My Time in Okinawa: The 100 Kata Challenge
I had been in Okinawa for 7 months since March, and throughout that time I had experienced big winds, heavy downpours and blistering hot humid days. However, on the 24th October, the temperature had cooled to a mild 26 degrees and the humidity had peacefully rescinded to the low 60s, the conditions couldn’t have been better for the 100 Kata event organised by James Pankiewicz of Challenge Okinawa.
This event is in its fourth year and each time the location has been different. It is part of the celebrations for Karate Day (October 25th) that has been set up by James and held across the globe now boasting to be in over 250 Dojos and 45 countries.
So, what is there to do? Well, quite simply, attempt to complete 100 Kata. How you do so is entirely up to you. You can go solo, or join a group; complete 1 Kata 100 times, or perhaps do 100 different Kata (If you can recall so many). You could even learn a new Kata or go over an old favourite.
This year the event was held on the grass overlooking the Karate Kaikan ceremonial Dojo, dressed in red wood and tile against the bright blue sky atop of a hill in Tomigusuku – where you get a tremendous view over Naha city.
Chris Wilson (Travel 67) was on hand amongst others to take photographs and perhaps to make sure we remained honest with our efforts. If you couldn’t complete 100 Kata, that was ok to; doing your best is the main achievement - a sense of failure shouldn’t be a part of your karate practice anyway.
So, after I had finished teaching three classes of English at my part-time job, I took the monorail, walked the 20 minutes home, ate some fruit, got my Gi on and dashed out the door 5 minutes before it was scheduled to begin at 4pm.
After a quick group photo of everyone looking clean and pristine we all split off into our groups and individual spaces.
I chose to go solo for my 100 Kata, but was never truly alone as everyone was close by to inspire and give encouragement.
For my solo attempt I chose to really mix it up; I set out to do 49 Bassai Dai from Shorin Ryu, followed by 1 Naihanchi Shodan. Then I carried out 49 Empi followed by 1 Tekki Shodan from my Shotokan background. I wanted to take part by honouring the two styles that were currently part of my practice.
What a great feeling it was finishing the 100th Kata after a total of two and a quarter hour – although not as much a sense of relief as some of the regular classes I’ve been in attendance of.
Another great sensation was how I began to develop my Kata, changing the timing, feeling the movements differently, adding a bit of individuality and personality to my kata, and at times meditating through it.
I must admit though I lost count several times, so I simply started from the lowest number I could remember, which means I may have over shot my 100, but that makes it more fun, right??
I'm looking forward to next year’s attempt already!!!