Birmingham is home to a number of respected martial arts experts, but few are as decorated or proficient as Grand Master Paul Calligan, of the Forestdale area. He holds a 10th-degree black belt in the Daikidokwando style of karate and has trained countless masters.
His Ensley-based Calligan’s Karate System is a compilation of the martial arts styles he has mastered over the past six decades, such as Taekwondo, Shokotan, Yoshukai, Shinjimasu (Goju) Daikidokwando, and Aikido. Karate classes blend breathing and meditation techniques that promote energy balance in the body, along with instructions in herbal use. His motto: “Energy flows where attention goes.”
“We teach a little meditation as we go,” said Calligan. “Our younger students do better in school with their grades and are able to improve their concentration and memory.”
Calligan, a native of Opelousas, La., launched his first karate club at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa in 1964. He was the first person to open a karate school in Birmingham more than 30 years ago. And he has taught at Birmingham high schools, including George Washington Carver and P.D. Jackson-Olin. His son Phillip also teaches karate in the U.S. Marine Corps in Virginia.
A retiree from the Harbison-Walker Refractory in Hueytown, where he worked for nearly 40 years, Calligan not only teaches at Calligan’s Karate System in Ensley, but also classes as well on Wednesdays at the Branch Heights Community Center in Eutaw.
You can contact Grand Master Calligan at 205-798-1726.
Here are some other top instructors in the Birmingham metro area:
Name: Wilson Wren
Rank: Seventh-degree black belt
School: Calligan’s Karate System
Address: 1816 Avenue E Ensley, Birmingham, AL 35218
Contact Info: 205-541-1865
Type of Martial Arts: Japanese style; Taekwondo; Goju-Ryu; Shotokan; Aikido (“We’ve studied different martial arts, including Isshin-Ryu. We don’t stay with just a certain style.”)
Been in Martial Arts Since: 1968; received his first black belt in the 1980s (“I can’t move as fast as I used to. It’s good for the body, and it’s good to know you can defend yourself.”)
Favorite Quote: “If martial arts was easy, everybody would be a grand master.”
Advice: “You don’t become a bully because you’ve been studying martial arts. If we find out that a student is in there to try to be a bully, we put them out of class. We’re not teaching for you to hurt someone. The only way you use it is for self-defense.”