Resurrected Pittsburgh Karate Championships begin Saturday

After nearly a decade, the Pittsburgh Karate Championships return to the Pittsburgh area.

The event, which ran for nearly four decades prior to its hiatus, will kick off Saturday morning at the Quality Inn in New Kensington and will feature more than 300 competitors of all ages, from those who have pre-registered to others who will sign up at the door.

“This is very exciting, under the wing of my parents, to be able to bring this back to life,” said championships organizer Kelli Caliguri from Caliguri’s Academy of Martial Arts in Lower Burrell.

“I’ve been working and competing at tournaments since I was 9 or 10 years old. This tournament will be packed with quality competitors, and we can’t wait to see them match up.”

Eighteen students from Caliguri’s along with many others from around the Pittsburgh region and throughout the country will test their mettle in the open tournament featuring karate, kung fu, taekwondo and others.

Contestants from the youngest of ages (5 and under) to seniors divisions (50 years and older) will be represented.

“We get people from all over — from Indiana, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, all over,” Caliguri said. “To have the support from everyone, locally, throughout Pittsburgh and all the way across the country is very humbling. We appreciate it all so much.

“We welcome all martial arts styles, and we want it to become just a fun day for everyone, especially the younger ones who often watch the masters and black belts compete. It gives them something to look up to and aspire to become. A lot of the older competitors who have accomplished so much started when they were 4 or 5 themselves, and they were inspired by who they saw. Now, they understand what they mean to the young competitors. That’s exactly what we like to see.”

Caliguri said she is looking forward to seeing those martial artists who recently competed at the state tournament at Valley High School in November and a dedicated bunch who have attended both the Pittsburgh and state tournaments stretching back to the early 1970s.

“It is great to know that they want to come back and compete and test themselves,” she said.

Masters and Grandmasters kata and weapons kick everything off at 10 am followed by eliminations in self-defense and weapons kata divisions.

The tournament will continue with empty-hand forms and all under-belt forms and progress into the afternoon with sparring for under-belt and black belt divisions.

There will be seven Grand Champion trophies awarded: adult black belt (men and women), junior black belt (boys and girls), adult kyu (men and women), 13-17 advanced, 13-17 novice, 12 and under advanced and 12 and under novice.

All Grand Champions will be based on total points from kata, weapons, self-defense and sparring.

The Pittsburgh Karate Championships is a key point-earning event that will go to determining the Pennsylvania Karate Ratings Association state champions.

The state champion awards and honors will be presented at the PA Karate Championships on Nov. 12.

“Points earned here is a big boost to someone’s state ranking,” Master Frank Caliguri said. “We’re looking forward to celebrating the spirit of competition.”

Spectators for Saturday’s championships will be able to purchase tickets at the door.

For more information on the Pittsburgh Karate Championships, email or visit

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 724-226-4665, or via Twitter ,

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