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Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



A little late here as the first Japanese sumo tournament of the year (out of 6) is mostly over, but I've wondered for a while if anyone else actually gave a poo poo about the ancient sport of Sumo. I knew nothing about it until I went to the November 2010 tournament in Fukuoka at the tail end of my two-week trip to Japan. I was instantly hooked and have since then followed it from overseas to the best of my abilities.

Unfortunately, it's not an easy sport to follow from outside of Japan. However, thanks to YouTube, you can keep up with the major highlights in 10 or 15 minutes a day during tournaments. More to come on that.

The need-to-know:

Sumo 101

Watch this video first for a quick summary of a lot of the following info, and an appetizer of some exciting matches.

Sumo glossaries, since even English-speaking sumo fans almost exclusively use the sumo-specific Japanese nouns/verbs:
http://www.chijanofuji.com/Glossary.html - Geocities as gently caress, but not too big of a list and has decent explanations
http://www.sumoforum.net/glossary.html - from the excellent sumoforum.net site, but a MASSIVE list. I might know half of the words in that list and I've followed sumo for 7 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_sumo_terms - fairly short list, but also includes the kana/kanji associated with the most commonly-used words
http://www.chijanofuji.com/Kimarite.html - list of kimarite (winning technique), which used to link to an excellent graphic on the official sumo.or.jp site. However, with the newer sumo site the links seem to have gone dead.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimarite - almost no images either, but a full list with both English and Japanese spellings
http://www16.plala.or.jp/mr001/32sotoga.html - Flash-animated kimarite, but only in Japanese

The Biggest Websites in the World

http://www.sumo.or.jp/en/index

Your one-stop-shop for all current information on current rankings and tournament records. Contains a lot of the information that I'll be summarizing in the rest of this post.

http://sumodb.sumogames.de/

For the nerds and spergs, a site that will have a familiar feel to those who have used sites like baseball-reference. If you can't find records here, I wouldn't know where else to look. It helps to know what "rikishi" (wrestler), "banzuke" (tournament), and "yusho" (tournament victory) mean when navigating this site. It's owned and operated by Doitsuyama ("German Mountain") from sumoforum.

http://www.sumoforum.net

The other socially acceptable place for sumo discussions free of yaocho theories and general shitposting, and often a treasure trove of insider information. The English-speaking sumo community is a small one, so members that would be considered celebrities are active in nearly every thread, including Kintamayama (provider of the main YouTube stream) and John Gunning (frequent commentator and excellent sumo article contributor). Everyone that wants to follow sumo from basho to basho should lurk on this forum.

Two Men Enter - None, One, or Both of them Exit

The objective of the sport is simple - make your opponent leave the 15ft-diameter ring or make him touch the ground with any part of his (or her, if you're into that kinda thing) body, other than with the bottoms of his feet, before you. Sometimes the match is over in 2 seconds when one wrestler does a quick sidestep and trip, sometimes it lasts over a minute and ends with both wrestlers crashing over the side of the dohyo while locked on to each others' mawashi (the giant adult Depends). Yes, grabbing onto the mawashi is not only legal, but it is also one of the most effective ways of winning. When both wrestlers hit the deck, the first one to hit the ground loses.

How does the match start? When the ref, or gyoji, gives the signal after prep time, the wrestlers spend a few moments burning a hole through each other with their eyes, then it begins drag-racing style. Once both wrestlers have all 4 combined fists touching their starting lines, the match is off with a thunderous collision.

Was E. Honda Really a Sumo Wrestler?

Yes and no. Believe it or not, the hundred-hands-slap move of his is probably the closest to reality. Big and tall rikishi will often palm-slap smaller guys right from the start and quickly overwhelm them out of the ring. So then, what kind of attacks are legal? Well, just about anything other than hair-pulling, closed-fist punches, biting, gouging, and kicks to anywhere but the legs. Pretty much all of those moves would be ineffective if legal anyway, since Sumo wrestlers are trained to be nearly unfazed by a palm to the face from another 350lb rikishi with a bad attitude.

For a sport that consists of two enormous men pushing and shoving at each other, there are a surprising lot of official techniques, or kimarite, for winning (see above).

Yorikiri (pushing them out while maintaining a grip on the mawashi) and oshidashi (pushing them out without holding onto the mawashi) are very common for large wrestlers, while successful smaller wrestlers will regularly dazzle viewers with more difficult techniques.

Oh, and weight divisions? gently caress off.

The Tri-Hundred Pound Tournament

Sumo is a year-round sport, with 6 tournaments a year spaced every 2 months - January, March, May, July, September, and November. Three are in Tokyo, one in Osaka, one in Nagoya, and one in Fukuoka. Each tournament consists of 15 days, with each wrestler having one match each day for a record anywhere from 0-15 to 15-0. The tournament starts in the morning with the lower divisions consisting of strong kids that haven't gotten fat yet and fat fucks that can't lift for poo poo, progression to the juryo division (minor leagues/relegated rikishi) and finally to the big show - the makuuchi division. Each day opens up in the morning with the lower divisions, with the makuuchi finally starting in the late afternoon.

So why do a bunch of 2 to 60 second-long matches take all loving day to complete? That is because sumo isn't just a sport, it has extremely ceremonious roots. The foot stamping was/is to ward away evil spirits (while also serving as a form of intimidation), while throwing salt into the ring is symbolic of purifying the ring. Modern-day translation - they take their sweet rear end time getting ready for each faceoff until your Western balls turn purple from delayed violence. The rikishi get at least one round of foot-stamping and staring at each other at the line before the gyoji gives the signal for "THIS time poo poo's gonna get real, f'sho" by holding out his fan and getting into an open stance between the wrestlers. This signals that the next time they approach the line that they are to go into drag-racer mode. Lower divisions usually just get the one round of prep/psyching, while makuuchi rikishi often get at least 3 rounds, plus a sip of water and/or a washcloth for the highest-ranked competitors. The latter rounds can take several minutes for a few seconds of action.

The Food Chain

Each division is split into "East" vs "West", which only refers to which side of the ring they enter in (most) matchups. Aside from that, with exceptions in the top makuuchi division, rankings are simply "East/West (Division Name) (1 through n/2)". There are no more than 40 makuuchi wrestlers at any given tournament, the lowest of which are ranked maegashira 1 through ~15, then 1-3 komusubi, 1-3 sekiwake, anywhere from 0-5 ozeki, and as many as 4 yokozuna.

The matchups and rankings are done via the Starcraft ladder system. Each tournament, wrestlers generally draw the 15 other wrestlers closest in rank to them. This means some of the lower maegashira rikishi don't have to wrestle the yokozuna or ozeki, while the yokozuna and ozeki generally have to wrestle every single one of the top-ranking wrestlers. Due to this, a record of 8-7 (kachi-koshi) over a tournament is the de facto standard for keeping your rank through to the next tournament. A losing record (make-koshi) in the lowest makuuchi ranks generally means a trip down to the juryo division for the next tournament. A great winning record can result in jumping from maegashira 15 up several ranks, even to komusubi. However, to progress from komusubi, to sekiwake, and finally to ozeki, a record greater than 8-7 is needed - usually 10-5 through 12-3. Ozeki often takes more than one tournament of good performance to attain - the sumo elders are the ones who decide on that particular promotion. The same goes for yokozuna, although the de facto standard these days is to win two consecutive tournaments. So yes, you can miss out on becoming yokozuna if you go 14-1 in two consecutive tournaments as an ozeki, but someone else wins in each case by going 15-0. Once you attain yokozuna, you are yokozuna for life. You cannot be demoted, although you are pretty much expected to retire if you can't maintain a winning record at any time after becoming yokozuna. You can, however, be demoted from ozeki for a couple of consecutive bad showings (two consecutive make-koshi), and from komusubi/sekiwake for even one bad tournament.

The Big Kahunas

Currently there are four yokozuna and three ozeki. One of those 7 can be expected to win pretty much every tournament, so the most exciting matches of the day will involve any of them. They are:

Hakuho - Mongolia - Yokozuna - the GOAT, quite simply.
Harumafuji - Mongolia - Yokozuna - the smallest Yokozuna since Wakanohana, and a specialist in lightning-quick maneuvers - including the HNH (Harumafuji-non-henka) as Kintamayama calls it
Kakuryu - Mongolia - Yokozuna - somewhat underachieving and defensive Yokozuna who often pulls off incredible shifts in mawashi grips
Kisenosato - Japan - Yokozuna - the first Japanese yokozuna promotion since Wakanohana was promoted in 1998, and first since Takanohana retired in 2003. Rarely makes a technical mistake on the dohyo, but the dominance of the Mongolians delayed him from reaching the top much sooner. After he finally made it to Yokozuna, his encore was to make possibly the biggest comeback in sumo history by defeating Terunofuji twice in the last day - with one arm.
Goeido - Japan - Ozeki - somewhat disappointing Ozeki, but nobody really expected him to ever make a Yokozuna run. Frequently in kadoban status (make-koshi in the last basho, meaning a kachi-koshi is required to stay at Ozeki).
Terunofuji - Mongolia - Ozeki - was a lock to quickly make Yokozuna, but a string of injuries and mental weakness had him barely holding onto his Ozeki rank over the last year. A zensho-yusho (undefeated 15-0 yusho) has an off-chance of getting him a Yokozuna promotion in July, but unlikely given his recent history.
Takayasu - Japan - Ozeki - recently promoted after going 34-11 in the first 3 basho of 2017. He is from Kisenosato's heya (stable), and looks extremely sharp and healthy. Half-Filipino, but native Japanese.
there is also Kotoshogiku, who was a long-time Ozeki that went in and out of kadoban, then earlier this year got demoted to Sekiwake. Currently in Komusubi, as well as in retirement watch.

Other popular (at least for Westerners) to follow currently are:

Endo - Japan - upper Maegashira - Was the next Japanese wonder; turned out to be just a pretty face who is just OK at sumo. Good skills and was thought to have a good shot at being an Ozeki one day. So popular that his cheers are typically the loudest of the day, and nearly always has a full stack of kensho put on his match. Has been fairly disappointing as far as staying in the upper ranks, but is still young.
Ura - Japan - Maegashira - lowest center of gravity of any active wrestler, and has a unique submarining style that is glorious when it works, and gloriously bad when it doesn't.
Ishiura - Japan - Maegashira - barely tops 100kg and has explosive speed and strength reminescent of the great Chiyonofuji. Needs to put on a solid 10kg to have much of a chance to reach the top. Trains with Hakuho in the same heya.
Shodai - Japan - upper Maegashira - one of the two current Japanese hopes for next Ozeki or Yokozuna.
Mitakeumi - Japan - upper Maegashira - the other current Japanese hope for Ozeki. Has a long and friendly rivalry with Shodai from their days as university wrestlers, and at this rate will have an incredibly long and close rivalry as top-ranking rikishi.
Ikioi - Japan - Maegashira - always puts on a good performance against the top rikishi, but usually just falls short of being able to establish himself in the top ranks. Probably the most charismatic rikishi outside of the dohyo.
Oosunaarashi - Egypt - lower Maegshira - Immensely strong and blew through the lower ranks at a record pace. Known for his tachi-ai forearm shot to the face, and went 2 for 2 on his first two bouts against Yokozuna, nearly beating Hakuho for a 3rd kinboshi. However, has since been hampered by injuries and bounces between Juryuo and Makuuchi.
Gagamaru - Georgian - Maegashira, enormous fat gently caress and loveable teddy bear that usually looks as if he'll cry when he loses
Chiyomaru - Japan - the squishiest face in sumo



Notable retirees in recent times:

Kyokutenho - Mongolian - the original Mongolian rikishi to make his way to the top, and also one of the few rikishi to get a yusho while in the maegashira ranks.
Tokitenkuu - Mongolian - another original Mongolian who had a long and successful mid-maegashira career. Known for his leg sweeps that sometimes caught his opponent completely off-guard. Was diagnosed with cancer a year or so before retiring at the age of 37 and died early in the following year.
Sadanofuji - Japan - only notable contribution was briefly taking the title of heaviest rikishi from Gagamaru.
Takanoyama - Czech - Barely tops 200 lbs, made it into the makuuchi ranks, and when he isn't being thrown around like a ragdoll is pulling off some very impressive victories. That's him in the fuckoff video earlier. After the September basho of 2013 he dropped out of Juryo due to wrestlers finally figuring him out while he continued to struggle with putting on weight. Finally retired during the July 2014 basho due to injuries.
Baruto - Estonia - Retired during the September 2013 basho to injuries after a very successful career that saw him brush near the Yokozuna rank as a nearly unstoppable Ozeki.
Kotoooshu - Bulgarian - Immensely popular giant who became a Japanese citizen and is now beginning through the elder ranks. Retired in March 2014 when it was obvious that his Ozeki days were over. Famous for being involved with some of the most spectacular and painful-looking crashes into (or off of) the dohyo.

Paying By The Pound

Much like any popular national sports, sumo wrestlers are divided into the haves and the have-nots. First and foremost, if you're not in the juryo or the makuuchi divisions, you earn jack poo poo outside of a daily all-you-can-eat buffet. And even if I were completely broke, I wouldn't take a daily gorgefest if it meant I'd be treated as wrestlers in those divisions are treated - as maids and as target practice. Once you make it to juryo, you've hit the big leagues. Minimum salaries for juryo wrestlers work out to be around $120k in the US, working up to about a $400k base salary for the Yokozuna. In a lot of big national sports, this isn't a lot of money. However, there are a few bonuses that wrestlers can earn for both one-time and permanent increases to their salary.

Kensho - Bonus sponsor money for individual matches, where the winner gets to take the stack of cash home. When you see a brief parade of banners before a particular bout, those are the advertisers who have each paid 60k yen (over $600) for a banner. The winner is given half the cash from each banner fee in a stack at the end of the match, which he accepts by first waving his right hand over the stack. A small amount of the rest is deducted to pay for the banner, and the rest is deposited into the rikishi's account. To put this in perspective, if there were 8 banners for a match, the winner would receive a bonus of approximately $5,000. Since ozeki and yokozuna almost always have a full house of kensho before their matches, that's an additional ~$75,000 they can earn per tournament. Therefore a dominating yokozuna or ozeki can virtually double his base salary over a year from kensho alone.

Mochikyukin - Thanks to "pigdog" for this explanation -

pigdog posted:

Another significant source of income for many wrestlers is Mochikyukin, which is a bonus on top of monthly salary, kensho from the matches, and tournament victory money. Every time a wrestler does something noteworthy, such as win a tournament, win a special award, win over yokozuna as maegashira, even get a positive score in a tournament, the bi-monthly bonus increases. If, say, a maegashira ranked wrestler beats the yokozuna, then for each time he manages to do that, he will be receiving an extra ~$24,000 a year until he retires.

The tl;dr version of mochikyukin - if you win a tournament, beat the yokozuna as a ranked makuuchi rikishi, or win a special prize from a tournament, you get a sizeable and permanent bonus to your salary.

Other - Aside from salaries and bonuses, rikishi are able to supplement their income with advertising revenue and koenkai, which is kind of like a fan club where the wrestler actually makes a lot of appearances. As expected, these are heavily regulated by the sumo association.

Scandalous Fat Fucks

Unfortunately, as a lucrative and ancient Japanese sport, there has undeniably been corruption. Known members of the yakuza have been known to be seen watching from expensive front-row seats, while 2011 was rocked by a match-fixing scandal. Seriously, you mean there is match-fixing in professional wrestling?

This resulted in an entire tournament in 2011 being canceled, with another one held only as an exhibition with no actual prizes. Fortunately for the real money draws, none of the top wrestlers were implicated by the scandal.

All Right, I Want to Watch Fatties Bang

Unfortunately, options are not plentiful outside of Japan.

Every moment of streaming video used to be available on the sumo site, but no longer. When it was active, I successfully used a video cap program to record the matches once, but it's not worth the effort, storage, and time spent watching in my opinion. It's not practical for those in the US to try to watch a livestream as makuuchi is in the middle of the night, but for Europeans there are a couple of streams (of questionable legality) that can found with a little research on sumoforum, since they have changed over time. One of the main streams is the Mongolian tv feed.

Thanks to seorin for the following tip for getting sumo options on actual TV:

seorin posted:

Also, another way to watch Sumo is on TV Japan, if your cable company offers it. I doubt it would be worth subscribing just for sumo no matter how big a fan you are, but if you have interest in Japanese language programming for study purposes, the picture quality is quite a bit better than what gets uploaded to YouTube.

My brief experience with Japan TV via UVerse, since I got it for free for one month: great quality, good broadcast coverage, DVR-able, but ultimately not worth $30 a month unless you have the time to invest watching 2 hours of recorded footage every day during the basho.

However, NHK World recently started a free online channel that can be used to watch highlights from the previous day with glorious HD and with English commentary. Only around half of the makuuchi matches are shown, but nearly all of the relevant matches for the day are usually covered. The highlights are shown live multiple times a day, and then are avaialble on-demand after a certain amount of time.

If you are willing to spend around 4 bucks a month, the official Sumo app (Android|Apple) is a convenient way to watch videos from the previous day. The videos are great quality, however one huge negative is that you can't pull up the videos without seeing the result in advance. So, it is useless if you're trying to watch spoiler-free. The app is nice, but likely not worth the money for most casual fans. Another feature of the app is that they have a rotating series of hard-to-find videos to stream. One month they had every one of Chiyonofuji's famous streak of wins, another had videos of many famous rikishi on their hatsu-dohyo (debut) - back when some of them were well under 200 lbs and had very short hair, and another month had videos of yokozuna as far back as the 1800s.

Other than that, it's up to a few somewhat reliable YouTube members who keep us outside of Japan up to date. A few channels:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kintamayama - posts daily digests in a very concise manner. All of makuuchi in about 7-10 minutes.

http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Results.aspx?hideresults=on - Discovered this method for easily following along the schedule for the day when Kintamayama is unable to do his updates. This takes you to a results page, with the results for the day defaulted to "off". From there, just select the day you want to watch and you'll be able to see video links without any spoilers. The links are manually updated by the site admin, depending on which sources have uploaded the video at a given time.

https://www.youtube.com/user/puananipuanani - reliable at posting the action highlights on a match-by-match basis. I believe he takes the streaming capture and splices out the good part for each match, and is very consistent with the naming of videos. (Recently announced his retirement from Youtube posting, although his account still serves as a recent archive of footage.) Was temporarily banned due to some bullshit with the sumo association trying to get paid for the streaming services, but is now back and provides the feed for Kintamayama's digest coverage.

http://www.youtube.com/user/JasonsinJapan - similar to araibira, a little less consistent, but sometimes adds his own commentary and/or the news summaries from NHK which also have good commentary

Sometimes the channels aren't updating, miss videos, or possibly new people enter the fray. In general, the best search syntax to use for finding videos on YouTube is to search with:

Sumo (Month) (Year) Day (Day#) (Optional - name of rikishi)

i.e. 'Sumo 2012 January Day 14' for the most recent results available as of this OP. Add Hakuho, Baruto, etc, to the end of that to find specific matchups.

Fun and entertaining videos
Hakkiyoi - the official 'song' of sumo that is sung to kids to teach them about sumo. Good luck getting this out of your head.
Akebono/Takanohana rivalry Part1|Part2 - probably the best sumo rivalry of all time. Akebono was absolutely vicious with the E Honda attacks.
Chiyonofuji demolishing 53 consecutive opponents - watch the most jacked rikishi of all time demolish top wrestler after top wrestler, yokozuna after yokozuna, current sumo elder after sumo elder. RIP, Wolf.
Oosunaarashi interview (in English!) - very long, but a rare chance to hear a makuuchi rikishi interview in English.
Great thread for seeing the softer side of Sumo - http://www.sumoforum.net/forums/top...ikishi-at-play/

Sumo in social media
Coming soon... Twitter accounts mostly

I'd like to keep this OP updated with the best info, so let me know if I've missed some important information...

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Jul 6, 2017 around 22:52

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Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Mandoira posted:

Good OP (I knew nothing about Sumo but learned something about it reading this!) but you may want to PM or email a mod to change the thread tag from "poo poo post".

Are there any specific Sumo matches you could recommend beyond those youtube channels? Like matches that would be good for somebody new to the sport to watch (entertaining, unique, educational, exciting, whatever)?

Ha, yeah, I was afraid of getting banned for picking a bad tag and instead got punished with "poo poo Post". Figures.

One of the most entertaining wrestlers ever to watch is Asashoryu (check out his signature pump-you-up slap around 3:11), another Mongolian. He set a lot of records, some of which Hakuho has since surpassed. While Hakuho is as humble as a Japanese, Asashoryu was extremely fiery and had several moments that caused a stir, such as shoving Hakuho after he had already beaten him. They faced each other almost 30 times between '04 and '10, ending with an almost 50/50 record by the time Asashoryu retired. Here's one of their classic matches, but with a little uh... embellishment.

National Geographic put up a good-quality and informative clip with some nice up-close angles.

There's not a lot of good stuff out there that's easy to find in general, but another couple of names to look at are Akebono and Musashimaru, the only two Americans (Hawaiian, naturally) to become Yokozuna. Akebono was 6'8" and nearly 450 lbs.

jyrka posted:

I remember an Estonian TV show went over to do a story about him and as a part of that they asked random people on the street about him and everyone seemed to know who he is and have an opinion. He really is big in Japan, huh? Crazy.

He's even bigger now because he just won the last tournament a couple of days ago! He has been an ozeki for a while, but he has never won the tournament until now. He'll be wrestling the yokozuna Hakuho tonight for a chance to go 15-0, even though he has already technically won. He handily defeated another ozeki, Kotooshu, last night to go 14-0. Him versus Hakuho will surely be on YouTube by tomorrow morning and I would expect a great match.

If he wins the March tournament, he will 99% for sure become the first yokozuna since Hakuho in 2007 and the 70th ever since the 1700s.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Stickarts posted:

Is there significance or ritual for the wrestlers to squat and and stand up and squat and stand up like that before actually beginning the match?

That part alone is just a mind game that they play with each other.. a little bit of intimidation, kind of like the game baseball pitchers and batters play with each other between pitches. You'll notice that the judge will stand perpendicular to them and hold his fan away for the first round or two of leg stomps and staring at each other, etc... that's his way of saying it's not go time yet. When he stands wide and holds his fan out front, that means get ready and go. So they'll take one last chance and try to psyche each other out with the standing and squatting and not immediately putting both fists down. The only ritualistic parts once they're in the ring are the leg stomping, the salt, and the purification that some of them are entitled to (sipping water, washcloth).

Stickarts posted:

Also, when the fight ends the judge throws the victor a little bauble that he picks up. Then the victor squats and waves his arm across the front of his body for the judge, do you mind explaining that sequence to me?

Hm.. I don't know about throwing the victor a bauble. One of those decorative things that they stick into their mawashi may have fallen out and he was returning it. However, the arm waving thing is an honorific way of accepting the stack of cash that they just won for the bout. You'll notice that lower division matches often have no cash and that the yokozuna bouts will have a big fat stack of it. Those are actually sponsored cash rewards, and sumo does a pretty good job of keeping all the sponsorships and ads looking old fashioned. When you see a bunch of people parading a bunch of banners in between matches, those are actually advertisements.

Stickarts posted:

Are some wrestlers known to be dirty? What is the penalty for being caught doing something illegal? A simple forfeit?

Asashoryu was known for a bit of late hits such as the one on Hakuho that I posted before. However, I've actually never seen anyone get disqualified during a match, but I can't say for sure. It's pretty hard to climb the ranks and survive in the training "stables" (beya) without adhering to very old-fashioned Japanese rules of respect. They're not even allowed to wear regular clothes in public. Asashoryu did get disqualified for telling the Sumo association that he was hurt and then being seen playing charity soccer.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

I'm rather fond of Hakuho vs. Baruto last September. I'd watched sumo before then, but that's when I really got into it. It's a good example of how strong and skilled both of them are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oguH66aU1LU

I remember that one! If I'm not mistaken, the normally-cheerful Baruto was furious with himself afterwards for having come so close. I have no doubt that that was one of the key matches that has gotten him on the warpath to the improvements that he has made since.

seorin posted:

Edit: Also, another way to watch Sumo is on TV Japan

Added to the OP - thanks!!

Edit: Also, I briefly considered a thread for the next tournament, but there would probably be more activity in a chess tournament thread. Who knows, maybe there'll be enough activity in March to warrant splitting off another thread for matchup comments and an OP with the latest clips.

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2012 around 02:15

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



camoseven posted:

Oh drat, that's later than I was hoping. I'll have to check out the Youtube highlights tomorrow.

It seems like there should be a lot more bleeding/broken bones after the matches cause so many of them get thrown off the raised edge of the wrestling area. Also, the ref sure does yell a lot. What is he saying?

Story of my life. I stayed up for it once and it was fun, but I'm too old for the all-nighter poo poo now.

I don't know what the ref is yelling, but supposedly he's encouraging them on. Like a "go go go!" or a "do it! do it! do it!" kind of thing.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



troofs posted:


How do you get to be a ref? It seems to be a pretty important position in the ceremony of it all, so I was wondering if the refs were all well known like the wrestlers.

How do people get their sumo names? Is it just random or do they have some kind of meaning? I've read some people changed their names, is this a big deal or is it commonplace?

I don't know much about the refs but I do know that they have ranks that can be seen in the color of their sash, etc, and only refs of a certain rank can ref makuuchi bouts, let alone bouts with the yokozuna. Only the highest ranking ref can judge a match that a yokozuna is in.

Names come from a lot of different things. Some examples....
- rikishi from the Sadogatake stable pretty much all have Koto as the first character of their name (ie current ozeki Kotooushu and Kotoshougiku), as deference to the founder of the stable, Kotonishiki. This is probably the most common denominator for names - honoring one's master.
- ozeki Harumafuji used to be known as Ama. His stable master chose the new name for him in honor of the promotion. It is also common for the stable master to choose the name for the wrestlers.
- some names have little meaning outside of conventions, but some have literal translations. Hakuho - white phoenix, Asashoryu - blue dragon. Kind of like a WWF name I suppose.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



uinfuirudo posted:

Actually they do serve a ceremonial purpose, in theory the leg stomps are supposed to force evil spirits into the ground. Salt is meant as a means of purification.
Here is hakuho performing at a shinto temple http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Pfdoknn6Q even more interesting is that Hakuho is not a practitioner of shinto, which you might think would disqualify him from doing a shinto ritual; however that shrine is pretty much responsible for Buddhism in Japan.

I did say that the stomping and salt were ceremonious, I meant that the repeated standing up and squatting was just part of the prep and mind game that they play. For example, I've noticed that Kotooshu usually likes to wait a second or two longer to squat back down, possibly so he can tower over his opponent (he is 6'8") for a moment before the bout begins. Course that is just theory but afaik there is nothing ceremonious about the squatting or the fact that they do it more than once.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Back from a week of vacation... Jesus Christ, my subscribed threads are at critical mass...

AxeBreaker posted:

That paper was from 2002 and it took them 9 years to really try to clean house. It's still interesting but the problem won't get fixed until change the incentive to cheat.

I heard something about trying to up the kensho in the later days to make the individual matches worth more than a bribe could possibly be, but idk for sure. I wonder if they'd ever change the way the rankings are re-ordered so that the line from that study is more linear. I've always been baffled by how dynamic the makuuchi in particular is. You have one off tournament and you plummet, then dominate against the lower-ranked guys and get thrown into the blender in the next tournament. It would benefit from being like the Ozeki rank where you get a little forgiveness for one bad showing before a second one sends you plunging down 9 ranks.

Protocol 5 posted:

I used to be big into sumo until the Japanese press ran Asashoryu out of the sport for acting "Mongolian". I still followed Kaio out of sentimentality for awhile, but when he decided to retire, I pretty much lost interest entirely.

Asa was pretty drat entertaining, but I also mostly respect the need for one of the last remaining ancient sports requiring its members to behave under a rigid set of rules. If behavior like Asashoryu's is allowed to be mainstream, it wouldn't be long before the first Hulk Hogan of sumo surfaces.

Sorry to hear about the loss of interest... if it's any help, the last couple of tournaments have really been pretty exciting. Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato have been on fire with their rise to Ozeki, which has also been great for Japan in giving them two new Japanese Ozeki after losing the only remaining one. Baruto has a shot at Yokozuna, too. The top 6 hasn't been more exciting to watch in the time I've watched sumo, for sure. Hakuho is still dominating, but it doesn't feel like it did in the last few years where you pretty much expected him to win 5 or 6 tournaments a year.

Protocol 5 posted:

... since salaries are pretty drat low, and there are all sorts of restrictions on endorsement contracts and not much demand for rikishi as spokesmen in the first place, the system seems almost designed to be gamed...

Actually, I thought even the juryo wrestlers make the equivalent of 6 figures in the US. The salaries look low.. until you realize that they're monthly salaries. Hakuho makes around $400k a year, plus a buttload of prize money (kensho). So, they're not living in the same kind of luxury as world-famous athletes, but it's upper-class level. Below juryo, there isn't even a monthly salary, so you literally never have a reason to not try and win every single match you can so that you can break into juryo.

Brilliant on the "pigs colluding". I think I'll use that now that this thread has somewhat of a following.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Stickarts posted:

Is there any media/public backlash against non-Japanese participants? I feel like such a traditional sport would have its fair share of assholes wailing about the "de-japanisation" of the sport, or whatever.

e. \/\/ That is partly what spawned my question. I was just looking for more specific details regarding what traditional/conservative Japanese reactions are/specific examples, justified or not. And what does "acting Mongolian" particularly entail? \/\/

In what little I know of the topic, I know that the backlash wasn't that there were non-Japanese in the sport, but that said non-Japanese were loving dominating. They've since dropped the limit on foreign rikishi per stable (heya) to one, which keeps the foreigners from arriving in droves and forces the stables to pick only the wrestler that they believe can do well for them. I can equally respect the need to try and save some semblance of the historical roots of a national sport (considering Shinto is an exclusively Japanese religion) as well as a need to be open. It's a tricky balance to obtain but I think they're doing as well as they can.

As far as xenophobia vs. not-xenophobic, I don't think it's nearly as bad as some people would think. Japan in general is very accepting of those who genuinely try to be a part of their society, although the consensus is that you're never 100% accepted as a gaijin. Hakuho acts more Japanese than a lot of Japanese wrestlers, so he is loved by the Japanese media and hated by the foreign fans who find him too boring. Baruto and Harumafuji are very loved as well. You can pretty much use Asashoryu vs Hakuho as the perfect example of how little simply being foreign has to do with it - both dominating Mongolians in the last decade with completely different opinions by the media.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Gozinbulx posted:

Did Ama change his name?? I love that guy.

Yup, his stablemaster gave him that name when he was promoted to Ozeki!

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Added a salary section to the OP... let me know if any other sections would be useful for first-time readers.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Protocol 5 posted:

I liked Ama more before he started gaining, back in like 2005 he was all about the yotsu and pulled off some incredible wins against guys twice his size like Kotooshu.

He's still by far the smallest Ozeki and one of the smallest in the makuuchi division. Off the top of my head I don't think there's anyone other than Takanoyama (obviously).

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



AxeBreaker posted:

There's one in the OP.

tbf it wasn't obvious or advertised as such. But yeah, those are pretty badass.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



That would be this guy right there:

OrangeKing posted:

.... Which doesn't make it right (implicitly, it hurts competitors elsewhere in the competition who might benefit from the other results), but without a formal framework for the whole thing, it's a much lesser form of collusion.

Which also made me think that if you wanted to give this thread a snarkier title, it could be "Sumo - It's just pigs colluding."

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Spy posted:

It's been years since I have seen anything Sumo. They used to air the Super Basho(sp?) on ESPN and I miss that. I also remember Ake Bono being the poo poo for US sumo dudes. Who is the best american sumo that competes over there?

Afaik, unless there's one in the lower ranks, I don't think any Americans are having success in sumo any longer. Akebono and Musashimaru were part of an era where Americans (Hawaiians) were having great success. These days it is the eastern Europeans and Mongolians who are doing well.

It's really an exciting time, too, with there being 5 ozeki and a yokozuna who is finally showing signs of not being invincible. The Japanese are making a comeback (Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku) and Baruto has a chance at yokozuna again. I for one will not be missing much action in the March tournament.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Banzuke (rankings) for the next tournament have been announced!

This should be a very exciting tournament, especially for those of us watching from outside. Gagamaru has moved up to Komusubi, so he'll get his second chance to go against the entire lineup of yokozuna and ozeki after losing to all of them (including Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku who were not yet ozeki) in the last November tourney. He did defeat Baruto in the September tournament, who will in this tournament be most likely rooted on by everyone to win for his yokozuna promotion.

Takanoyama barely hangs on with maegashira #16, so we'll get to watch and see if he can hang in the makuuchi a little longer, and be more entertained as we'll get to watch him against tougher opponents.

Yoshikaze is maegashira #2 this time, so we'll get to see him go absolutely apeshit against a couple of ozeki.

Sekiwake Kakuryu and Aminishiki are always a threat to take out any of the top wrestlers.

Tickets are now on sale for those in Japan (lucky bastards), but we're still two weeks away from the beginning of the tournament. So much waiting...



Edit: hosed up the link

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Feb 27, 2012 around 15:44

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



pigdog posted:

And here we go with Haru-Basho day 1! Good thing some kind soul has taken the time to compress all top-division matches of the day into 7 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Qe0_WCIeuw

Great first day all-around!

Looks like that user posted consistently all of last tournament, too, so I'm adding that one to the OP. Definitely the most concise digest I've seen.

Terrible showing from Kisenosato, and how about Baruto flipping Gagamaru over like he was half his weight? Wow.

vvvv Yup, he's one of the best - had him in the OP from the get go.

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Mar 12, 2012 around 01:05

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Anime Reference posted:

I'm noticing that the wrestlers never go for each other's legs. Is that because it's illegal, or because it's just not worth the risk?

Little guys like Takanoyama try to do trips all the time because they can't outmuscle the big guys. But yeah, it's mostly just not worth it. As pigdog said, getting slapped down is super easy if you give up your balance to lunge like that.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Day 4

Epic matches for Toyonoshima, Homasho, and Baruto! Definitely check those out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFs8...be_gdata_player

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsWz...be_gdata_player

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUS-...be_gdata_player

Baruto... even one loss has put him in big trouble now.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Gagamaru appears to be no stronger than your average 500 lb fat gently caress sometimes. Lot of good matches, but most were the lower ranks this time around.

By the way, we should probably agree on some standard for posting about matches. I don't want this to turn into a wall of spoiler tags, but at the same time it's nice to discuss individual matches without having to be too vague. Any suggestions?

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Hurriness posted:

Speaking for myself, I think just posting the link to the days matches before any discussion should be good enough. I make sure to click the link and watch the matches as soon as it's offered.

All right, let's do that then.

Whoever gets to it first, post just a link to a digest for that day, then start open season on the discussion in the following posts. So yes, you can doublepost here.

And if you're such a fast reader that you can spoil things with your peripheral vision even when trying not to, and go do super genius stuff instead.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Anime Reference posted:

Day 6 is up.





What a loving win for Harumafuji, and hats off to Yoshikaze for giving Hakuho his first legitimate scare of the tournament. Was a little worried about Baruto for a bit... he will likely need to beat Hakuho to win the tournament, and a match like that won't cut it.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

That Harumafuji match is intense. This is turning out to be a really entertaining tournament so far.

Best of the day for sure.

Kotoshogiku is a good Ozeki, but Kiseonosato hasnt shown much this tourney. If all finish with winning records (the ozeki and Kakuryu), we may be headed towards a 6th ozeki.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



King Pawn posted:

Great thread, I've never watched Sumo at all before but I've been finding this ongoing tournament very entertaining.

One question: Why is this "henka" sidestepping so frowned upon? It seems like a perfectly reasonable way to counter someone charging forward too recklessly.

Because in 19 out of 20 matches, having a weak tai-ichi immediately puts the match in the favor of your opponent, even though it's not a huge advantage. If you play expecting the henka because of the other 1 out of 20 matches (I'm making that number up, but it's very low), then you're going to mostly get steamrolled in the other 19. However, you don't want to throw EVERYTHING into the tai-ichi either, since you need to maintain balance, so the goal isn't to win the match by dropping your opponent on first contact.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Day 8

Couple of great E Honda slapfests in a row in Miyabiyama vs Takayasu and Shohozan vs Toyohibiki

Fryhtaning fucked around with this message at Mar 18, 2012 around 15:58

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



pigdog posted:

He's now in the league of people who know how to deal with someone who weighs 200 kgs.

AFAIK komusubi is also the worst position to be in with regards to getting a positive score, because you'll be facing ozeki and yokozuna early in the tournament, which means you'll likely rack up a lot of losses early, which ruins morale.

Pretty much this.

You're facing about half opponents that are pretty much on the same level as you, and half opponents that have been winning for many, many tournaments, so overall you better be ready to defend your spot. Gagamaru dominated in a tournament where he only faced the top 8 wrestlers a couple times, shot up the ranks, and is obviously going to fall right back where he came from.

Funkysauce posted:

I was always interested in Sumo, I never thought I would be getting so drawn in and cheering. Awesome! Thanks again Something Awful for giving me yet another thing to get into!

I had no idea about it either until I went basically on a whim while in Japan. There's so much poo poo out there in the world to be discovered with just a little digging.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

The surprise victory in the final match sure makes the rest of this tournament more exciting, too. On the other hand, that makes me extra pissed that Kakuryu lost to Kisenosato yesterday. Of all the people to lose to....

In his defense, Kisenosato is a fantastic wrestler. He and Harumafuji are about the only two active wrestlers to have any semblance of a good record against Hakuho, so I'll be very excited to see those two try and take the yusho away from the yokozuna. It's obvious, though, that Kisenosato's fighting spirit isn't anything like it was in the last couple of tournaments. Maybe Ozeki was his goal and now he just needs a winning record, so he isn't being as aggressive. Maybe the death of his stablemaster was that big of a motivator last time. Maybe he is hurt. Who knows.

The Aminishiki bout has me pretty convinced that Gagamaru's scowl is the only expression that he knows, regardless if he is actually showing kindness/concern or not (as he appeared to be as Aminishiki came back onto the dohyo).

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Not too exciting but we still have 4 leaders so poo poo's gonna get intense. Baruto and Hakuho still have key match ups against the ozeki, including against each other.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Son of a bitch... Baruto's only chance involves beating Hakuho at this point.

If Kakuryu goes 14-1 and Kisenosato gets his 8, I wonder if we're going to have a 6th Ozeki. Has that ever happened? That's really a testament to how close the competition is up top, Hakuho aside.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Day 12

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Ramblings incoming...

Baruto just hasn't looked good. As much as there needs to be the excitement of another Yokozuna, he just can't have a tournament like this one, ever, let alone right after a yusho, if he wants to be Yokozuna. Disappointing, but we may still be years away from another Yokozuna. Hakuho is still a head above the rest, and the rest includes 5 Ozeki, possibly 6, who can all beat each other on any given day. You could probably complete a circle out of who has beat who between the ozeki and Hakuho this tournament.

Something worth looking for, especially starting yesterday, is any sign of corruption, since a LOT of rikishi were sitting in the 6-8 win range. Goeido already had his 8 and demolished Wakanosato, who was sitting at 7, so that was encouraging to see. All the maegashira matches where both were sitting at 5-7 wins were brutal. Very refreshing to watch.

I had forgotten how much Homasho has grown on me. Dude has huge arms and I love his chest-thumping pre-match routine, but he is also one of the classiest wrestlers and is still going strong at nearly 31.

And speaking of pre-match routines... I remember a couple of times seeing someone who does a loving standing split for his first foot stomp during the pre-match. It's been forever since all I've had in the past year-plus are the condensed versions of the matches. Is it Toyonoshima? I know he's flexible as hell.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Pvt. Public posted:

I seem to remember Asashoryu having quite a wide split during his dohyo-iri, but that might be my dumb brain tricking me.

He did, and also who can forget his thunderous belly slap as part of his routine? But I first noticed this at the first tournament I saw live, which was Fukuoka in 2010, after Asashoryu retired. When we saw one of those (definitely makuuchi, at that time at least) guys go completely vertical with his standing split, it blew our gaijin minds.

a false posted:

wow, aran won without a henka???? unbelievable

also, pulling hard for kakuryu. he deserves ozeki, certainly more than 3/5 of the current group.

Based on this tournament, sure, but let's not forget that Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku were equally impressive, if not more, to reach their rank. Harumafuji and Baruto have been winning for years. Kotooshu is the one who for some reason barely has hung on even though he has been an Ozeki since '06.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

Second, I continue to love Takanoyama. I wish I could have seen the replays of that.

I think I was too hard on Kisenosato before. He really does have skill, but he started out this tournament very, very poorly. I think I generally enjoy watching his matches more than Kotoshogiku, though - not because Kotoshogiku is bad, but because he seems kind of like a one trick pony. It's a very good trick, but still, it's kind of like Aran and his henka.

And I was coming here to say, "And that, my friends, is why Kisenosato is an Ozeki - the eternal thorn in Hakuho's side."

I'm loving loving this basho. How long has it been since there were 5 ozeki and a yokozuna, with a 6th ozeki imminent, and all of them with winning records? You expect Hakuho to usually win against the rest of them, but you always get the feeling that it's anyone's match within that group. Kotooshu was wrestling like poo poo and I still had a horrible feeling before he almost took Baruto out of the running.

These last two days are going to be loving epic. I want to see a 3-way tie at 12-3 (mostly for Baruto's sake), but it looks like Kakuryu is going to do this thing. That would make 3 yusho in a span of 5 tournaments by someone not named Asashoryu or Hakuho since 2003.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Edit: Oops, false post.

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



TotallyGreen posted:

This thread has been really great and I'm enjoying watching the matches. One question: Is there anywhere I can find the results of previous tournaments in english? This Site has the current tournament's results, but I couldn't find a way to look backwards, other than just finding the person who won. I'd like to see who won each mach for previous tournaments.

If you click on the link underneath the icons showing their ranks for the last however many contests, you can get the results for that tournament.

However, a much better site is sumoreference.com - you can roll up and drill down in many different ways. I need to add that to the OP...

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Not a very exciting day, and the nail in Baruto's coffin.

I'm tempted to stay up tonight (or wake up loving early) to watch live and see if Kakuryu can seal his victory. Even if he doesn't, I think we have a loving 6th Ozeki next basho. Has that ever happened before?

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

I have to admit I wish it had ended differently, but that was a hell of a final match.

Exciting yet so disappointing. Can't complain about a competition like that, though - all the Ozeki evenly matched, a surprise contender, a playoff, and no sign of match fixing.

Now can Kotooshu please gently caress off and quit embarrassing the Ozeki?

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



seorin posted:

I must have missed it earlier, but I just saw Kakuryu's Ozeki promotion on the news. I think he definitely earned it this basho and I hope it comes down between him and Baruto in the next.

Well deserved! And just like I had a hunch on, this is the first time in history there have been 6 ozeki. Just got that much harder for one to stand out enough to become yokozuna...

Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



downtimejesus posted:

Considering the 6 ozeki are pretty much on par with each other, is it theoretically possible that there won't be another yokozuna since any of the ozeki can beat the others on any given day? For consideration for promotion you need to go at least 13-2 in a tournament from what I'm gathering and how possible is that even going to be to do consistently when there are six ozeki?

The first part of that is spot on and exactly why I think this is such an exciting time for sumo. To have 6 Ozeki you almost mathematically have to have 6 guys who beat each other up while losing at most 1 or 2 matches to the sekiwake and lower wrestlers.

To get yokozuna is even harder than what you described. The de facto standard is to win 2 straight basho. 12-3 could do that, but not likely with a bad tournament for Hakuho being 12-3. As long as Hakuho is dominating, it pretty much takes 14-1 or 15-0 to beat him in a tournament. It probably won't happen for years unless he retires or gets hurt.

12-3 is what Kakuryu needed for Ozeki, I believe. 33 wins over 3 tournaments is usually what it takes for Ozeki.

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Fryhtaning
Jul 21, 2010



Mornacale posted:

There aren't actually strict rules on what it takes to get to yokozuna, correct? Is it possible that the people in charge would adjust for this sort of historically competitive field?

That's right, but the de facto standard is to win two tournaments in a row. I'm not sure when the last yokozuna who was promoted by "de jure" instead happened.

Looking back in history, Takanohana was nominated for yokozuna after winning 6 tournaments, but failing to ever string two in a row. He was rejected in the voting by the elders and wasn't promoted until he finally did win two in a row.

Found it - Onokuni was promoted to yokozuna in 1987 by winning one basho with a 15-0 record, then a runner up in the next two when Chiyonofuji was dominating. He went on to be a pretty terrible yokozuna. So, 8 yokozuna ago, in 1987, was the last wrestler to attain yokozuna without the current standard of two basho in a row.

So actually, I wonder if Baruto would have made yokozuna if he had been runner-up this tournament instead of making GBS threads the bed. He won the previous one, and he was sort of a runner-up in the one before (Kotoshogiku was also 11-4, and rank-and-filer Wakakoyu got 12-3 without having to wrestle a single Ozeki).

Either way he is basically back to square one after a 10-5 this last tournament. So funny enough, Kakuryu is currently the closest to promotion with the runner-up performance. If he wins one and runner-ups again, he has a chance.

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