When most people imagine a trip to New Orleans they think of Bourbon Street, Mardi-Gras, non-stop fun and incredible food. For martial artists, however, the thought of New Orleans brings up both memories and plans of World Class Karate Championships; titles to be earned or defended and the thought of hopefully finishing up competing with enough time to actually go enjoy the French Quarter.
During four days of almost non-stop competition, July 30 – August 2, the United States Karate Alliance held its annual World Karate Championships in New Orleans, LA where Pretty Tough martial artist, Karra Colgan (28) made an impressive showing by retaining her previous year’s titles and by gaining a new one. Mrs. Colgan was joined by her husband and instructor, Mark Colgan, who opted not to compete this year in order to focus primarily on his wife’s competition.
Friday kicked off one of the main attractions of the tournament with the weapons divisions, where Karra took 1st in Brown Belt Women’s Weapons, using her Bladed Japanese War Fans. Saturday hosted Forms where she took 1st in Brown Belt Women’s Kata (even though an error in bracketing forced her to run her kata twice). Saturday night also hosted the National Award Ceremony during which she was honored with three first -place National Points Awards for the 2008-2009 season as well as a USKA Junior All American Award for those division victories (a prestigious award only given to those competitors who win at least two out of three divisions in the USKA National Point Standings).
Though she has had only four years of training, Karra Colgan is no stranger to competition and has built quite an impressive championship resume. In that relatively short time she has earned 10 National titles and 12 World titles as well as dozens of other State, Regional and Local Tournament titles at over 60 tournaments nationwide. She has also led the USKA National Point Standings for the past three years with a Triple-Triple Crown in all three divisions: Kata, Sparring and Weapons.
Mark Colgan, 50, is the Head Instructor of the families’ dojo, Shozen Martial Arts USA, located in East Highland. He is quite experienced in the world of Karate Tournaments as he has also had several National and World titles in his 35 years of martial arts training. He was also a member of the U.S. Karate team that competed in Japan in 1999 where he placed 3rd in Black Belt Men’s Kata, far surpassing the competition of over 2000 other Black Belt Competitors. Though an injury forced him to compete in a minimum of tournaments this year, Mr. Colgan still attained 8th place in the National Point Standings in the Black Belt Men’s Kata Division and 9th place in the Black Belt Men’s Weapons Division.
A summer vacation with Grandpa kept Karra’s children, Christopher Redlich (10) and Connor Redlich (6) from attending the World Championships this year; however they both were also awarded USKA National Point Standing Awards on Saturday night. Christopher achieved 7th place in the 8-9 year old Kata division. Connor achieved 3rd in both Kata and Sparring in the 5 year old divisions. Both boys began their Martial Arts Training at the age of 3.5 and since have also achieved many National, World, State, Regional and local tournament titles during nationwide competitions. These are quite remarkable achievements for any competitor, whatever their age.
As the competition came to a close the family of four had 10 world-class trophies to remember the event by (and to try to bring home on an airplane). In April 2010 they will, once again, be heading to Albuquerque, NM for the U.S.K.A. National Championships; with the intention of defending their past titles and hopefully earning some more.