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Japan brings zen touch to Asian Games kabaddi

November 24, 2010

Japan lost to kabaddi powerhouse Pakistan on Tuesday 40-24 in round two play, but is still hoping to reach the podium and win the country’s first-ever medal in the sport. —AFP/File Photo
Japan lost to kabaddi powerhouse Pakistan on Tuesday 40-24 in round two play, but is still hoping to reach the podium and win the country’s first-ever medal in the sport. —AFP/File Photo
GUANGZHOU: Off court they are calm and meditative but once in front of crowds chanting ‘kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi’, they only want to win. Three of the 14 members of Japan’s kabaddi team at the Asian Games are reportedly monks, while five others have graduated from a Zen Buddhist institute.

“Training in kabaddi makes our bodies stronger and healthier, while Buddhism meets our spiritual needs,” the Beijing Daily quoted Japan’s team leader Kokei Ito as saying.

“There is no conflict between sports and faith.”

Born in 1978, Ito has been training in kabaddi since he was 18, following in the footsteps of his elder brother who participated in the sport at the Beijing Asian Games and is currently an official with Japan’s delegation.

Japan lost to kabaddi powerhouse Pakistan on Tuesday 40-24 in round two play, but is still hoping to reach the podium and win the country’s first-ever medal in the sport.

Kabaddi involves teams of men joining hands, holding their breath and raiding opponents.