Legend has it that Gautam Buddha used to play kabaddi, the indigenous sport which originated in India. Now, many centuries later, a disciple of Buddha, Takamitsu Kono, is treading the same path.
Teams competing at the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup have brought people from varied professions together as players. Yet, Kono stands out. After all, there aren’t many Buddhist monks who are competing at the World Cup, being held in Gujarat.
A right corner for Japan, who have claimed seven points with the help of his tackling in two matches so far, Kono is a third-generation monk. His father is a monk and so was his grandfather.
“Whenever there’s a function, festival or a death in a family in the area that I stay in, I get invited by them to pray,” Kono told HT.
“I became a monk at the age of 20. I had to spend two months at a monastery on Mount Hieizan, which lies on the border of Kyoto Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture. My training for those two months included reading scriptures and training,” he said before adding, “We live our life by strict codes. Before coming to India for the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, I had to seek my father’s permission. In fact, I have to take permission from him before going for practice sessions of the national team also.”
So how did his tryst with kabaddi start?
Four years ago, he stumbled upon a page dedicated to kabaddi on the website of Taisho University, from where he has a degree in Buddhism. He saw the videos uploaded on the website and was hooked.
“I like the fact that the sport is all about team work. Personally, it has helped me build my personality,” said Kono, who played a season for Pro Kabaddi League outfit Dabang Delhi.
Such is his love for the sport, that thrice a week he travels from his house in Saitama to Tokyo, where 20 members of the national squad practice.
It’s the same that has also brought Kono all the way to India.