Category Archives: karate 2020

“Sensei Viola” Day in Pittsburgh

allegheny shotokan karate
allegheny shotokan karate

“Sensei Viola Day” is September 23rd 2019 in Pittsburgh to honor of Allegheny Shotokan Karate’s 50-year Anniversary

WHEREAS, Allegheny Shotokan Karate, or Viola Karate as it is more commonly known today, was established in 1969 at East Allegheny High School by Bill Viola, Sr. and is celebrating its 50th anniversary of educating students in martial arts in Allegheny County and western Pennsylvania;

bill viola and karate family

WHEREAS, the family-owned and operated dojo has had three generations of Violas carry on the legacy of Bill Sr., who still teaches a black belt class every Monday evening, reminding students that karate is a lifelong journey; his journey has been recognized with the induction of Viola Karate into the USA Karate Hall of Fame who also named Sensei V the Man of the Year in 2003 and his being given the honorific title of Shihan; and

WHEREAS, Shihan Bill Viola is credited by the Senator John Heinz History Center in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution as the co-creator of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC); in 2011, the Western PA Sports Museum established a permanent exhibit to honor him as one of the founding fathers of the sport; his life was the subject of the Amazon #1 selling book Godfathers of MMAwhich inspired a documentary film Tough Guys; in 2017 the Violas were published in the book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts – Legends of American Karate; and

karate history

WHEREAS, over the past half-century, Shihan Bill Viola’s powerful brand of punches and kicks have translated some of life’s most important lessons: respect, discipline and focus; the confidence he has instilled in his students can be found on and off the mat, while the dojo remains the most successful sport karate school in the Pittsburgh region; and

WHEREAS, we are fortunate to have Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Allegheny County, and that the school, led today by the next generation of Violas, has not only served our communities but used its notoriety as an internationally-known and recognized martial arts school to further benefit charities in our community for generations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby proclaim September 23, 2019 as “Sensei Bill Viola Day” in Allegheny County. We congratulate Sensei Bill Viola and the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School on their 50th anniversary and wish them many more successful years to come.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Allegheny to be affixed this 23rd day of September, 2019.

            
Rich Fitzgerald
east allegheny karate

Karate 2020 Olympics

karate 2020 olympics

Karate 2020 Olympics

From Sport Karate Illustrated, May 2016: -By Bill Viola Jr.

karate olympics

Judo made its Olympic debut in 1964, Tae Kwon Do in 2000. Karate, however, has yet to make an appearance.  Although poised, seemingly forever, karate has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on three separate occasions; Beijing, London and Rio games.  Why- oh-why has karate been shutout from the Olympic stage for so long?  Long story short: Politics.  Who is to say what style of karate is best?  Compound that problem with egos attached to those styles and well… you can see why we have been absent.

I personally grew up amidst the Olympic hubbub of the 80s and 90s as my father was a regional director for the USA Karate Federation (then National Governing Body for Karate under the US Olympic Committee and member of the World Union of Karate-Do Organizations (WUKO).  Excitement mounted as my family was invited to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea for Tae Kwon Do’s inaugural demonstration.  Back then, the “talk” was karate is next!   Naturally, our dojo jumped at the opportunity and churned out numerous USA Team members who traveled the globe in quest of Olympic status (none more prolific than Doug Selchan, America’s most dominant Kumite Champion of the era).  WUKO sat in the driver’s seat speeding toward an Olympic dream—one that ultimately sputtered.  Sadly, every four years the hype train rolled into the United States with all its fanfare and visions of Olympic rings, and time and time again left us holding broken promises.  The base was disheartened.

Many, including myself, grew weary of the power struggle and drifted away until Tokyo was announced as the home for the 2020 Olympics. The IOC gives the host city influence in nominating additional sports, so karate with its roots in Okinawa, rose as a top contender shortlisted among four other candidates including sports climbing, surfing, skateboarding, and a combined bid of baseball and softball.   A final decision will be taken at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016.

Just as Korea positioned Tae Kwon Do as an exhibition, collectively we cross our fingers that Japan will carry the same weight for karate as it did for Judo in the 1960s.  The World Karate Federation (WKF), the successor to WUKO, has positioned itself under the IOC to make history.  Its groundbreaking news I’ve waited over thirty years to witness.  I sat down with some WKF competitors to hear their thoughts:  USANKF TEAM MEMBERS: Kieran Tamondong“Having karate in the Olympics gives kids like me an ultimate goal.”  Adrian Galvan“Amazing, it’s the biggest stage.” Ariel Torres: “I’m honored to be a part of the movement.”  Marissa Meandro, Karate Canada Team Member:  “Each tournament is an experience that will hopefully lead to the Olympics.”

The Kumite Classic May 27-28th is a National Qualifier for the USANKF.  Now is your chance to try out Olympic-style competition.  More info:  www.kumiteclassic.com/usankf

Bill Viola Jr. is a Pittsburgh based martial arts promoter, author and producer of the Annual Kumite Classic.  He is the head instructor at Allegheny Shotokan Karate (member of the USANKF) founded by his father Bill Viola Sr. in 1969.