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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shaven Kenki Sato heads Japanese challenge in Eventing

In India, Cricket is Religion to many – Religion has otherwise nothing to do with Cricket – in fact Religion offers enlightenment of the soul and peace to inner mind and would advocate one to keep away from material pleasures and entertainments.  Heard of ‘Horse Ballet’ ?

At Olympics on view among the many other interesting events is Eventing.  Equesterian is the sport of horse riding where skills of riding, driving, steeplechasing or vaulting with horses will be at display. Eventing (also known as horse trials) is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Eventing was previously known as Combined Training, and the name persists in many smaller organizations. Dressage a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training" is a competitive equestrian sport, considered by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training" and where "horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements”.  Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet".

Out there is a cult ‘Nichiren Shu’ who spread the Dharma through the teachings of the Buddha,  whose teaching are recited in a traditional manner using Shindoku, which is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters the sutra was originally written in when it first came to Japan.   Japan is different in many ways and one another is the saintly desire to win medals.  Yes a Priest participating as a sportsperson.  Nagano is  the capital city of Nagano Prefecture,  located in the northern part of the prefecture near the confluence of the Chikuma and the Sai rivers, on the main Japanese island of Honshū – closer here in the Myoshoji temple in mountains comes the horse-riding Buddhist monk Kenki Sato.  

He is not alone as he represents a sporting family at that.  Shaven-headed Sato, who starts each day with a morning prayer, is following his younger brother Eiken, who also trained as a priest and rode at the Beijing Games. His sister, Tae, 24, is a five-time national showjumping champion.  And his father, Shodo, who heads a 460-year-old temple and adjacent horse-riding club, was a member of Japan's equestrian team before the 1980 Games in Moscow -- only to have his Olympic dream dashed when Japan boycotted.

Daily Mail reports that Kenki Sato is on extended leave from the Myoshoji temple in mountains near Nagano, where his father is the 25th master, to train for London where he will compete in eventing, which combines dressage, cross-country and showjumping. Among his team-mates is Hiroshi Hoketsu, 71, the oldest competitor in any sport at Beijing 2008, who is entered in the separate dressage category.

They are not strongly tipped to end Japan's 80-year wait for a second equestrian medal, following Baron Takeichi Nishi's showjumping gold of 1932. But Sato said the experience would have spiritual value.  "I may learn something as a human being when I encounter various people with different religions and languages abroad," says the diminutive Sato, who turns 28 on Wednesday. "I want to feed it back into my path to Buddhist enlightenment."  Four years ago, while his brother competed at the last Olympics, Sato was serving a year's apprenticeship for the priesthood, secluded in a prestigious Zen temple.

In 2010, Sato claimed team and individual eventing Golds at the Asian Games and finished 35th at the world championships.  His journey to London began at the age of seven, when he started training for competition under his father. "I think it was largely because my father could not become an Olympian," he admits. Sato senior, 61, paired the disparate worlds of Buddhism and equestrianism after growing up around horses in the mountains of Nagano, where they were still the main mode of transport when he was a child.

He practised horsemanship while attending a Buddhist university in Tokyo and opened an equestrian park next to the temple in 1979. The facility's clubhouse overlooks the riding ground from a hillside dotted with tombstones.  When his children were young, he would carry them around on horseback. Asked about his disappointment of 1980, when Japan joined a boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the elder Sato is philosophical.  One vital part of Sato’s preparation is meditation, especially at home before competition; however, Sato does not rely on the power of prayer alone.

So will it be the ‘Monk’s day Out at London’ – better watch out

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th July 2012.
Source of info : is hereby acknowledged.


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