The first I heard of the 100 Kata Challenge was the end of last year 2015 it was part of a celebration of Okinawa Martial Arts on October 25, known as Karate Day in Okinawa. It was inspired by the classic karate phrase, “Train hard 100 times”.
I thought it would be fun to try doing 100 kata. The more I thought about the challenge the more questions I started to have, “How do I keep count of the kata ?” “Where will I do 100 kata that I won’t be distracted ?” How long does it take to do 100 kata ?
Performing the kata was not the hardest part of this event, it was how to keep count of the kata. I didn’t want to cheat or get into the challenge and lose count get frustrated and give up. I wasn’t even sure how long 100 katas would take to complete.
How to keep track of counting the kata finally came to me, first I thought of poker chips but I didn’t have 100 poker chips, so my alternative “PENNIES !” Who doesn’t have a jar full of pennies sitting around the house ? I figured a bag of 100 pennies, do one kata take out a penny, repeat 99 times.
The biggest stumbling point resolved, now I had to figure out a location and a time. So I approached my son, Cole, he always has good ideas. So I asked where could do 100 katas and not be bothered ? He immediately came up with the best location, the “BEACH !” We did a karate workout at the beach last June and had a great time ! What I wasn’t expecting is he was interested in trying the Challenge with me. Talk about angels singing; I was excited my boy was going to share in this adventure ! Cole is turning into quite the Karate Nerd, like his dad.
Since I was feeling good, I said, “Want to do this at sunrise ?” Cole responded with his typical enthusiasm,”Ya, sure, that’s fine.” A great time to be on the beach here in South Florida. This is all coming together ! So we set a date Sunday, February 21, 2016.
Our favorite beach, Delray Beach, on the East coast of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean a great place to watch the sunrise as the waves break on the shore; surprising not many people get up to see a sunrise. The beach the sand is soft and sucks your feet in on every step it provides a good leg workout and challenges your balance on every step. We choose a kata that included kicks because I wanted to make sure we worked on our balance and legs on this constantly changing surface. Of course, kicking while in the sand does come with a hazards all of its own; sand between your toes gets tossed in to the air and may be blown back in your: face, mouth, eyes or in this case, the guy doing katas next to you: face, mouth or eyes. To avoid excess sand in those body locations we exercised control to keep the sand being kicked on to each other, as much as possible.
The good part about the sand, we were able to track of our steps easily. What we discovered, we were stepping in the same spots over and over again, and we were consistent. Every 10 katas we had to stop and cover our tracks because we were digging holes in the spots where we pivoted. Even after covering our tracks we found ourselves stepping in the same areas again. My point here is our steps and stances were consistence for many of our kata, which is a very important part of Okinawa kata.
What did we get out of this challenge ?
I had no idea what we would get out of this other than a work out. Matter of fact it wasn’t until about hour into the challenge that it hit me, what I was teaching my son.
This was a good way to teach goal setting and persistence. We set our goal at 100 kata, the same kata performed 100 times in a row. It’s like any marathon activity you do, you don’t realize what is in store until you begin. Reaching the goal you have established is the only way to feel a sense of achievement. The persistence comes in the middle when you feel you are not making any head way in reaching the goal.
Defined as a continuance course of action in spite of difficulty.
What is so difficult about performing 100 kata ? Well, just that, performing 100 kata. A kata is a set of fighting techniques performed in a sequence much like a dance. This kata, Pinan Yondan, contains 37 fighting techniques. Performing 100 katas meant we did 3700 fighting techniques. Each kata takes about 30 seconds to complete. It took us 90 minutes to complete 100 kata.
We set up our bag of pennies to track our progress and beside that we placed a small bowl; complete one kata transfer one penny from the bag to the bowl. After 10 kata you start thinking about what you have left, 90 more ! As we did the kata the number of pennies in the bag did not seem to decrease and the number of pennies in the bowl did not seem to increase. Now you start thinking about what you started and what the goal is and you become discouraged. “Maybe this was stupid !” “The pennies seem the same no matter how many kata I do.” I’m not making progress !”
This is where as a father I have to be a good role model and keep going and push to the end, “Achieve the Goal !” Cole was good, he kept focus and didn’t complain about this dilemma either. Not until we were done and we talked about our experience. I brought up the point afterward how difficult it was to continue even though we felt like we were not making progress. We all know in life there will be times when we will experience that, you feel, you are not getting anywhere but progress takes time.
It took us 90 minutes to complete this challenge.
“Next time ?!”, believe it or not we are considering a next time ! We liked the beach atmosphere but not the sand, we are hoping to do it next time on a level surface. Okinawa Karate Day is in October so our tentative plan is to the join our martial arts brothers in spirit and take the 100 Kata Challenge again !