KIMARITE FOCUS #3
Sotogake, Uchigake & Watashikomi
wins with sotogake. An interesting detail is that Asashoryu has beaten Wakanosato three times with sotogake and twice with a sotogake-attempt, that was the crucial set up move for the ultimate win with a more common technique. Wakanosato is evidently vulnerable to Asashoryu’s sotogake but even more so is Jumonji against Aminishiki of whose 10 sotogake, five have come against Jumonji.
Since Hatsu basho 1990, sotogake has been the winning technique in makuuchi 105 times. That is less than once in every 250 bouts. Statistically speaking, one can expect to see one or two sotogake in makuuchi per tournament Also, the ratio is not significantly different when counting in the lower divisions.
The second most common tripping technique, uchigake, is seen much less than sotogake in makuuchi, but the emergence of Mongolian leg-technique wizard Tokitenku has increased the frequency a lot. In the first half of the 1990’s, Mainoumi was the main uchigake technician and almost single-handedly kept uchigake alive in makuuchi with some help from another rikishi known for his vast technical
|In sumo, tripping techniques are the decisive techniques only in a small fraction of bouts. A large majority of rikishi very rarely, if ever, use them. On the other hand, some technical rikishi try leg trips at reasonably steady intervals. Depending on whether kirikaeshi is counted as a “trip”, sotogake is either the most or second most common tripping technique in sumo. Certainly, it is the most common technique with the suffix “gake” attached to its name. Sotogake is an outside leg trip where the attacker hooks his leg around the opponent’s leg on the same side (usually, the attacker hooks his right leg around his opponent’s left leg) and exerts pressure enough to cause a loss of balance to the opponent. Some sotogake take time and the movement is indeed more like hooking one’s leg around opponent’s leg and then proceeding with continuous pressure on that side, trying to fell the opponent using a grip on the belt as leverage (Takanonami used to do this often from kime-arm clamp too). Some sotogake do have a more||
smooth sweeping motion which disrupts the opponent’s balance almost immediately. This type of sotogake is mostly seen in a mobile situation. Sotogake can be used effectively as a counter move to an opponent’s attempt as was well witnessed in the recent Aki basho, where Aminishiki reacted to Asashoryu’s movements by deploying a perfectly-timed sotogake which caused a complete loss of balance to the circling yokozuna. Also, when Takanonami was still active, he often went for kimedashi carry-outs, at which some rikishi started to react by trying a fast sotogake, occasionally succeeding in blocking the usually irresistible pivot/carry out combination.
Sotogake is a move almost exclusively done by rikishi who are skillful at belt sumo. Takanonami was the master of it, winning 17 times in makuuchi division with sotogake. Of current rikishi, Yokozuna Asashoryu and Aminishiki are the most active sotogake users; both having 10