The Tiger Claw Elite Championships began in 2006. It started as a cooperative effort between Tiger Claw and Disney that featured Chinese, Korean and Japanese martial arts. For three consecutive years, the Tiger Claw Elite Championships nested qualifiers within an assortment of tournaments across the country, beginning with a season opener at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, early in the year. Throughout summer, it crossed America through a dozen different tournaments. Qualifiers earned the right to compete in the finals held near the end of the year at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida.
After those three years, Tiger Claw and Disney parted ways. However, that final Disney Tiger Claw Elite Championships became something completely different. In 2008, a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan China just a few weeks prior to the tournament, which was staging the Championships in the San Francisco Bay Area – at the Santa Clara Convention Center, a little more than ten miles from the Tiger Claw and Kung Fu Tai Chi Headquarters. Due to the massive Chinese martial arts community in this region, along with the influence of Kung Fu Tai Chi, this tournament had the largest Chinese-style attendance of all the competitions that hosted Tiger Claw Elite Championships qualifiers. The martial arts community rallied, and the obligatory Masters’ Demo was transformed into an enormous fundraiser titled Martial Arts Benefit for Quake Victims. The fundraiser generated over $73,000, all of which was donated towards the construction of a new school in Sichuan to replace the one destroyed by the quake.
In 2009, the Tiger Claw Elite Championship officially went on hiatus. Nevertheless, the momentum generated from the success of Martial Arts Benefit for Quake Victims had the Bay Area Chinese martial arts community clamoring for more. And so the Tiger Claw Elite KungFuMagazine.com Championships were born. The Championship became a stand-alone event, in cooperation with the Bay Area Sport Karate Association, which held a simultaneous and separate Karate competition. It also moved to San Jose McEnery Convention Center’s South Hall, a colossal 80,000 square-foot permanent canopy, where it has been held for the last decade.
Auspiciously, the second year of the Tiger Claw Elite Championship fell on the company’s mascot: Two-thousand-ten was the Year of the Tiger. In honor of this, Tiger Claw’s charitable branch, the Tiger Claw Foundation, launched the WildAid Tiger Claw Championship, a special showcase championship. WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade within our lifetimes. All proceeds from this division are donated to WildAid’s efforts. This was the only crossover event where Chinese martial artists could compete against Karate competitors, and in the initial years some bold Karatekas entered; but it’s hard to beat Modern Wushu when it comes to forms competition. See page 20 for this year’s WildAid Tiger Claw Champions. The Tiger Claw Elite KungFuMagazine.com Championship holds different Showcase Championships every year, but the WildAid Tiger Claw Championship has become a mainstay.
In 2012, Tiger Claw Elite KungFuMagazine.com Championship celebrated the 20th anniversary of Kung Fu Tai Chi with KUNG FU TAI CHI 20 YEARS. Adding to the festivities, a Cover Master demonstration and banquet was held within the Convention Center. San Jose declared it KUNG FU TAI CHI DAY, which began as a free street fair in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, a charming greenway park in the heart of downtown San Jose and a short walk from the Convention Center. The fair was held on Sunday following the tournament and offered free demonstrations of local schools and masters, along with free workshops, vendor booths and gourmet food trucks.
The Tiger Claw Elite Championships banner was officially unfurled again in 2013. Replacing the Karate tournament was the Tiger Claw Elite Taekwondo Championship, which has continued to this day (see page 16). This change made the Tiger Claw Elite Championships independent of any other association or circuit. The Tiger Claw Elite Championships also hosted a Traditional Karate Championship and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship because Tiger Claw serves all styles of martial arts. The Tiger Claw Elite Championships is another way for Tiger Claw to support the local community and keep in touch with its clientele.