Monday, June 21, 2004

The Banzuke is out!

The Banzuke is the list of all the ranks for every rikishi active in Sumo. The current one was just recently released. This is a link to the top division known as Makuuchi. Sumo is a sport like no other. Most westerners think it's just two fat guys wearing a diaper trying to push the other out of a ring. It's so much more than that. Sumo has very deep cultural and religious roots. Sumo is probably the only thing in Japan which carries on the traditions and ways of the old samurai and the Shinto priests. The pre-Basho ceremony and the pre-fight rituals are stunning and marvelous to watch. You can see many of the matches on video at the above mentioned Banzuke site. You will be impressed, I promise you.

Sumo is a culture as well as a sport. It's over 2000 years old and embodies so many more things than just the physical aspects. There are some excellent books and references on the subject which you will likely find on eBay.

In a few weeks the 4th Basho, or tournament, of the 6 per year will be held. The most significant thing that has happened over the last few years is the absence of a Japanese Yokozuna, or Grand Champion. Right now there is only one Yokozuna, Asashoryu who is Mongolian and only 23yo. Just last year the only other Yokozuna, Musashimaru (from the US) retired. The last Japanese Yokozuna was the great Takanohana. The current crop of rikishi do not seem to be at the level of Asashoryu. The three Ozeki, or Champion rank, have been there for nearly a decade. Kaio is probably the best of the bunch. He's quite strong and has good technique but is a little inconsistent. Chiyotaikai is simply unable to beat Kaio or Asashoryu. The final Ozeki is Musoyama. His problem is that he just isn't good enough. He's got enough trouble trying to keep his Ozeki ranking.

Of the younger batch I think that Hokutoriki could have a chance. He's finally up with the big boys so we'll have to see how he does this Basho. It must be noted, though, that he beat all three Ozeki's and the Yokozuna last Basho. It looked like he fell apart on the last two days (a Basho lasts 15 days) probably from nerves and pressure. He ended the Basho in a tie with Asashoryu and lost to him in the playoff. If he can make a good showing this time I feel he has the potential. One other good, and very interesting, younger guy is Kokkai. He's the first wrestler from Georgia (the ex-USSR state, not the Peach state). He's still learning the way of Ozumo but he's doing pretty good so far and has a lot of fighting spirit. When the July tournament commences I will be rooting for Asa, Hoku and Kokkai.

I will also be playing many of the virtual Sumo games online. They are like Fantasy League Baseball or Football, but much more fun (at least for me). The ones I will be entering this coming Basho are -

o  GTB (Guess The Banzuke)*
o  RotoSumo
o  Sekitori-Oracle
o  Sekitori-Toto
o  Totoro's Hoshitori
o  CyberSumo
o  ISP (Internet Sumo Pool)
o  The Chain Gang

The one I have played the most is Totoro's Hoshitori where I have achieved the rank of Maegashira 1 (see my Sumo page for my info). It's only a shame that there aren't these kinds of games available for my other sport, Formula 1. You'd never guess that though, right?.

And speaking of F1, I'll have to give a rundown and comments on the US GP run this last Sunday. It was one wild rude, that's for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment