Karate is Karate – and the training must always be complete: kata, kihon, kumite, self-defense, philosophy.Luca Valdesi
Following the likes of Dario Marchini, Luca Valdesi is an icon of Italian Karate. Considered one of the greatest kata competitors, he ranks alongside Tsuguo Sakumoto and Michael Milon as the most successful competitors at the World Championships. He is the winner of multiple individual and team kata titles.
Luca Valdesi was born in Palermo, Italy on 18 June 1976. His father and uncle were both Karate practitioners.
Valdesi began learning Karate from his father Andrea in 1982. His father encouraged him to train with different Karate instructors. He had the opportunity to train with Shotokan instructors like Hirokazu Kanazawa, Hiroshi Shirai, and Takeshi Naito.
It was around 1990 that Valdesi started competing. By 1995 he joined the Fiamme Gialle (the Financial Police) Karate Team. The team was coached by Claudio Culasso.
In 1995 Valdesi competed in the Italian Karate Championships as a member of the Fiamme Gialle Karate Team. He won gold in the Men’s Individual Kata event. He was selected to represent Italian National Team in the Team Kata event. He was coached by Pierluigi Aschieri.
In 1996 Valdesi represented Italy for his first World Karate Championships, at the 13th World Championships held in Sun City, South Africa. In the Team Kata event, he and his Italian teammates won bronze. Two years later at the 14th World Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he and his teammates did better by winning silver in the Team Kata event.
By 2000 Valdesi had started representing Italy in the Men’s Individual Kata event. At the 35th European Karate Championships held in Istanbul, Turkey, he won gold in the Men’s Individual Kata That year he also won a bronze medal at the 15th World Karate Championships held in Munich, Germany. The event was won by Michael Milon, with Ryoki Abe in second place.4
2001 was a big year for Valdesi. He married dancer, Ada Spinella. He retained his individual kata title at the European Karate Championships held in Sofia, Bulgaria. At the 6th World Games held in Akita, Japan, he finished in second place behind Ryoki Abi, with Antonio Diaz in third place.
At the 2002 European Karate Championships held in Tallinn, Estonia, Valdesi was a double gold winner. He won both the Men’s Individual and Men’s Team Kata events. He repeated the feat the following year in Bremen, Germany.
Valdesi had a big year in 2004. In February of that year, his eldest son Andrea was born. He then represented Italy at the European Championships in Moscow, Russia, where he won gold in the Men’s Individual and Men’s Team Kata events. He repeated the feat in October of that year at the 17th World Karate Championships, held in Monterrey, Mexico. A month later, we completed a degree in Business Economics.
Success continued for Valdesi in 2005. In May he retained his Men’s Individual Kata title at the 40th European Karate Championships held in Tenerife, Spain. At the 7th World Games held in Duisburg, Germany in July, he won a silver medal in the Men’s Individual Kata event behind Antonio Diaz, with Akio Tamashiro in third place.
2006 was another big year for Valdesi. The year began with gold in the Men’s Individual Kata event held at the European Karate Championships. The championships were held in Stavanger, Norway in May. In July, the second son Francesco was born. At the18th World Karate Championships held in Tampere, Finland in October he retained his kata titles. He won gold medals in both the Men’s Individual and Men’s Team Kata events.
From 2002 to 2012 Valdesi and teammates Vincenzo Figuccio and Lucio Maurino dominated the Men’s Team Kata event at the European Karate Championships. During that period they won 10 gold medals and two silver medals. As a team they had won their first European title in 2002 at the 37th European Championships, held in Tallin, Estonia. They also had success in the World Championships During this period Valdesi won 13 European titles as an individual competitor.
At the 19th World Karate Championships held in Tokyo, Japan in 2008, Valdesi retained his Men’s Individual Kata title. This was his fifth gold medal in three successive World Championships. As part of the Italian Kata Team, he finished in third place behind France and Germany.
In May 2009 Valdesi was a double gold winner at the 44th European Karate Championships held in Zagreb, Croatia. This was followed by a Men’s Individual Kata gold medal at the 8th World Games held in Kaohsiung, Thailand in July. September saw the birth of his third son, Davide.
May 2010 saw Valdesi retain his two kata titles at the 45th European Karate Championships held in Athens, Greece. This was followed by a gold medal at the 20th World Karate Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia, in the Men’s Team Kata event. He’s lost in the final of the Individual Kata event, against Antonio Diaz.
In 2012 Valdesi retained his two kata titles at the 47th European Karate Championships. The 21st World Karate Championships were one of the few World Championships where he did not win a gold medal. In the Men’s individual Kata event, he finished in third place behind Antonio Diaz and Vu Duc Minh Dack. In the final of the Team Kata event, Italy lost a very strong Japanese team, consisting of Koji Arimoto, Takato Souma, and Takumi Sugino.
After a brilliant competitive career, Valdesi retired from actively competing in 2014. At the time of his retirement his major tournament successes included:
- World Karate Championships (Team) – 1st place (2004, 2006, 2010)
- World Karate Championships (Individual) – 1st place (2004, 2006, 2008)
- World Games – 1st place (2009)
- European Karate Championships (Team) – 1st place (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
- European Karate Championships (Individual) – 1st place (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 201,)
Luca Valdesi is arguably one of the greatest kata competitors. He has won numerous titles at a National, European, and World level. His partnership with Vincenzo Figgucio and Lucio Maurino is one of the greatest in Team Kata history. They have won numerous World and European titles.
After retiring from competing Valdesi became a coach. He also took on the role of Youth Lead Supervisor for the World Karate Federation (WKF).
Away from Karate Valdesi lives in the Sicilian town of Gioiosa Marea, with his wife and son, where he enjoys the past time of diving.
Below are some videos showing Luca Valdesi in action: