Sumo's Foreign Invasion

Mark Buckton
Sumo - still Japanese or truly International?

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Umegatani II our man for June

Heya Peek
John Gunning
John attends asageiko at Takasago-beya to give us the first of his bimonthly looks at sumo's stables

Photo Bonanza
Kurt Easterwood & Quinlan Faris
Kurt & Quin treat us to some of the best sumo pics around - and seen nowhere else

May Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Natsu Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his 'gem' of the basho

Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila

Mikko provides his round up of the boys in Makushita and below at the Natsu Basho

July Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton

Pierre predicts the Nagoya Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein

Rhyme and reason behind the pre-tachiai rituals that mystified us all as beginners

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko walks us through A, B & C

John McTague

John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo

Las Vegas Jungyo Teaser
Ngozi Robinson
Months away but like kids at Christmas we are still too excited not to mention it

Online Gaming
Moti Dichne
Hear from the founder of Guess the Banzuke (GTB) on exactly what makes it tick

Le Monde Du Sumo
The original team at MDS tells us how it all started

Sumo Mouse
Todd Lambert
Heya Links Galore and a focus on 3

Fan Debate
JR & EB square off: Right or Left - which should Asashoryu use when receiving kensho?

Let's Hear from You
What was it that made you a sumo fan?

Ngozi Asks
Question of the month - What is Sumo?

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster

Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke

Natsu Basho Wrap-Up

by Lon Howard

Tochiazuma again showed he is the most impressive of the current batch of ozeki, when healthy, but still makes too many mistakes to get to the top.

Chiyotaikai meanwhile was soundly censured again this basho for half-henkas, full-henkas, retreating slap-downs and tawara dances en route to a 10-1 record -  before his predictable collapse.  While some claim, tongue in cheek perhaps, he employed his ‘creative’ side so as to protect an injured elbow, knee and the ozeki rank his kadoban status put him in danger of losing going into the basho, others call his accomplishment courageous. 

However, despite avoiding personal embarrassment for the large part, it must be recorded that the ozeki contingent failed yet again to fulfill their primary responsibility, which is laying down a realistic challenge to the yokozuna in competing for the yusho.

Hakuho, at 9-6, displayed staying power beyond his years at sekiwake and proved the rank of ozeki to be a significant wall to overcome – don’t forget, everyone was fitting Kotomitsuki for a tsuna when he became sekiwake, at which point he let fly with his
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There is, of course, more to a basho than just the yusho race but if you wanted to affix a title to the last tournament along those lines, you might want to call it the “Six Day War” because that’s exactly how long it took to decide the yusho. 

On Day 6, when Kaio didn’t answer the bell and Tochiazuma fell to Kotomitsuki and his second loss, there was no one left to challenge Asashoryu.  Remaining ozeki Chiyotaikai’s poor condition and small-man sumo had already eliminated the kadoban man as a serious contender, despite a 5-1 record; and sekiwake Hakuho had, by that time suffered four straight losses.  So, with the list of viable title contenders already exhausted, Asashoryu started a nine day victory lap by smothering his remaining opponents so completely that his day 7 victim, M1 Tamanoshima called his domination “almost disgusting.”   

Even more telling is the fact that the 24-year-old yokozuna is still improving.  He displayed refined maturity and patience on opening day against komusubi Kotomitsuki.  While

pushing the Sadogatake man toward the edge, he sensed his balance was not ideal so instead of pushing on and risking a sidestep from his one-time rival he readjusted his stance and waited, fully confident he would simply find another way to win.  Throughout Natsu, Asashoryu denied every opponent he came up against the position required of them in order to have any chance at an upset with the result being that his 15-0 record was his fourth career zensho yusho to date as well as his fourth consecutive basho clinched prior to senshuraku – a first in the 56-year history of the 15-day tournament.

The above notwithstanding, it was really great to see a basho which did not include the now routine embarrassing setbacks for the ozeki.  Before his back injury on Day 5, the then undefeated Kaio appeared on his way to a dominating performance of his own – but when all was said and done, what a disappointment!  It appears to be a new injury too so more setbacks appear likely and the former yokozuna hopeful will be kadoban for the seventh time in Nagoya. 

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