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SUMO ABC No. 86 / Aminishiki’s brilliant tokkuri-nage technique befuddles even judges

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Aminishiki, left, throws Kotoyuki using the tokkuri-nage technique on Sept. 16 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

By Shuji Miki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterTokkuri — the flasks used to pour sake — are characterized by a narrow, curved upper portion that can be said to resemble a human neck. “Tokkuri-nage” is a sumo technique in which a rikishi holds an opponent’s neck or head with both hands and wrenches him downward in either direction.

The move is one of sumo’s 81 kimarite winning techniques, having been added to the list at the 2001 New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

On the eighth day of the autumn tournament on Sept. 16, No. 1 juryo Aminishiki used this technique to defeat No. 16 maegashira Kotoyuki in a makuuchi division match. It was the first time a wrestler has used a tokkuri-nage in a makuuchi bout since the move was named as a kimarite technique. Aminishiki was in the second-tier juryo division but was inserted into a top-division match to fill a vacancy.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    A tokkuri sake flask

His victory with this rare move precipitated a monoii, or objection to a decision.

Chief Judge Fujishima (former ozeki Musoyama) later announced to the audience: “The decision was contested because there was an objection claiming that Aminishiki pulled Kotoyuki’s topknot. However, after deliberations, it has been determined that he did not pull the topknot. As a result, the ruling stands and Aminishiki is awarded the victory.”

His technique was so brilliant that it likely caught some judges off guard and caused them to initially conclude that he pulled his opponent’s topknot, a violation that results in an automatic loss.

Aminishiki, who is known as a versatile wrestler, confessed jokingly: “I only pinned down [Kotoyuki’s] head by chance. Tokkuri are for drinking sake, not for throwing. My mother would yell at me if I threw a tokkuri.”

Aminishiki ended up with a losing record at the autumn tournament. He will turn 40 in October, but his moves on the dohyo are still fresh, and his passion does not show any signs of waning. The veteran’s days of hard work will continue as he aims to return to the makuuchi division to show his techniques throughout the 15 days at the top level.

— Miki is a sumo expert.

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