Last weekend (April 17 & 18) the United States Karate Alliance held it’s annual National Karate Championships in Albuquerque, NM where martial artists Mark Colgan, Karra Colgan, Christopher Redlich and Connor Redlich made an impressive showing.
The family team of four made the 11-hour, 750-mile drive from their home in Running Springs, Calif. to New Mexico on Thursday, only to get up early on Friday and Saturday and spend the entirety of both days competing.
Friday kicked off the tournament with the weapons divisions and Saturday was Forms and Fighting as well as the finals on Saturday evening.
Connor Redlich, 5, is only a beginning rank of orange belt, but did exceptionally well for having never been to a major tournament. He placed 1st in the 5 and under Kata (forms) division, 2nd in the 7 and under weapons division and 3rd place in the 7 and under Chanbara (foam sword fighting) division. He won two fights on Saturday afternoon which led him to the finals on Saturday night where he, once again, won his match to be named 2009 National champion in sparring. That evening he also competed in the Grand Champion run-off for 12 and under Kata. He was the youngest and smallest of 12 competitors but narrowly missed the win by .02 of a point.
Christopher Redlich, 9, is an intermediate rank of purple belt. At his young age, he is already a veteran of 6 years in karate competition. He took 4th place in the 9 and under weapons division which had over 20 competitors; he used his bladed war fans which were quite impressive. On Monday April 20, he was promoted to Brown Belt not only for his martial arts skill and knowledge but also for his exceptional show of fighting spirit at the National competition.
Mark Colgan, 50, is a 4th degree Black Belt and is the head instructor of the families’ Dojo, Shozen Martial Arts USA in Highland. He is no stranger to competition as he has had several National and World titles in his 35 years of martial arts training and was also a member of the U.S. Karate team that competed in Japan in 1999. He took 2nd place in Black Belt Men’s Kata.
Pretty Tough team member Karra Colgan, 28, is also no stranger to competition. In her four years of training she has now had 10 National titles and 8 World titles as well as dozens of other State, Regional and Local Tournament titles. She has led the point standings with a Triple Crown in all three divisions: Kata, sparring and weapons for the past three years. This weekend she took 1st in Brown Belt Women’s kata, 1st in Adult Kyu Women’s weapons and 2nd in Brown Belt Women’s sparring.
Her first place finishes put her in the run-off for both Kata and Weapons grand champion on Saturday night. There she surpassed the competition and was able to win both titles: 2009 National Grand Champion in Adult Forms and Adult Weapons.
As the competition came to a close, the family of four had 11 world-class trophies to remember the event by. In July they will be heading to New Orleans for the U.S.K.A. World Championships with the intention of defending their titles from last year and hopefully earning some more.
Karra is truly a pretty tough athlete who knows how to bring out the girlie side of her karate persona – in fact, she wears hot pink sparring gear.