatsu 2009:

Year 2008 was not exceptionally good for Tochiouzan. He had one double digit basho in Haru 2008 (11-4 ginoushou) but always got makekoshi when ranked even in mid maegashira. He finished the year with two consecutive 6-9s and was again at M12 in Hatsu 2009. He has become quite big and muscular and has good reach with 188-189cm height with his 150kg. He has had his share of injuries in form of lower back problems and shoulder problems but there are some fundamental deficits in his sumo still. Back in 2007 he commented "I can't win in yotsu if the movement stops". That is not entirely so of course but the biggest obstacle he has and will have against high rank rikishi is that he has develop the ability to fight better when his foes are able to calm the bout down.

He has gotten better in yotsudefense but still doesn't feel at home there. One evidence of that is his tendency to lose by trying a throwing maneuvre from rather unoptimal stances. His throwing technique isn't honed either and many of his foes appear to utilize those moments. In Hatsu basho he lost 5 bouts out of which in 2 he lost due to such event. In Hatsu 2009 kachi koshi interview he said he wants to develop even sharper tachi-ai and be able to attack faster. Well yes, definitely those are his strengths too. His tachi-ais are good and sharp and his forward going attacks are formidable and have a nice steady pressure. Naturally he wants to polish the best parts of his sumo. In order to become a sanyaku regular he really needs to improve also his steady phase yotsu. Some of his losses look really bad but in Hatsu basho his losses were mainly "acceptable". On day 9 he ended up in hidariyotsu against hidariyotsu expert genki Tamanoshima and while he exerted enough pressure early on to drive Tama to the edge, it was then more stagnated situation and he attempted a pulling twist apparently in search for morozashi opening and Tama just used that and drove him out to 8-1 on day 9. On day 11 he lost to Hokutoriki's perfect sumo. Hokutoriki generated all his mighty pushing power and hit Tochiouzan hard. Good defensive power by him but Hokutoriki had an optimal bout. On day 12 an exciting encounter with equally genki Goeido. Intense throughtout with Goeido having the advantage most of the time with hidariyotsu throwing attempt and then shitatenage attempt. In the end Tochiouzan did have his left hand outside but when Goeido wriggled, he went for uwatenage which backfired fully and Goeido crowded him out. On day 13 he had his worst bout when he was pulled down after tachi-ai against Chiyohakuho. On day 15 he had a morozashi duel which he lost to Kakizoe.

His pushing attack is good too and his defense against pushers is not bad at all. There is not much backward movement in his sumo even now and his hikiotoshi over Tosanoumi on day 5 was a hit-push-pull move and his katasukashi against Tamawashi on shonichi was very strong leg work and pressure followed by yanking Tamawashi straight downwards. Best pushing attack bout was against Takamisakari on day 14 where he pummeled Sakke into makekoshi with an explosive nodowa and oshi-followup. Also against Kakuryu on day 10 he won by a strong nodowa+oshi combination.

His tachi-ai has roughly speaking 3 variations. One is to go straight into morozashi by having a sharp surge and then going for morozashi. One is to start with a right nodowa and and going to morozashi or pushing attack or whatever from there. One is to aim for migiyotsu by inserting the right hand inside in an angle and leaning to get left uwate. He never does henka and rarely pulls after tachi-ai. Usually he generates as much power as possible from his legs and tries to prevent his foe to have room to escape from the constant need to push back with maximum effort. That usually makes wrestling against Tochiouzan more difficult as it might appear since one has to constantly also block him from getting morozashi.

SInce the last update of Tochiouzan's career watch his keiko success has also become better. Earlier he was known for his relatively bad keiko success compared to honbasho but nowadays wins much more at keikoba too.

Year 2009 looks interesting for him. The key is how he can deal with sanyaku guys when they don't succumb to the first 5 seconds of Tochiouzan's drive. Goeido already looks ready to go against anyone in sanyaku and get many wins, whether Tochiouzan can do the same will be most likely seen in 2009 unless he has recurring injuries preventing him from as good keiko as before Hatsu basho where he scored 10-5 with only 2 "failed" bouts.

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On day 12 an exciting encounter with equally genki Goeido. Intense throughtout with Goeido having the advantage most of the time with hidariyotsu throwing attempt and then shitatenage attempt. In the end Tochiouzan did have his left hand outside but when Goeido wriggled, he went for uwatenage which backfired fully and Goeido crowded him out.

Sorry it took a bit of time to review this but now I have seen again all Tochiozan's bouts Hatsu Basho. I think Tochiozan still lacks fundamental skills which showed up glaringly in this bout against his main rival Goeido. Goeido not only has good power but he is a smart rikishi, displays intelligent sumo as he appears to be able to think while responding to his opponent's move.

At the tachiai, Tochiozan actually had a bit of advantage but within a short while Goeido had a firm grip on Tochiozan's mawashi while not letting him go easily. When Tochiozan got his mawashi, Goeido smartly wriggled himself out of it and when Tochiozan attempted to switch his hands, Goiedo started pushing Tochiozan to the dohyo edge without giving him any time to regroup. Tochiozan in the end decided to slap Goeido (an impossible task as Goeido had his mawashi) and pulled him in, which was exactly what Goeido wanted him to do.

This is all smart sumo by Goeido, constantly thinking what his opponent's next move would be. In my view the bout wasn't even close and it showed Goeido progressed so far ahead of Tochiozan since their joining Ozumo at the same time.

Edited by Jonosuke

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After Haru basho 2009 Tochiouzan:

8-7 at M2 took him to komusubi where he will debut at Natsu basho. The fundamental strengths are intact. Beating Kotooshu and Harumafuji with good tachi-ai morozashi surge and stopping Taikai as well gave him 3 good wins against an ozeki. He had a good outing on day 1 against Kotomitsuki too but MIckey broke his left hand outside grip and against KaioU he fell down after tachi-ai. Yokozuna bouts were inefficient as Shoryu took morozashi immediately and Hakuho got into his form too.

The biggest improvement appears to be as simple as increased power level. He is rather predictable rikishi with well-known strength of constant pressure, morozashi, migiyotsu drives and good attacking skills. His weaknesses in defense are improving as was seen is bouts with MIyabiyama, Kotoshogiku, Aminishiki and Kisenosato. When he is forced into calmer yotsu, he can nowadays generate more power and be more competitive even at high maegashira.

Against Goeido he had a bout where Goeido got a firm right hand inside grip and with that he pivoted and floated Tochiouzan around and out. Goeido makes his sekiwake debut in Natsu basho and deserves the place above O3 now.

Before Natsu basho he has done keiko with Asashoryu, Baruto and others. Evidently his shisho also demands a lot from him. While he is nowhere near to be a real ozeki candidate in the future, if his power level development continues, he will be quite competitive at sanyaku already. The more he can also handle more static yotsu with sanyaku level rikishi, the more he becomes a threat to any rikishi. He doesn't have that much problems defending against an oshi attack.

Hopefully his injury problems stay in the background now and lower back + shoulder holds well his first steps at sanyaku and hopefully those first steps are strong enough at tachi-ai in Natsu basho. Komusubi debut gives him a yokozuna foe on shonichi at least.

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