Why do 100 Kata?

It’s a fair question. And there are lots of answers. Let me share a few thoughts with you.645Z6512cropweb

What does it prove? Well it proves you can do 100 kata repetitions. Simply put. It proves to YOU that you can do that. You prove to yourself that you have the mental and physical discipline to be able to do that. Its not an easy thing, even for seasoned athletes. I know a lot of martial artists and I can honestly say that I have never heard any of them say they do 100 kata as part of their normal training routine. Its a CHALLENGE. One that you can undertake in the company of your dojo brothers and sisters, or by yourself, and come through the other side victorious! One that you are unlikely to ever forget.

It will be a special experience. Like climbing a mountain, it will be a journey. As you progress through 10, 20,30,40 repetitions and onwards you will have an opportunity to think on a lot of things. Initially you will probably be thinking about the kata itself. Making sure you get the moves right, keeping in time with those around you, making good kiai. You might also be thinking about the surface you are moving on – the dojo floor, the grass between your toes, the sand on the beach – thinking about how that feels. Making sure not to slip or trip as you move. After that, maybe around 10-20 repetitions in, you might be thinking how hot and thirsty you are feeling – can’t we stop for a water break, Sensei?!

But then at some point, maybe after 40-50 repetitions, you may stopping worrying about being seen to be correct, about the annoying details around you, about the weary messages from your body, and you may just start to find yourself in a space where the movements are flowing without too much thought, where the body has accepted the sequence and the rhythm and the mind relaxes. This is the state of Mushin, “no mind” – you are in the moment, free of encumbrance, like moving Zen. It may all be worth it just for those moments alone. Much has been written down through the centuries on ‘mushin’. Its one of those concepts that many desire but few experience easily. If you chase it, you rarely find it. But working through 100 repetitions of kata, pushing the mind and body, may present a chance. I wish you good fortune.

But let’s also remember that kata also have their own meaning and history. Whichever kata you choose to perform 100 times, you are performing a sequence of moves that were put together with a very specific use and intention in mind. The intention of saving someone’s life. Kata are the expression of the science of self defense and self preservation. They also the expression of the ‘personal art’ of the author of the kata. Through the kata you may catch a glimpse of what their martial arts training was to them. Kata are distinctive – they all came from someone’s life experience, a compressed, choreography of their favourite moves, the ones they really thought worth preserving and teaching. They are like history capsules, passed down from one generation to the next, because the contents have value. So when you do your chosen kata, again and again, think on how what you do that day echoes the long history that stretches all the way back to the founder.

Looking forward to seeing there on October 25th for the 100 Kata Challenge,




James Pankiewicz is the founder of Challenge Okinawa and The DOJO Bar in Okinawa where he lives. Having been training in various styles of karate and other fighting arts for over 20 years he currently trains in Shorinryu karate, okinawan kobudo and other okinawan styles.

13 Replies to “Why do 100 Kata?”

  1. Mike Turbitt

    I took part in my first 100 challenge last night, what a fascinating experience. Starting off the first 10 kata, feeling strong and confident, then realising it took to long to do, I had to speed up! After 20 my body starts to resist my efforts and I’m still to slow. By 30 I’m getting into a rhythm, 40 and 50 go by I’m half way, but still tight on time. Time for a quick water break, a few minutes wasted, but I need them. Back on it 60 comes up easily 70 and I’m back in the flow, sacrificing some intencity for speed, but I’m no longer thinking of the next move, by body is on auto pilot, move after move kata after kata flies by, Oh at 85 time is good, but 100 still seems a life time away, can I get there? Of course just push and push on again, 90 up I’m near the end, a fresh surge of energy, my kata is getting better, the focus and Kime is emerging, 98, 99 now for the best kata of the night, 100. Achievement, belonging, satisfaction, exhaustion, elation, I’ve been training for over 35 years and this is a new experience. I’ve joined a very small number of crazy people in white pyjamas to complete the 100 Kata challenge. The best feeling, self respect.

  2. Kari Erickson

    Thank you so much for creating this event! I’ve always told our students that I prepared for my black belt in 1983 by doing 100 kata 3-4 times a week for about 3 or 4 months prior to testing. They could never imagine doing this until we did it last October for the first time and the spirit it raises in our dojo is amazing!

    Thank you again & Hyaku Ren Go!!!

  3. Pingback: 1st Malaysian 100 Kata For Karate Day Challenge – DOJO:SEIKEN

  4. Ron

    I just heard of this recently, and my dojo will be taking part in the challenge this year. I’ve decided to do Kanku-Dai, as this is one kata I hate the most. but as the lyrics to my favorite 1980s cartoon show goes: ‘No guts, no glory.’ Looking forward to it.


    Firstly myself(SHAMSHEERALI ) and our BUDO team from UAE – SHARJAH wanted to be a part of 2017 challenge . All the best in advance , we would like to appreciate the team of Challenge okinawa Arigatoo

  6. Edwin Parrilla

    This is my third consecutive year doing this event with my students and it’s a great challenge.

  7. michael walsh

    Perhaps the focus of the challenge could be less on the performer and more on a worthy coomon goal. Sensei Shoshin Nagamine wrote a beautiful essay on world peace. In these difficult times if we karate practitioners focus on peace during our 100 kata challenge we may create positive energy.

    • Manager Manager

      I think that is a very worthy goal Michael. I hope that if Nagamine sensei were still alive he would approve and encourage the karateka around the world who come together to join the 100 Kata event to strive to be better brothers and sisters to each other regardless of borders and differences. I hope we all experience the spirit of ‘ichariba chodei’ – ‘once we meet, we are family’ that is a deep part of Okinawan culture.


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