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Brian Lewin
The Hanada Dynasty – past or present?

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Tenryu our man for August.

Heya Peek

John Gunning
John attends a chanko session at Chiganoura Beya.

Photo Bonanza
For a glimpse at some of the sights you won't see on TV.    

July Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Nagoya Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his ‘gem’ of the basho.

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila takes a break and Eric Blair covers the lower divisions in his own ‘unique’ way.

Aki Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Aki Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out.

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Gyoji goings on and several things you never knew about the ones officiating.

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko walks us through his 2 chosen kimarite.

John McTague
John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo.

Boletín de Sumo en Español
Eduardo de Paz Gútiez
An article on sumo’s very first fan mag – Boletin de Sumo en Espanol

Online Gaming
Jezz Sterling
Hear from the founder of Bench Sumo of one of sumo's most popular games.

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s focus on 3 of the most interesting online sumo sites today.

Fan Debate
Henka – good, bad or ugly? See what our debaters think.

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan – the Petros Zachos story.

Ngozi on the Road
Ngozi T. Robinson
NTR visits an amasumo event in the north-east U.S. and tells us what it was like.

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke.


Fan Debate:
HENKA – Yea or Nay

Facilitated by Lon Howard

MD: To me, sumo is about a contest.  In a contest there is a winner and a loser.  As long as the winner wins by a legitimate move, it’s OK by me.  The move could not have been successfully executed without the ‘help’ of an opponent who ‘stepped in it.’  I disagree with the contention that most sumo fans dislike henka.  A well executed henka (as performed by Roho against Kokkai on Day 5 Nagoya, for example) has the fans clapping and shouting their appreciation. As for the tachiai being the start of the contest, that is true.  I don’t think it’s the essence of the contest, as important as it may be.  A well executed henka in the makuuchi division is as splendid as a well executed uwate-dashinage.  In the end it’s about winning.  Yes I know it is ‘frowned upon’ (I am always curious as to who exactly frowns upon this, and who cares..) when utilized by a yokozuna or an ozeki but if you watch old footage from yore, you can see tons of henkas done by yokozunae.  As for “the sumo fan deserves to see a contest,” I’d say one sided tsuppari fests that last as long as a henka, or bouts where everything ends in a split second without a henka, pretty much rids the fans of a ‘contest,’ no?  Kotooshu ramming into Asashoryu’s shoulder and getting KOed in 0.9 seconds flat has about as much ‘contest’ value as a well executed henka.  ALMOST as much value…

Next Home

For some fans it seems to have become a ritual with each basho.  About halfway through, some fans remark that henka is becoming rampant, or that this or that rikishi is fast becoming a henka prince, or is becoming a regular target of the maneuver.  This usually re-starts the debate again; some saying henka is bad for sumo, while others assert it’s no big deal.  In this issue, two true sumo fans of long-standing will face off in a friendly exchange of ideas on this recurring controversy, to see if there are any fresh perspectives.  Let’s meet them: 

Arguing for Henka – Nay is Iain Kang.  Iain is a native New Zealander from North Harbour, and lives now in Auckland.  A sumo fan for 20 years, he also practiced it while attending Uji High School near Kyoto.  He developed an interest in Korea while attending college in Japan and lived in Korea for more than two years, where he married a Korean lady.  He also took a liking to Ssireum, a style of Korean wrestling which he describes as having more throwing than pushing.  His all-time favorite rikishi is Chiyonofuji, and he currently has great admiration for Kasugao, whom he calls the ‘nage king.’

Carrying the banner for Henka – Yea is Moti Dichne, a native of Israel who spent much of his childhood in Tokyo.  He says he was addicted to sumo even as a small boy.  At that time he was fortunate to attend numerous basho and invented many sumo games while still very young.  He is still deeply involved in sumo gaming.  Currently he is one of the moderators on sumoforum.net and maintains his own informative sumo site at http://www.dichne.com.  He also provides an invaluable service by translating sumo articles from the on-line Japanese press for the Sumo Forum and the Sumo Mailing List.

LH: Iain, we of course know that you and many other fans are very troubled by the use of henka by some rikishi.  Can you tell us why?

IK: My problem with henka?  Well, to me sumo is about a contest.  The tachiai is the start of the contest.  By avoiding a

tachiai the sumotori involved is saying that he refuses to engage in the contest.  Sumo relies on its fans.  It is easy to see what the reaction of a majority of fans is when a henka takes place.  I have heard insults thrown at the wrestler, seen things thrown and so on.  The sumo fan deserves to see a contest.

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