Welcome one and all to Day 12 of the Kyushu Tournament. Goldstein reporting to you live from my couch. I’m going to take a note from my people’s playbook and interpret something ex nihilo. You know, 12 is a very auspicious number. There were 12 ancient tribes of Israel, 12 disciples of Jesus, and 12 days of Christmas. We have 12 months in a year, and days are cut into two sets of 12 hours. Hours and minutes are calculated in pentanomials of 12. 12 people sit on a jury in the American legal system. There are 12 signs of the zodiac (Western and Chinese); Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night; Odin had 12 sons; there were 12 principal gods in the Greek pantheon; Shia Islam recognizes 12 Imams; Joe Namath wore the number 12, as did Jim Kelly; there are 12 function keys on your keyboard; they come Cheaper by the Dozen; there were 12 Angry Men; and I have wasted 12 minutes on this.
But wait, there’s more. During a match, there are three people in the ring—the gyoji and two rikishi—and the ring has four geographical “exits,” as it were. 3 x 4 = 12. The dohyo itself has four corners, four sets of steps, and four sides. That’s three sets of four: again, 12. The ring in the center is, of course, a circle, representing both the world itself and ‘completion.’ Whether divided into sextants, halves, or kept as a whole, the degrees of a circle are multiples of 12. Circles (and indeed ‘completion’ as an idea) are often represented in triplets, vis-à-vis, Christianity’s holy trinity. Again, there are two rikishi and a gyoji in the ring. The circle of the ring is outlined by four corners—or ‘excesses’—again, making 12. When one wrestler is defeated, leaving only 2 people in the ring, the victor stands at one of 2 designated spots to receive the rewards for winning, which he takes only after doing a 4-point gesture. He does it at this location because it corresponds with the cardinal directions, of which there are 4. 2 + 2 + 4 + 4 = 12. There are 15 days in each honbasho, which can be divided into triplets of 5 days—3 again representing completion. Lower divisions of sumo have 7-day tournaments. 5 + 7 = 12. Think I pulled that 15 divided by 3 thing out of my ass? Hell no, check this out. 15 days of upper division sumo + 7 days of lower division = 22. 22 divided by 7 approximately equals pi, the number most essential to and associated with CIRCLES!
Hang on to your butts, people. We need to go SUMO-er! A whole new level of sumo!
M16W Tamaasuka (2-9) v. M14W Tokushouryuu (5-6)
Ever wondered what a really determined sumo wrestling chicken would be like? No? Me neither, but let’s blame Tokushouryuu for putting the thought in my head. Both wrestlers achieved a beltless left-in-right-out grip from the start, but it was Talkshow who decided the proper means of keeping Tama off his belt was to flap his elbows and run backwards. This flapping and retreating (and, one can only assume, clucking) technique worked until he realized his heels were at the ring’s edge. Mind working quickly, Talkshow turned around, and suddenly he had all this real estate behind him… which he then proceeded to retreat across. Tama eventually managed a migi-yotsu before ushering the reverse-geared Tokushouryuu out of the ring by yorikiri.
M12E Joukouryuu (4-7) v. Juryo-2E Chiyoooooootori (9-2)
After taking a Kisenosato-esque long time to get his hands to the clay, Chiyo got up under Joker for an initial push. Seeing that not go anywhere, he switched to slow, heavy tsuppari. He tsulapped the hell out of poor Joker who eventually leaned forward enough to invite the inevitable hatatikomi slap-down.
M13W Gagamaru (5-6) v. M12W Fujiazuma (7-4)
Gaga showed us what a tank he could be. He positioned himself in the center of the ring, just shoving and smacking Fuji around. Fuji made almost a full circle around the ring as he tried to strafe his way into an opening that never came. Gaga eventually advanced with a full-power barrage, sending Fujizoomer off the east end of the dohyo.
M9E Sadanofuji (6-5) v. M13E Yoshikaze (4-7)
Twice Sadface pushed his arms against Kaze’s shoulders, and twice Kaze smacked them up and off of him. Sadface lunged for a third time and was duly smacked down for his lack of pattern recognition. Hatatikomi. Sadanofuji, you magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!
M11W Tamawashi (6-5) v. M9W Kitataiki (6-5)
Tama stood high at the tachiai, using his higher position to dodge south and turn Kita’s low forward thrust against him. Kita tried to turn right to meet his opponent, but Tama had a weak semi-arm-bar on his shoulder. As soon as Tama tried to press forward, however, Kita spun left and managed to face his opponent for a slap fight in the middle of the ring. Tama won the slap fight, though, oshidashiing Kitataiki to the northeast corner.
Shoutenrou showed some excellent power at the start of the match, but when that didn’t eject Takarafuji from the ring, he gave up. Maybe all those loud grunts just sapped his strength. Takarara achieved a double outside grip on the purple mawashi and drove his opponent out of the ring by yorikiri.
M7E Toyohibiki (6-5) v. M15W Oosunaarashi (6-5)
Oosu tried for a quick hatatikomi victory by getting both hands in Beaker’s face and quickly pulling away, but that seemed to just enrage the beast inside Beaker. Slappy Beaker showed himself for a moment until he found a secure stiff-arm shove into Oosu’s face. Sand-in-the-crotch still does not know how to manage hands in his face, and he pays for not learning his lesson earlier in the tournament with an oshidashi loss. Beaker showed his disapproval with an extra shove to the face after the match was over.
M14E Kyokushuuhou v. M6W Ikioi (8-3)
This was another grunty match. Both wrestlers vied for advantageous positions underneath the other. Shoe was not happy with his beltless under-arm position and strained to get a grip on Icky’s mawashi; Icky, on the other hand, felt perfectly content to just stay low with the same beltless hold and work with what he had. In the end, security won over ambition. Ikioi wins by yorikiri.
M10E Tokitenkuu (4-7) v. M5W Kaisei (6-5)
Toki quickly dodged southward after the initial contact, and if I’m not mistaken, the subsequent slap across the face from the old man temporarily sent Kaisei back to his treasured memories of playing soccer in the streets back in Brazil. I’m assuming they eventually got the stars and little birdies to stop circling his head. Tsukiotoshi.
M4E Houmashou (2-9) v. M8W Tenkaihou (2-9)
Houma threw himself into the wall of flab and managed a right-in-left-out grip, leaving Tenkaihou with his right hand in on the belt and his left merely pawing at that strong, superstitious right arm. Tonka eventually worked his left hand inside Houma’s but never really achieved a grip on the mawashi. While Tonka was spending so much effort and focus on that arm, Houma pushed forward hard, and both wrestlers fell cartoonishly over the south edge. Houma finally gets another win with a yoritaoshi.
M7W Endou (5-6) v. M4W Tochinowaka (2-9)
Both rikishi took hold of a left-in-right-out grip, but Endou tried to seize an advantage from his lower position by abandoning his grip for an under-arm lift. With Tochi holding on tight, Endou quickly saw this was a bad move and took hold of the mawashi again, trying for a shitatenage near the north side straw. Both wrestlers fell, but Tochi managed to stay on top with his right overhand grip. Yoritaoshi win for the waka.
M1E Myougiryuu (5-6) v. M3W Takekaze (5-6)
The tall wind got the better of Myougi’s initial thrusts and gained a strong position pushing against the top maegashira’s left flank. Myougi Bear quickly squared up and pushed forward even stronger. Takekaze suddenly put on a pair of sunglasses and proudly chuckled, “Keikaku doori.” He caught Myougi leaning too far forward and took that easy hatatikomi win like a boss. Myougiryuu’s better than this.
Around here I noticed a guy in the front row who was wearing one of those over-styled yet somehow not totally formal suits you’d find in an Oceans 11 kind of flick. He had sunglasses. On his head. Not on his face. Not hanging nonchalantly from a redundant pocket. On his face. Meaning, he’s decked out in a super-cool, super expensive suit in an expensive seat for a match… and he deals with glasses the same way everyone’s grandfather does. For at least 2 hours.
M3E Takayasu (1-10) v. M1W Aminishiki (5-6)
A push, a bear hug, and a twist to the left. No, that’s not how Creswell begins and ends all of his dates; that’s how Ami schooled the bumbling Takayasu in no time flat. Kotenage.
Komusubi-E Shouhouzan (2-9) v. M2E Kyokutenhou (3-8)
Pumped up by the home-ken crowd, Shouhouzan threw himself at Kyoke, shoving the man’s face, chest, and whatever he could get his hands on. Don’t read too much into that. The Kyoke tried to divert all the thrusts while circling back, but Shouhouzan caught him with a double under-arm tackle at the east side for a forceful yorikiri victory.
M2W Toyonoshima (6-5) v. Komusubi-W Okinoumi (6-5)
Oki let Toyonoshima get under him with a double beltless under-arm hold, and no matter what arm position he switched to, Oki was just standing up too straight to get anything done against the roley-poley rikishi on a roll. An oshidashi put Toyo one win away from his kachi-koshi.
Ozeki-E Kisenosato v. M6E Chiyotairyuu (9-2)
Uninteresting and quick. Kisenosato slapped away Chiyo’s thrusts with ease and drove him back for an oshidashi in under 5 seconds.
M5E Aoiyama (7-4) v. Ozeki-E2 Kakuryuu (9-2)
The Kak needs a lesson in strategy. This entire match was nothing but straight-up shoving—Aoiyama’s stomping grounds. Blue Mountain Group kept the pressure up top on the Kak and found the right opportunity to send the Ozeki back and out for a definitive kachi-koshi-securing win. Bravo, big man.
Yokozuna-E Hakuhou (11-0) v. Sekiwake-E Goueidou (6-5)
The broadcasters got us all jazzed up for this match showing the clips of Gatoreido beating Hakuho last tournament. So how does he fare this time? Not so well. Failing to get a grip himself, Goeidou gives up a right hand inside grip to the yokozuna, who pushed him back to the north straw. Hakuho let slip the right hand grip and lifted Goeidou with an outside left, using the hapless sekiwake as a human bodyboard as they tumbled over the north face of Mt. Dohyo. Goueido went slightly horizontal at the last second, making this kimarite uwatenage, not yoritaoshi.
Sir Paul McCartney has chosen some interesting advertisement space. He bought 5 kensho banners on the final match today promoting his album “New.”
Sekiwake-W Tochiouzan (4-7) v. Yokozuna-W Harumafuji (11-0)
These two wrestlers have met 18 times in the past. 18 is a significant number in the Judaic faith because the gematria of the number equates to the word chai, meaning life, and… alright, I’m just kidding.
The yokozuna pushed Tochi to the edge rather quickly, but couldn’t quite get the killing blow he wanted. He tried to work his left arm around, under, however he could. The brief pauses in action showed us something we haven’t seen in a while—Haruma cocking that leg of his back in that solid stance he used to use. I miss that good technique of his. Haruma kept Tochi’s attention on his hands while the real battle was the rocking back and forth of his whole-body push. Eventually that momentum overcame Tochi, who fell to his makke-koshi by yorikiri. Whodathunkit.
Your leaders after Day 12: them bad boys, the yokozunae.
Tomorrow’s matches will be covered by Creswell, who will give a dissertation on the number 13 and the true meaning of the baker’s dozen.