Signature Moves: Goeido’s Kubinage (“Neck Throw.”)

On the sumo forums and youtube videos that I frequent, Goeido doesn’t come off as one of the more popular sumotori. While, he isn’t exactly my current favorite rikishi either, I do acknowledge that he’s pretty unique for having a particular move strongly associated with him. For him, it’s the thrilling kubinage. Some sumo fans are all about the uwatenage (“overarm throw”), but to me, the kubinage is perhaps the most aesthetically beautiful throw out there. Goeido currently has 23 wins by kubinage. I’ve searched through a lot of records and besides him, the most I could find was around 5-6, and even that was pretty rare. I would venture to say (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that Goeido could very well be the best practitioner of it in sumo’s modern era.

Kubinage against Aminishiki:

The kubinage is a very risky move, and is most often used as a last-ditch effort, right as a rikishi is being driven out at the edge. It’s risky because if you don’t pull it off, you’re side or even back is now exposed to your opponent, which is the worst position a sumotori can be in.

Beautiful-looking kubinage against Kisenosato:

Part of the reason that the move is so associated with Goeido is not just because of his unusual frequency in successfully utilizing it, it’s because he’s also pulled it off during some of the indelible, dramatic moments of his career.

Here’s an example where Goeido saves his ozeki rank with it against Tochiouzan:

This incredible use of it here against Harumafuji, pretty much sealed his sole championship, as no other huge threats were ahead of him after that. Check out that prefight stare-down too!

Again, the move is already inherently dramatic-looking, and is made even more dramatic because it’s usually done as a last-ditch effort. Add onto that, Goeido’s penchant for pulling it off during some of the key moments in his career, and despite whatever shortcomings he has as an ozeki one way or another, he’s at least earned the title of sumo’s, “Kubinage King.”


Against Hakuho:

The most nonchalant kubinage ever pulled:

As Kintamayama humorously comments, Goeido does the impossible: He somehow neck throws Takarafuji… the man with no neck.

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