The 100 Kata Challenge by Katherine Charleston

I felt really excited when the day of the 100 Kata Challenge arrived, we’d been talking about it at the club for months. I loved the idea that there would be loads of people all over the world facing the same challenge, at exactly the same time, which the 6 of us in Edinburgh were just about to undertake

It was 9pm in Edinburgh and 6 am in Okinawa, Japan. As we were counting down the final few minutes I was imagining how dark it would be there, but only until the sun started to rise – it would be amazing to see that sight!

There was definitely slight nervousness about what we were about to do, before this evening I had only performed a form 20 times in a row so to multiply that up and do 100 San Zhans without any breaks felt like a real step up. I wondered whether my legs would still hold me up by the end, I wondered whether I would lose count (I didn’t want to let anyone else down and break their concentration)…. basically I wondered whether I could do this

We took it in turns to call out 10 San Zhans. It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite hard to focus all your attention on your form and then come out of that place for long enough to do the next count. By the first 30 I felt like I was settling in to the group rhythm. I find that when I practice forms on my own; you have your own speed, performing forms as a group and being led by Kami made me realise that there were little parts of the pattern that I still wasn’t giving enough time to – within the final part of the thrust, grip and break for example

The first 60 repetitions seemed to pass quite quickly. I felt focused and happy to be able to dedicate this time to my forms. It was highlighting parts that I felt needed more attention, and I was able to start making those corrections as we were going through. The things that I learnt about how I performed my form and what I wanted to correct were made very clear to me – this was only made possible by repeating the same actions 100 times over. It was invaluable and I’ve taken those realisations away from that evening. I am planning on practising my form 100 times again, the more times in a row the better, so that I can really see where the mistakes are hiding within my forms!

As we were heading into the final 20, there was a definite shift for me – I felt like all 6 of us were totally in the moment together, and the energy in the room we had created over those 2 hours is an amazing memory. Performing patterns as a group has a very different atmosphere than running through the same form alone – both valuable but in different ways

I remember, in previous years, feeling nervous of performing patterns as a group – it felt like everyone else went a lot faster than me, and I lost my place. It taught me that I needed to practice my forms both faster and slower than I was used to, and ultimately that I just needed to keep practising over, and over, and over, and over………